Some people believe that the moon is made of green cheese. And some people believe the fear-mongering twaddle about COVID 19 vaccines spouted by Fox News celebrities, such as Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham. The green cheese believers cause no harm to our fellow citizens. The nightly doses of Fox News poison put us all in danger.

Don’t take just my word for it. In the Daily Beast, Preston Padden, a former high level executive at Fox Broadcasting, wrote that Fox News had contributed substantially and directly to the unnecessary death of many Americans by fueling hesitation about the efficacy and safety of lifesaving COVID 19 vaccines.

And read what Dr. Rob Davidson, an emergency room physician in western Michigan and the executive director of the Committee to Protect Health Care, has to say. “I don’t blame my patients for their refusal to be vaccinated. What breaks my heart, my head, as someone who took an oath to prevent harm, is that my patients choose to abandon science and evidence that can save their lives. I do blame Fox News and other right-wing media outlets for poisoning the minds of millions of Americans with the deceptive propaganda they spray into living rooms 24/7.”

Ironically, media baron Rupert Murdoch, chairman of the trust that owns Fox News, received a COVID 19 vaccine in December 2020, even as his network’s stars were downplaying the dangers of the Coronavirus and the efficacy of the vaccine. Carl Cameron, former Fox News Chief Public Correspondent, says that people like Tucker Carlson spread disinformation about the risks of vaccination merely to drive up ratings. Incidentally, Carlson’s refusal to say whether he’s had a vaccine speaks volumes about the man’s character, or lack thereof.

We all know people who have refused to be vaccinated, usually for spurious reasons, often out of sheer stubbornness. It is no accident, thanks to right-wing media and Republican political leaders who have made Dr. Fauci a punching bag, that vaccination rates are the lowest in the deep red states.

Liz Hamel director of the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Public Opinion and Survey Research program, says, “Believing that the media has exaggerated the seriousness of the pandemic — that’s something that we heard President Trump saying when he was in office. It’s something that Republicans are more likely to agree with than Democrats. And people who believe that the pandemic has been exaggerated are much less likely to say they want to get the vaccine.”

I have a good friend whose adult son has refused to take the vaccine. She and her husband agonized over whether to tell her son that he couldn’t join their annual family reunion vacation if he wasn’t vaccinated. They held firm.

One of another friend’s sons has refused to take the vaccination because, he insists, “I never get sick.” He recently relented when he heard the story about a woman, now stricken with COVID, who had made the same excuse.

Some people claim that wearing masks and getting vaccinated are matters of personal freedom. A writer for a local paper even claimed that if you didn’t protest the mask mandate you were against freedom and, per force, not a real American. Sadly, many Americans find no flaw in that astounding leap of logic.

What if we all ran through Stop signs to express our personal freedom? Or didn’t pay taxes? Or helped ourselves to another person’s property? In a true democracy, especially one that claims to be a “shining city upon a hill,” we must often forgo our own personal freedoms to achieve the common good.

The vast majority of the nation’s colleges and universities will require students to be vaccinated if they are to be on campus this fall. Several Indiana University students were unsuccessful in their suit against the University’s mandate, a result which no doubt displeased the likes of Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham.

A recent Facebook post drives home the point. “In World War II, Londoners were asked to black out their homes at night so the enemy bombers wouldn’t see the lights and know where to target. No Londoner said, “It’s my right to have lights on, because others would say, “Your light endangers us.”

David Treadwell, a Brunswick writer, welcomes commentary and suggestions for future “Just a Little Old” columns. [email protected] (David’s latest book co-authored with Anneka Williams, who graduated from Bowdoin College this past May, is entitled, “A Flash Fiction Exchange Between Methuselah and the Maiden: Sixty Stories to While Away the Hours,” is available at Gulf of Maine books (Brunswick) Mockingbird Books (Bath) or on Amazon.)

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