Medical ethicist Art Caplan said Wednesday he wants lockdown protesters to understand the broad risks they are taking by congregating in large groups during a global pandemic.

Caplan joined Boston Public Radio to defend his recent op-ed for Pennsylvania news blog PennLive.

The piece, which he co-authored with Dominic Sisti and Moti Gorin, argues that “protesters who violate basic safety measures should, at a minimum, sign a pledge expressing their willingness to forgo scarce care in the name of their political ideals and for the benefit of their fellow Americans."

"The people [protesting] are wrapped around liberty flags and ‘don’t tread on me,’” Caplan said. "I get the whole, sort of, freedom over everything else, but I’m ready to bite back and say, ‘Hey, buddy — you’ve gotta take responsibility for what you’re doing.”

Caplan, who directs the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU’s School of Medicine, stressed that his proposal is only a thought experiment — he doesn’t really think hospitals should divert care away from protesters.

“In reality, would doctors and nurses not treat people, even if they had this pledge card?” he asked. "I suspect not, and I believe that they should [treat them.]"

He continued, “But the point is to say, ‘Let’s get it in your head here, buster. You’re gonna burden the health system by being an idiot, are you aware of that? And, symbolically, sign the card.' So I’ll defend it.”

Art Caplan is Drs. William F. and Virginia Connolly Mitty Chair, and director of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU School of Medicine.