Bob Franken




George Carlin had a hilarious routine describing his days as a parochial student. He’d try to stump the priest when Father would present an absolute:
“As good Catholics, we had to receive communion once between Ash Wednesday and Pentecost Sunday. And if we didn’t receive it, it was considered a mortal sin. Suppose that you didn’t make your Easter duty, and it’s Pentecost Sunday, the last day, and you’re on a ship at sea and the chaplain goes into a coma but you wanted to receive. And then it’s Monday, too late. But then you cross the international date line. Would that be a mortal or venial sin?”
Borrowing from Carlin, I call such obnoxiously pointless conversations “international date line questions.” You hear them in politics constantly, and in their offshoots: all the government’s laws and regulations. Alas, our eyes glaze over the first time the bureaucrats create their international date line scenarios, no matter how controversial the subject.
There is no controversy so white hot as the pandemic. And rightfully so. Covid killed 600,000-plus in the United States alone. Countless thousands also caught the coronavirus because they refused to wear a mask. It was considered by right-wingers to be an imposition on personal liberty. And never mind the hackneyed saying that “My liberty ends where yours begins.”

The face mask argument got absolutely dangerous because of the demagogically inspired belief that authorities didn’t have the right to mandate the wearing of protection — no matter how proven it was — any more than they had the right to establish speed limits. Oh wait …
But now, finally, the United States is gradually returning to “normal life” after a year of devastating fear of being struck down by the virus.
And why is the U.S. emerging from this viral cloud that brought such death and economic destruction? It’s inarguable that the arrival of the vaccines was the key. There is some debate over whether the Donald Trump administration deserves some credit for the warp speed way that he and his associates developed the vaccines, and I personally feel that he and his people do deserve credit. Of course, it took Joe Biden as president to assemble a team whose schtick was competence and the logistical expertise to actually get it into people’s arms. But let’s give the Trumpster an attaboy.
Of course so many of his supporters get a failing grade because of their anti-vax outlook. Damn the experts, they always say, whether it’s any vaccine or whatever.
In this case, six Southeast states in the country are at the bottom of the heap, right there in MAGA country.
The Covid controversy will outlast the pandemic. The legal profession, with its eyes firmly planted on billable hours, will be contriving lawsuits left and right, although most of them will be right and far right. For instance, do employers have the authority to require that all employees get fully vaccinated?
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has ruled yes, the job holders can limit the job holdees to the vaccinated. But remember, the EEOC is populated by bureaucrats. So what about the Americans with Disabilities Act? What about civil-rights law prohibitions against “coercive” actions? What about those whose lowered immunity might make a vaccine hazardous?
“Some employees may be more likely to be negatively impacted by a vaccination requirement,” the EEOC stated in a press release.
What about Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements? And, of course, there is the EEOC familiar territory of race, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, disability, age and genetic information.
The questions they must resolve are all over the map. Certainly the final regulation will cross the international date line. Many times over.

© 2021 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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