Covid-19: Those Who Chose Shaming Over Science
For the first many decades of my life I don’t recall anyone calling me a selfish idiot, much less a sociopath or a mouth-breathing Trumptard. All that changed when Covid-19 rolled in and I expressed, ever so gingerly, a few concerns about the lockdown policies. Here’s a sampling of what the keyboard warriors threw back at me:
Enjoy your sociopathy.
Go lick a pole and catch the virus.
Have fun choking on your own fluids in the ICU.
Name three loved ones that you’re ready to sacrifice to Covid. Do it now, coward.
You went to Harvard? Yeah, right, and I’m God. Last I checked, Harvard doesn’t accept troglodytes.
From the earliest days of the Covid-19 pandemic, something deep inside me—in my soul, if you will—recoiled from the political and public response to the virus. Nothing about it felt right or strong or true. This was not just an epidemiological crisis, but a societal one, so why were we listening exclusively to some select epidemiologists? Where were the mental health experts? The child development specialists? The historians? The economists? And why were our political leaders encouraging fear rather than calm?
The questions that troubled me the most had less to do with epidemiology than with ethics: Was it fair to require the greatest sacrifice from the youngest members of society, who stood to suffer the most from the restrictions? Should civil liberties simply disappear during a pandemic, or did we need to balance public safety with human rights? Unschooled in the ways of online warriors, I assumed the Internet would allow me to engage in “productive discussions” about these issues. So I hopped online, and the rest was hysteria.
Village idiot, flat earther, inbred trash, negative IQ… Let’s just say that my thin skin got the test of a lifetime.
And it wasn’t just me: anyone who questioned the orthodoxy, whether expert or ordinary citizen, got a similar skinburn. In the words of one community physician, who for obvious reasons shall remain anonymous: “Many doctors including myself, along with virologists, epidemiologists and other scientists, advocated a targeted approach and a focus on the most vulnerable cohorts of patients, only to be dismissed as anti-science, tin foil hat kooks, conspiracy theorists, antivax and other equally colorful disparaging labels.”
Early in the game I decided I wouldn’t respond to such insults with more insults—not because I’m especially high-minded, but because mudslinging contests just leave me angry and it’s not fun to walk around angry all day. Instead, I took the shaming on the chin (and still walked around angry).
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