To say what should be obvious, getting vaccinated and wearing a mask in public spaces aren’t “personal choices.” When you reject your shots or refuse to mask up, you’re increasing my risk of catching a potentially deadly or disabling disease, and also helping to perpetuate the social and economic costs of the pandemic. In a very real sense, the irresponsible minority is depriving the rest of us of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Furthermore, to say something that should also be obvious, those claiming that their opposition to public health measures is about protecting “freedom” aren’t being honest.
Most notably, ever since masks became a front in the culture war it has been clear that many opponents of mask mandates aren’t merely demanding the right to go unmasked themselves — they want to stop others from acting responsibly. Tucker Carlson has called on his viewers to confront people they encounter who are wearing masks, and there have been scattered reports of violent attacks on mask-wearers.
They announced that Atlas of an Anxious Man-author Christoph Ransmayr was getting the 2020 Ludwig Börne Prizeat the end of last year, and now, slightly delayed, he finally got to pick up the €20,000 prize -- yesterday.
I mention it because this is yet another prize where every year a single juror decides who gets the prize -- a way of running literary prizes I mentioned last month, following on David Free's piece on Judge a literary prize ? No thanks, they're all a giant waste of time. (Yes, it's another example that is both German and an author- (as opposed to book-)prize.)
What's particularly interesting about this one is that the judges are not necessarily literary figures -- and the man who selected Ransmayr was ... the German president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier ! Sure, the German president isn't the head of state, but how many literary prizes involve politicians to this extent ?
It isn't even the first time a German president judged the prize -- Horst Köhler did in 2006 -- but they've also had literary figures judge: Monika Maron, Jorge Semprun, Michael Krüger, and Michael Naumann, among others. The prize-winners are also all over the place, but aside from this last, certainly worthy winner, they've honored George Steiner, Hans-Magnus Enzensberger, and Joachim Fest.
(Updated - 11 August): See now also Ransmayr's acceptance speech, Nachrichten von einem tapferen Mann, in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.