Some Covid Links

by Don Boudreaux on February 1, 2022

in Country Problems, Current Affairs, Education, Risk and Safety, Science, Seen and Unseen

David Harsanyi explains what ought not, but sadly still does, need explaining: “Government has no business rooting out and flagging ‘misinformation’.” A slice:

Asked by MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski about the alleged misinformation spread by the popular “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast and Facebook users, US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy responded with a homily about how “we” must “root out” misleading speech.

“We” don’t have to do any such thing. Government officials have no role in dictating appropriate speech or lecturing us on what we can or can’t say. In fact, they have a duty not to.

Murthy’s comments wouldn’t be as grating if it weren’t so obvious that the Biden administration has been pressuring Big Tech companies, who oversee huge swaths of our daily digital interactions, to limit speech and set acceptable standards.

You might remember that last summer, Press Secretary Jen Psaki causally informed the media that the White House was “flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation.” Can you imagine the explosive reaction from the establishment media if it had learned that the Trump White House was keeping a list of speech crimes?

Writing in Canada’s National Post, Rex Murphy argues that it’s not Justin Trudeau’s place to decide which views are ‘acceptable’ and which aren’t. (HT Jonathan Fortier) Two slices:

He [Trudeau] described them [the truckers protesting vaccine mandates] as “a small fringe minority.” A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian, someone once said. But this “small fringe minority” can’t be Canadians. They have “unacceptable views.”

“Unacceptable views?” Are we in China now?

Trudeau isn’t Plato. He may even be a few steps down from that high intellect. But even if he were, I’d hold off on the prime minister of a democracy ruling on what is or is not acceptable.

That statement of his made me genuinely wonder: have those who rule us forgotten the basis of their rule? The leaders of a democracy do not have “excommunicatory” competence. They do not get to declare what is a “fringe minority.” Nor do they have their vassals — I think of Trudeau’s former adviser and close personal friend Gerry Butts — sprinkling Twitter with slurs regarding the integrity and purpose of a large-scale, grassroots reaction to this government’s extended and flawed response to the COVID pandemic, pumping vitriol on its behalf.

…..

There is a voice within this protest, a voice beyond the owner of the hands on the wheel, beyond the cheers coming from the side of the road or from the highway overpasses. A voice coming from the less comfortable in society, the perennially less seen or regarded. It’s the voice of dutiful, working citizens whom the past two years of shutdowns, loss of work or severe reduction of income, all kinds of pressures and anxieties, have worn them down. The truckers are emblems, stand-ins for these Canadians.

And because they usually make no noise, usually just go about their business, hardly ever stage even a small demonstration — until now — to the professional classes, these Canadians are just simply not there. That’s the real gap here. The political and commentating clerisy really don’t know, and have made no effort to know or appreciate, the lives and livelihoods of those on the lower end of the economic scale. How the other, less fortunate, half lives.

Jim Geraghty, writing at National Review, deplores that “global assault on freedom.” A slice:

Perhaps conservatives are rallying around Joe Rogan because they don’t need a figure to agree with 100 percent of their worldview in order to conclude that he is worth defending from an angry mob that desires censorship of differing views.

It’s very clear that the people who are the most determined to “deplatform” Rogan — to force Spotify to cancel his show, and likely with that, get his videos off of YouTube as well — are battling a cartoon-like caricature that they’ve drawn in their heads.

If you listen to Rogan defend his choices in a recently taped video, you’ll see that he’s not a lunkhead, and seems the opposite of a wide-eyed extremist ideologue, hungry to hammer a twisted narrative into brainwashed followers….

Glenn Greenwald weighs in on the dust-up sparked by Joe Rogan. A slice:

American liberals are obsessed with finding ways to silence and censor their adversaries. Every week, if not every day, they have new targets they want de-platformed, banned, silenced, and otherwise prevented from speaking or being heard (by “liberals,” I mean the term of self-description used by the dominant wing of the Democratic Party).

For years, their preferred censorship tactic was to expand and distort the concept of “hate speech” to mean “views that make us uncomfortable,” and then demand that such “hateful” views be prohibited on that basis. For that reason, it is now common to hear Democrats assert, falsely, that the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech does not protect “hate speech.” Their political culture has long inculcated them to believe that they can comfortably silence whatever views they arbitrarily place into this category without being guilty of censorship.

Constitutional illiteracy to the side, the “hate speech” framework for justifying censorship is now insufficient because liberals are eager to silence a much broader range of voices than those they can credibly accuse of being hateful. That is why the newest, and now most popular, censorship framework is to claim that their targets are guilty of spreading “misinformation” or “disinformation.” These terms, by design, have no clear or concise meaning. Like the term “terrorism,” it is their elasticity that makes them so useful.

Wall Street Journal columnist Gerard Baker speculates that governments’ atrocious overreach, incompetence, and cruelty – so amply demonstrated over the past two years to anyone with open eyes – might invigorate libertarianism. A slice:

When a crisis is over, authorities may relinquish some of the powers they assumed during the emergency, but you can be sure that the government’s writ will run permanently larger than before. Wars, depressions, public-health emergencies lead to bigger government, more rules, more-onerous regulations.

You can see the pattern again as we approach the second anniversary of the pandemic: officials musing publicly about permanent mask mandates, blue-state leaders who evidently have no intention of lifting restrictions, public-health professionals seeking to extend their ambit even as the crisis wanes. Leading Democratic politicians continue to insist on their “Build Back Better” proposition—that what we have learned these past two years has been the essential role of new trillion-dollar government programs to cushion society from its ills.

Worst of all, the authoritarian instinct this time has reached deeper into the once-sacred field of free speech, and we have the marginalizing and even outright ostracizing of heretics who dare challenge the authorities’ narrative. When elderly rockers who once thought of themselves as rebels believe it’s their responsibility to banish “misinformation” from major entertainment platforms, you know the controlling impulse has burrowed its way deeply—perhaps permanently—into the culture.

But let’s indulge a radical thought for a moment. What if the opposite is true this time? What if the ratchet slips, and rising popular hostility to arbitrary, petty, overbearing and ineffective rules induces a popular backlash? Isn’t it possible that the inconsistency, arrogance and mendacity of the people attempting to order our lives will produce the opposite of their desired outcome?

Jeffrey Tucker says that it’s high time that many global ‘leaders’ (so-called) resign. Two slices:

If there is a historical precedent for the truckers’ revolt in Canada, and the populist protests in so many other parts of the world, I would like to know what it is. It surely sets the record for convoy size, and it is historic for Canada. But there is much more going on here, something more fundamental. The two-year imposition of bio-fascist rule by diktat seems ever less tenable – the consent of the governed is being withdrawn – but what comes next seems unclear.

We now have two of the most restrictive “leaders” in the developed world (Justin Trudeau of Canada and Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand) hiding in undisclosed locations, citing the need to quarantine following Covid exposure. Streets globally have filled up with people demanding an end to mandates and lockdowns, calling for accountability, pushing for resignations, denouncing privileged corporations, and crying out for a recognition of basic freedoms and rights.

…..

Lockdowns and mandates gave them full power, not only over the one or two sectors they previously ruled but the whole of society and all of its functioning. They even controlled how many people we could have in our homes, whether our businesses could be open, whether we could worship with others, and dictate what precisely we are supposed to do with our own bodies.

Whatever happened to limits on power? The people who put together the systems of government in the 18th century that led to the most prosperous societies in the history of the world knew that restricting government was the key to a stable social order and growing economy. They gave us Constitutions and the lists of rights and the courts enforced them.

Reason‘s Liz Wolfe reports that some school officials in Los Angeles called the cops on students who showed up unvaccinated. A slice:

When 15-year-old Ellah Nahum and a few other unvaccinated students showed up at Los Angeles’ New West Charter School on Tuesday, January 18, after winter break, they brought lunches, backpacks, and negative COVID-19 tests, hoping to be allowed in. They’d been negotiating with school administrators since early October, when the school had announced that a vaccine mandate would go into effect in January. Prior to returning to school from winter break, they’d requested a hearing, attempting to find alternative options to getting vaccinated.

When they showed up at school around 7:30 a.m., they sailed through the first checkpoint, run by two newly hired security guards who were satisfied with the girls’ proof of negative test conducted in the last 24 hours. It was the second checkpoint, run by school administrators demanding proof of vaccination, that created trouble for the teens. Several hours later, after tense negotiations between administrators, teens, and their parents, the school called Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) to the scene, and cordoned the teens off, denying them chairs and bathroom breaks, according to the girls.

(DBx: I do not understand how anyone can learn of events such as this one and not realize that Covid Derangement Syndrome is real and horrifying.)

Katie Pavlich reports on John Hopkins School of Medicine professor Dr. Marty Makary calling for the rehiring of workers who were fired because they are unvaccinated. (HT Jay Bhattacharya)

Nicholas Giordano rightly criticizes the continuing hypocrisy – and cruelty – of California strongman Gavin Newsom. A slice:

“Remember that California children are forced to wear masks in schools all day and that California extended their indoor mask mandate through February,” radio host Ari Hoffman tweeted, posting a picture of California Gov. Gavin Newsom, maskless with Magic Johnson Sunday at the Los Angeles Rams’ home playoff game.

Newsom, of course, is no stranger to COVID hypocrisy — remember his trip to the French Laundry? — but, like so many politicians, is seemingly without shame. So we have AOC dancing maskless with drag queens in Florida, Nancy Pelosi getting her hair done when shops are closed, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson partying during lockdown.

Rules are for little people.

This time, literally. Officials have cruelly forced children to wear masks for six to eight hours a day, every day, with no regard for short- and long-term consequences. Parents who voice any concern about masking are ignored, or worse, slandered as “wanting people to die,” which is willful ignorance of the scientific facts.

Here’s some potentially excellent news out of Finland.

Julien Yvon is correct: “The rules themselves were worse than the rule-breaking.” A slice:

If we look back at media coverage during the month of May 2020, we find that our journalists had become obsessed with ordinary people breaking the rules. Worse yet, we were being publicly vilified for activities, such as a day out at the beach, which did fall within the remit of the rules. Any criticism from the mainstream media towards these absurd measures, however, were certainly few and far between.

Jacob Howland exposes tyranny masquerading in America as the following of ‘the science.’ A slice:

The United States remains a constitutional republic, but technocratic progressivism threatens its future as a representative democracy. It is telling that, in the mouths of the governing elites, the word “democracy” no longer refers to government of, by, and for the people, but to progressive policies that are endorsed by credentialed experts yet have little popular support. And now we must contend with a monstrous union of science and politics that lames and deforms both.

Consider government responses to Covid. At the outset of the pandemic, a handful of unelected public health officials immediately began to advise and direct policy decisions of enormous consequence. Our elected officials in the US, trembling before these scientific experts, have followed their recommendations with little consideration of the cost that lockdowns, school closures, vaccine mandates, and the like exact on the economic and political well-being of the country and the mental and physical health of its citizens. Similar measures were adopted across the globe.

Americans have from the beginning been told to follow the science, but the science has mostly followed politics. In June 2020, for example, over 1,200 medical and health professionals signed a letter arguing that, despite the high risk of viral transmission, prohibitions then in force on small gatherings like church services should not apply to large (and frequently destructive and violent) demonstrations protesting what the authors called “the pervasive lethal force of white supremacy”. And when the science pointed toward the likely origin of Covid in a Wuhan lab, top health officials conspired — for political reasons — to smother that news.

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