Without Privacy, There Is No Freedom

April 2, 2022

Imagine waking up one morning and something just doesn't seem right. You're lucky enough to get an appointment with the doctor right away. Doc checks you out and says, "Bad news, you have a case of cooties." He offers some advice and maybe a prescription. You call off work and head home to recover.

Later on your spouse is coming home and you're getting ready to repeat what the Doc said. But your spouse bursts thought the door and yells, "OMG, you have cooties!" When you peak outside, you see the neighbors standing around whispering and pointing at you.

You ask, "How did you know?" Turns out some guy where your spouse works meticulously follows the Keystone Cooties List, where everyone who has cooties is listed for all the public to see. You have been identified.

This is what Covid-19 would have looked like if Senator Doug Mastriano's instincts were taken seriously by the General Assembly. On March 17, 2020 – eleven days into the disaster emergency – Mastriano urged the federal government to suspend HIPAA privacy laws so infected individuals could be publicly identified. A week later, he introduced a bill to do exactly that at the state level.

Thankfully, his instincts weren't taken seriously.

"Oh, that was early in the pandemic and no one knew what to do about it. It wouldn't have been as bad as you say."

I beg to differ. I knew exactly what to do about it. On the very same day Mastriano's fearful instinct was to suspend HIPAA and increase the power of government, my instinct was to introduce a resolution to terminate Tom Wolf's 11-day old disaster emergency.

And I know for a fact suspending HIPAA would have been very bad, due to my personal experience with contact tracing. If you recall, those in the vicinity of someone who came down with Covid within the next 48 hours got contact traced. If you were contact traced, you had to quarantine for 14 days. Not because you were sick, but because someone else was. I got contact traced four separate times in 2020,

Among other important events, I had to cancel my own wedding and missed arguing in favor of final passage of my resolution terminating Tom Wolf's disaster emergency on the House floor due to being contact traced.

As if being locked down itself wasn't bad enough, I was pilloried, shamed, and treated like a leper. Some claimed I was out in public when I was not, and a Democrat State Representative recorded a profanity laced, half-baked video tirade in which he repeatedly lambasted me for not publicly announcing the fact that I was contact traced.

The video went viral and I had the pleasure of being insulted by folks all over the world for following CDC guidelines. This is exactly the sort of hyperbolic witch hunts that are instigated and facilitated by people who wish to invade your privacy. So yes, it would have been as bad as I said above.

Mastriano apparently later had a change of heart about invading your privacy, thankfully. He erased all traces of his instinct to suspend HIPAA from websites and social media under his control, and refuses to address the issue pubicly. Perhaps he's embarassed about it all.

He should be embarassed. When all of Pennsylvania was hunkered down in the Covid foxhole of those early days, he panicked. He panicked so badly he suggested doing something even Tom Wolf and Rachel Levine wouldn't dare to suggest. The guy in the foxhole whose instincts cause him to panic is a danger to everyone else in the foxhole.

In contrast, my instinct on March 17, 2020 was not to panic and invade your privacy, but to introduce a concurrent resolution to terminate Tom Wolf's disaster emergency to protect your rights. I suspected government would become more menacing in its handling of the pandemic, a belief that sadly proved to be correct as time went by.

That resolution - HR836 - was the bill that went all the way to the PA Supreme Court and led to the two constitutional amendments that voters approved in May 2021 to limit any governor's emergency powers.

I'm grateful the General Assembly and the people of Pennsylvania rallied around the more rational way out of the Covid foxhole.

In April 2020, Mastriano followed my lead by introducing a termination resolution similar to mine in the Senate. He has similarly mimicked the efforts of others who have taken the lead on important issues, including my effort to secure medical freedom for Pennsylvanians.

My fight for your medical freedom pre-dates the Covid-19 pandemic, when I introduced HB2037 on January 25, 2018 to ensure school districts are more conspicuous and transparent about legal exemptions to vaccine mandates for students. That bill is currently known as HB261, and is one of three medical freedom bills of which I am the prime sponsor.

Among these my top priority right now is HB2013, a constitutional amendment to establish medical freedom as a fundamental individual right for all Pennsylvanians, and to prohibit discrimination based upon the exercise of that right of conscience.

As of this writing, HB2013 has 43 co-sponsors, and I'm working diligently with concerned citizens to have it brought to the House floor for passage so you can have an opportunity to cast your ballot to make it part of our state constitution. You can help by contacting your own representative in the House to demand they co-sponsor HB2013 and ask House leadership to bring it up for a vote.

After what we've been through over the last two years, medical freedom has become the seminal issue of our time. My instinct has always been that we have a right to refuse any medical procedure, treatment, injection, vaccine or prophylactic, no matter what our reason for doing so.

The only exemption you should ever need is your ability to say "No, thank you." No government, corporation, or non-profit entity should ever be able to insist otherwise. They should also never be permitted to invade your privacy.

Privacy is a critical component of medical freedom. Without privacy, there is no freedom. Covid-19 will not be the last unknown threat our Commonwealth faces. Our instincts in such situations should always be to protect freedom, not to invade it. You can't walk as free people when you're on a government watch list.

I will continue to stand up for all your freedoms in Harrisburg, and will never let fear of the unknown cause me to panic, waver, or defer to the unchecked power of the state.

PS: I realize this column will offend some of Mastriano's supporters, but it is what it is. He wanted to put you on a public list if you had Covid. It's merely one of several reasons why I question his judgment and keep my distance from him.

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