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Here’s what they mean by ‘Freedom’: Event promotes bill to jail docs who use vaccines | Opinion

“I thought we believed in a patient-doctor relationship. So why is the government stepping in and telling these doctors that they can’t do that (administer drugs they believe are effective) to their patients?” asked Sen. Tammy Nichols at the Idaho Freedom Foundation’s “Capitol Clarity” event on Thursday.

That’s a decent argument. It just sounds a little strange coming from the mouth of a lawmaker who is in the midst of promoting a bill that would jail doctors, nurses and pharmacists who administer most brands of COVID-19 vaccines.

But Nichols was talking about ivermectin, an anti-parasite medication that has repeatedly shown no efficacy in treating COVID-19, not vaccines, which have demonstrated a high degree of efficacy in preventing severe disease and death.

Along with cosponsor Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, Nichols was promoting House Bill 307. The bill and its predecessor have both been printed by the House Health and Welfare Committee, but neither has been granted a hearing. The purpose of the Freedom Foundation’s Capitol Clarity event was to try to get supporters to contact their lawmakers and get it moving.

With the bill, Nichols and Boyle are seeking to place the government — the police specifically — right in the middle of the doctor-patient relationship. The bill would make it a misdemeanor to administer vaccines that use mRNA technology, like the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, punishable by up to a year in jail.

On top of the jail time, there’s a bonus for charging doctors with a misdemeanor, Nichols told the gathered audience of around 30 people. They’ll lose their license after they get out.

The bill has already been rewritten once. The first draft would have banned mRNA vaccines for both humans and other mammals, but the agricultural sector had objections. So it was rewritten so that a vet could give a cow an mRNA vaccine, but a doctor would go to jail for giving one to you.

Speaking of veterinary medicine — many ivermectin advocates get angry if you refer to it as “horse paste.” True, it is available as a paste for treating horse parasites, but it also comes as a pill, long FDA-approved for humans and stocked at many pharmacies, they like to point out.

After the presentation on Nichols and Boyle’s bill, participants at Capitol Clarity discussed various means of obtaining ivermectin: a sympathetic local compounding pharmacy, a mail-order chemist in India, etc. And then there are other methods.

“There’s nothing wrong with taking the horse paste,” said one older man in the audience.

Boyle and Nichols met this with solemn nods.

The length of Thursday’s Capitol Clarity event was like this: hilarious but tinged with a shade of sadness, as are all gatherings of the easily duped. A recent immigrant from California complained that his wife had vaccinated and indoctrinated their children against him. A woman described a desperate race to get a hospitalized friend at serious risk of dying a dose of ivermectin.

And it always seems that more sinister figures are lurking around the periphery, not just the kind who easily buy into silly conspiracy theories, but the kind who mean to harm innocent people.

As the Southern Poverty Law Center noted in a recent article, Nichols in a February Twitter post promoted a racist YouTuber who goes by the name Blonde in the Belly of the Beast.

Rebecca Crockett, whom Nichols seems to have met up with at the Kootenai County GOP’s Lincoln Day dinner, has featured recent sympathetic interviews with white nationalists including Jared Taylor, a leading intellectual in the movement, and Paul Miller, a race-war-promoting Florida neo-Nazi just released from a prison stint for a weapons conviction. Many of her videos also feature anti-vaxxers.

As for Boyle, she was one of the lawmakers — along with Reps. Heather Scott and Sage Dixon — who decided to ditch the legislative session to stick up for extremists affiliated with Ammon Bundy during their 2016 takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Bundy went on to become the most belligerent of Idaho’s anti-mask and anti-vaccine protesters.

So here we have Idaho, at least the Idaho that the Freedom Foundation envisions. A land where the doctors are in jail and the cattle have the vaccines meant for you.

But you can have all the literal horse paste you can eat, and here and there, the odd Nazi or armed fanatic sprinkled in to keep things lively.

This is what they believe freedom means.

Bryan Clark is an opinion writer with the Idaho Statesman based in eastern Idaho.