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“Unsullied to the grave?”

Unsullied to the grave?”

from Verse 3 of “My Homeland, Tennessee”

Note: this is one of my political columns. It isn't exactly light and cheery, so don't be surprised when there are no giggles.

Also, once more, this is both a column and a video. You can see the video by clicking on the image below.

I hope that by the time you read this or see it on the web, that the story will have changed completely. I hope that this column of mine will be, at worst, a vague memory of something odd and passing.

But I fear it will not be. So here goes. As I write this, on July 14, 2021, we learn that the State of Tennessee is ending all outreach to young people about vaccinations. Not just Covid, but all vaccinations. This means that many, many children and teenagers may not receive proper medical care, meaning they won’t get shots against everything from Polio to Smallpox, and they may very well be at serious risk.

To see and hear the video/audio version of this entry, click the image above.

Why would the state do something so enormously stupid? Because, it seems, the state’s Republican dominated legislature is terribly, terribly angry about the possibility that adolescents might get vaccinated without their parents’ permission. The larger issue, though, is of course that vaccines in general, and the Covid vaccines in particular, have become dreadfully politicized. Vaccines are “liberal” and “Democratic,” while refusing to get them is somehow associated with Trump, and Republicans, and “being free.”

In fact, I gather that what may have led to the current situation was the state’s top vaccine official, Dr. Michelle Fiscus, said that teenagers might not need their parents’ consent to get vaccinations, and from there it all hit the proverbial fan. Dr. Fiscus was fired. The legislators freaked. And now the state has officially zipped the official lips about young people getting vaccinated at all.

As I say, I’m hoping that this is all over soon and cooler heads will prevail. But, frankly, I worry. It seems all too likely that the situation could last for years to come, and the people of Tennessee…and particularly the young people of Tennessee…will suffer enormously because of it. And, even worse (if such a thing is possible) it could spread. That is, other states dominated by the Trumpified GOP could embrace the same policies, again in the name of “freedom” and “liberty.”

Which means…yet more deaths, and yet more suffering, even among the most vulnerable of us.

And I am struck, painfully, by something curious about our current crop of Trumpian Conservatives. To wit, by a remarkable logic, they have convinced themselves that some Freedom of their own…some narrowly defined privilege…is somehow more important, and more worth defending, than even the lives of their own children.

There is something terrible in that. Something akin to a death cult.

Or even…even…to the bargain of Faust.

That is, to receive power, and a kind of liberty…

At the low, low price… of eternal damnation.


Until next time…

Onward and Upward.



“She Says She Was Fired For Saying That Teens Don't Need Parental Consent For Vaccines,” by Bill Chappell and Paige Pfeger, NPR, July 13, 20218:10 PM ET,

“Tennessee halts all vaccination outreach for kids, fires top official. Here's what we know,” Daniella Medina, Nashville Tennessean, July 14, 2021,

“Tennessee abandons vaccine outreach to minors — not just for COVID-19,” by Brett Kelman,, Nashville Tennessean, July 13, 2021,

“Tennessee is halting outreach on all vaccines for adolescents, including for Covid-19, by Madeline Holcombe, CNN, Updated 7:40 AM EDT, Wed July 14, 2021,

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