Kyrie Irving, angry parents and personal choice in the Covid-19 culture war

Beware the dangerous trap of assuming a red/blue line runs through the country on all issues. It does not.
Personal choice crosses partisan lines and ideological boundaries.

It’s the conservative governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, trying to sabotage President Joe Biden’s effort to require most working Americans to get vaccinated. Abbott has outlawed vaccine requirements in his state and set up a showdown with Texas-based companies like American Airlines and Southwest Airlines.

It’s Kyrie Irving, an NBA player very active in the social justice movement, who was benched by the Brooklyn Nets for exercising his personal choice and refusing to get vaccinated.

It’s LeBron James, who knows the power of his platform to influence people, who said he won’t be pushing people to get the shot. “Everyone has their own choice to do what they feel is right for themselves and their family and things of that nature,” he told reporters in September when confirming he had been vaccinated.

And in Florida, it’s the state government that has fined Leon County for exercising its own vaccine requirement. “We will continue fighting for Floridians’ rights,” said Gov. Ron DeSantis, announcing the fines.

Personal choice for parents is emerging as a splinter issue. It is complicated by the fact that children don’t have the legal power to make their own choices and they may be required by local governments to physically attend schools.

Kyrie Irving cheers from the bench during a preseason game against the Los Angeles Lakers, Oct. 3, 2021, in Los Angeles.
Kyrie Irving cheers from the bench during a preseason game against the Los Angeles Lakers, Oct. 3, 2021, in Los Angeles.
What, then, to make of a small cadre of anti-mask and vaccine protesters confronting parents in Beverly Hills, California, shaming them for protecting their children and following school rules to wear masks? They threw in some anti-vaccination shouts, too. Watch the video.
Conservative media is seizing on the case of a Wyoming high school student arrested for trespassing after violating a school’s mask policy.
On the flip side is the situation in Wisconsin, where parents whose children tested positive for Covid-19 are suing two school districts for not requiring masks and essentially endangering children. Read about the lawsuits.
Or, sadly, the case of Nicole Sperry, who buried her 10-year-old daughter, Teresa, a casualty of the pandemic, one day and was shooting down Covid-19 misinformation at a school board meeting in Chesapeake, Virginia, the next.
“My message for you and all that are listening is that Covid is not over, no matter what people who have been standing up here have said,” Sperry, who also teaches in the district, said, according to CNN’s report. “On September 27, during the last meeting, there were parents or concerned citizens that voiced misinformation to you.”
Parental choice is the new euphemism for personal freedom. Covid-19 protection measures at public schools are turning into a key political issue — one pushed by both the Republican Party as well as frustrated parents who disagree with either public health officials or freedom-guarding politicians.
This is not a uniquely American phenomenon. CNN reported Tuesday on anti-vaccination activists in the United Kingdom targeting students and parents and spreading misinformation about the vaccines.

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