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Byron Shire
October 22, 2021

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Mind Your Language

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Mandy the sheeple

Mind Your Language

The other day someone called me a sheeple. I was offended. Not personally, but on behalf of sheep. It’s a term meant to denigrate my agency by suggesting I have herd stupidity. Sheep are incredible, and surprising beings. Before you start denigrating sheep, you should know they are emotionally complex animals who can self-medicate! They can smell with their feet! They recognise faces, both sheepy and human. And civilisation has sheep to thank for their tireless generosity in feeding and clothing us. So when you are coming up with a word to imply that people don’t do their ‘research’, maybe you should do a little first; Sheep are awesome. And by definition it’s misaligned with the intent of the insult. Herd behaviour in individuals, or a group, is when they act collectively without centralised direction. Generally, if someone says you are a sheeple it’s because they think you are under the sway of Big Pharma, or Big Gov, so that, technically, is a centralised direction. It’s a woolly metaphor. 

And while I am on the subject of language, can people stop saying medical ‘apartheid’. It isn’t appropriate to use the Afrikaans word that denotes a social system in South Africa that segregated black people from the white minority to describe what is the minority of unvaccinated people. The white minority government in South Africa ruled from 1948 to 1994, where they enjoyed higher status at the cost of black freedoms. You can’t compare not being able to get into a pub to being incarcerated for 26 years for speaking out against injustice. During Apartheid, the white people, who were 10 per cent of the population, owned more than 90 per cent of the national wealth, and the black South Africans, making up 80 per cent of the population, owned nothing at all. People were detained because of their skin colour, jailed, tortured and in some cases murdered. To be a white person living in a privileged country like ours, you cannot use the word ‘apartheid’. It is offensive, and it trivialises the 46 years that black South Africans suffered under the most shameful prejudice.

And can the antivax movement stop using our feminist phrases for bodily autonomy? ‘My Body, My Choice’ belongs to feminists who have fought long and hard for reproductive rights for women. It goes back at least 50 years. That was our catchcry when we marched to demand our right to safe and legal abortion. A slogan we continue to need going by a recent law being passed in Texas that allows anyone who helps a woman to get an abortion to be sued. An eavesdropping stranger can now sue the clinic where the abortion is performed for up to $10k, and also the person who lent the patient the money for the procedure, and even the person who gave the patient a lift to the clinic. In Texas, even if you get raped you cannot get an abortion. This illustrates the powerful need for the ‘My Body, My Choice’ cry. It belongs to our feminist movement. I have seen images of male antivaxers with these signs – the same men who demonstrate outside fertility clinics against a woman’s right to choose, are now using our slogans. So, at a push, the Right to Life guy that raped you in Texas could attend a ‘freedom rally’ holding a ‘My Body, My Choice’ sign. 

And ‘sovereignty’. White people in this country just shouldn’t be using this word. In this stolen country ‘sovereignty’ is a concept that allows for the recognition of Aboriginal people’s inherent right to self-government, and provides guarantees that their rights would have constitutional protection and thereby not be subject to the passing whims of non-Aboriginal governments. We shouldn’t steal the land, and then steal the word being used to highlight the power of and need for Indigenous self-governance. The current ‘sovereignty’ moniker, as antivax, anti-mask protesters use it, has its roots in the Sovereign Citizen movement that came out of the US in the ’70s – which was anti-government, with some white supremacist elements. It’s pretty much a right wing libertarian ideology that uses harassment, intimidation and sometimes resorts to violence. Sound familiar?

And ‘freedom’. That one makes me uncomfortable too. The word just feels too big. It was used for those fighting generations of slavery and cultural genocide. I’ve just finished reading Behrooz Boochani’s No Friend But the Mountain, which is all about his time on Manus Island in ‘detention’. When you read about the inhumane incarceration of asylum seekers, the world’s most vulnerable people, to then speak of ‘freedom’ with regard to our access to an overseas holiday or entry to an RSL club seems trite. This is a time of a global pandemic, and those of us who live in an affluent country like Australia have access to resources and supports (even under lockdown) that many of the world’s population do not. 

It’s opportunistic to hitch your political cart to the long histories of race, gender and class struggle when your issue with the covid vaccinations is about none of these. Perhaps when it comes to conversations about ‘the right to choose’, we should consider carefully the words that we use, being ever mindful of the powerful legacy of language, because history has shown us: find the right words and the world will listen. 


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43 COMMENTS

  1. Some call it medical apartheid but it was apparently perfectly fine, some weeks back, for shops to display signs asking vaccinated people to stay away.

  2. How about….I don’t want that f#*king poison shit in my body. I’m healthy, happy and symptom free. If I do get sick, I will self isolate and do what is necessary to rest, recuperate and recover. I do not need a doctor or a hospital to do these things so will never be a burden to you or the collective. By all means, you do you. Will that do ya?

    • Good luck with that Organichuman…. I hope you don’t get sick enough to need hospital treatment, but only because I don’t want you to be a drain on resources and also because I believe you won’t deserve the care you’ll unquestionably be given.

      • I’ve had it Annette and no, it was not a mild version as someone else suggested when I posted elsewhere. It was really bad. I felt like I had pleurisy…even after recovery it took about four weeks to get my full lung capacity back. I took practitioner supplements, like anti viral vitamin A, Zinc. Vitamin C, D and rested a lot. I have a history of a compromised immune system from vaccines and over prescription of antibiotics as a child in the early 50s and have been very conscientious in my adult life to restore what was damaged then. The only “drugs” I use are practitioner supplements and sometimes medical cannabis, which helped a lot when I had a bout of shingles. I now eat an organic plant based diet which has been very helpful in reducing some arthritis pain which was showing up.
        No need to be nasty Annette. There is no such thing as one remedy fits all. Humans are complex beings with very nuanced approaches and beliefs in life. This is my approach and I plan to take responsibility for myself so that I am as least a burden on my family and healthcare system as I can possibly be. Like I said you do you, no probs. It confounds me that this area was built on the tenets of the alternate lifestyle that we have all enjoyed and now you want to turn on us and call us all kinds of names.

      • “I hope you don’t get sick enough to need hospital treatment, but only because I don’t want you to be a drain on resources and also because I believe you won’t deserve the care you’ll unquestionably be given.”
        Would you say that to someone who was in car accident… overdosed, attempted suicide, had cancer, a heart problem, liver condition… any injury or ailment that might have been caused by poor choices or an unhealthy lifestyle? Do you really want to live in a world like that ? I know I don’t.

    • Just wondering…do you know and understand the exact and complete composition of every drug (therapeutic and recreational) or foodstuff that you have ever put in your body? If so, I’m assuming you’re either a chemist or a scientist… it may be more likely though that you’re simply a bs artist

    • The trouble is that, because of your super healthy immune system, you could be infectious for several days before feeling sick or you could be totally asymptotic – so no sorry, if you are referring simply to the conditions of entry stuff that won’t quite do the trick. I’m sure you have read this before.

      • vaccine is not a magic bullet whether you are vaccinated or not if you get covid its the same story… you will still be asymptomatic and run a risk of spreading it through the community… the only wayto avoid that risk fully is to isolate us all for ever!… i’m vaxxed btw just before you start slinging, but open to discussion , and believe in freedom of choice.

        • I wouldn’t dream of “slinging” Jedda, whether you were vaxxed or not. While a vaccinated person still runs a risk of getting and passing on infection, the data certainly suggests that, taken up in sufficient numbers there’s less infection and protection against the worst of the disease.

          The fact that it’s not a magic bullet ( few vaccines are) is all the more reason to aim for high take-up.

          Surely it’s about managing risk. If high vaccination rates bring the amount of circulating virus down, and everyone I come in contact with has had the chance to get protection against serious disease, I’ll take my chances with the protection the jab gives me too.

          I believe in freedom of choice too but the choice needs to be made minus the on rotation bs including the narrative that vaccines make little difference to the protection of others. And that people accept that the vaccinated and the vulnerable have rights and choices as well.

    • If vaccines are a risk of poisoning you, you must have a really weak immune system.
      If you don’t want medical intervention when you get sick, just tattoo “DO NOT RESUSCITATE OR VENTILATE” on your forehead to save the Ambo’s and hospital staff time.

      • Death is a fact of life and I will be making a provision for that. No need for a forehead tattoo though, maybe a card in my wallet will do. Thank you for your care Rob

  3. Agree about animal name-calling – some of my favourite earthlings are dogs, pigs and even snakes!
    I wish humans would use other insults, like:
    politician or tax or even to parts of humans: arsehole, d!ç4head or çnut ( mind you, the latter are deep and warm and lots of fun, maybe only use that one for women, eh?)
    Just don’t be mean to animals who are really smart considering that in the wild they can feed, clothe and shelter themselves and reproduce without any help from us.

    (Mind you, I DO sometimes use the word ‘sovereignty’ in regards to a human’s rights (in particular, a woman’s rights) over their own body – jus’ sayin’…

  4. Nailed it Mandy. If there were one more para to follow on for your use of the word ‘rights’ and that is ‘responsibility’ they go hand in hand. Just like the Organichuman above. He gets it. He knows what his responsibilities are. Too many want rights (to go the the RLS during this transition phase without being Vaxxed) but no responsibility for what that means to their community.

  5. And who has framed and why you keep using the definition ‘antivax movement’ instead of ‘people who do not comply to experimental and unapproved covid vaccine’?

    • Six billion doses administered worldwide.
      The vaccines are safe and work. Tested.
      Covid-19 kills or causes suffering to most of the unvaccinated. Proven.
      Long Covid is a continuing horror experience. See the many accounts – can impact those with mild versions of Covid-19.

  6. i own a few sheep they are quite smart but they are also helpless without my intervention, they have been bred over thousands of years to consume and produce and if they were in the wild and had their own “sovereignty” they would be eradicated like any other animal our “Australia experts” deem as feral.

  7. These words seem to emerge and get repeated like… propaganda. Talk about double speak. When you look at them collectively you can’t help but think it’s a deliberate set of words carefully inserted to present a world view that frankly scares me. Who’s the puppeteer and why are so many conned? Add ‘coercive’ to this list.

    • It is the Reset that mandates ownership of language.. words are not to be autonomous.. however some words will be available for rental or lease for authorised use only.

  8. There are elements of idiots in all aspects and groups in our society; the vaccinated, the unvaccinated, they are everywhere. Please don’t ridicule the anti vaxxers Re: ‘not going to the pub’, or ‘having a holiday’, when their livelihoods have now been stripped from them, and they can’t afford to put food on the table or a roof over their heads either. What is lacking In our society at this time is kindness, compassion and empathy, and a good old fashioned dose of LOVE. The fear, hatred and judgement is eating away at our community like a cancer. By the way, I’m vaccinated.

    • Emma, do you mean the type of kindness, empathy and compassion that abused op shop and library staff and hassles people wearing masks in Mullumbimby?

  9. Dear Mandy, or the whoever the moderator was, has censored me again this morning in a post where I politely pointed out how Mandy hyjacked the use of common words and phrases and twisted logic to suit her personal ideological agenda. Please do go back to being funny again!

  10. Well put Mandy. Should also mention those “ privileged “ people thinking they are In the holocaust by wearing yellow stars- shows their lack of perspective.
    Talking to our local tattooist, and he says lost half his business at the moment because customers don’t want the jab. Needle phobia or unknown chemicals in the body?

  11. BRILLIANT article yet again Mandy , you are eternally coming up with Country Witches wisdom ( will we ever be able to go to those wonderful events again?) Love the image of your blonde locks in sheeps clothing. It galls me when I hear people applying animal names to revolting human primate behaviour. NO non human animals act violently & destructively like our species. Hey! non human animals also control their own populations , IF only we could do this. LOVE YOUR WORK MANDY.

  12. Well said Mandy. I can’t wait for the antivaxxers; and no apologies for using that word, that’s what they are, give up and move on to something useful that helps the community, instead of swamping us with their verbal apartheid and segregation. NSW will reach 90% double vaxxed soon, hopefully we can all then move on and focus on good times.

  13. Definition of freedom in the Merriam-Webster dictionary:
    ‘1: the quality or state of being free: such as
    a: the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action
    (…)
    2a: a political right’

    Dear Mandy,

    Regardless of one’s opinion about the covid-19 vaccines: denying the right to work (therefore in the incapacity to earn an income to obtain basic needs such as food and shelter), to have a social life, visit family and friends, access leisure, culture and some public places, and to travel any further than one’s LGA (health order places unvaccinated people under strict lockdown rules), is a clear privation of those people’s freedom. And it constitutes coercion to push those reluctant to vaccinate (for whichever personal reason) into accepting the jab.
    Many cannot financially afford to lose their income, and the emergency Covid payment was cancelled on time to make it a question of survival for many hesitant Australians.

    Apartheid, just like freedom, has a definition other than historical, which is: separation, segregation. It has so far mostly been used in relation to gender and racial segregation. When a portion of the population is separated (i.e. refused entry to some public places, denied the right to work or to social contact as they pleased) from the rest of their fellow citizens and therefore enjoy less rights and freedoms as unvaccinated people now do, this is literally the definition of segregation, or apartheid. Therefore perhaps ‘vaccine segregation’, as ridiculous as it may sound, will enter the History books in a decade or so (although I personally rather avoid using the term apartheid as well, and prefer to it the term discrimination – less loaded it appears… ).

    Whether many may agree for the basis on which those people are set aside from society by law (there’s always one group to celebrate the segregation of the other group which they perceive as inferior or incompatible), doesn’t take away the well founded basis of the sentiment shared by those at the receiving end of such social violence, and the proper use of loss of freedom and segregation to define it.

    And with all due respect Mandy, because I loved and followed your work and opinions for well over a decade: one can choose to take a moral high ground in regards to the vaccinated/unvaccinated subject. However that doesn’t make an opinion more right than the next person’s. It just reinforces the fact that we’re experiencing the largest, and global, Groupthink event in History in a long time (a fascinating phenomenon in psychology).

    Being part of the majority doesn’t necessarily make one right and allow to shut down intelligible debate about what is the right decision.
    Besides it is quite apparent that the latest health order is not to protect the population from Covid infection, but from the unvaccinated, regardless of their infection status, and the fact that vaccinated people can also be infectious. Shouldn’t we be closely and warrily observing this change of cursor instead of becoming the thought police?
    What happened to being all born free and equal in rights?
    Since when a personal choice around an experimental medical procedure should define someone’s worthiness as a person, soundness of opinion, or their rights and freedom as a citizen?

    • Well said Tati! The guardian just released a story on the silencing of scientists..44% have had their lives threatened if they speak about the V topic..
      btw when will the echo offer a balance with their reporting / editorials ..the ‘ voice of the people ‘..

  14. Thank you for the reasoned sanity Mandy. As a person who spend lots of time in your area in the 70s and 80s, it’s depressing to see how the paucity of debate by trust fund baby anti vaxxers is causing people to despise alternative lifestyle people.

  15. I’ve come to the view that anyone who uses the word “sheeple” is themselves a brainwashed follower devoid of an original thought.

  16. And here we go ’round the ‘mulberry bush’ again and again. My care-person’s sister
    who works with those in need – aged mostly – in Vic. – is in lockdown for 3 weeks. No
    wages when you are a casual. Tough luck? Cop it sweet and whatever… Strange
    world we live in ; sheep and all.

    • Stefanie, do you mean she has to isolate? Victoria had a payment for people who were forced to isolate to follow the regulations. Has your care-person’s sister looked into this?

  17. It’s actually a phrase used in the bible. Sheep. Flock.. Jesus’ flock hypothetically.

    It’s really about soul sovereignty. Please don’t tell white people or any person in this country or any country, no matter what country they are from, they have no right to personal autonomy or sovereignty.
    It’s soul sovereignty. Every single living being has that right. So the ego here suggests there is something that sets this situation apart from say.. the right to say ‘no’ when someone demands sex.
    The right to say ‘please, I prefer not to have your hands all over my body or even in fact, on my back or on my forearm. Please explain the difference in right to choose here & the manipulation, peer pressure, abuse of personal power because if we really want to get down to it, there is none & yet, you rallied for those things &… of course.

    I didn’t bother reading the rest. The conversation quite frankly is offensive.

    I’m not going to rant.. I just can’t be bothered.
    What I do find interesting that soothing around personal projections as though there is something remotely relevantly wise happening in this one really is unfortunate. Usually, I applaud these conversations.

    Love & blessings

  18. I don’t recall reading the phrase “Sheep. Flock … Jesus”, but perhaps you could tell us where to find it. What there is considerable reference to is Jesus describing himself as the “good shepherd” guarding his flock: his followers presumably or perhaps everybody. The flock was precious, not derided as blindly deluded and complicit in a plan to bring down humanity

    It could equally be interpreted as a reference to the scientists who have looked after us by developing vaccines and health officers who have introduced public health orders. Jesus was concerned by disease and suffering and went about curing lepers.

    I don’t usually make the bible my first point of call for determining matters of ethics and legality but I’m fine with those who are. I just think though that from any familiarity I have with the New Testament, that Jesus do unto others…) would have work a mask and got vaccinated.

    He wouldn’t have insisted the state should make everyone do it but nor would he want to just let the virus rip to see off the old and/or vulnerable.

  19. Hi Liz… after lockdown the care-giving sister plans on going into business herself.
    With the qualifications she has it’s best for her and clients.

  20. Spot on Mandy. Ignore the knockers(I’m sure you do). People who use those terms have no concept of what people went through under those circumstances.
    Thank you.
    Steve.

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