Comment Of The Day: “Prelude To ‘The Pandemic Creates A Classic And Difficult Ethics Conflict, But The Resolution Is Clear, Part II’”

I did an unusually long deconstruction of an offensive and thoroughly revolting  New York Times editorial  by Charlie Warzel titled “Open States, Lots of Guns. America Is Paying a Heavy Price for Freedom,” or in my print edition, “Will We Get Used To The Dying?” 

It was so bad—and also so representative of the current media propaganda making the unsustainable case that advocating an end to  the lockdown before the U.S. economy is indistinguishable from that of Togo is selfish and irrational—that the piece was ripe for additional censure. Glenn Logan, as usual, did a superb job in this, his Comment of the Day on the post, “Prelude To ‘The Pandemic Creates A Classic And Difficult Ethics Conflict, But The Resolution Is Clear, Part II’”:

Let me give your fisking a some additional fodder:

“The coronavirus scenario I can’t stop thinking about is the one where we simply get used to all the dying.”

Like with the flu, or with suicide, or with automobile accidents? Yes, I suppose your thinking is correct.

You: “How old is Warzel, 15? We accept the mortality of modern life, just as our ancestors accepted the mortality of their own periods.”

Mortality is a fact of the human condition, although Warzel seems blissfully unaware of that. Being born a human is an absolute guarantee of mortality. Hell, being born an organic organism on planet Earth is a guarantee of mortality. While the current level of excess mortality is unusual in the West for the last half-century or so, it is by no means unprecedented, percentage of the population-wise, in modern history. It certainly isn’t unprecedented in other areas of the world in very recent history.

Yet somehow humanity got through those others, and “got used to it.”

“The day I read Mr. Nelson’s tweet, 1,723 Americans were reported to have died from the virus. And yet their collective passing was hardly mourned. After all, how to distinguish those souls from the 2,097 who perished the day before or the 1,558 who died the day after?”

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t try to distinguish “souls” from each other. That’s God’s job, not mine. Is Warzel comparing himself to God, or does he imagine it is the job of humanity to mourn every stranger who passes from a natural process like a disease?

Good heavens, he would have to be God to have that kind of empathetic capacity. Would Dark Helmet have mourned Lone Star’s father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate?

“Such loss of life is hard to comprehend when it’s not happening in front of your own two eyes.”

What’s to comprehend, dude? People die. My mother-in-law died the other day from natural causes. It was easy to comprehend. We’ve had over 250 people in Kentucky die purportedly from the virus. I’ve had no problem comprehending that, nor the 1-3000 that die daily in the USA under current conditions.

It’s called a “plague.” These events have happened throughout history, and almost always more severe than what is likely with this one.

“There’s also a national precedent for Mr. Nelson’s hypothetical: America’s response to gun violence and school shootings.”

Heh. I’m going to posit one of these things is not like the other.

“As a country, we seem resigned to preventable firearm deaths. Each year, 36,000 Americans are killed by guns — roughly 100 per day, most from suicide, according to data from the Giffords Law Center.There are occasional marches and protests but mostly we continue on with our lives.”

Help me out — 36,000+ people die on the highways every year. Those are totally preventable.

But just like the freedom to keep and bear arms, the freedom to utilize vehicular transport is an American tradition. The only real difference is that it’s a) a much younger tradition and b)protected explicitly by the Bill of Rights.

“The federal government could have moved swiftly like some in Europe to “freeze” the economy and commit to paying at least part of workers’ salaries if their companies don’t lay them off.”

You: “Hey, it’s only [other people’s] money!”

There, fixed that for you.

I guess he thinks we’ll never run out of other people’s money.

“As in the gun control debate, public opinion, public health and the public good seem poised to lose out to a select set of personal freedoms. But it’s a child’s two-dimensional view of freedom — one where any suggestion of collective duty and responsibility for others become the chains of tyranny.

Who gets to say what is the “public good?” You? I think not. Tyranny doesn’t look like people taking care of themselves — it looks like people being forced to “take care” of strangers by surrendering their liberty. The colonists felt so strongly about these “liberty” things that they fought a revolution against their former government and formed an independent country.

When did we decide that those founders were wrong, that individual liberty must give way to submission to the collective will? I don’t recall deciding that.

“This idea of freedom is also an excuse to serve one’s self before others and a shield to hide from responsibility.”

The idea of freedom is a responsibility, not an excuse to provide for oneself and to allow others the same opportunity. The concept of charity, community and commerce drive some, but not all, free persons to provide for others that which they are unable to provide for themselves, either as charity or for compensation. That is true freedom, and something Wazel either doesn’t understand or doesn’t prefer.

In this narrow worldview, freedom has a price, in the form of an “acceptable” number of human lives lost. It’s a price that will be calculated and then set by a select few. The rest of us merely pay it.

The millions that fought in many wars over the history of this country to preserve the freedom that allows Mr. Warzel to write his poison are the price we paid, in blood and treasure. This plague will exact a toll which, in absolute plague terms may be less if we continue to hide in our homes, but will pale next to the depredations of hunger, despair, and chaos which will flow from a a collapsed economy.

I say participating in the self-destruction of the country by hiding like cowards from the virus is a poor substitute for bravely going forth and knowingly risking our lives to return to a semblance of normality. Our predecessors in the Greatest Generation would expect no less.

8 thoughts on “Comment Of The Day: “Prelude To ‘The Pandemic Creates A Classic And Difficult Ethics Conflict, But The Resolution Is Clear, Part II’”

  1. Thank you Glenn and Jack for your excellent commentary. I have grown weary of the propaganda that overwhelms my news feed to such an extent that I have virtually eliminated most reports that claim to be “news”.

    I am of the opinion that most of those who are unwilling to evaluate the many elements of a pandemic initiated economic shutdown objectively are incurring no costs or suffering economic hardship. That alone causes their perspectives to be biased and we know that bias makes you stupid.

    • Should be . . .incurring no costs NOR suffering economic hardship.

      He has this absolutely backwards in terms of this shutdown.

      “In this narrow worldview, freedom has a price, in the form of an “acceptable” number of human lives lost. It’s a price that will be calculated and then set by a select few. The rest of us merely pay it.”

      About 85% of the working population is still drawing a paycheck. Nonwage earners are relatively unaffected in terms of recognized monthly incomes. These are the people demanding that the economy remain closed not the 15% who lost their jobs or the hundreds of thousands of small business owners and contractors whose life’s work and saving are going down the drain to ensure the compensated group’s feeling of safety is attained. Thus, it is a small group that is paying the price to ensure that the majority live in safety and suffer no economic hardship.

      I want the question asked to all the keep it closed fanatics – Are you willing to give up 30% of your monthly compensation to keep the economy closed so that the economic burden of this pandemic is borne by the people affected by it and not future generations? My answer is no so open it up.

      • That’s a great point. Everyone wants this event to come with no cost at all. Folks, that’s insane. The government has spent trillions of dollars it doesn’t have to mitigate the damage to personal lives. That bill will eventually come do, but nobody seems to believe that.

        Now, these lunatics want the government to spend tens of trillions more, essentially printing Monopoly money so people can stay in their homes until a vaccine makes it “safe” to return to real life. Except what if there isn’t a vaccine that is 100% effective, as virtually no vaccine is?

        We will hear calls for more lockdowns, more rights surrendered, and more onerous government protocols and indebtedness in the name of safety. In fact, I’d posit that a significant number of people are willing to sacrifice our republic completely and surrender all rights to the “benevolent” government in order to feel safe.

        I’m sure they’d be okay if the Chinese Communist Party took over since so many of them are sure China got it right, despite being unquestionably responsible for the severity of their own suffering. It’s like Stockholm Syndrome writ large.

        “We have nothing to fear, but fear itself.” — A great relevant quote that has been utterly rejected by a significant portion of our country.

  2. Good and thoughtful response. Fear-mongering, the attribution of every death to Wuhan, the easy forgetfulness of how many die daily in car accidents, other disease and accidents, etc. is the order of the day — at least with the media.

    I have stopped watching the news: much better info on respected medical sites.

    So yes, be careful. Just don’t assume you can get accurate information from media sources. The CDC? WHO? Useless so far. And why is the work of USAMRIID — the very best in infectious disease — completely ignored? Prejudice against the military, which runs it?

    What contrast can be made about this virus and the 2008 ‘pandemic?” I don’t even remember the great 2008 epidemic. And how do presumed (I say presumed because these days every death seems to be attributed to corona) corona deaths compare to every season’s influenza breakouts? No answers so far, except one: our small business is barely making it because of overreaction and fear-mongering.

  3. Thanks so much for the CotD Jack, and especially for the fine editing job to make it comprehensible with the mixed quotes from you and Warzel.

    If only I could’ve written this paragraph as below:

    But just like the freedom to keep and bear arms, the freedom to utilize vehicular transport is an American tradition. The only real difference is that it’s a) a much younger tradition and b) [not] protected explicitly by the Bill of Rights.

    And caught this clever but bungled circular reference:

    Would Dark Helmet have mourned Lone Star’s father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate?

    Oops. Dark Helmet was Lone Star’s father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate. I guess he might’ve mourned his own demise… somewhere…? 🙂

  4. I am just about fed up with the people who keep saying that we need to all stay hiding in our holes until “People stop dying”. Well, about 8,000 people/day die in this country normally, about 8,000 people a day seem to be dying now, and I am unaware of a time when people didn’t die. I am not about to hide away in fear of the boogeyman because these people are irrational cowards.

    This country was founded by people who fought a war during a smallpox outbreak with poor sanitation and no healthcare to speak of. What would George Washington say to these people? (OK, he might be polite and just tell them to ‘grow a pair’). A better question, “What would Benjamin Franklin or John Hancock say to these people?”

    Is this what happens when people believe the nanny state fiction that the government can make the world safe? Do they actually believe life is safe? I live a pretty mundane, uneventful life, but I have been in 3 or 4 situations when I thought I was going to die (or I was already dead and just needed 30 minutes for confirmation). Life is not safe and people die all the time. A coronavirus ‘cultist’ got mad at me for saying that we would have probably been better without a lockdown, and we need to get back to work before we create a famine. They asked me how I would feel if it were MY father who had to “go out into this pandemic”. I told them he is. My father is almost 75 and has been tutoring kids in their homes this whole time (probably against lockdown orders). The person asked me how I ‘could allow this to happen’? I relied “His phone rings off the hook with desperate parents who don’t have the time, patience, or resources to educate their children. He just can’t turn them away. It is who he is. If he contracts coronavirus and dies, he dies being who he is and I won’t stop that.” They just couldn’t understand how anyone could let a loved one take a risk. I can’t imagine what it must be like to live in such fear all the time.

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