Stupid Is As Stupid Does

As if grappling with 2020 wasn’t bad enough, we now have to deal with an uptake in death-defying Darwin Award contenders.

This dark take on epochal stupidity sees awards given to idiots who do things like protest during a pandemic, next to hundreds of other idiots, armed with assault rifles, carting huge protest signs reading “I would rather be dead than have my freedom taken away”. 

Well, Okey Dokey then Bob, stand outside and touch other people’s faces for a little while longer and you might just get what you wish for. I presume not all of their parents are brother and sister, but it does make you wonder.

These entitled dissenters are protesting the lockdown because, quite simply, they believe it is their constitutional right to infect everyone else. One woman in Denver, Colorado screamed at a health worker from her $30,000 RAM 1500, while carrying a ‘Land of the Free’ poster: “You go to work. Why can’t I go to work?” The woman shouted: “I’ve saved people’s lives too!” I sincerely doubt that.

Alyson McClaren/Reuters

This pandemic is not ‘the great equalizer’. For millions worldwide, lockdown is undoubtedly terrifying.

Those who have lost their livelihoods or loved ones, people living in overcrowded environments, those who find themselves without access to clean water, money or even transport to get home to their families.

There are those who are repeatedly subjected to unimaginable abuse within their own homes.

In Bahrain, there has been a 46% increase in domestic violence since the lockdown. This is a sobering number and would make you question if there might be a better way to deal with this crisis.

Although top health experts categorically believe this is the only way to stem the spread, there is clearly an enormous gap in essential services for those who desperately need them.

In Bahrain, migrant workers remain acutely vulnerable to infection from COVID-19 due to crowded labour accommodations.

Worldwide, abject poverty means people are being forced to choose between defying restrictions and feeding their families, particularly in countries where there is no social welfare net to catch them. People would rather risk getting the virus than starve to death.

However, far from advocating for the aforementioned who are enduring unspeakable anguish, the anti-lockdown rallies in wealthy nations like America seem more about differing political ideologies stoked by a growing anti-science movement. 

Granted many have legitimate fears over job security but by and large they are not in the depths of catastrophic poverty, unable to feed their families, or living in a squalid refugee or labour camp. Nor are they concerned for society’s most vulnerable.

One protester said, ‘If you’re sick, then you should just stay home’, a sentiment shared by many of his fellow covidiots.

I’m not sure how many times this needs to be said but that’s not how contagion works.

I suppose it needs to be reiterated a few more times given that the President of the United States thinks that human beings function like toilet seats and viruses can just be wiped from our system with a bit of bleach.

I can’t wait to hear about the new UV treatment he is touting. Perhaps it will function a bit like that scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark when Indiana Jones’ archnemesis Belloq opens Pandora’s box, smiles deliriously, fires laser beams out of his eyes and then his head explodes. Job done. Germs eradicated.

Trump is probably already coronavirus free from harnessing UV from the solar eclipse he stared at last year.

Frankly, it is a sad day for humanity when cleaning companies are issuing statements warning people not to drink their products because a sitting President has suggested it can cure viruses from the inside.

It must be utterly exhausting for Republicans contorting themselves into pretzels to defend the indefensible. If you elect a clown, you get the whole circus but quite honestly, if you have to be told not to inject disinfectant, you probably shouldn’t be allowed to vote.

Sadly, this particularly virulent strain of covidiocy is infectious. Since the protests began in Michigan, we have seen a surge in similar types of protests from Germany and Austria to Ireland and Australia, mostly fuelled by right-wing parties, antagonists, and those who seek to gain from the economy reopening, irrespective of how many lives are lost.

In New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is being compared to a Nazi and the lockdown to the Holocaust. Putting aside the grotesque comparison of the systematic murder of six million Jews in concentration camps to being asked to stay inside and protect lives, for these first world protesters arguing lockdown measures breach freedom of assembly, the majority are lucky enough to remain in the relative comfort of their homes.

The individualists in the West are predominantly griping about their right to roam freely as if they have been encased in cages for a year. Led majoritively by angry, white Neanderthals chanting for their ‘right to free will’, the protests serve as a smokescreen for fundamental fringe groups to air their grievances.

From the semi-automatic weapon-toting militia, to opponents of abortion and immigration, the whole gang has crawled out from the swamp. And just when you thought we had reached the zenith of stupidity; scores have also been expressing anger over Covid-19 as a Chinese hoax.

The uncertainty around the exact origins of the virus has enabled right-wing conspiracy theorists to regurgitate fake news, including stories about Bill Gates and his evil plot to spread vaccinations.

By all means if, like Fox News, you like getting your political analysis from Elmer Fudd who lives in his mum’s basement creating sensationalised content on a makeshift recording unit, then go ahead. 

In Ireland, contrarians John Waters and Gemma O’Doherty are busy launching visceral attacks on the Guards and flouting health regulations because they too are ‘exceptional’.

In this, they claim to represent all Irish citizens.

Well, they are certainly not fighting on behalf of the vulnerable or those of us who find ourselves hemmed in because of pre-existing illness. We are expendable. No, instead they are suing the Irish government for infringement of their constitutional rights arguing “people should be allowed go about their business and normal life must be allowed resume”.

Again, missing the salient point that people congregating caused the pandemic in the first place.

Gemma, who seems to have procured a more in-depth knowledge of the virus than even the World Health Organisation, informs us that the vast majority of people are unaffected by Covid-19 which, she said, posed “no threat to life”.

I’m not sure that the over quarter of a million people who have died so far would agree, but I suppose they can’t have an opinion either way now can they Gemma? Because they’re dead.

According to the “Coronavirus expert”, the Irish people should be allowed to go outside and “build up a herd immunity”. So that’s great. We can tell Tony Holohan we won’t be availing of his services anymore because Gemma has told us that we can all go back to normal life. Maybe Dominic Cummings could also join her scientific advisory board seeing as that tactic was such a success in the UK.

Allowing the delusional rantings of conspiracy theorists and right-wing fanatics to take root, and encouraging them as Trump has done, only enables dissidence to foment, creating social discohesion at a time when we need one another more than ever.

When every day feels like a Sunday it is hard to muster enthusiasm. Particularly if you are alone or in an apartment with no outdoor space. Even more so if you suffer from mental health issues, are struggling to make ends meet or in an abusive situation.

Uncertainty is fuelling business worries for thousands, alongside a myriad of other anxieties. Yet, despite all this hardship, most people are persevering because they know that the sooner we reduce case transmission, the easier it will be to start up the economy. Unfortunately, there are always going to be those who believe in their own self-importance.

Those people who believe they are somehow endowed with some sort of special superiority to flout the rules as if they are the only people ill-affected by this crisis. Afterall, there is nothing like a good protest to put the fun back into fundamental.

To the protesters gathering to whine about their right to individual freedom and lamenting being unable to get their roots done, my right to live trumps your right to a haircut. Every time. So in the words of Samuel. L. Jackson, “Stay the f*** at home”.

*The Migrant Workers Protection Society are calling on the public to contribute to a fund so they can distribute food to low-income workers. 

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