Cheadle-stan: A brave new shameful world?

STUDENT bodies have resoundingly rejected calls for ‘mandatory vaccination’ on our nation’s campuses. Coercion defeats the purpose of constitutional guarantees, including bodily integrity and freedom of movement, not to mention academic freedom. The students say immunisation programmes should be voluntary and recognise individual rights at the same time the needs of the majority are taken into account.

This hasn’t stopped several motions for vaccine mandates and/or vaccine passports from being proposed by UCT Senate and other universities. And it hasn’t stopped far-right legal professionals from arguing essentially for the scrapping of article 12 alongside the introduction of internal passports which recall South Africa’s introduction of the so-called ‘dompas’.

If these proposals are anything to go by, we could end up adopting a version of the ‘China Model’ of social control, in which vaccine points scores determine both social status and access to resources in society, and all this without so much as a debate on campus nor even a democratic process within the hallowed halls of the National Assembly? A system which lends itself to all sorts of abuse. Post something the authorities don’t like, and beep, you’re just an anti-vaxer, denied access to public transport.

Right-wing juristocrat Professor Pierre de Vos thus penned yet another article published by Daily Maverick, this week in which he purports to present case precedent and various authorities in support of the limitation of one of the foundations of our constitutional dispensation.

According to article 36 of the constitution, rights may only be limited by a ‘law of general application’, — the rights under article 12 were considered important enough by our nation’s founders, for them to be listed as non-derogable during a state of emergency. In other words, one may infer that the mere declaration of an emergency or disaster is not sufficient to consider their limitation, and that one cannot argue, as many SABC talking heads have over the past week, on the basis of the mere roll-out of so-called ‘mask-mandates’.

De Vos argues: “While a policy requiring all (non-exempted) staff and students to be vaccinated will not directly coerce anyone to get vaccinated, it will present individuals who are not keen to be vaccinated with a difficult choice and would therefore interfere with their right freely to make decisions about their own bodies. “

After appearing to walk back some of his astonishing statements made in his earlier piece (see here), he then proceeds to rehash work written on the subject of bioethics, referring to an 2016 article by A Nienaber and K N Bailey, in the South African Journal of Bioethics and Law:”The right to physical integrity and informed refusal: Just how far does a patient’s right to refuse medical treatment go?”

In this manner De Vos introduces yet another series of citations, ostensibly to argue the point that article 12 may be limited by any arbitrary law when it comes to immunisation.

Microchip ‘vaccine passports’, second thoughts on Cheadle-stan

AS ONE of the vaccinated, I am generally in favour of universal immunisation strategies. The majority of deaths during the Covid epidemic have come from the ranks of the unvaccinated. Vaccines save lives, I wrote, but ‘removing patient consent destroys the foundation of our democracy’. I have thus tended to promote informed consent, patient choice and persuasion rather than outright coercion — and favour to some extant, what is referred to in legal circles as ‘positive discrimination’ especially when it comes to certain categories of employment.

An opinion piece by Kevin Ritchie in the Star entitled “Vaccine hesitancy: Why it’s time to create no-vaxx, no-go areas however paints a grim future of a state in which all citizens are effectively microchipped, forced to carry electronic ‘vaccine passports’ — internal passports that act to either grant or restrict access to freedom of movement, or as Ritchie explains, “no jab, no pub, no shopping mall”.

All this is to be achieved on the basis of immediate and instantaneous third-party access to patient information. A feat which would necessitate the removal of rights already granted under the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI), not to mention placing restrictions and limitations on fundamental freedoms — the right to privacy, freedom of movement and other rights enshrined in our Constitution.

I have already written how an antiquated dominionship and/or guardianship model of state power (the state acting as parent-of-the-people), and thus a model contrary to our human rights based system, is being rolled out as we speak by Cheadle, Karim and Grey et al, in the process negating the hard-won victories of our democracy.

Unlike members of PANDA, who are campaigning for individual privacy and rights when it comes to employment, I have no quibbles in disclosing my Covid vaccine status to all and sundry, but can’t help wondering how this plays out as we move forward and especially when it comes to other diseases, for example HIV?

Didn’t we all win a patient rights battle, fought during the late 90s and over the turn-of-the-millennium, for HIV patients to not be coerced into disclosure of status? And why is Covid being treated like a chronic illness, when all the evidence points to its eminent and impending seasonal nature?

As Helen Braswell writes in Statnews: “The truth of the matter is that pandemics always end. And to date vaccines have never played a significant role in ending them. “

Brasell who a former Nieman Global Health Fellow at Harvard, where she focused on polio eradication, argues that “there were no flu vaccines in 1918, when the world didn’t yet know that the great influenza was caused by a virus, H1N1. In 1957, when the H2N2 pandemic swept the world, flu vaccine was mainly a tool of the military. In the pandemic of 1968, which brought us H3N2, the United States produced nearly 22 million doses of vaccine, but by the time it was ready the worst of the pandemic had passed, and demand subsided.”

She writes: “That ‘too little and too late‘ phenomenon played out again in 2009, when the world finally had the capacity to make hundreds of millions of doses of H1N1 vaccine; some countries cancelled large portions of their orders because they ended up not needing them.”

The same may be said for a previous coronovirus pandemic thought to have occurred in 1889, and known in medical histories as “the Russian flu,” which “might actually have been caused by one of the human coronaviruses, OC43.”

De Vos over the Cliff: To cancel Icke, or not?

IT SEEMS there is an online storm brewing over cancel culture. In this weeks iteration, legal academic Pierre De Vos seeks to cancel Gareth Cliff for hosting a television show in which one of his guests was none other than the conspiracy theorist crackpot David Icke.

I interviewed Icke two decades ago, and was able to confirm, as De Vos does, that “David Icke is an anti-Semite and conspiracy theorist who claims to believe, among other things, that an inter-dimensional race of reptilian beings called the Archons have hijacked the earth and are stopping humanity from realising its true potential, and that the British royal family are shape-shifting lizards. “

Unlike De Vos, I do not believe such views warrant censorship and he is patently misguided to suggest, as he does in an opinion piece published by the Daily Maverick that the result is “a wrong-headed argument about freedom of expression, diverting attention from the ethical accountability of the host.”

Notably absent from an otherwise wordy essay on the subject, is the rationale behind the removal of the conspiracy kook from many social media platforms this year. Icke’s insistence that ‘there is no coronovirus” nor even a pandemic for that matter, resulted in his eccentric views and accounts being blocked by Facebook and other media platforms.

Instead of reviewing the science, Icke alleges a grand coverup by our reptile overlords, one that merely feeds into a fractured drama about shape-shifting aliens, best left to the terrain of Gonzo journalism once occupied by Hunter S Thompson and Robert Anton Wilson — two writers with a lot more brains and balls.

That Icke may share some of the views of the late Credo Mutwa is merely grist for the mill. He also shares similar views to early Christian Gnostics who believed in an ‘inferior god of creation’.

What is important to note, is that Cliff provided Icke with enough rope to hang himself on prime time television, and given that he has a committed cohort of listeners (and viewers), who will no doubt question such foolishness, I should add, that it is best to relegate Icke to the realm of fiction, than to advocate the self-same book-burning and destruction of individual liberties that accompanied the Hitler regime.

De Vos does his profession a grave disservice by seeking to throw Gareth over the Cliff at the same time claiming by the action of mundane letters, he is a ‘partisan politico’, driving a ‘universal imperative’ that is merely a ‘“sacred abstraction” of freedom of expression, one which “is used to shield individuals from the consequences of their own (ideologically driven) beliefs.”

In this vein, not only does the fossil seek to limit freedom of expression beyond what is already limited in our Constitution, but he also wishes to clamp down on press freedom — the self-same freedoms which he has come to enjoy, as a dissident writer whose views are often in conflict with the law as well as the ruling party.

Interviewing a subject does not translate into immediately sympathizing with the views of the interviewee, nor may one ascertain an agenda beyond what may be construed as controversy and attention-seeking. And as the old phrase goes, ‘please do not shoot the messenger’.

Advocates of cancel culture really need to be served with fair warning, doing so without a fair hearing, and whilst jettisoning the audi rule, risks cancelling media freedom and what little remains of justice (do we really need to remind ourselves of the pitfalls of the current system based upon apartheid double standards?).

In the melee that occurs when mob-justice is replaced by the dictates of faceless deletionists, and where super-efficient censorship technology is advanced as a political weapon, we end up resembling China whose ruling party censors and keeps tabs on its citizens via face recognition, and artificial intelligence.

And so sorry Pierre, Tutsis are clearly not aliens, and neither are the Hutus. The provided rote examples, common to many defamation cases, often used to demonstrate harm, surely do not apply to the realm of science fiction and fantasy, and unproven theories such as cold fusion?

One may as well take Darwin to task, since his proven theory of evolution inspired racists, as it no doubt inspires today’s informationists, those who regurgitate information found online without bothering to check facts and sources.

Does Icke deserve a platform? Not necessarily see here. Should Cliff be lending a bit of the spotlight to such blather? Probably not. But at the end of the day, it is really all just conspiracy theory, and it is Icke’s defence that he is merely relaying us information, whose sources are often obscure, irrelevant and unscientific, and as if that were a crime?

As an end-note, the test in this case, is really one of mental capacity or mens rea, since if you believe Icke, you will believe anything, and whether he possesses criminal capacity to do harm (or cause harm), has not been proven. One could even say that Karl Marx had a vendetta against bankers, and needed jail time, instead Britain gave the man sanctuary, and the world is richer or poorer for it.

SEE: J.k. Rowling and 150 other authors call for an end to the ‘cancel culture’

SEE: Nick Cave: ‘cancel culture is bad religion run amuck’