A Walk on the Wild Side of Facebook U: A Response to Bryant and Larsen's Review of My Choice

September 2022

Lynne Bryant and Kris Larsen’s review of Julie Ponesse’s book My Choice: The Ethical Case Against COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates, in the April 2022 SAFS Newsletter (Issue #92), deserves some attention. The pandemic response was designed to minimize a global pandemic emergency, both through direct vaccine protection and preventative measures (distancing, masks, handwashing), and by reducing hospital bed and emergency room overflow. The latter would otherwise result in deaths, not from the disease alone but also from denial of hospital resources addressing other ailments. The evidence overwhelmingly shows a reduction in deaths and serious sickness from mandates.

There were occasional public health errors in the messaging, certainly, but the WHO-recommended and national measures taken were not manifestations of “safetyism” or coddling. There was a real emergency that killed 15 million people1 worldwide (and counting) and which could have killed many, many more. However, throughout “A Lone Pine of a Woman”, Bryant and Larsen conflate COVID19 mandated measures with “wokeism” and confuse (what is inevitably imperfect) risk reduction with (impossible) risk elimination.

There are some real bloopers here, such as: “viruses, covid or otherwise, go right through” masks and “escape or enter through their sides”. Masks, they laughably proclaim, are vestiges of “some dystopian doomsday cult.” Masks are useless. Fling them away! Mandating them can only be a totalitarian imposition. Yet their impact – together with social-distancing – on our concomitant annual influenza season provided ample evidence to the contrary. There were 69 reported Canadian cases of flu in the 2020-21 season. Normal is about 52 thousand cases a year.2

We are told covid vaccines “aren’t overly effective” in preventing the disease although “they appear to lessen its seriousness” (scare italics added there by the reviewers). Yet easily available hard evidence of lessened seriousness and reduced mortality, plus freed-up emergency rooms, is surely data proving significant effectiveness.

Then there’s a dubious effort to connect teen depression and 56% increased deaths from suicide in Britain to vaccine mandates. Suicide “causes aren’t specified, so it is unclear how many are attributed to these jabs”, they write, one suspects reluctantly. In other words, let’s equate that correlation to causation anyway! One thing deadlier than mask-wearing is getting covid, but that possibility is not entertained. Losing loved ones – that really can be depressing.

Anarchic contempt for public health institutions contaminates the review throughout. It pops up in reference to the “man-boy prime minister”, and “blind trust in authority” and dismissal of “ ‘experts’ with tunnel vision who lack conceptions of the bigger picture.” This is the populist play book we are all familiar with, and what the belligerent “freedom convoy” (sic) came to exemplify and that Bryant and Larsen, are manifestly sympathetic towards. (Ponesse also supports the “truckers’ ” legal defence through her Democracy Fund, an organization mentioned twice in the review.)

Ponesse, we learn, this “lone pine” heroic figure who has “sacrificed her career and livelihood and has a child to support,” is speaking out against “academic and medical tyranny.” We are advised, therefore, to follow her lead. Become “self-taught” and avoid reliance on “others”, ditch the peer-review of academia, eschew the most informed and respected science, and take a walk on the wild side at Facebook U.

  1. 14.9 million excess deaths associated with the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, May 5, 2022, WHO news release:
  2. FluWatch Report: