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Traveling Man

        With key facts still in dispute, I hesitate to judge the conduct of public health officials in the case of the man with drug resistant TB who flew back and forth to Europe in early May.  But there seems to be no dispute that the man had been informed of his diagnosis and advised not to travel before he boarded the plane, so I don’t hesitate to blame him for knowingly exposing other people to infection.
   
        Virtuecrats may attribute his behavior to what is often (and sometimes rightly) critiqued as a cultural ethic of self-centeredness, but getting on a plane knowing you have drug resistant TB requires a malevolent thoughtlessness in which passengers who bellow banalities into their cell phones may never indulge. 
   
        The irony is that, from a civil liberties perspective, there are far fewer objections to cell phone bans on planes than to strict quarantine laws.  It’s true that cell phone abusers could assert a First Amendment right to use their phones, but their interest in free speech is weightless compared to the liberty interests apt to be violated by quarantine laws.

        Quarantines involve very difficult conflicts between liberty and public health, which I do not propose to discuss, much less resolve here.  I just wonder whether any laws can save us from the selfish stupidities of others, especially when the laws themselves are likely to be administered by people who are no better, if no worse, than the miscreants they seek to control.
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