I graduated from college a couple years ago and have been working since then, so I had forgotten about a lot of the silly things we have to do when registering for classes at a new school. How many times do I have to make a new password to log onto a university website designed specifically for registration that will certainly crash at the beginning of registration?
Well, I had forgotten about all this rigamarole until this summer, when I had to get ready to start law school this fall. And I had completely forgotten about shots--until I received a letter in the mail telling me to get a tetanus shot.
And this rude reminder got me thinking (that's where you, dear reader, are supposed to roll your eyes) about the school's and government's justification for this coercion.
First of all, why do I speak of "coercion"? Quite simply, because I was not allowed to register for classes until I prove that I had received a tetanus booster within the last ten years. I was forced to go a doctor and have him sign a sheet verifying that he had given me a tetanus booster. (I suppose I could have just forged the doctor's signature. . .)
More importantly, a question came to mind which, I think, might challenge the way most people today think of politics: Why on earth do a law school and the government need to make sure I have had a tetanus booster? Why can I not make the decision myself?
We are not speaking of a communicable disease here. I might be able to understand it if the school made me get a tetanus shot so I wouldn't spread the disease to other people, but the only way I can think of spreading tetanus to my classmates is to run around stabbing them with a rusty nail. We are also not dealing with an environment where tetanus is a constant threat. If I were enlisting in the army, I could understand that the government would make me get a tetanus shot because I would in all likelihood be serving in some a filthy, unhygienic part of the world. (Now, I know a lot of you think law is a dirty business. . .) Granted, tetanus is a horrible disease. But, if I ever step on a rusty nail, I hope I should have the sense to clean the wound up and go to a doctor.
Maybe some of you can find a compelling reason why the government and a university should force me to get a tetanus booster. I can't. My question remains: What vital interest does the government have in making me get a tetanus booster, and why should the law school be so eager to do the government's bidding? What ever happened to personal responsibility and the acceptance of risks in life? I would venture to propose that most people secretly enjoy having the government take the risk out of life, because responsibility is a real burden. But that's only a guess.