Sunday, January 23, 2022

Oh, The (In)humanity

I doubt there is anyone amongst us who is not thoroughly tired of Covid-19, the terrible virus that has forced us to live circumscribed lives for the past two years. Our forced confinement, record hospitalizations and deaths, unprecedented in our lifetime, have taken their toll on us in so many ways, not least of all our mental well-being.

Despite all of that, the majority have endured, doing what we can for both ourselves and our fellow-citizens, getting vaccinated, isolating when required, wearing masks and keeping safe physical distances.

But, to borrow from Charles Dickens, it has proven to be the best of times and the worst of times when it comes to how we treat others. The best is seen in the tireless health-care workers whose exhaustion and frustration over the unvaccinated crowding our hospitals is hard to imagine. The worst comes from the villains of our time, the anti-vaxxers and those of such little character that they have to take out their frustrations on others.

It is what Heather Scofield calls pandemic rage. She writes about Adam, a 26-year-old Toronto cashier:

Adam, who doesn’t want to use their last name for job security reasons, has begun refusing to serve customers who won’t wear masks. They’ll offer up a free mask, first. But if the customers resist, Adam simply won’t serve them.

That’s when the harassment begins. Perhaps it’s just eye-rolling or a mild comment. But on occasion, it’s mocking, accusations, yelling, shoving groceries, complaints to the manager or even filing formal grievances with the head office.

Service-sector workers, predominantly young, bear the brunt of the rage coming from a segment of the approximately 14% of adults not vaccinated.

Almost a third of workers aged 15 to 24 work in retail, and that’s up a full three percentage points from before the pandemic. About 16 per cent work in accommodations and food services, which is down significantly from the 20 per cent share two years ago, says Brendon Bernard, economist at jobs website Indeed Canada.

Whether they realize it or not, these workers do have some power. They can quit and seek other jobs.

Clearly, any employer or policy-maker aiming to respect young workers could see some quick fixes. Arming them with the best of masks, lots of paid sick days, and all the support they need to turn rule-breakers away at a moment’s notice would certainly go a long way. So would consistency and clarity on vaccine requirements in public-facing spaces.

Clearly, if they want to prevent excessive job churn, employers need to act quickly to address the cruelty and egotism of some. The following, which occurred in the U.S., is an illustration of the terrible behaviour people are inflicting on young workers. That the perpetrator is unmasked may be a solid indication of his 'values'. Be warned that the language is rough:

I've identified this man as James Iannazzo of

being racist and assaulting a minor

When the Hindenburg crashed and burned, reporter Herbert Morrison used a timeless phrase, "Oh, the humanity," which was an expression of horror at what he was witnessing. To close out this post, permit me one slight alteration that seems to epitomize our current zeitgeist:

Oh, the inhumanity.




Thursday, January 20, 2022

A Line Of Inquiry

If you are as much a fan of Britain's Line of Duty (available on Netflix) as I am, you will enjoy this lacerating parody as the team interrogates Boris Johnson over partygate. Led By Donkeys, the collective that created it, 

worked with Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice to create a memorial wall of pink hearts opposite parliament.

“We spent a lot of time down there with bereaved families, painting hearts with them. And so we’ve come to see the party scandal, to a certain extent, through their eyes. There are people who sat in a car outside a hospital, unable to hold their loved ones’ hands as they slipped away from Covid, but they just wanted to be close to them.

“Johnson regarded the sacrifices that people were making in such a cavalier way and people are deeply hurt. I think it’s important that there is a price to pay for making these rules and breaking these rules, because people will live for the rest of their lives with [the impact] of abiding by the rules. This matters to people on a deep and visceral level.”

Enjoy this cathartic video.


Wednesday, January 19, 2022

The Costanza Defence

I think there can be little doubt that Boris Johnson, whatever his shortcomings, is a student of Seinfeld.

Here is what he had to say about the drink fests he hosted during Covid-19 lockdowns.

And here is what George Costanza offered as he faced termination after having sex with the office cleaning lady.

And who said watching the telly was a waste of time?

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

The Unthinking Hordes

H/t Greg Perry

As a student of human behaviour, one of the things this pandemic has made abundantly clear to me is that a significant number of people are ill-equipped to think. Whether through a lack of education or the sometimes cruel play of genetics, there are those amongst us who, no matter the evidence, will insist that their misbegotten notion of reality is the 'real truth.' This is particularly evident in the anti-vaxxer crowd.

Because such people can 'think' only in the broadest of terms, they often resort to hysterical and grossly inappropriate language and historical allusion. This has not escaped the notice of columnist Michael Coren, who begins his piece, There's no vaccination against human cruelty, with a fond memory of his great aunt, who he called bubba.

It wasn’t until long after she died and I was a teenager that I was finally told bubba’s story. She had been in a death camp, and the mark on her arm was a tattoo. The Nazis sadistically scraped them into the flesh of their chosen victims so as to dehumanize them before they were tortured and murdered. She survived, but many of her family and friends did not.

The reason I mention this is because of an increasing and repugnant fetish within the anti-vaccination crowd. Their hysteria, rejection of science and truth, and sheer irrationality are surely self-evident. Now they are comparing their experience to that of the victims of Nazism. They speak of the entirely ethical and admirable COVID vaccination campaign as being “Nazi-like”; they casually throw around the word Holocaust; they even wear yellow stars at demonstrations, and display that image on their social media pages. The yellow star that my bubba was forced to wear.

Coren rightly regards such antics as abhorrent. 

How dare they? How the hell dare they! They insult — they desecrate — the memory of those who suffered and died, and they do it with an obscene absence of self-awareness, empathy and sensitivity. They are using genocide as a cheap political ploy in their crazed campaign, playing with the horror of all that screaming and weeping. Once again, how the hell dare they!

This pandemic will eventually be overcome, and the victors will be the scientists, the medical staff, and the vast majority of ordinary, good, ethical people who were part of the great and communal movement to help save all of us.

But those who blithely trod on the mass graves of the persecuted will not suddenly disappear. Their malice and their arrogance will continue, waiting to be awakened and empowered in some future crisis.

The human condition has always lived with this brokenness — this virus, if you like — and that’s not going to change. Alas, there is no vaccination against cruelty. But while we may not be able to expunge this nonsense, we can at least be aware of it. Fanaticism and ignorance can have truly terrible consequences.

Jesus famously said, "Forgive them Lord, for they know not what they do."

I, and countless others, will find forgiveness of those who cause so much pain, suffering and death very, very difficult to muster.


Friday, January 14, 2022

Why The Anti-Vaxxers Are Despised

Some seem to have a difficult time understanding the vitriol directed at the strident anti-vaxxers. I hope the following helps clear up any confusion they might be feeling.

A 30-year-old Ontario woman diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer has had her surgery postponed indefinitely and says it could be too late to save her if the procedure keeps getting pushed back.

Woodbridge, Ont. woman Cassandra Di Maria was diagnosed with cancer in 2020 and has undergone 17 rounds of chemotherapy since then.

"Now, I'm waiting on my next big surgery," Di Maria told CTV News Toronto on Thursday. "I have no idea when this surgery will happen and I'm at a standstill."

In order to undergo the surgery, doctors told Di Maria in late October she needed to stop chemotherapy for a few weeks so her body would be strong enough to handle the procedure, which was originally scheduled for December. 

She said in December she received a notice saying the surgery was being postponed to January, and then later was told that date was cancelled too.

In an e-mail viewed by CTV News Toronto, a representative from Mount Sinai Hospital told Di Maria her surgery was cancelled because of "the situation with COVID-19" and that "everything is getting cancelled at this point."

I assume the point is clear. Di Maria's chances of survival are monumentally reduced by the selfishness of some of her fellow-citizens. 

As well, some letter-writers offer their withering views of those who are causing our health-care crisis: 

Mounting data shows that unvaccinated people are several times more likely than vaccinated folks to catch COVID-19, experience more severe symptoms, become hospitalized, need an ICU bed and ultimately die from COVID-19.

In this whole process, they tie up a disproportionately larger share of our limited health-care resources and enable the pandemic to rage on more than it should have.

At some point, difficult decisions must be made by our leaders so that those unvaccinated (without medical reason) face the consequence of their choice not to get vaccinated.

One solution might be to prioritize the ICU beds for the vaccinated patients when our ICUs are under strain.

When all ICU beds are full, vaccine-refusers will be moved to regular beds to make room for vaccinated patients.

Surely if they are so adamant about their right to what happens to their own body, they shouldn’t mind that little extra that may come with that choice: a bad case of COVID-19.

Tim Lu, Markham

 Bravo, François Legault! Finally, a premier who’s not afraid to make a bold decision.

It’s about time that unvaccinated people start paying for exacerbating the effect of the pandemic. They are disproportionately responsible for clogging our hospitals, for prolonged lockdowns and for putting their fellow citizens at risk.

There is absolutely no reason why they shouldn’t pay for it.

Some will argue that it’s a slippery slope or make comparisons with smokers, however there is no comparison to be made; if the smoker wants to kill himself that’s his problem, but when it comes to a very contagious disease, it affects all of society.

Persuasion doesn’t work as some were suggesting.

Now it’s time to talk money.

Claude Gannon, Markham

Hysterical protests and refusals will not end this crisis. Only fulfilling the requirements of good citizenship will.


Thursday, January 13, 2022

A Viable Alternative?

Given the contentious nature of measures to force the anti-vaxxers into line, perhaps the following is a viable alternative?

H/t Graeme MacKay

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

How To Deal With Flagrant Stupidity

H/t Theo Moudakis

Unlike viruses that allegedly ultimately 'burn themselves out', stupidity and the flagrant disregard for public health and safety will always be with us. Toronto Star readers have some ideas on how to deal with them:

Time to raise the price for those who still won’t get vaxxed, Jan. 9

I was born January 1940 into a world at war. One of my earliest memories is of the blackout.

People did this for two reason: First, to protect themselves, and second, to protect the neighbourhood. It was not perfect protection; we all know of the thousands that were killed by bombs and it had its danger, such as tripping over things and the people who thought the darkness gave them the opportunity for crime. Even so, the benefits outweighed the danger.

I think the same should apply to vaccinations: you get vaccinated to protect yourself and the people in your neighbourhood. It is the only protection we have. The benefits outweigh the danger, and it should be the law with fines for those who refuse to follow the rules.

Keith Parkinson, Cambridge, Ont.

 In a democratic society, majority rules. So why is it our spineless politicians are letting the minority — the anti-vaxxers — rule?

It is time to have the vaccine passport mandated for entry to any type of business.

J. Armour, Mississaug

 And finally, a reader offers this about the hapless Erin O'Toole:

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said on TV recently something to the effect of: “We just have to realize not everyone will agree to vaccination.”

Isn’t that like saying we are never going to solve homelessness or drug addiction, so Canadians should just suck it up and learn to live with the reality?

What a great strategy — no more funding for those ongoing issues, so why waste money and resources on problems that seem futile?

Is this the Conservative leader’s plan for balancing the books if he ever became prime minister?

Dorothy Low, Richmond Hill