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Anonymous Mailbag

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It’s Tuesday, and right off the top, I want to apologize for the past couple of weeks of having no anonymous mailbag up to solve all your life’s problems.

I’ve been traveling to such an extent that I just haven’t had the time to write the anonymous mailbag the past two weeks. But I’m back home this week, and this weekend will be the 14th, and last, consecutive weekend of travel for the OutKick college football bus tour. (We’ll be in Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game, and we’ll be doing a live show at Stats sports bar on Saturday before the game.)

So I should be able to finally get a breather in the weeks ahead and get back to my regular schedule. With all that in mind, the anonymous mailbag relies on your questions. So load them up for me by sending them to claytravis@gmail.com, anonymity guaranteed. And if you’re tired of COVID questions, then send non-COVID questions. (We continue to be deluged with COVID related questions in the meantime.)

Okay, here we go with this week’s version of the mailbag.

“My in-laws want to get together to celebrate her father’s birthday. No problem there. Then I get a text this morning that says bring a sweater because we’re going to eat outside of their house. Again no problem.

Five minutes ago I received an email from her father saying that all guests need to provide proof of recent, negative COVID test upon arrival and oh by the way we all have to wear masks even while we’re outside.

I am the only one of the party’s attendees who is unvaccinated. I assume all of this is for my benefit only, but who knows. Everyone else in my wife’s family is fully vaccinated with boosters where applicable and even flu shots.

I live in a house divided in Austin, Texas. I am a conservative from San Antonio and my wife is a Democrat from a left leaning family in Austin. We were married way back in 2004 before families discussed politics in the open so I had no idea what I was getting myself into. What should I do about this going forward?”

I presume your wife wouldn’t be happy if you didn’t go to your father-in-law’s birthday party, but all of these restrictions, as I’m sure you know, are pointless and don’t really make anyone safer.

I’d be less concerned with my in-laws — since you aren’t married to them — and more concerned about my relationship with my wife, if I were you. I have a ton of questions here: How has your left-leaning wife responded to your choice not to get vaccinated? Have you gotten anti-body tests to see if you’ve already had COVID? You’ve been married since 2004. Do you have children? If so, how have you balanced your different opinions on COVID as it pertains to the children? I can only imagine how many fights there have been in households where one parent wants the kids vaccinated for COVID, and the other parent is opposed to the idea. Heck, it wouldn’t surprise me if we’ve got some parents secretly vaccinating their young children to try and avoid provoking the ire of the other parent. There are probably many of you right now reading this who are nodding along because you’ve been battling your spouse over COVID safety for the past two years.

So my first suggestion for you would be to ignore your in-law demands and focus on your relationship with your wife. Does she acknowledge how absurd all of these requirements are, or does she think they are entirely legitimate? How much does she want you at the party? That’s an important discussion point here.

Second, obsessive COVID safety has become, for many people in America, the overriding principle of their lives. These obsessive COVID protection fanatics are willing to follow any directive, even the contradictory ones, no matter how low the risk they actually face, in an effort to take the virus seriously and be able to virtue signal.

Given that recent data has made it quite clear the COVID vaccine doesn’t really impact your ability to spread the virus, we know the unvaccinated aren’t the only reason COVID is spreading. The vaccinated and the unvaccinated appear equally likely to spread the virus. There is evidence, at least for now, that the COVID vaccine does limit the overall severity of COVID if you get the virus, but it doesn’t stop you from getting or spreading the virus if you are vaccinated.

My point here is we have passed the point of logic long ago. Your in-laws are behaving not as logical, rational humans, but as religious adherents taking leaps of faith based on the COVID gospel as told to them by Dr. Fauci. That’s fine, everyone is entitled to their own religious beliefs, but it’s the exact opposite of science.

Having said all of this, I’d go to the party, even with the ridiculous requirements, if it made your wife happy that you went. She’s who I would focus on right now. Presumably you love your wife, since you’ve been married to her for 17 years, and want to continue to do your best to make her happy. Attending her dad’s birthday party, even with the absurd requirements, probably makes her happier.

So I’d go and follow the absurd protocols too.

“I’m currently serving an unpaid suspension by my fortune 500 employer for publicly posting during a virtual town hall about vaccine mandates that the mandates are absurd, joe biden is a tyrant, and let’s go brandon. A few hours later, HR called and said that tons of people had contacted them complaining about being triggered by my ‘let’s go brandon’ message appearing in the chat. After being threatened with separation, the HR team said I would be suspended without pay for ‘disorderly conduct.’ I tried to explain that let’s go brandon is fundamentally a critique of the fake news media, but they were not understanding. They said that it was just as bad as saying ‘eff joe biden,’ which clearly it isn’t considering they weren’t even willing to say ‘fuck.’

A few questions for you about this: first, is there anything that gets left wingers unhinged like let’s go Brandon? I don’t think there is, which is exactly why it’s so funny. Next, what do you think I should do, leave this job as soon as possible or continue to speak up or just shut up and dribble for the shareholders? Lastly, do I have any sort of employment law case here? I realize political affiliation isn’t a protected class, but it seems like suspending someone without pay is a pretty severe measure to take for something as minor as a political statement and joke that did not harm to anyone.”

I think it was pretty aggressive of you to make these posts during a virtual town hall meeting at work. I don’t disagree with anything you said, but I wouldn’t have posted those things during a work event. Frankly, I’d do my best not to be political at work at all if I wanted to keep my job and if I had a “normal” job.

That’s if I were an employee.

If I ran the company, I wouldn’t have allowed any comments to be made during the virtual town hall on the vaccine mandates. That’s because my prediction would be that the comments would immediately descend into a political mess and the more people posted political comments the more intense the comments would have become. So I think your company screwed up by allowing comments at all.

The biggest question I would have would be: did HR apply a content neutral position when it came to the comments that were made and the punishments that were meted out? In other words, if someone insulted Trump or Republicans in the comments, were they treated to the same discipline as you? If they weren’t, you’d have a decent claim against your company that your suspension was unfair. But unfair doesn’t mean legally unacceptable.

Assuming you’re an at-will employee, which most people are, you can be fired for virtually anything at any point in time. So your legal claim would be difficult here.

I do agree that “Let’s Go Brandon” is a really funny way of criticizing and mocking the Biden administration, and I think the depth of the insult is fantastic and helps to explain why left wingers are driven so crazy by it.

But I also don’t think political comments during a vaccine mandate discussion are really smart to make at work.

Credit to you for being willing to say exactly what you believe, but I’ve long argued that political comments at work aren’t protected speech. Sure, you can make them, but your employer has a right to hold you responsible for them too.

Put another way, did you believe it was smart for the NFL to allow players to make political comments at work in uniform by kneeling during the national anthem? I didn’t and still don’t. Not because I didn’t believe Colin Kaepernick and others had the right to their political comments, they clearly did, but just because I don’t believe employees have the right to make political comments in uniform at work. In fact, I think it’s bad for business to allow it, period.

Most people come to sports to escape the serious things in life. It was indisputably the case that the NFL, by embracing politics, harmed its standing with the American public to a large degree. The same was true with the NBA.

Plus, it was easy to see this spiraling out of control. What if people started kneeling to protest abortion, the Second Amendment, gay marriage, or affirmative action? Once you open the door to political comments at work, I think you’ve created a huge opportunity for chaos.

I believe in content neutral policies when it comes to political speech at work. Personally, if I ran a non-political business, I wouldn’t want anyone sharing their political beliefs at work because I’d think those political beliefs would be more likely to divide and distract my employees and my business than make it run more effectively. But someone else could disagree with that and run their business in a different manner. Maybe I’m wrong and they’re right. Time would tell. That’s the great thing about capitalism.

What I would want above all else is a consistent policy that applied evenly to all people regardless of their political leanings.

Finally, as I’ve said and written quite often, I believe vaccine mandates are unconstitutional. That is, I agree with your overall position. But if I were an employee, I don’t believe I would have shared my opinion in a public forum like you did. I would have made my supervisors aware of my position and if the company insisted on applying the mandates, and rejected my exemption requests, I would have been forced to make a choice, get the vaccine or find a new job.

What’s more, if I ran a company with over 100 employees, I would sue to avoid being forced to implement them. And I remain hopeful the courts will knock down these mandates and argue they are unconstitutional.

But I don’t think you have a strong claim against your company here. As always, I’d encourage you to consult with a labor or employment attorney in your city and state who will be far more informed about the particular laws at play in your city and state than I am.

“In February, my wife and our two boys (ages 6 and 4) are booked to go on a cruise out of Florida. The cruise line is requiring that all guests 12 and over be vaccinated. My wife and I are vaccinated, but my kids are not (and I do not plan to vaccinate them for COVID).

Last week I got an email from the cruise line outlining their onboard policies regarding vaccinated vs. unvaccinated guests, including:

-The Main Dining Room has areas for all parties (vaccinated and those with unvaccinated children.)
-Some specialty restaurants are for vaccinated parties only.
-Theaters and activity venues offer spaced seating with options for everyone and vaccinated guests only.
-The Fitness Center has operating hours for everyone as well as hours reserved for vaccinated guests only.

How are these policies not blatant examples of segregation? From a legal perspective, it seems like a slippery slope to allow segregation based on vaccination status.

I understand that these policies on a cruise ship are literally ‘first world problems,’ and it’s not something I’m going to let bother me during my vacation. However, I worry that these policies could be a view of what’s to come in the rest of the country. What do you think will happen with vaccination policies in the country over the next few months/years?”

My prediction is that as more and more people realize vaccination won’t eliminate COVID, the infatuation with vaccinations will fade.

An obsession with whether or not other people are vaccinated, by its very nature, only makes sense if the vaccines aren’t very reliable. Put it this way, I’m vaccinated for measles, mumps and rubella, all your standard vaccinations. Do you know how often I’ve ever worried if someone else was vaccinated for these viruses?

Never!

That’s because I know my vaccine works. I’m protected from getting those viruses. What the latest data is showing us is that there’s almost no difference in whether you spread or don’t spread the virus based on vaccination status. People have bought into the falsehood that the only reason COVID still exists is because some people are unvaccinated. This isn’t true — not only because many unvaccinated people like me have already had COVID and have COVID antibodies which may well protect us better than those who have been vaccinated — but because the vaccine doesn’t stop you from getting or spreading the virus.

When it comes to vaccine requirements, I predict many businesses will be ending these policies because it likely will impact their overall revenue. I’ll give you an example — I enjoy visiting New York City as a tourist. I’ve taken my family there several times for trips. But so long as there is a vaccine mandate for bars, restaurants, theaters, shopping establishments and the like, I’m not taking a trip to New York City.

In fact, my wife and I were just deciding where to get away for a couple of days over the holidays, just the two of us. My wife suggested New York City or Key West, Florida. I vetoed New York City as a vacation trip for the two of us because of the COVID issues and we’re going to Key West instead.

That’s a direct decision of mine that will put several thousand dollars into the Key West economy instead of the New York City economy. How many people like me are making this same choice and going to places other than New York City? The answer appears to be a substantial number of people because New York hotels still have incredible rates of vacancy.

Similarly, there’s a 0% chance I’m taking a cruise if there are vaccine requirements and segregated facilities. I’m not a huge cruise guy in the first place — I don’t like being stuck on the boat and unable to leave — but we did a Disney Cruise with the boys a few years ago and dropped an obscene amount of money on that trip.

Now we wouldn’t do that again because I’m not getting my kids vaccinated for COVID, and I’m not making any family vacation choices that punish my family in any way for that choice.

There are millions of other parents out there just like me. Our money is going elsewhere. Now you can argue there are other parents specifically choosing to cruise because of the COVID vaccine rules on the ships, but I don’t believe that’s a very big number, certainly not as big of a number as the business they are losing. (Why don’t I believe this? Because if you’re terrified of COVID, the last place you’re going is a cruise ship.)

Here locally, the Nashville Predators had a COVID vaccine or negative test requirement and their consecutive game sell out streak ended. The crowds were smaller than normal. So what happened? They ended all COVID requirements. The same thing has happened with the Dallas Mavericks and other teams that mandated negative tests or a COVID vaccine. They saw attendance decline dramatically and adjusted their policies as a result.

Ultimately, and I really believe this, the market wins.

And the market will win with COVID eventually too.

How long will that take? It might take a total asskicking of the Democrats in the 2022 mid terms for them to get the message that the vast majority of Americans are ready to get back to normal.

So spend your money with companies that support your values and VOTE that way too.

“I know California and New York have gotten a lot of play with their COVID nonsense, but Illinois hasn’t been far behind and hasn’t gotten as much coverage. Our governor who believes that the voters crowned him king when he was elected, has continued to fly in the face of data driven decisions when it comes to COVID, even reinstating the statewide indoor mask mandate in August. The unmitigated gall that this man has to lecture anyone on making good decisions about personal health, given how obese he is, is infuriating.

I played along with the mask policy initially, until it became apparent that the data reflected the ridiculousness of masking (tip of the cap to you for beating this drum early on). When the mask mandate was reinstated, I decided to perform my own experiment and test the resolve of people to enforce it, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that in 99% of cases, if you walk in like you own the place, nobody will ask you to put on a mask. My question to you is this: for those of us still stuck under Der Kommisar, what is the best move? Continued civil disobedience? Contact elected officials and pressure them to push back? I’ve ignored the mask mandate largely successfully, but I really want the idiocy to go away when it comes to my kids’ schools, and I don’t have a great deal of hope for that anytime soon in this shitty blue state.”

Vote against COVID masking requirements by supporting candidates who advocate your world view. I really think this was a big part of why Democrats got crushed in 2021 and why they will get crushed again in 2022.

I also think you should speak out against masking requirements, like I did, at your public school board events.

Finally, wear a mask as infrequently as possible. I’m not saying get arrested or get kicked off an airplane flight over it. I’m saying refuse to wear a mask as often as you can until someone asks you to put it on.

Personally, I fly a great deal. When I’m walking around in an airplane terminal, I try not to wear a mask. It’s rare I get asked to put it back on, but when I do, I comply.

But, honestly, COVID is essentially over here. The only place in the entire city of Nashville or its surrounding communities where anyone wears a mask now is at the airport.

That’s it.

It’s absurd and ludicrous that anyone wears a mask anywhere at this point, but the only time I know COVID still exists in my daily life is when I’m at the airport. Otherwise the people I’m around all day every day are completely over it.

I live in a free state.

I’d encourage you to move to a free state too. It’s ultimately the only way you can get your life back to 100% normalcy.

I hope you guys have great Tuesdays.

As always, send your anonymous mailbag questions to claytravis@gmail.com, anonymity guaranteed.

Written by Clay Travis

OutKick founder, host and author. He's presently banned from appearing on both CNN and ESPN because he’s too honest for both.

3 Comments

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    • 100% agree. Especially with family. If the conversation starts to turn contentious. Drop it. Learned this from too many discussions ending in pissed off people on both sides. You won’t change their mind, move on to the weather it can change.

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