How Covid-19 Killed Academic Tenure

Academic tenure has long been controversial and imperfect—and now, in one fell swoop, it is dead, killed by progressives under the guise of Covid-19 safety. The manner of its killing tells us much about progressives’ respect for individual rights. 

Defenders of tenure for university professors once claimed that it offered necessary protection against the combined forces of corporate funding and political correctness, a multi-headed hydra which if unchecked would prevent academics from conducting honest research into topics of their choosing.

Others argued that tenure was mainly harmful, making it costly to dismiss university faculty members who collected large salaries without fulfilling their teaching and research duties. In practice, as organizations such as the National Association of Scholars and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education warned, tenure repeatedly showed itself incapable of protecting those who needed it most. Dissident intellectuals often found themselves on the wrong side of disciplinary committees, dismissed from their positions for alleged harassment and/or vaguely defined “misconduct.” Many of these academics’ troubles began because they were ideological outliers in a punitively progressivist milieu.  

Guilty!

Until now, however, there was at least a semblance of due process. Though they were often targeted unfairly, persecuted academics were at least notified well in advance of proceedings against them; allowed to attempt a fact-based self-defense; examined by a committee convened for the specific purpose of hearing the evidence; given the opportunity to hire a lawyer or enlist the assistance of their faculty association/union; and if terminated given written notice of their particular transgressions. Inadequate and biased as it often was, some formal fact-finding procedure was observed.

In the time of Covid, however, mass firings are in preparation at universities across North America without even a pretense of case-by-case consideration or rational weighing of evidence—tenure be damned. 

The mere evocation of “safety” is now enough to authorize firings without investigation on grounds not covered by any faculty member’s Collective Agreement and notably without public protest from faculty associations, bodies which once existed solely to protect the working conditions and rights of faculty members. Outside of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, this is an unprecedented situation so far being greeted with stunning silence from the professoriate. 

Under the new Covid dispensation, professors are simply notified that, if they do not produce proof of vaccination by a certain (arbitrarily chosen) date, a disciplinary process will be commenced with an end-point of termination. 

The University of Waterloo, a large research university in southern Ontario, is one among many universities that began sending out the equivalent of pink slips on the Friday before Canadian Thanksgiving (Oct. 11 this year), informing what it called “non-compliant” employees that the deadline to provide proof of vaccination is October 17, 2021.  

The letter, sent to me by a University of Waterloo employee, states that unless “alternative work options” (left conveniently vague) can be found, employees who do not provide the required proof of vaccination will be placed on a 42-day “unpaid suspension,” presumably in order to think over the prospect of the total wreckage of a once-secure and remunerative career. Then, “[i]f the individual remains non-compliant 14 days before the end of the 42-day suspension, they will receive a letter indicating that their pay and benefits will cease as at the end of the suspension.” No appeal procedure is mentioned.

Following up on this dire statement, the letter informs employees that “the vaccination form is quick and easy to complete”—as if mere cumbersome documentation were hindering compliance—and that “personal information will be kept confidential in compliance with statutory privacy requirements and will only be shared with individuals for the purpose of program administration.” It’s presumably a relief to know that, having been coerced to take an experimental medication in order to keep one’s position, the violation takes place under cover of confidentiality. The obvious fact that hundreds of people on campus will easily guess why “non-compliant” employees are being suspended—thus violating the privacy promised—is not acknowledged.   

No science-based rationale is offered for the extraordinary statement of compulsion. The extremely low infection-fatality rate for Covid-19, particularly for healthy individuals under 65 (the super-majority of those studying and teaching on campus) is never mentioned. The now well-documented failure of vaccines to protect against infection and transmission is also left unmentioned; alas, the evidence reveals that vaccinated individuals are just as likely as the unvaccinated to transmit Covid-19, even in conditions where all are vaccinated. The unseemly haste reeks of a political desire to purge the non-conforming. 

No attempt is made in the letter to explain why provisions in the Universal Declaration on Bio-Ethics and Human Rights are flagrantly violated by the measure. The Universal Declaration makes clear that medical treatments must never be coerced, must always be informed and entirely voluntary (not carried out under conditions of duress) and that the good of society or of science must never take precedence over the individual human right to choose. 

No provisions are made in the letter for individuals with natural immunity, which scientific evidence shows to be at least as effective as, and likely far more effective than, vaccination. The humane alternative of enabling the unvaccinated to carry on their duties off campus—as had been done for well over a year before the advent of the vaccines—is gestured toward, but not in any way guaranteed. 

Accommodation is offered only “for unique cases where individuals cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons or protected human rights grounds,” but it is not made clear how such accommodation decisions will be made or why university administrators are qualified to make them. One of the main grounds for a human rights accommodation would be an exemption for a sincerely-held religious belief, and it is far from self-evident that a group of secular leftists—with many avowed Marxists—can discern or appreciate the sincerity of any such beliefs.

No velvet glove needed any more.

In a final paragraph full of unintended irony, the letter informs the non-compliant that “If you are struggling with your mental health during these changing times, reach out for support […],” providing the names of various university agencies, none of which, of course, will provide any actual support in resisting the vaccination mandate, and none of which, given the demonizing tenor of communications regarding non-compliance, will likely even be able to express genuine empathy for an employee about to be terminated. If the termination of your employment leads to suicidal despair or health-damaging stress, you’re on your own. 

This is the new university: fully collectivist and tyrannically indifferent to individual rights of conscience or choice. Over the past 30 years, the progressivists infiltrated and took over the academy. Their ruthless determination, always under cover of benign rhetoric about "inclusion" and "safety," should always have been evident; now its vaunting brutality is unmistakable.

Of Covid Mandates and Legal Liabilities

Last month President Biden announced an initiative that he asserts will ‘stop’ the SARS Cov-2 virus. A scientifically implausible objective, his outline included a plan to require all private businesses with 100 or more employees to ensure their employees are fully vaccinated or require weekly testing. The mandates are curious because they burden businesses in unprecedented and legally nebulous ways.

Using a mechanism referred to as an Emergency Temporary Standard through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the administration asserts mandating vaccines will stop the transmission of the virus. However, the vaccine was neither developed for, nor indicated to arrest transmission of the virus. According to the FDA website, the vaccine is intended to “…reduce severe illness, hospitalization and death.”

So why might the Administration be issuing mandates for a vaccine that cannot achieve their stated purpose of ‘stopping the virus”? Consider possible reasons by looking through the lens of liability.

Cross my heart and hope to die.

As business-minded leaders do in the face of government overreach, a response must be developed that helps create certainty for the business. To get there in this case, one must review the most fundamental aspect of a mandate… if the business requires the action as a condition of employment, the business owns the consequence of what happens as a result. Understanding the business of vaccine liability may help a business determine whether it is in its best interest to accept the premise of the Biden Administration mandate, or perhaps consider other strategies, including legal challenges.

An important element of the liability relating to vaccines is whether the individual receives the Emergency Use Authorized (EUA)-version of the vaccine, or the newly FDA-approved, branded-version known as Comirnaty. While there is no difference in the actual drug in the syringe, there are differences in the liability protection offered under EUA for those who manufacture, distribute or in some way deliver the vaccine, compared to the FDA-approved Comirnaty.

According to the Congressional Research Service, “…in order to encourage the expeditious development and deployment of medical countermeasures during a public health emergency, the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act) authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to limit legal liability for losses relating to the administration of medical countermeasures such as diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines.”

In a declaration effective February 4, 2020, nearly six weeks before the U.S. lock-downs, the HHS Secretary invoked the PREP Act and declared Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) to be a public health emergency warranting liability protections for covered countermeasures inclusive of the available vaccines. According to the current PREP ACT, the protection against liability reaches into 2025.

Ummm...

All state and local governments, medical providers and related manufacturers and distributors of modalities for treatment of Covid-19 were exempted from liability. So for anyone who receives the EUA- version of the vaccine, which as of this writing is still the only version available in the U.S., one has no recourse from a liability perspective, except in very specific and limited circumstances should one experience an adverse event or die. However, once FDA-approved and sold under the brand name Comirnaty, liability is handled differently. Comirnaty is currently only available in Israel.

Under normal circumstances, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) provides compensation for injuries caused by most vaccines routinely administered in the U.S., such as childhood vaccines and non-pandemic seasonal influenza vaccines.

Enter mandated businesses. Once a vaccine is mandated by a private business, an entity not outlined and protected under the PREP Act, nor protected once a branded drug is available on the market, liability protection seemingly does not  exist for businesses.

Looking beyond the PREP ACT, consider the long-term efficacy data currently available. Since vaccines have only been available for a relatively short time, long-term data is simply unknown. However, that doesn’t mean the potential adverse events are not a liability for which a mandated company must model and prepare.

Consider the language from the FDA’s website, pertaining to long-term efficacy of the FDA-approved Comirnaty regarding Myocarditis and Pericarditis.

Additionally, the FDA conducted a rigorous evaluation of the post-authorization safety surveillance data pertaining to myocarditis and pericarditis following administration of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 Vaccine and has determined that the data demonstrate increased risks, particularly within the seven days following the second dose. The observed risk is higher among males under 40 years of age compared to females and older males. The observed risk is highest in males 12 through 17 years of age. Available data from short-term follow-up suggest that most individuals have had resolution of symptoms. However, some individuals required intensive care support. Information is not yet available about potential long-term health outcomes. The Comirnaty Prescribing Information includes a warning about these risks.

Add to this, we now believe the SARS CoV-2 virus was modified in a Chinese lab and the liability issues are more nebulous. A recently exposed a 2018 grant proposal submitted by Peter Daszak of the Eco Health Alliance, to DARPA, the Pentagon’s research and development arm. The proposal sought funding to engineer a Furin Cleavage site (FCS) into a beta coronavirus. The FCS was intended to increase the virulence of the virus in humans. DARPA deemed it too dangerous and denied the grant.

A year later, in 2019, a beta coronavirus virus with a FCS shows up having potentially ‘leaked’ from a Wuhan lab at which Daszak was coincidently using National Institute of Health (NIH) funding to make gain-of-function modifications to beta family coronaviruses. A significant percentage of the spike protein from the original strain of SARS Cov-2 are in the vaccine now being mandated. What other enhancements were made to that virus and inadvertently stitched into the vaccine? The answers are presently unknown.

Companies must decide whether mandating the vaccine for their most valuable asset, their employees, is a sound business decision. Can businesses confidently assert that without a legal fight, they will not have some liability in the face of potential short and long-term health issues associated with the currently available vaccine?

Electric Vehicle Fires: Nearly Impossible to Extinguish

Here's something you won't hear much about in the mainstream media -- America's firefighters are struggle to develop procedures for dealing with electric vehicles that have crashed and burst into flame. "The problem," explains Jazz Shaw, "is that despite not having a tank full of gasoline, electric cars burn longer and more fiercely than automobiles with internal combustion engines." Why is that?

Damaged banks of lithium-ion batteries contain a lot of residual energy and can keep driving up the temperature (and reigniting everything around them) for many hours. There is currently no official training for how to deal with these fires. Tesla’s own first responder’s guide only advises firefighters to “use lots of water.”

"Lots" seems like an understatement. Shaw reports that back in April it took eight fireman seven hours to get a burning Tesla under control outside of Houston, and they used roughly 28,000 gallons of water to do it, "more than the [entire] department normally uses in an entire month." And that bit about EV batteries "reigniting" is no joke either -- one veteran fireman likened them to a trick birthday candle, the kind that light up again every time they're extinguished.

So, EVs burn like crazy, they require a massive increase in mining for raw materials like lithium and cobalt which are extremely damaging to a variety of ecosystems, and, since they run on electricity which is mostly generated by fossil fuels, they aren't meaningfully reducing carbon emissions anyway.

Why are nations across the world moving towards mandating them again?