Freedom and the pursuit of safety – The Boston Globe

I was outraged reading Jay Samonss article about us losing freedoms in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic (The dangerous pursuit of safety, Ideas, Aug. 2). With more than 156,000 deaths in the United States as of Aug. 5, and that number continuously rising, we need to get this virus under control, as other countries have.

Samons says freedom costs lives and we have to accept that more people are going to die from the virus. Maybe a lot more people. I think his acceptance of lives lost to the virus in the name of freedom is ridiculous. Any inconvenience we have to endure (mask-wearing, social distancing, and staying home) is acceptable and temporary. Our freedom will still be alive, and, hopefully, so will we, when we get this virus under control.

Patricia Tong


Surrender or reawakening?

Jay Samons argues that the Romans chose to change their republic for an empire because they preferred security to the chaos of freedom. He sees the actions taken to contain the coronavirus as akin to that trade-off. We are engaged in the greatest act of cultural surrender in human history, and, we must accept that unless we choose to destroy our own culture, more people are going to die from this virus. But there is another future that does not just rush back to the culture that we were living with until this year. Other writers have argued that this pandemic provides an opportunity to overhaul global economic and cultural institutions and behaviors. Our previous culture was unsustainable unequal education, not enough decent housing, unfair wages, and lack of health care for all. Change in the old order is starting to emerge with the Black Lives Matter demonstrations that may not have been possible without so many people not in a normal working routine. If this temporary loss of freedom to behave as we did before the pandemic leads to a more equitable and sustainable future, then it will not have been a cultural surrender as much as a cultural reawakening.

Susan Haltmaier

North Andover

Flawed reasoning

Jay Samonss The dangerous pursuit of safety is rife with false analogies and flawed reasoning. He starts with the specious claim that those trying to keep the COVID-19 pandemic contained are striving for complete safety, which he then rightly states is impossible. He claims that this imagined quest for complete safety is undermining our freedoms (freedom to assemble in large numbers during a pandemic?). After badmouthing military analogies to the pandemic, he then proceeds to use one to argue that wars are won when the attacked party decides that casualties are better than oppression. He concludes that we must accept the loss of life as the price of maintaining our freedoms and that Freedom costs lives.

The casualties of this pandemic are innocent victims, not warriors or currency to be bartered for freedom. They are defending nothing by dying. To call for limiting public health measures based on an analogy couched in superficial historical erudition is academic and intellectual malpractice.

Carl M. Cohen


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Freedom and the pursuit of safety - The Boston Globe

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