Thursday, September 16, 2021

My Sentiments Exactly


And in a related development, in Florida, apparently all things are possible.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

All The Lonely People: Where Do They All Come From?

Before the advent of our current troubles, the Toronto Star's Bruce Arthur won widespread acclaim for his sports reporting. Since the arrival of the pandemic, however, his writing has achieved an entirely new level; his coverage of various aspects of the disease, especially the social consequences, has been superb.

In his latest column, Arthur turns his sights on the irrational protests that have been occurring outside of hospitals, some resulting in obstruction of patient and healthcare worker access. His analysis is well-worth the read.

“You’ve all got blood on your hands! You’re worse than the Nazis!” one middle-aged man yelled at the TV cameras, outside Toronto General Hospital. “You’ll have rocks thrown at you, next!” A few yelled Fake News like they were at karaoke. Mostly, they rejected vaccines. Society, too.

But at ground level there was something piteous about it, malignancy and all. The trappings of a brain-poisoned movement dotted the crowd: a couple of red Make America Great Again hats, some purple People’s Party of Canada gear, a hat from a disgraced barbecue joint. There was a one-page anti-mask, anti-lockdown, ivermectin-boostinghydroxychloroquine-boosting pamphlet handed out that claimed a vaccine passport was the mark of the beast.

Arthur considers who is so lost as to be protesting a hospital. Some of the misbegotten, of course, are the rabid anti-vaxxers, along with rag-tag followers of the People's Party of Canada. But Arthur offers an interesting perspective about many of the others.

 most people protesting outside the hospital were clearly lost souls. One carried a giant wooden cross; one had tattoos drawn on with a marker; one had a sign that misspelled the mayor’s name as J. Tori. Some seemed hungry for confrontation that never really came, but it was largely social: they swapped conspiracy theories, or recorded one another. More than anything, they seemed lonely. But then, so do QAnon fanatics, or Trumpian rallygoers. Lonely people are easy prey for conspiracies.

One of the more rational attendees was 35-year-old Torontonian Radu Dragon, who posts videos of protests to TikTok and YouTube. A smoker who refuses to get vaccinated, he seems to have found a new fellowship.

So he comes to the protests, and the people there have replaced his former circle of friends, even dotted as it is with the paranoid, the stressed, and people who vibrate on strange, off-reality frequencies. Society has always had people like this. But if you communicate on Facebook, Telegram, Instagram and TikTok, it can become a social circuit.

And for many, there seems to be no coming back, and outreach to them will prove futile.

There is a school of thought that if only we are nicer to people who think health-care workers are criminals and vaccine advocates violate the Nuremberg Code, then they will come around.

But there is an anger out there in Canada living at the conservative end of the spectrum, as the PPC surges in the polls.

“Some of these movements are like a bug light for more radical groups,” says Amarnath Amarasingam, an assistant professor at Queen’s University who specializes in the study of extremism. “It’s not something you can just not have a police presence for, otherwise you wind up with a smaller version of Jan. 6. The vast majority of people on Jan. 6 weren’t violent, but some were.

 “A lot of these groups are getting their content from abroad as well; there’s this theory that our crazies are not as crazy as America’s. Yeah, but they’re reading American content. They’re talking to them on Facebook … these movements are transnational.

 There is an anger and misinformation virus in this country that has been encouraged by some pretend and even mainstream media, and it could absolutely eat our conservative movement. This time there was no violence, and no ambulances were blocked. Thank goodness.

Instead it was mostly a bunch of sad lonely people together on a sidewalk, loosely united in a cause, feeling like they had a purpose, and unaware, while outside a hospital filled with the truly sick, that they had become the monsters.

And it is precisely this aspect of the pandemic for which there is no real treatment available. 




Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Oh, Those Anti-Vaxxers


Just a short note: I have updated yesterday's post with a link to a London Free Press article in which Julie Ponesse is excoriated for her self-serving drivel.

Monday, September 13, 2021

UPDATED: In Which an Anti-Vaxxer Ethics Professor Falls Far Short Of The Mark

Dr. Julie Ponesse, erstwhile professor of ethics at Western University, has been terminated for her refusal to adhere to the Covid vaccination mandate at her school. The following is a YouTube video she made about the issue.

Self-pitying in tone, replete with factual and logical errors, I offer it to readers as an opportunity to hone their critical-thinking skills, something Ponesse, the anti-vax crowd and the over 500 commentators on the video are clearly in short supply of.

Special thanks to my sister-in-law, Ruth, for alerting me to this.

UPDATE: Thanks @MarieSnyder27 for this link to a London Free Press article that excoriates Poness for her self-serving sloppiness in the above video. And interestingly , she is linked to the People's Party of Canada. Here is just a brief excerpt:

Her comments, made public in a video a day before she addressed a local People’s Party of Canada rally, have drawn the ire of several other professors at the university.

“Shame on Julie Ponesse,” philosophy professor Anthony Skelton wrote on Twitter. “This is the anti-thesis of the Socratic mission: to live the examined life. Ponesse’s remarks about COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine mandates rest on moral and factual errors.”

Jacob Shelley is a professor of health ethics at Western. He wrote on social media in response to an LFP story about Ponesse: “I’ve asked a lot of questions of (Western University) both privately and publicly. Asked a bunch today, in fact. This (Ponesse’s video) is about refusing to take a vaccination, a policy that is legally enforceable and ethically justifiable.”

Sunday, September 12, 2021

A Sunday Reflection


Nothing like shining a light on the ignorant and the benighted, eh?

Saturday, September 11, 2021

An Eloquent, Earnest Plea

Although it will likely fall on the deaf ears that it is intended to reach, this message by Dr. Michael Warner is for the unhinged who are harassing healthcare workers.

Friday, September 10, 2021

"I'm Fed Up"

That refrain runs through a recent piece by Bob Hepburn, but before delving into it, let me say that the phrase hardly seems adequate to what I and I'm sure many others are feeling these days. Disheartened, Disappointed, Disenchanted., Disaffected, Despairing - no particular word really does justice to my reaction to the foolish and dangerous behaviour my fellow humans are engaging in these days. 

Their contempt for reason and science, their worshipful elevation of demagoguery, their reliance on invective and even violence against those who won't submit to their peculiar form of madness leaves me with little real hope for the future of humanity. And bear in my that while this post is about the benighted anti-vaxxers that currently blight the landscape, they are but a microcosm of our larger refusal to address the existential problems we face today, climate change and overpopulation chief among them.

None of this is exactly new, of course, but the collision of so many problems at this juncture sets into sharp relief our many shortcoming as humans, and offers little hope for the future.

Enough of my editorializing. After suffering a fusillade of abuse via his leaked cellphone number from people unhappy with the Toronto Star's coverage of  anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers, Hepburn has much to say:

For me, those calls drove home the message that it’s time we stopped tiptoeing past the diehard anti-vaxxers for fear of upsetting them or hurting their feelings.

At the same time, we need to call out irresponsible Canadian politicians — from the national to the local level — who are too afraid of offending the anti-vaxxers and won’t get tough with them and instead try to appeal to their sense of civic duty, or propose bribing them with cash to get their vaccine shots.

I’m fed up with the anti-vaxxers, who seem unbothered by the threat they pose to my health, feeling targeted because they may lose their job, won’t be able to fly on a plane, eat at an indoor restaurant or attend a hockey game or music concert.

I’m fed up with the Trumpist-like mobs in Canada hurling pebbles and insults at Justin Trudeau, picketing hospitals, screaming at diners on restaurant patios and demonstrating outside politicians’ homes.

I’m fed up with anti-vaxxers who suggest COVID is a hoax or scam or is being overblown by mainstream media. I know people who have died from COVID.

I’m fed up with anti-vaxxer enablers who argue that many low-wage workers and others, such as the homeless and disabled, have been unable to travel to or get the time off to get to vaccination sites.

Rubbish! Do you seriously believe they couldn’t find a few minutes over the past five months to get a shot, when outreach programs are bringing the jabs almost to people’s doors?

Finally, I’m fed up with politicians who are basically protecting these irresponsible people who are making life miserable for all of us. 

Hepburn has also had it with the political opportunism and cowardice of politicians like Jason Kenney and Scott Moe, neither of whom will consider vaccine certificates, the former opting to bribe people with money to get the shot. Similarly, he has no use for Maxime Bernier, who has built his platform around giving public health measures a prodigious middle finger.

None of these people seem to care about the costs of their actions.

What’s true now is that the unvaccinated are by far the leading cause of overcrowding in our hospital ICU wards and comprise more than 80 per cent of the COVID-19 cases. They are now clogging up hospitals beds and forcing some operations to be delayed.

Worse, many of the deaths and serious infections in the latest rise in COVID cases could have been prevented by getting a free vaccination.

That’s why it is hard to feel sympathy toward sick patients who have refused to get vaccinated.

Call it compassion fatigue.

We are long past the time of being nice and being empathetic toward anti-vaxxers and trying to win them over with carrots — as opposed to the sticks that are much-needed vaccine passports and stiff restrictions.

It’s time that they — not the vast majority of us who are vaccinated — paid the price.

To which I shall add one final thought. Even though this rabble represents a minority of people, when the tail starts to wag the dog, nothing good can come of it.

But of course I state the obvious, don't I?