Extradimensional Cephalopod, as is his (it’s?) wont, chose to approach the question of what to call the pandemic virus (I am unalterably devoted to calling it what it is, as a deadly pathogen that developed in China and allowed to infect the world BY China “the Wuhan virus” in order to ensure that accountability, blame, and, if possible, liability attaches now and forever) by seeking an ethical process that has applications in other contexts. Below is his Comment of the Day on the post, “Is It Too Late To Call It “The Wuhan Virus” Or Better Yet, “The China Virus”?
Recent news has reinforced the unavoidable conclusion that China is a corrupting influence on the world and it culture. Disney, which like so many, indeed most—all?—major corporations has no ethical principles it is willing to lose profits from hewing to if at all possible, censored an episode of “The Simpsons” that satirized the nation and its government. Disney eliminated the episode from the package it sold to Chinese media. Let’s be clear: this means that Disney is assisting China in government censorship of creative expression arising in Disney’s own nation, and also assisting China’s totalitarians in controlling the minds of its population. I regard the “Covid” cover word being used to avoid connecting this regime with the disaster its habits created to be a similar form of complicity.
Now here’s “the Squid”: I’ll be back ever so briefly when he’s finished:
Step 1: Understand one’s own values
We want to be free to label things simply and accurately without fear that our labels will be censored just because someone doesn’t like them. If we can’t discuss evidence and speak freely about events, then we can’t do anything useful.
Step 2: Understand others’ values
Other people are concerned that certain kinds of labels and phrases will affect someone else’s place on the Cognitive Dissonance Scale by indirect association, and that those other people will be threatened or denied goodwill as a result. That does happen sometimes, after all. I refer to the cognitive dissonance phenomenon as reputation or “Dust”; as in, “the virus carries a lot of negative Dust, and people want to prevent it from getting on them.”
Step 3: Frame the situation constructively
In the long term, if people are going to actually be violent towards or prejudiced against people just because they share a vague area of origin or a general label with a negative phenomenon, I think we need to take it up with the violent and prejudiced people. The world I want to build has no place for people who think like that. I refuse to tolerate a society where I have to be careful what I say lest someone somewhere assault someone else.
In the meantime, I don’t see it as much of a sacrifice to use a sufficiently accurate and unambiguous label such as COVID-19 so that it doesn’t risk casting negative impressions outside of the virus itself. I’m generally amenable to changing the words I use as long as I’m provided with replacement words that are guaranteed to be acceptable in perpetuity, that are clear, accurate and precise, and that aren’t onerous to say in casual conversation. It doesn’t prevent me from criticizing what I need to criticize, and in some cases it even helps, because it disentangles concepts from each other.
That’s my hot take on the issue. How does that sound?
I’m back to make two points:
- Is “COVID-19” a “sufficiently accurate and unambiguous label”? I’d be shocked if one American in a thousand could tell you what “Covid” signifies.
- I hold that it is indeed too “much of a sacrifice” to avoid “casting negative impressions outside of the virus itself.” It is important that the negative impressions of a powerful, insidious Communist regime that the U.S. has already enabled far too generously be recognized for what it is.The pandemic just assists us in focusing on other aspects of China’s attacks on liberty.