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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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Pragmatism or principles?

19 November 2021

I have to admit that recent developments in this whole pandemic thing and the government's response have left me torn.

On the one hand, I can see the potential benefits associated with the use of vaccination passports. On the other hand however, this whole "papers please" mentality strikes at the very heart of our rights as human beings to the concept of privacy and anonymity when we choose it.

It's easy to draw the comparison with facist regimes where "papers please" is a common demand from the authorities when nobody will be allowed to attend concerts, many shops, restaurants, pubs etc; or travel beyond certain internal borders this Christmas without showing a their vaccine passport.

To be honest, even though I was quick off the mark to get vaccinated and had my second jab back in August, I don't think I will apply for or use a vaccine passport.

I would rather not go to the pub or concerts, or travel beyond my immediate location -- if it means giving up my right to privacy and anonymity.

A pragmatist might say "that's just stupid when coming from the mouth of someone who is so active on YouTube that his face is immediately recognisable by hundreds of thousands of people around the world". That's a pretty reasonable statement, from a pragamatic perspective.

However, principles are only worth holding if you are true to them. Any principle that you can set-aside because it becomes "inconvenient" is not a sound principle in the first place.

The problem is that if we all set aside our rights to freedom and anonymity for the "convenience" of extra freedoms over summer then it's a short slide into losing those rights forever, in the name of "safety and security".

There is a reason why we have sayings like "thin end of the wedge" and "give them an inch and they'll take a mile". Far too many people have lost valuable rights and freedoms to these strategies as they set aside the principles that should be held sacrosanct for a little convenience.

I'm pretty sure that I will be all but alone in taking this stance but I've never been afraid to stand in solitide where principles and protecting freedoms/rights is concerned. That makes me an easy target but I'm prepared to accept that.

It is my belief that a man without principles is not a man but a mindless servant of higher powers.

So mock me in the comments if you wish but I shall continue to smile and be proud that I shall not relinquish freely, those things that brave men have risked and sometimes lost their lives to protect.

And there ends today's sermon from the altar of pig-headedness!

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