It’s no secret that I am very much for vaccination. I’ve worked with Dr. Hsu to write articles to give insight into the dominant view of the medical and public health professional sectors. I have gotten both doses of my vaccination, and am eagerly anticipating when I may dance safely with other vaccinated individuals. I also delete comments that I view as non-constructive or derailing from the premise of posts I make.

Despite this, I do not “hate” anti-vaccination individuals, as passionate as I may be about my own position. Let me explain.

The Problem of “Hate”

People believe many, many different things. Some are very misguided. Some are fueled by biases and thinking they know more than they actually do. How can I honestly hate someone who really believes that vaccines are going to kill them or those they love?

Contrary to their assertions that they are not “fearful”, there is a powerful fear and lack of trust driving these people. The same goes for people who believe that COVID is a hoax. So, while I shake my head and defeatedly sigh as I hear about covert dance gatherings that happened all through a global pandemic while friends and family suffered and died, I can’t hate them. I can’t hate them even if I think the decision they have made is misguided, selfish, and destructive. I’m oriented in a different worldview from those people, many of whom have honestly convinced themselves that what they’re doing is OK.

However, my patience stops at those that are willing to belittle, insult, and attack those of us who are doing our best to keep our communities safe.

The Organizer Problem

I am fortunate to not be an organizer with an event in the latter half of 2021. With our own event scheduled for mid-2022, I am fervently praying that by the time our event happens the need to think about vaccination-only vs. other requirements will be behind us. I’m hoping to dodge the bullet of having to decide one way or the other – but it isn’t a guarantee.

Organizers who are starting to open events face a terrible choice: don’t require vaccines, or do. No matter what choice they make, there is a section of the population that will be excluded:

  • If you say vaccinations are required, those who have not been able to get the vaccine or choose not to will be excluded.
  • If you do not require vaccinations, those that will only feel comfortable interacting with vaccinated individuals in close quarters will be excluded.

This conundrum exists regardless of what you believe. The purpose of this article is not to debate whether there are alternate ways of protecting people, etc. I have another article written by a physician for that. There is an entire Facebook group for organizers to get information on this. This article simply grapples with the reality that this is the choice. And, either way, the organizer is going to get hate mail and face conflict.

Some get in their personal inbox, calling them “fucking stupid” and other names. Some get negative ratings on their events. Some get persistent emailers who threaten lawsuits and other action based on laws that don’t exist. Some get sent multiple messages repeatedly despite requests to stop.

I’ve even gotten hate mail for my blogs (among the more colourful insults, being called a “Nazi genocidist communist” sticks out quite poignantly). One man began messaging my personal Facebook inbox with threats. Anonymous trolls posted hate-filled comments on the blog that needed to be combed through and deleted. Reasonable critiques and questions became hijacked by far-out theories and rants to a point that I wholesale deleted threads to stop it.

None of this is reasonable. Regardless of your views, you do not have a place at my event or in my community if this is how you treat organizers or others. And for my fellow vaccine-enthusiastic individuals, I maintain the same sentiment for those that choose to run a mixed event and even those that have been active throughout the pandemic: they should not be threatened, intimidated, or scared. This is inappropriate on a human level. 

It’s not about you

One thing that people forget is that these policies are not about you; it is a decision the organizer is making regarding what they feel is the best approach for their event. No organizer wants to exclude anyone, but in this case, they have to pick. Those same organizers that have a view alternative to yours will likely be thrilled to finally host their event for everyone once this pandemic is behind us.

At the end of the day, the considerations of vaxxed-or-not are temporary. They will pass, and we will be able to have events once more without organizers worrying about that status – and the impacts of excluding one part of the population.

“So how do I show my personal unhappiness?”

Without cruelty. Without threats. Before you threaten to sue an organizer or tell them they’re a “fucking stupid bitch”, consider a little compassion.

There is nothing wrong with sending a message to an organization (not an individual) saying “Hey, I’m really disappointed that I can’t come to your event because of your vaccination policy. Here’s why.” If you hold a belief strongly enough, it’s also appropriate to “boycott” events that take an approach that you intrinsically disagree with. Your money and views are your own, and it’s up to you how much certain ideologies matter to you.

Remember: organizers do what they do because they love our community. They want it to be safe. They want attendees to be happy. Conflict is a nightmare scenario for many organizers, and those that choose to brave the frontier of being the first events back are bearing the brunt of it. Some organizers have a thicker skin, but many of the more compassionate ones don’t. The angry email that you pen is likely to go straight to their heart – but is unlikely to change the position they’re already committed to for this year.

“But I’m not going to be OK with those people again.”

I understand. For some people, the responses of certain people in the pandemic have broken a sense of human trust. I’ve seen this a lot in front-line health workers that have been told their lived experiences weren’t real; there’s a deep sense of betrayal in people that their community didn’t have their back.

I’m not here to tell you that you have to go back to how things were. Those choices are deeply personal. There may be people who are not able to treat me the same way as before because of my public positions. That’s their choice, and it’s not my place to tell them they must accept my views.

There is No License to Hurt

The hurt we feel is not a license to inflict our rage and pain on others. Many of us bear deep scars from this pandemic. Let’s not use them as an excuse. We have a responsibility to be humane in our interactions with others – even when we are hurting.

By all means, rant to your friends. Find your people. But, let’s stop short of threatening and intimidating each other as we navigate the difficult return to dance.