July 15, 2020
Featured image for “ZAP COVID-19!”

By Perry Willis

The Zero Aggression Principle says, “Don’t aggress against others, personally or politically.” But who decides what aggression is?

My position has always been that juries should define aggression. In a ZAP-based society…

  • No law would be invoked or jury formed until there’s clear evidence that one person has aggressed against another.
  • No legal proceeding occurs unless the cost of the harm is greater than the cost of adjudication.
  • No cost or punishment is imposed until a unanimous jury agrees that aggression happened.

So how would this approach deal with viral infections? Let’s consider a few cases…

Case #1: A man knows he has HIV but doesn’t tell his sex partner.

That’s clearly aggression. Juries would call it a crime.

Case #2: Sex occurs after the HIV-positive person informs the partner. (Such things do happen.)

Probably no jury would view that as an act of aggression. The uninfected person consented to the risk.

Case #3: Two fully-informed HIV-positive people have sex.

It’s hard to imagine a charge being leveled in such a case, let alone a jury verdict.

Please notice that the virus is the same in our first three cases, but differences in knowledge and consent determine whether aggression occurred.

Case #4: Does the verdict change if the virus is the common cold?

A woman goes to work with a cold. She spreads the virus to hundreds of others. Some people get sick. Did she commit an act of aggression?

Most juries would say no, but why?

It’s just like the first HIV case. The perpetrator knew she was contagious. The victims did not know and were given no choice in the matter. So why is the judgment different? There are several possible answers…

  • HIV is spread through bodily fluids. A cold is spread through breathing. Sex is optional, breathing isn’t.
  • We’re used to infecting each other with colds.
  • It’s impossible to prove precisely who gave you a cold.
  • Unlike HIV a cold usually isn’t fatal unless it leads to pneumonia.

One other point seems crucial – the cost of adjudication would be greater than the harm done, so it’s hard to imagine such a case even being brought to trial.

But what if the virus was slightly more lethal?

Case #5: The flu

Going to work with the flu can cause pain, lost income, and sometimes death. That sure sounds like aggression to me, but, as with a cold…

  • It would be difficult to prove who exactly gave you the flu.
  • The adjudication cost would usually be larger than the harm done by the infection.

This suggests that knowingly spreading the flu is an act of aggression, but not legally actionable. Which brings us to…

Case #6: COVID-19

Politicians have placed hundreds of millions of people under virtual house arrest.

Arrest implies that juries rendered guilty verdicts in trials. But no such trials happened, and most of those imprisoned don’t even have the virus.

In addition, those who catch the bug could contribute to herd immunity. Nationwide house arrest interferes with that opportunity.

Or, if herd immunity isn’t possible, then a vaccine is also unlikely to be fully effective. That’s because herd immunity and vaccines work through the same process. But if herd immunity isn’t possible, that also means the virus will be with us constantly, like the flu and the common cold.

Will we impose house arrest on people each year? No jury would ever agree to that.

Can you begin to see why the politicians skipped due process when it comes to COVID-19?

Due process is slow, time-consuming, and renders too many decisions the politicians don’t like.

Politicians much prefer regulations. The like dictates they can impose without interference from checks and balances and due process. The politicians justify this regulatory approach because of…


And millions of people surrender their right to due process because of these fears. So…

What can zero aggression offer to combat these demons?

My local grocery store addressed the COVID-19 problem without using aggression…

  • Those who feel that masks help, and who feel at risk, can wear them.
  • Those who think masks don’t work, or who feel strong enough to contribute to potential herd immunity, can shop barefaced.
  • And those who feel most at-risk can shop during an hour designated only for them when everyone must wear masks.

This non-aggressive approach serves multiple needs…

  • It protects at-risk people.
  • It preserves economic activity. It speeds the attainment of potential herd immunity.
  • It maintains individual freedom.
  • It provides scope for personal responsibility.
  • It gives us an alternative to tyrannical power exercised by politicians and bureaucrats.

Meanwhile, other people are taking steps to improve their innate immune system by sunbathing and taking appropriate supplements, such as vitamin D.

These steps could improve resistance enough to move at-risk people into the safe category, and make still other people asymptomatic.

At-risk people should also self-isolate. People with symptoms should do the same.

In a culture of non-aggression each person takes steps well-calibrated to meet his or her specific situation.

By comparison, the politicians have imposed their preferred policies on everyone, absent any constitutional authority. This illegal and immoral arrogance has cost us trillions of dollars! And please take note…

COVID -19 appears to be 4 to 10 times more deadly than the average flu virus, and yet the politicians have imposed restrictions that are a MILLION TIMES greater than what we do for the flu!

This is an overreaction by any standard of measurement!

Legal controls on political power were designed to prevent such gross errors! But these controls fail when people submit to fear.

The Zero Aggression Principle gives us a way to do better in the future, IF we can make it a central part of all human cultures. You can help achieve that goal in three ways…



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