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I Could Have Bowed Out

Over the weekend I received a mass email from the music choral group to which I belong in which the board of directors notified us of their new “policy” to mandate the Covid-19 vaccine, along with showing proof of vaccination.

I could have been quiet. I could have walked away, even though I have greatly enjoyed being part of this rather prestigious choral group in my community.

I auditioned back in 2018 thinking it would be a piece of cake, only to realize the high standards that this group adheres to.  Top caliber musicians, music educators, and singers that all sound amazing together.  I read music and can sing most anything, but sight-reading Handel’s Messiah on the spot, and having my own audition piece given to a complete stranger to accompany me had me a little concerned.  Thankfully the audition went off with not much of a hitch and I was accepted as the newest Soprano of the local Mastersingers group.

The 2018-2019 season was amazing.  We started in September with weekly practices and culminated in our first performance of the season with the opera Tosca, in conjunction with the local Symphony.   What a beautiful event! Then we did some community outreach by caroling downtown, filmed a TV commercial for a local credit union, followed by Treble Choir performance of Bach February and then on to sing Carmina Burana with the full SATB in May at an outdoor amphitheatre.  Two more concerts the following November and February… and then Covid happened.

For the better part of 15 months, music was put on hold, as it was pretty much everywhere.  I was just getting in to the music scene, enjoying being in the presence of such magnificent and talented voices.  And now, we were stuck at home, zooming, or rather, if I can make up a new term–Zinging– from home.  Singing on Zoom just isn’t the same as being in person, listening to the others around you, and blending your sound with theirs.  It’s just not the same. But I digress…

Music is a passion of mine; I come from a musical family.  But music wasn’t always front and center.  I had a day-job that I really loved a few years back, that I just happened to fall into.  After a few positions at various hospitals, Admitting Rep, Dialysis Unit Secretary, Emergency Admissions, I finally landed my dream job– what I thought I would be doing until I retired.  I was hired on as a Coordinator of the Institutional Review Board at my local hospital, whose mission was the oversight of research done on human subjects!

I absolutely loved that job.  You know it’s not just a job when you love what you do. That’s how I felt.  It was challenging and fulfilling and fun all rolled together.  

The biggest piece of learning about research on human subjects, is how much of it came out of the Nuremberg Trials after World War II.  So much suffering at the hands of the Nazi’s was exposed, and when the perpetrators were brought to trial and punished for their many sins, new procedures and rules were uniformly adopted and international standards were codified into law to ensure that the atrocities we saw with human experimentation on unwilling participants never happened on this planet ever again.

For many years, we have done well.  That is, up until this past year when the rights of human subjects somehow became lost in the fear and propaganda that was Covid-19.

This brings me back to the email I received over the weekend…..

Part of me knew it was coming.  I saw the writing on the wall.  MCM, with all it’s wonderful points, has some very left-leaning folks who were sticking to the words of Dr. Fauci like flies on fly paper.

Just last month, we were invited to sing for a special Mass at the Catholic church, and we were forced (organization policy) to wear a three-layer mask.  Ugh!  Imagine singing with the equivalent of three masks on!?

I decided after that night that I would not participate in any further events until the mask mandate was over.

And then, we all received the email notice that the board is requiring the covid-19 vaccine shot.  

I could have bowed out. I could have quietly slipped away, thankful for the opportunity I had to sing with the Mastersingers.  Or, I could relay my knowledge that I have of the rules and laws set forth from the Nuremberg Trials, codified in Title 21 of the United States Code of Federal Regulations…

After thinking it over, I chose the latter.  I wrote a long reply, outlining how the vaccines are experimental, and as such, cannot be made mandatory.  I outlined how vaccine records are considered private health information, and cannot be forced to be conveyed to anyone outside the bounds of HIPAA.  I outlined how the vaccine manufacturers are exempt from liability with respect to their vaccines, but pubic and private entities and individuals CAN be held liable, and I specifically noted how the board’s decision was opening up the entire MCM organization to potential lawsuits from vaccine injury. 

I ended my letter with footnotes, quotes from the FDA and HIPAA backing my claims, along with citations from Title 21, the Rulebook for the FDA.

It was a letter whose time had come.  I had to do it.  I felt with my background, I would be doing a disservice if I did not stand up, not only for myself, but for those who perhaps feel like I do but don’t have the knowledge or perhaps the ability to stand up for themselves.  I felt like I was not doing this for me, but for those who could not defend themselves.

It has been a few days since and I have not yet seen a reply from the Artistic Director.  Perhaps he is thinking about what I said, or maybe taking my letter to the board of directors, or perhaps to their attorney, which I hope they will.  Any lawyer who is worth his salt will tell them that they cannot mandate experimental agents, and that yes, they are opening up their organization to a lawsuit waiting to happen.  Is that a risk their stakeholders wish to take?  Hmm… I wonder…

I’d like to think that this post-covid notion of assuming the right to tell others what to put into their bodies will come to an end.

And I’d just like to get back to some good ol’fashion singing!

…without a mask, of course.

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