OPINION

LETTER: Missing information

Eric R. Price/Leavenworth

To the editor:

One would think our local state Rep. Pat Proctor is on the upcoming ballot given his constant presence on social media railing against one thing or another. This week’s outrage: President Biden’s “tyrannical order” mandating the COVID-19 vaccine. Sadly, like most every other issue Mr. Proctor uses to keep his constituents stirred up, his rants only tell part of the story and the missing information makes a difference. 

The U.S. Supreme Court has issued opinions that starkly contrast Mr. Proctor’s on the issue of a vaccination mandate. 1905’s Jacobson v. Massachusetts said the state has authority to enforce laws on mandatory vaccinations, and that decision was affirmed again in 1922’s Zucht v. King, which ruled that a school district could exclude students who had not received required vaccinations. The logic of Jacobson is important. Associate Justice John Marshall Harlan, writing for the majority, stated that:

“The defendant insists that his liberty is invaded when the state subjects him to fine or imprisonment for neglecting or refusing to submit to vaccination; that a compulsory vaccination law is unreasonable, arbitrary, and oppressive, and, therefore, hostile to the inherent right of every freeman to care for his own body and health in such way as to him seems best; and that the execution of such a law against one who objects to vaccination, no matter for what reason, is nothing short of an assault upon his person.

“But the liberty secured by the Constitution of the United States to every person within its jurisdiction does not import an absolute right in each person to be, at all times and in all circumstances, wholly freed from restraint. There are manifold restraints to which every person is necessarily subject for the common good.

“On any other basis organized society could not exist with safety to its members. Society based on the rule that each one is a law unto himself would soon be confronted with disorder and anarchy. Real liberty for all could not exist under the operation of a principle which recognizes the right of each individual person to use his own, whether in respect of his person or his property, regardless of the injury that may be done to others.”

Such logic applies directly to Biden’s vaccine mandate, though one could argue that such action should have been taken up through legislation rather than executive order – a position I’d agree with. That logic could also apply to mask mandates, another of Mr. Proctor’s pet issues. But that isn’t the argument that Mr. Proctor has made. Instead, Mr. Proctor argues that personal liberty trumps all – except, it seems, in cases of abortion or access to medical marijuana. 

I would like to ask Mr. Proctor directly how he can square such seemingly contradictory positions. However, he doesn’t appear very interested in hearing from a large portion of his constituents. Mr. Proctor’s so-called town halls are not really town halls at all, but are instead the county GOP’s monthly party meetings. Could I stroll into one of these like Daniel into the proverbial lion’s den? I guess I could, but given the agitprop that Mr. Proctor and his sycophant followers publish routinely on social media, I don’t know that I would feel safe there. 

There are a scant other ways to communicate with Mr. Proctor. He routinely ignores communications sent directly to him, at least when they conflict with his views. He also routinely deletes comments from his social media and blocks people who ask wholly legitimate questions. I’m not talking about blocking trolls or name-callers, but constituents asking legitimate questions about his policy positions. Mr. Proctor is not at all interested in discussion, debate or dissent on important issues facing this community, and the candidates he has energetically supported in the upcoming municipal elections have followed his lead.

So I guess that Mr. Proctor is, in fact, on the ballot and the only way many of us in Leavenworth are going to be able to communicate with him is at the ballot box. I will do so vigorously when his name next appears on the ballot. And I will do so this election cycle by supporting candidates who oppose the candidates backed by Mr. Proctor.

– Eric R. Price/Leavenworth