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Basslines and Protest Signs

Basslines and Protest Signs Part 81: Vaccine Passports are Not Segregation

Coachella crowd (photo: Alan Paone)

It shouldn’t really need saying, should it? But apparently it does. Public venues requiring proof of vaccination before allowing admittance isn’t the same as apartheid. It’s not the same as the segregation of Black people in the United States’ recent history. And it’s sure as shit not the same as scratching numbers into the skin of Jewish people before sending them off to the concentration camps. We’ve seen this nonsense all over social media and we’ve heard it from right wing talking heads like the ever-awful Tucker Carlson

Here’s a history lesson for you: Not a single one of those nightmarish regimes had the best interests of those being subjugated and killed in mind. The Nazis weren’t labelling human beings with numbers in order to save Jewish lives. Here in America, Black people weren’t forbidden from voting or using the same water fountains as white people because the powers that be thought it would make their lives better. Ditto South Africa.

That level of hyperbole is ridiculous. It’s also infectious. You’ll see it all over the internet, often spouted from the mouths of musicians angry about tour restrictions. Here’s another one, those of us on the left will be accused of hypocrisy because we’ll demand a woman’s right to choose when it comes to abortion but the same “my body my choice” mindset doesn’t work when it comes to the vaccine. This train of thought ignores the fact that the vaccine effort is a team game; we need high numbers. Your decision affects me. The same isn’t true of abortion. So let’s nip that crap in the bud.

As we wrote in this column two weeks ago, Lollapalooza required either proof of vaccination OR a negative test in order to enter. It looks like those measures helped and it wasn’t a super spreader event. We still think they should have required both, by the way. AEG have followed suit with their policies regarding the Coachella and Stagecoach festivals.

“Certain states’ regulations may override our mandate, or a few artists may not want to immediately get on board with the plan, but we know that using our platform to take a strong position on vaccinations can make an impact,” AEG COO Shawn Trell said in a statement. “The message we want to send is simple and clear: the only way to be as safe as possible is to require everyone to be vaccinated. And we’re confident that others who haven’t been ready to make this full commitment yet will follow our lead.”

Those new policies will apply to other AEG venues too, such as New York’s Webster Hall and Brooklyn Steel, The Roxy and El Rey Theatres in Los Angeles, The Theatre at Resorts World Las Vegas, Firefly Music Festival, Day N Vegas and The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

It’s great that people are taking this thing seriously with the understanding nothing is returning to anything approaching normal until many, many more people are vaccinated and those who are not are effectively excluded from public events.

Not everyone is being as vigilant, with some smaller independent venues not putting any restrictions in place at all. This is simply flabbergasting. NIVA, the National Independent Venue Association, has battled for the entirety of this pandemic, including with Congress, yet some indie venues are just playing chicken with the virus. Because, <derp>, “we won’t live in fear <derp>.” (They’ll just place the lives of children at risk instead).

It’s not as if NIVA didn’t help. On their website, the group placed a checklist of things that should be done to ensure the safety of concert attendees as well as staff.

“The following checklist and explanations will help you understand your risk mitigation decisions as you reopen and increase occupancy limits,” NIVA states. “There will be challenges: many people are vaccinated, but the United States has not yet achieved herd immunity; everyone owns a face cover- ing, but convincing them to wear it requires effort; physical distancing is well known, but people want to be together after more than a year apart. We are not epidemiologists, we are event industry professionals, so we have followed the science from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health experts.”

They go on to encourage—at length—masks, temperature checks, cleaning surfaces, and physical distancing.

“Physical distancing rules are likely to relax over time, whether based on ‘COVID fatigue,’ increased vaccination percentages, or loosening state or local requirements,” they write. “Nonetheless, events where people engage in behaviors such as interacting with others from outside their own household, singing, shouting, not maintaining physical distancing, or not wearing masks consistently and correctly, can increase the risk of transmission. Increasing air flow and fresh air exchange between unrelated persons, as well as encouraging physical distancing, makes it less likely guests will come in contact with someone else’s aerosolized droplets. This is a healthier situation even when there is no pandemic.”

The key, though, is that proof of vaccination. Concerts should only be available to the vaccinated at present, with exceptions made to those who can’t get vaccinated for medical reasons but can produce a recent negative test. This is how we keep ourselves and each other alive.

Apartheid? Segregation? Quit being a fool.

It simply defies belief that vaccinations can be twisted into a matter of personal choice, when that choice affects everyone. It’s particularly frustrating when their arguments against taking it are based on lies. Not to mention the fact that we’ve been vaccinated against other viruses and diseases since birth. 

Of course it’s not true that most of the people hospitalized and dying are vaccinated. The extreme opposite is true.

Of course the vaccine doesn’t alter your DNA. Are you fucking mad? The COVID-19 vaccines don’t give you a small dose of the virus either (as is the case with flu—but don’t use that as an excuse not to get the flu shot, it’s safe). The COVID-19 vaccines simply teach your immune system to fight the proteins produced by the virus and therefore to fight the virus itself without exposing you to it. The “sick” response you may have is your immune system kicking in.

And no, the vaccine wasn’t rushed. Coronavirus vaccines have been in development since the first such virus was discovered at the beginning of the century, during an outbreak that killed more than 30 million people worldwide. Other pre-existing research aided in improving the delivery method to make the vaccine more effective. With the current vaccine, epidemiologists and immunologists focused on COVID-19. They were nearly there.

Quit believing the conspiracy theories and save some damn lives!

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