Let’s apply 3rd party drunk driving laws to COVID denialists

Liability claim form for a million dollars!

Injuries and deaths resulting from COVID denialism are soaring. One reason is that there are no penalties for denialists. We ought to change that by applying 3rd party laws — requiring large financial payouts — to COVID denialists.

How? We can adapt existing 3rd party drunk driving laws.

Injuries and accidents resulting from drunk driving are a serious problem in this county, and many states extend liability for drunk driving injuries and fatalities to the persons or bars who provide the alcohol used in the hours preceding a crash. This 3rd party liability is known as social host liability laws (when the supplier is a host) or dramshop liability laws (when the supplier is a bar). These laws recognize that the person or business that facilitated the drunk driving bears responsibility for the outcome.

I propose using similar laws to hold COVID denialists — politicians, quacks, social media influencers — responsible for COVID infections and deaths under the theory that the person or business who denies the existence, the easy transmissibility or the deadliness of COVID-19 bears responsibility for the morbidity and mortality that results.

By levying substantial fines, we could dramatically reduce COVID infections and deaths.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, dramshop and social liability laws:

  • Reduce alcohol-related crashes
  • Increase publicity of the impacts of over-serving
  • Decrease excessive and illegal consumption
  • Does not decrease personal responsibility

Note that these laws do not imply that the bar caused the drunk driving accident, merely that by selling alcohol to someone obviously drunk the bar facilitated the accident. They do not discount the role of the person who chose to drive drunk; but they recognize that 3rd parties who facilitate drunk driving have a responsibility to prevent reasonably foreseeable consequences.

Obviously, the analogy between drunk driving and COVID denialism is imperfect, but the similarities are striking nonetheless:

  • COVID denialists (like social hosts and bars) do not cause deaths directly.
  • COVID denialists (like social hosts and bars) don’t intend that deaths occur.
  • It is entirely possible that the injuries or deaths might have occurred anyway even if the COVID denialists (like social hosts and bars) were not involved.
  • COVID denialists (like social hosts and bars in drunk driving) facilitate the behavior that leads to the infections and deaths.

The theory that undergirds 3rd party liability alcohol laws is straightforward. By holding bars and hosts responsible for the results of providing alcohol, it gives them a stake in the outcome. Before serving a drink to an intoxicated person, the bar or host must weigh the possibility of paying money or going to jail if serving alcohol leads to injuries or deaths.

Similarly, the theory that undergirds 3rd party liability laws for COVID denialists is also straightforward. By holding COVID denialists — politicians, quacks, social media influencers — responsible for the results of denialism, it gives them a stake in the outcome. Before encouraging denialism or promoting the refusal to take recommended health precautions the denialist must weigh the possibility of paying a substantial amount of money if infection or death results.

The anticipated advantages?

  • Reduce COVID infections and deaths
  • Increase mask wearing and other health precautions
  • Increase publicity of the health impact of COVID denialism
  • Does not decrease personal responsibility

Currently, because they bear no responsibility, there is no downside for COVID denialists like politicians, quacks and social media influencers. By levying large fines, I suspect we could dramatically reduce the number of politicians, quacks and social media influencers who promote denialism. More importantly, we could dramatically reduce the number of preventable COVID infections and deaths.

  • rational thinker

    I just watched this video on youtube and its supposed to be a happy video but it pissed me off, This is another way dangerous ideas are spread to lay people. Dr. Amy I would love to hear a medical explanation of what actually happened in this video. It basically claims its scientific proof for skin to skin/kangaroo care. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VlasTqeDXs

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