I thought this op-ed, by a Jesuit priest, would have something profound to say about the ethics of schadenfreude. I was disappointed. His grand conclusion:
At this point I could run through a list of philosophers, theologians and wise voices from religions and traditions around the world to prove my point. Instead I will reclaim a word that has been largely lost from our discourse: mean. Crowing over someone’s suffering or demise is as far from a moral act as one can imagine. It’s cruel. Indulged in regularly, schadenfreude ends up warping the soul. It robs us of empathy for those with whom we disagree. It lessens our compassion. To use some language from both the Old and New Testaments, it “hardens” our hearts. No matter how much I disagree with anti-vaxxers, I know that schadenfreude over their deaths is a dead end.
Wow, stop the presses. A Jesuit recognizes the value of the Golden Rule. This is news that’s “fit to print?” Well, the obvious (I hope) conclusion turned out to be device to attack Wuhan vaccine skeptics and opponents on the way to reaching it. “After months of trying to convince anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers and anti-social distancers that lifesaving measures are both for their own good and for that of others, frustration might get the better of people,” Father James Martin writes, finding an excuse for one side of the aisle while condemning without sympathy, for example, Fox News pundit Laura Ingraham, “a commentator who often expresses her belief in “Christian values,” gloating over the news that Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had tested positive despite being vaccinated and boosted.
I expect more fairness and less deceit from the clergy, Lord knows why:
- Opposing government mandated vaccinations does not make one an “anti-vaxxer.” That’s a slur on par with calling those who doubt the certitude of over-simplified climate change taking points “deniers.” Many oppose the mandated vaccines as an unconstitutional and unethical violation of personal liberty, and are not taking the shots to stand up for basic rights, not because they necessarily don’t believe in “the science.”
- Calling masks, particularly the masks most people wear, “live-saving” is propaganda and misinformation. The CDC’s “experts” have, in sequence, said “mask aren’t necessary,” wear masks; no need to wear masks if you’re vaccinated; better wear masks, and if you don’t like what the advice is now, as they say about weather in New England, wait a bit. I know men of the cloth are suckers for faith, but if Jesus had been wrong as often as the health experts, we might be making offerings to Jupiter and Neptune today.
- Don’t get me started on “social distancing.” I’m surprised the good Father didn’t also say we were killing people by touching our faces. Remember that edict?