Scott Tibbs

Can we please stop freaking out about COVID-19?

By Scott Tibbs, September 1, 2021

"Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." - Master Yoda

As both sides of the COVID-19 culture war dig in, it is important to remember (again) that we need to have a sense of proportion and maybe consider that people we disagree with might have something valuable to say from time to time. Maybe those who disagree with us are not actually evil.

President Biden was mocked for suggesting people get vaccinated, wear a mask and practice social distancing in a hurricane shelter. Of course, this is perfectly reasonable. Obviously, a giant storm is a more immediate concern, but there is no reason to put yourself at greater risk of contracting a potentially serious virus while sheltering from the storm. This is being treated as absurd on the Right, but it is not. It does not help the cause of resisting true overreach when we mock every guideline.

There are some truly stupid suggestions for dealing with the virus, such as wearing a mask when having sex. That, of course, will do absolutely nothing to inhibit the spread of the virus. This kind of absurdity deserves mockery, but retarding the spread of a respiratory virus in a shelter is perfectly reasonable.

I understand the concern about people following legitimate pandemic mitigation guidelines, but the rage over people not doing so is reaching a fanatical religious intensity - with people on social media declaring their hatred for and openly wishing death on people who do not wear masks. This is what a cult looks like, folks. This is a Taliban mentality - those who do not follow your demands are infidels or heretics who must be punished. And unless you are in a vulnerable population, you have little to fear from COVID-19 if you have been vaccinated, so maybe do not go on a jihad if people do not follow guidelines.

Fear is driving the anger over noncompliance, but not all support for pandemic mitigation policy is driven by fear. Many people went along with mask mandates and economic lockdowns not because they were terrified of the virus, but out of respect for the civil magistrate's authority (Romans 13) and those who were not personally afraid of the virus nonetheless tried to protect vulnerable neighbors. With all due respect to Doug Wilson, it was not "extreme susceptibility to fear" that made the lockdowns possible early in the pandemic. (Note I have said and still believe that lockdowns are no longer justified.)

Finally, there are many people openly advocating for doctors and hospitals to openly discriminate against the unvaccinated, and at least one so-called "doctor" in Alabama is going along with it. This is an obscene violation of medical ethics. This is not serious pandemic mitigation policy, but virtue signaling and a dangerous cult mentality. None of the people advocating this kind if discrimination are also advocating that people who are sexually promiscuous be denied treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, so this is not about better personal choices. This is about demanding people join a cult.

While I have certainly seen many "freedom" protesters become unhinged, the vast majority of the unhinged and cult behavior I see now is from the people who want compliance with pandemic mitigation policy. I understand the concern about COVID-19, but you are not accomplishing anything by screaming obscenities on social media and wishing death or severe illness on those who are not doing what you want. Calm down, take the steps necessary to protect yourself and your family, and calmly try to educate those you can convince. Calling someone stupid and ignorant while screaming obscenities will not convince anyone.

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