Jesse Walker at Reason on the various sides of the HPV vaccine debate:
Which leads to the next question: Even if the vaccination isn’t compulsory now, should it be obligatory sometime down the road? The knee-jerk libertarian reaction is to say no, and at least one of my knees is a confirmed libertarian. But there are circumstances under which it makes sense to require a vaccine. When a deadly disease can be spread through casual contact, a school would arguably be negligent not to require students to be inoculated against it, just as it would be negligent not to ensure that its roof won’t collapse on the children beneath it. The more people are vaccinated, the less likely it is that any of them will transmit the illness. This is especially important when some of the parties present are medically ineligible for the vaccine, as some children inevitably are.
But you don’t transmit these strains of HPV by breathing on a playmate or by leaving some spittle on a water fountain. You transmit them through intimate contact. It isn’t entirely true, as some opponents of the mandates have carelessly claimed, that HPV is “100 percent avoidable” — not unless they mean avoiding sex your entire life. But it is 100 percent avoidable in the activities you’re supposed to perform in the course of a school day. A person with HPV is not a clear and present danger the way a person with measles or whooping cough is.
What the world needs now is irony sweet irony: the failed promise of 9/11 to usher in an age of sincerity.