Pandemic Ethics Potpourri: Spring Cleaning, Chapter 1

My files of potential and ongoing ethics stories and issues involving the Wuhan virus outbreak are stuffed to overflowing. I’m not going to have time to do the full posts many of these deserve, and the rest risk dropping into oblivion. Here is the first of several collections that will at least flag issues while allowing me to keep current…

1. Golf and the virus…

  • Three Massachusetts golfing enthusiasts, blocked from the links in their own state , were charged with misdemeanors in Rhode Island after going to extraordinary lengths to sneak into that state to hit the little white balls around. Rhode Island has issued a directive requiring all travelers to quarantine themselves for 14 days after entering the state. Gregory Corbett, 51, Tyler Pietrzyk, 22, and Nye Cameron, 22, determined to make it to the Meadow Brook Golf Course drove from Massachusetts to the smallest state, changed cars in a McDonald’s parking lot, and proceeded to the golf course with Rhode Island-issued plates to the club.
  • Right: right, we’re all in this together. Here’s Michigan Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel in two tweets:

2. When the going gets tough, the tough get race-baiting. Black Americans are experiencing a significantly higher percentage of infections and deaths than other demographic groups, especially in big cities. There are many likely reasons for this, but this one is infuriating:

“A lack of early communication about the threat of Covid-19 and confusing messages that followed left an information vacuum in some black communities that allowed false rumors to fester that black people were immune to the disease. Some places ended up behind in taking measures to slow the spread.

Meanwhile, the usual suspects are acting on the presumption of racism and discrimination. Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey have demanded that the Trump administration collect race and ethnicity data on coronavirus testing and treatment. And Jumaane D. Williams, the public advocate for New York City, sent a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio calling for the release of a breakdown of cases by race.

3. Yes, guns are essential in a national emergency with uncertain results and duration. I wish I had one, but for complex reasons, I cannot.

In my original home state of Massachusetts, the updated list of essential businesses was first published Tuesday,including firearm and ammunition retailers, as well as manufacturers, retailers, importers and shooting ranges.

The next day,  that language had vanished on the state website. Now manufacturers, importers and distributors can continue to operate, but shooting ranges and retailers must remain closed to the public until May 4, under the Gov. Charlie Baker’s latest executive order. What happened? The usual hard leftists in the Bay State got to the governor, who like all Republican governors of this state  that is overwhelmingly Democratic has to walk a tight-rope every day. But Baker should not have caved this time.

Burglaries have increased sharply in parts of the country, and  police departments have been forced to slow down their operations because of the pandemic, so it could take longer for an officer to respond to an emergency call. Moreover, the chances of civil unrest and, on the other end, oppressive government measures from the same misguided mini-dictators who are stomping on our rights by decreeing that Walmart and Target can’t sell clothes and toys could  get out of hand.

I don’t trust them, and there is no reason anybody should.

4. How constitutional is restricting the right to travel? The Harvard Law Review has some interesting thoughts.

5. Breaking Covidiot News! 53-year-old Jennifer Walker was accused of licking items at a Safeway store in South Lake Tahoe, and arrested. Walker was licking merchandis, placing them in her cart, and then licking her fingers. She had a grocery cart full of items, including jewelry, alcohol, and souvenirs, but no means of paying for them.

You know what they say: If you can’t join ’em, lick ’em…

6. Just as I was thinking about not referring to the Wuhan virus..From the Washington Examiner:

An article published Tuesday night by Nature apologized for the “error on our part” and said the publication is taking responsibility for linking the coronavirus to China.“It’s clear that since the outbreak was first reported, people of Asian descent around the world have been subjected to racist attacks, with untold human costs — for example, on their health and livelihoods,” the article read. Washington Post contributing columnist Isaac Stone Fish responded to the news on Twitter, “This is unbelievable. @nature, one of the most respected scientific publications, apologizes to China for erroneously ‘associating the virus with Wuhan and with China.’ The virus started in China. That is a fact. Shameful.”

In related news, there really is a journalist named “Stone Fish.”

Thus endeth the first chapter.

There’s much more to come.


7 thoughts on “Pandemic Ethics Potpourri: Spring Cleaning, Chapter 1

  1. I read the linked piece from Harvard. If I understand the upshot of the piece Governors will be given latitude by the judicial system in enforcing quarantine restrictions. How will they react specifically Rhode Island if all the truckers from other states with shipments originating from other states decide to drop their trailers outside the state allowing the Florida produce to rot, the Wisconsin cheese to go bad. Is Rhode Island TP independent? How will gasoline be brought in?

    The only way to allow the movement of goods requires allowing the movement of people in the process. If states create carveouts for certain people then one group is being targeted for disparate treatment under the law.

  2. #3. Proving your point, burglaries and thefts in my county are down significantly from the same period last year: too many people at home and (presumably) armed. The guns and ammo buying frenzy of a few weeks ago has calmed down somewhat, but customers remain abundant.

    • A modest proposal: Declare all news media non-essential. Shut ’em down. Let’s see how they like that. Given the quality of the coverage we’re getting, is news of any value at all?

  3. Hmmm…quite a menu. Which one to pick?…

    2. I have never once heard even a whisper of the preposterous idea that one particular group of people was immune to the virus. If blacks really thought that were true, they would simply have to look at the world map. People of every race, ethnicity, religion, and social class have been, are, and will continue to be affected.

    Of course, the implication, though it’s not said, is that this is the President’s fault, because, you know, Trump and racism. At some point, I have to believe the black community is going to rise up and revolt against the reckless and mindless manipulation they are constantly subjected to, largely by the Left.

    “Infuriating” may not be a strong enough word…

  4. With untold human cost? As compared to the untold human cost the Wuhan Virus has caused to people all over the world? Not just from those infected, but from those suffering from forced closures and fear of uncertainty. But it’s the small number of racist attacks perpetrated by people who would most likely find any excuse to attack another human and those who are receiving misinformation after misinformation, generating a fear inside them, about which we have to worry.

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