I was planning on doing a pleasantly informative post on how to read the Old Testament, but this morning I ran across an article at The Atlantic and said to myself (this happens regularly to all bloggers): “Wow, that would make a great post!” The article is “The Anti-Vaccine Right Brought Human Sacrifice to America.” That’s red meat to a blogger who needs to come up with a new topic every week. The author is Kurt Andersen, who wrote Fantasyland, which I blogged about in an earlier W&T post. In the Atlantic article, he toned down his entertainingly exaggerated rhetoric just a bit, as he laments the seeming indifference of right-wingers to the thousands of preventable deaths they seem to be not just tolerating but encouraging and even celebrating. And since most (many? some?) Mormons are right-wingers, this is not just a problem, but our problem.
I’m going to throw in another concept for this discussion: useful idiots (defined below). For every demographic batch of useful idiots, there are authoritarian leaders who are pulling the strings, using inflammatory rhetoric, half-baked slogans, and phony claims to first attract followers, then manipulate them. Here’s the first paragraph in Wikipedia’s article on “Useful Idiot” (citations and links omitted):
In political jargon, a useful idiot is a derogatory term for a person perceived as propagandizing for a cause without fully comprehending the cause’s goals, and who is cynically used by the cause’s leaders. The term was originally used during the Cold War to describe non-communists regarded as susceptible to communist propaganda and manipulation. The term has often been attributed to Vladimir Lenin, but this attribution is unsubstantiated.
Every party or movement has thousands or millions of footsoldiers. The degree to which they might better be described as useful idiots rather than generic footsoldiers or followers depends on how cynical the leaders are in using propaganda, manipulation, and plain old lying to accomplish their goals, and how vulnerable the followers are to being sucked in and fooled by those tactics. The whole analysis can be extended from politics to religion and the corporate sector, of course. It’s the pathological extension of what you might think of as the natural leader-follower dynamic. So let’s look at the article now, then at the Mormons.
How Many People Have to Die Before a Policy Is Recognized as Failing?
It’s just a fact that many public policy issues are forced to weigh a cost in human lives against some social or collective benefit. Seat belts save lives but are annoying to some users and raise the cost of your car by a few dozen dollars. Mandatory seat belt laws save lives but impinge on the freedom or free choice of drivers and passengers. That’s an example of putting priority on saving lives despite some inconvenience. Flashing lights and strongly enforced 20 mph zones around schools are another example: we place priority on protecting children and impose some annoyance and occasional monetary fines on drivers. On the other hand, cigarettes can still be legally purchased and smoked by adults despite the disease and death they cause to some users and the costs shared by the rest of society (medical costs not borne by individuals alone, second-hand smoke, etc.). That’s a case where the priority is on personal choice rather than on saving lives. Public policy choices are almost always complicated and messy. Which brings us to vaccine policy. Here’s a quote from the article:
Today, however, the economy is no longer in jeopardy; unemployment rates and salaries have returned to pre-pandemic levels, GDP per person is higher than it was at the end of 2019, personal savings are growing and businesses are starting up faster than ever, corporate profits and stock prices are at record highs. And for more than a year, we’ve had astoundingly effective vaccines that radically reduce the risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19. All of which means that for a long time now the right’s ongoing propaganda campaign against and organized political resistance to vaccination, among other public-health protocols, has been killing many, many Americans for no reasonable, ethically justifiable social purpose.
We don’t need lockdowns at this point: masks, distancing, and vaccines can do the trick, if we can just get broader compliance. The rhetoric employed to oppose broader compliance makes a legitimate appeal to the libertarian side of the public policy choice — yes, it makes sense that adults should be able to choose whether to get a vaccine or not — but increasingly makes that argument using false statements and phony claims. The legitimate appeal to the other side of the vaccine policy issue — that near-universal vaccination provides a very large public benefit in return for a small impingement on individual choice and a few adverse reactions to the vaccine — uses science and statistics. Guess which set of rank-and-file advocates are better described as useful idiots? Guess which set of leaders is better described as cynically using propaganda and manipulation to achieve their own personal goals by influencing their followers?
You would think hospitalization and death statistics would be the sort of objective data that could cut through a lot of the phony claims about the inefficacy or dangers of Covid vaccines circulating on social media and in some mainstream media outlets. Well, it does happen that people change their mind, but useful idiot syndrome runs deep. Cue a discussion or two about cognitive dissonance in the comments.
The article makes a broad historical argument about the role of human sacrifice in various societies (hint: it’s not political leaders or the rich who are the designated victims) before making the rather bold claim that the current staggering numbers of those now dying from Covid are just another example of the same thing:
Millions of Americans in 2021 were tricked by propagandists of the political right into forgoing vaccination and thus volunteering for death by COVID. Fox News hosts have consistently disparaged vaccination. During 2021, according to Media Matters, Tucker Carlson discussed vaccines on half of his nightly broadcasts after Joe Biden became president, “and all but one of those episodes featured a claim that undermined vaccines or vaccination efforts.” One night this month he said, “The boosters aren’t working” and “there’s evidence that people who get the booster are more likely” to become infected. The median age of Fox News viewers is 65. Unvaccinated people from 65 to 79 are now 21 times as likely to die of COVID as vaccinated people the same age, and unvaccinated Americans 50 and older are 44 times likelier to be hospitalized than the vaccinated and boosted.
How do we respond to this unfortunate reality? On the one hand, we should have nothing but sympathy and support for an older unvaccinated person who believes the misinformation they get from the wrong media sources, then gets Covid and is hospitalized or dies. On the other hand, if unvaccinated persons fill up hospital space and use up limited doctor and nursing services so other more responsible people cannot get access to other needed medical procedures (sometimes life or death procedures), then it seems appropriate to collectively express frustration and anger, not sympathy and support. Useful Idiocy sounds like a joke until a parent or sibling desperately needing heart surgery can’t get it scheduled because the nearby hospitals are full of unvaccinated Useful Idiot Covid patients.
What’s the Mormon angle? So I’ve blathered on about vaccines and politics long enough. What does this have to do with Mormons or the LDS Church? Perhaps the membership, led by bold leaders proclaiming truth and righteousness, embracing the gospel idea of making personal sacrifices for the good of others, has sidestepped misleading or downright false statements and instead embraced vaccines and other measures to combat the pandemic. Maybe, maybe not. Mormon behavior varies by region, in step with the regional variations in behavior by other Americans. On the whole, I’d say Mormons are doing as badly or worse than average and seem more susceptible than most to accepting bad arguments and phony claims. Please share your own impressions.
What about LDS leadership? Remember, you can’t have useful idiots without cynical leaders. On Covid and vaccine issues, senior LDS leadership has often been late with good advice and rather measured in its counsel rather than bold and direct. But at least they are saying the right things and being a good example. They have (apparently) all been vaccinated and done so publicly, have displayed masking and social distancing in recent broadcasts, and put out letters to the membership encouraging such measures. On the other hand, at this point in-person Sunday meetings have resumed pretty much everywhere, despite the recent Omicron surge. Senior leaders have delegated that decision and accompanying details to local leadership (bishops and stake presidents), sometimes as mediated by Area Authorities.
What about local leadership? I suspect a lot of local leaders are caught between a rock and a hard place. Bishops who personally favor suspending local meetings or requiring masks, for instance, may be given orders by their stake presidents or Area Authorities to keep in-person meetings going or to encourage (but not require) masks. But I have heard over a Mormon pulpit a plea to members to be kind and considerate to people who choose to *wear* masks in church — sort of sending the message we’d really rather you didn’t wear masks in church, but I guess you can if you really want to. So there are plenty of useful idiots in local leadership, but also some good bishops who are stuck in a tough position. That’s the biggest problem I see. Credibility is a slippery commodity, and some local leaders have forfeited a good deal of it. A useful idiot promoted to local leadership becomes a dangerous idiot.
Conclusions. It’s tough to think clearly in a crisis. It’s maybe harder now in 2022 with so many sources of information and disinformation to choose from. Personally, looking at the stunning death toll from Covid, the staggering burden on the medical system, the exhaustion and frustration of doctors and nurses on the front line of providing care, and the personal toll on so many families who have lost a family member to Covid — it’s clear to me that we should be pushing harder to overcome vaccination resistance and combat Covid disinformation. I know others feel differently, but this is not a case of “let’s agree to disagree,” this is a case of “thousands of people are dying, we need to act responsibly and forcefully.” Those speaking against vaccinations and associated measures rarely make a defensible public policy argument along the lines of “having a few thousand more deaths is a small cost to pay for protecting freedom of personal choice in rejecting vaccinations.” That might not sound like a winning argument, but at least it’s a bona fide public policy argument that, on other issues, may be a stronger argument. Instead we generally hear some form of fact-free nonsense. It’s not just fact-free, it’s harmful.
In Mormon circles, as noted, the senior leadership is mostly saying the right things, but as the advice trickles down, it gets degraded. Local leaders are often marginalizing the good advice from above, and the local membership often just ignores it. For Mormons, this is not our finest hour. I’ll close with one more quotation from the article:
Maybe we have empirical grounds for hoping that the long arc of the moral universe will bend toward justice in this instance. For now, though, the death count keeps gratuitously rising.
The CDC has clearly stated that cloth masks and surgical masks do nothing to stop the spread of omicron. How is the church following the science by pushing masks on members?
I am vaccinated, and believe that all should be. I wear a mask to worship services. But I adamantly oppose forcing others to do so. That was Satan’s plan.
I also find it interesting that this blog, widely known for attacking the Church for its stance on moral issues, would turn on a dime and claim that the Church should force its members to follow a quasi-governmental agency’s health directives.
When you allow the government to force its citizens to be confined to their homes and limit their associations, even for a good cause, you make it that much easier for the government to do so for nefarious reasons. The Church should have no part in forcing members to give up their rights.
Wayne, I think you are misstating the current CDC guidelines. Here is from the guidelines right on the CDC site (link to follow):
“People who are fully vaccinated can resume many activities they did before the pandemic. However, people should wear a mask indoors in public if they are in an area of substantial or high transmission.”
So many thoughts here, but I’ll be brief.
To answer some questions posed by OP: Mormons get an F on their pandemic approach. The Deseret News comment section is Exhibit A. People will believe anything if it allows them to live a life without consequences or fits their worldview. It’s a sad state of affairs.
With respect to our leaders: I think our church leaders truly believed the pandemic would be short lived. They were wrong. As a result, they were just too slow to respond. Their lack of communication early on meant the members turned to other talking heads. By the time the church entered the fray, it was too late. These members had already replaced the prophet with someone else. I really do believe if the church had spoken out sooner, the members would have listened. I really do. Huge missed opportunity with far-reaching consequences. It’s a huge shame.
“ The CDC has clearly stated that cloth masks and surgical masks do nothing to stop the spread of omicron. “
Not true. The main problem is people not wearing masks at all or wearing things like bandannas and other poorly fitting, made cloth masks.
This what the CDC actually says:
Any mask is better than no mask. Cloth masks should have a nose wire, multiple layers of tightly woven material that block light when held up to a light source and fit properly.
“Masks and respirators (i.e., specialized filtering masks such as “N95s”) can provide different levels of protection depending on the type of mask and how they are used. Loosely woven cloth products provide the least protection, layered finely woven products offer more protection, well-fitting disposable surgical masks and KN95s offer even more protection, and well-fitting NIOSH-approved respirators (including N95s) offer the highest level of protection.”
Here are just a free headlines. I invite you to read the articles:
The New York Times: Cloth Masks Do Not Protect Against Virus As Effectively As Others, C.D.C. Says
Slate: CDC Updates Guidelines To Make Clear Cloth Masks Offer Least Protection Against COVID
Wall Street Journal: Omicron Is Spreading. Resistance Is Futile
The good news is that the variant’s mildness makes preventing infection much less of a priority.
It appears to me that the church leadership has been acting like it is afraid of offending right wingers and BYU donors. How can you be the only college in Utah that does not require vaccination, but you do require beards to be shaven and kids who “experience same sex attraction” to abstain from holding hands?
Completely agree with Chadwick: F.
Come on, this was not even a difficult issue to get right.
I agree with Chadwick.
I also have an honest question, coming from someone who (if you’ve been following my comments on this blog) has been vaccinated (x3), masked diligently (and fought my local leaders on masking, to no avail), continued to send my kids to school masked even though it’s not required here and most kids aren’t, all the things for the last two years. My kids got Covid in the fall from school before they were eligible for vaccination and I got it a couple of weeks ago despite the booster and the mask because, omicron.
When do we stop masking? At this point, if I show up and am the only one at Church masked, who am I protecting? Do these people even want protecting? Why do I care anymore?
I think probably the answer is when the healthcare system is no longer overwhelmed, at that point it’s “proceed at your own risk” because it’s no longer a public health issue (for all the cancer patients and heart patients who currently can’t get surgery because the ICU is full – and I personally know some people for whom that is the case).
Anyway, I’ve been responsible for 2 years. I’m tired. I’m probably not being very ethical or responsible or moral anymore. But this is something I’m wondering. I do want to do the right thing but I’m tired of keeping a brother who doesn’t want to be kept.
Wayne in your opening comment you wrote “do nothing”… the headlines in your more recent comment reinforce Lois’s comment. “not… as effectively” and “least protection” are a lot more than “do nothing”.
Mormons showed their true colors with this pandemic and it ain’t pretty.
As Dallin H. Oaks points out, laws and commandments don’t limit our agency. Agency is a condition of this mortal world. However, laws and commandments may limit our freedom.
There is a difference between agency and freedom.
I meant to direct my comment to JC Spring
Hedgehog beat me to the punch. I’m completely baffled how “less effective” means “useless.” I mean, English is my first language, so what am I missing? I hear this rhetoric all the time. There are literally millions of things in my life that are less effective but I still employ them. For example, the Church’s missionary program is extremely less effective; should we just quit? My car didn’t start once; should I take a sledgehammer to it? Genuinely confused here, Wayne.
Elisa, I’m just some guy on the internet. But I’m hopeful in the spring we will have reached herd immunity. Literally everyone I know (including my family) dealt with COVID during the winter break. But the pandemic lasted so long that I think masks in some settings will take time to disappear. Clearly at church they already did. UT will be fast to move on. My guess is we will be wearing masks on airplanes for a long while still. Time will tell.
If masks work, then wear one and you will be safe regardless of what anyone else does. If they don’t, then what good is it for anyone to wear one? You can’t have it both ways.
JCS: For the first time ever I actually gave you a thumbs up.
The audience here on Wheats&Tares is generally LDS progressive and politically progressive. So folks like me who are LDS progressive and politically conservative / libertarian often agree and disagree with the same folks. One thing I’ve observed here is that while most progressive LDS folks like to think independently of Church leaders, they also want the Brethren to compel all of us to wear masks and get vaccinated. It’s a strange contradiction.
I’m with JCS on this one. I’ve been vaccinated (3 times) and I’m perfectly willing to wear a mask if others appreciate it. But I do NOT want the government to compel me to do so. And I don’t need the Brethren trying to compel me either. It’s not their business.
JCS, Satan’s plan, indeed! Can you imagine a Church so oppressive that it requires you to wear protective clothing day and night in order to enter their holiest places of worship?
I currently live in CA.
Our in-person meetings were cancelled last week due to the surge and case numbers in our ward.
Our county has had an indoor mask mandate (which applies to our church as well) for a few months. But because there is no enforcement mechanism people do what they want.—including ward members who don’t mask up in church. One family, despite losing a family member (living in a different state) to Covid, are anti-maskers.
Masks usage in the community varies. Sometimes places I go shopping the vast majority are wearing masks. (It seems to vary by day if the week and time of day). With Home Depot customers it is the opposite.
Mask effective increases according to how many people are wearing them. If I wear a mask your risk declines and so does my risk somewhat. If we both mask, the risk to me and others declines as well.
The response of the church, and many comments here, exemplifies the ultimate mode of irrationality — namely, that of people who get vaccinated to protect themselves from the virus and yet demonstrate through their behavior that they don’t really believe the vaccines work. Forcing others to mask and social distance contradicts the claim that vaccines work. As Elisa said, I here is no end game here and it will go on forever unless people finally see the complete illogic here.
The reality is that the U.S. has failed miserably on COVID policy. Despite our wealth and medical expertise our people have died at disproportionate rates.
Our death rate is 2675 per million, highest in the industrial world. Japan’s comparative rate is 147. Australia is at 124. New Zealand’s is only 10. The U.K., with an older population is at 2255 and Germany is much lower at 1398.
Trump failed. Biden is also failing. And, the states are not better. Mississippi, Arizona have been hit hard with deaths by imposing few restrictions. Restrictive states like New York and New Jersey had seen very poor numbers.
The LDS church and members are a microcosm of a systematic, U.S. failure to effectively tackle an illness that has killed nearly a million of our citizens.
“Experimental mRNA vaccines have been heralded as having the potential for great benefits, but they also harbor the possibility of potentially tragic and even catastrophic unforeseen consequences. The mRNA vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 have been implemented with great fanfare, but there are many aspects of their widespread utilization that merit concern. We have reviewed some, but not all, of those concerns here, and we want to emphasize that these concerns are potentially serious and might not be evident for years or even transgenerationally.” This is the conclusion of a recent article published in the International Journal of Vaccine Theory, Practice and Research.
Click to access SENEFF~1.PDF
There may be legitimate medical reasons why a normal, moral individual might choose not to be vaccinated. The fact someone may not want to be vaccinated doesn’t mean they are, by default, a delusional right-wing Trump supporter or that they hate their fellowman or want to prolong the challenges the world faces from COVID.
The point I want to make, however, is not about the virus or vaccine at all. Rather it is the tendency to label or dismiss others who have a different view rather than seeking to understand them. This is a problem for the left and the right. Not every conservative liked or supported Trump. I am politically conservative and can’t stand Trump (or Biden for that matter). I enjoy reading this blog, in part, to better understand other’s viewpoints who may be very different from my own. However, sometimes the blatant contempt for conservatives that bleeds through some of the posts here makes it difficult to stay. In saying that, I am not singling out this post in particular, just making an overall observation about W&T. And it goes the other way as well. Many conservatives are blatant in their contempt for all liberals.
It seems to me that there is a growing polarization in our country with those on both political sides increasingly belittling and demonizing the other side rather than seeking to understand valid points that both sides can make. There are legitimate arguments and concerns expressed by both liberals and conservatives. And there are wacky extremists on both sides. But the only way, I believe we will see any real progress is to stop labeling or dismissing people as “morons” or “useful idiots” or whatever and rather seek understanding and middle ground solutions.
On Satan’s plan, I can’t enter the temple to view a child’s wedding, which the surrounding culture has dictated that it be located at, unless I pay thousands of dollars to obtain a temple recommend.
I really tire of vulgar libertarianism (there does exist a number of articulate libertarian thinkers whom I don’t lump into this category, but most of the libertarianism I hear is in popular form and very vulgar) which is regularly expresses the hyper phobia of “forcing” people to do things. When we were all children we were forced to go to school whether we liked it or not. If you join the military, you are forced to do things you might not like. Conscription could come back and force men to join the military as well. Laws force us to do things we might not like. Private organizations can force us to do a good number of things we may not like if we want their services. Sometimes, I have no choice but to patronize a private company of some sort. I need health care. I need utilities. Those are private. And they force me to pay money and abide by certain laws and regulations. My water heater just went out. I had the freedom to install it myself or hire out. I hired out. They were forced to abide by codes to install. Had I installed it myself, I would have been forced to abide by those very codes.
Life is full of force of some form or another. Some force is legitimate, ethical, for the greater good, and acceptable. Other forms of force are not. I respect theories and frameworks that accommodate the distinction between different kinds of force. Those that are hyperventilatively saying, “all force is bad” are stupid and not worth our time.
Juls – The rule of thumb with masks is “my mask protects you, your mask protects me.” They’re more about filtering virus out of the air you exhale than about filtering it out of the air you inhale. That’s why mask mandates – or please, please, please fervent statements of encouragement – are important, because you aren’t safe when wearing a mask unless most other people are also wearing masks. But even when other people aren’t, you still should, because it keeps *them* safe from *you* even if *you* aren’t safe from *them*. And masking and social distancing are about protecting the unvaccinated with weak immune systems until there’s enough vaccinated people with strong immune systems to reach herd immunity, which purpose in no way contradicts the evidence that vaccines work for those who have taken them. That’s the end game. That’s ALWAYS been the endgame. So get the vaccine and wear a mask, g-d–it!
“I’m’ with JCS on this one.”
That admission right there should prompt a long, hard look.
You know that is not a scientific journal but a mouthpiece for the anti-vaxer movement? No true medical professional would recognize it as credible. Here’s a couple other “articles” in that issue:
Messianic Mad Men, Medicine, and the Media War on Empirical Reality: Discourse Analysis of COVID-19 Propoganda
Vaccine Development and Social Control:
Wayne, if you have ever asked anyone to cover their mouth when they cough then you should maybe consider shutting your pie hole about cloth masks doing “nothing”. You are misrepresenting the CDC and news articles. Nuff said.
I don’t expect to change your mind or start wearing a mask. I’m over that. But there is no need to misrepresent the CDC.
As for me, I’ll stop wearing a mask when a combination of things happen:
– when my job no longer requires it
– when cases rates / hospital rates fall to routine influenza levels
Truth be told, I typically only wear a mask now when it is required (at work) or when I expect to be in a crowded place where I can’t keep my distance. There is only one place that I routinely go where I can’t social distance: church. I don’t know why wearing a mask there is such a big deal.
Not coincidentally, the publication cited by Cory is currently on “Vol.2, No. 1”, where Vol. 1, No. 1 came out in July 2020, and its web site has no links to other journals or publishers. It is neither a credible scientific source superficially nor when examined in detail.
Steve- When comparing anti-vax and anti-mask areas to NY and NJ I think it’s only fair to keep in mind that the Metropolitan Tri-State area was hit with staggering numbers of illness and death before anyone appreciated what Covid-19 was capable of and resistance strategies were formulated.
I think we all remember those early days when even epidemiologists were shaking their heads while portable morgues were set up everywhere and medical personnel from around the country were called into the NYC area for relief of their medical personnel who were dying along with their patients.
So far as I can see, this has been a confounding virus with still much to be discovered. Many of the statistics that have mounted will need to be further analyzed to be constructively understood.
Alice, that is a fair comment. I’m just really struck by how poorly the U.S. has done compared to other nations. We are in the same category as parts of Eastern Europe and Brazil.
In my view, the biggest tragedy of the Trump presidency is that he destroyed the shared objective truth and reality that we all used to have. Now many people live in alternate realities with wildly different “truths”.
My brother-in-law is one of those individuals and I have really tried to understand where he is coming from. He is anti-mask, anti-vax, and an active member of the church. His reality seems like a terrible place to live. In his reality, Dr. Fauci created the coronavirus and the government is using it to take full control of society and implement a dictatorship. He’s one of the few who knows the truth, and the media, the government, and even the church are all filled with co-conspirators. Comparisons to the holocaust often get made, because that really is what we are up against. Soon the government will begin jailing anyone who disagrees with them (in the name of safety). In his mind, he’s not trying to kill people by being unvaccinated and unmasked. He’s standing up for truth and stopping an evil government from taking full control of society and destroying our freedoms (…?by not wearing a mask at church or in the airport?…).
As much as anyone tries to persuade him to get vaccinated, he tries twice as hard (through daily posts), to help the sheeple wake up and see what’s going on around them!
Like I said, that sounds like an awful reality to live in. What scares me in my reality is that he has a large arsenal of guns, and often talks about how he’s grateful for the 2nd amendment, because he’ll need it to defend him and his family (likely in the very near future). I really just hope he doesn’t hurt someone and end up in jail.
I think my points are: 1. I really dislike that Trump destroyed “Truth”. 2.I have found that arguing with people living in different realities isn’t helpful. 3.The most productive conversations I’ve had haven’t been to convince others that they are wrong, but to reassure them that I’m not seeking for the downfall of civilization, and that we really do both want to see society continue to function. 4. I think the tipping point will come when/if both sides are convinced that the other side is 100% evil and needs to be stopped at all costs. 5. I’m hopeful that we won’t’ get to the tipping point.
*Cory, I do acknowledge that not all conservatives are deluded. **I do know many that I really believe are.
Josh h: If the Brethren cannot speak about a public health crisis, what can they speak about? I’ve asked this question to many TBM who told me the prophet should stay in his lane. I didn’t find their answers at all compelling, but I listened nonetheless. Given you are much less TBM that those I’ve previously asked, I would be curious your response. And to be fair, the prophet’s plea to vaccinate did not change my mind. I was already vaxxed and proud of it.
Juls: If you don’t believe vaccines and masks help, then what is your grand solution to all of this? Lockdowns? Death?
My prediction: Insurance companies are the way out of this. Higher premiums for those that won’t follow the science. Change my mind.
I always wear a seatbelt, and believe that everybody in a car should.. But I adamantly oppose forcing others to do so. That was Satan’s plan.
The prophet should stay in his lane. That’s hysterical. A leader with a title reinforced by absolutely no evidence has, at long last, lost the support of church members because Alex Jones and Joe Rogan are more reliable sources of medical information. And, to boot, Nelson is an actual physician. We are truly through the looking glass.
The internet destroyed truth, not Trump. He just came along at the right time to take advantage of it. As horrible of a human being as he is, we can’t blame him for everything.
@jaredsbrother, -The internet has been around for a while, but I saw a distinct change in society starting around the time Trump was elected. Analysis suggests that Trump told over 30,000 lies or mistruths during his presidency. Many were blatant and he repeated them over and over. From my perspective, the erosion of truth and a shared reality begin and accelerate while he was in office, and was largely caused by him doubling down on lies and repeating them to the point that people believed them.
Chadwick: The Bretheren should focus on Christ and how members can and should be more Christlike. I’m thinking of concepts like faith, repentance, forgiveness, charity, etc.
Here’s what I DON’T want them to speak about:
– how we dress
– our facial hair
– tattoos and piercings
– the movies we watch or other entertainment
– Sunday behavior
– gross vs. net
– birth control
– oral sex
– immigration policy
– men on the moon
– men on the sun
(this list is not complete. I think you get my point)
Why do people think the Brethren know more than us about any of the topics above?
Aporecti1, while not disagreeing to any profound extent with the idea that Trump’s lies and bigotry gave license to many, I think he is a symptom, not a cause. His bigotry and dog-whistle messaging found fertile ground, it did not create new biases from whole cloth. I still find the Atlantic article, “Is Google Making Us Stupid,” from 2008 to be relevant. Neil Postman’s book Amusing Ourselves to Death also illustrates well how the bright and shiny things associated with, first, television and now the internet start to inhibit the ability of people to actually think deeply and with any critical skill. Did people start believing that Bill Gates is implanting chips in all humans through vaccines and that Tom Hanks molests and kills children so he can drink their adrenachrome to live forever because Donald Trump lies whenever he speaks? I don’t think so. People were primed to believe ridiculousness before he showed up.
From the 14 fundamentals of following the Prophet. #5 “The prophet is not required to have any particular earthly training or credentials to speak on any subject or act on any matter at any time.” TBMs will believe this until the don’t.
@juls, to be clear, I’m not saying “there’s no end in sight so why bother with masks.” I think I’m more along the lines of – I was team mask when it was about protecting other people. If masks shift to be about protecting myself, then I figure, it really *is* a personal choice. If literally not a single person in a room is wearing a mask, then I’m not really protecting anyone by wearing one. That was my point. I will always wear a mask if asked to do so by a homeowner, business owner, property owner, etc. – that’s just manners.
@chadwick, I agree on insurance (and other consequences) for choosing not to be vaccinated. Anti-vaxxers want to have their cake and eat it too. They want to choose not to be vaccinated but still get treatment at hospitals and insurance coverage, attend public schools and get teachers and other students sick, take advantage of sick days from their employers, etc. That doesn’t strike me as particularly libertarian taking advantage of all of those social benefits. You want your choices? Fine! Great! But, as the age-old church analogy goes, if you pick up that stick you pick up both ends. *That’s* freedom. So I’m all for restrictions being placed on people who choose not to get vaccinated (who don’t have an actual medical reason not to) so that people making socially responsible choices can benefit from those choices. That’s not the same as “forcing” vaccinations. Anti-vaxxers are freaking out about “travel passports (like airlines only allowing vaccinated people to fly) and I’m like, cool with me!
@Josh H, I’ve not seen people here wishing the brethren would “compel” vaccination. Mostly just frustrated that the same people trumpeting “follow the prophet” on other issues now seem to decline that same advice on this one, and that the Church was too slow to issue recommendations / advice (that people may have been more likely to *choose* to follow if it had come out earlier and stronger). The one thing I feel very strongly about, though, is that if Church leaders ask people to wear masks in Church buildings and at Church activities, people should. It’s Church property. That’s a no-brainer to me. That’s not the Church telling you what to do on your own time and in your personal capacity. So people’s refusal to wear masks TO CHURCH after being asked to BY THE CHURCH, the building owners and sponsors, is insane to me.
@aporetic1, that’s a charitable attitude and one I try to have as well – how truly terrifying it would be to live in that reality. The trouble I have maintaining that attitude is that it’s just so darn ignorant. It’s hard to have a ton of compassion for someone’s self-inflicted nightmare reality that happens to also hurt other people unless they are legitimately mentally ill. Otherwise, they are just choosing to be ignorant and arrogant (which is what a lot of conspiratorial thinking is – wanting to feel better than everyone else because you are “in” on the secret). I realize my snobby and uncharitable attitude gets me nowhere, but I truly am at a loss for what else to do.
Well, josh h, because they’re prophets, seers and revelators. Duh. I’m being cheeky, obviously, but isn’t that why?
@jaredsbrother. Yes. I gave a thumbs up to your last reply to me. I think we’ve found common ground with that.
@Elisa. I agree. My brother-in-law in particular has a history of wanting to be smarter than everyone else. I have a very utilitarian view when it comes to people like him. I don’t think we should give them a pass because their reality is miserable, but as a practical approach I try not to argue with them or convince them they are wrong (because that’s pointless). The best I can do is try to convince them that the other side is not 100% evil and trying to destroy society. “Hey buddy, I’m like you in that I still love freedom and want society to continue to function and get back to normal. I’m not getting vaccinated and wearing a mask because I support a tyrranical government that I want to imprison/execute people who disagree with them. I’m getting vaccinated and wearing a mask because I believe that will help: hospitals have space, schools stay open, help borders to open back up, etc… Those are good things we both want, right? People like me don’t need to be stopped at all costs. Right>”
For the folks against the mandate of vaccines, where was your outcry about school vaccine mandates before COVID? Could it be that vaccine mandates have been good at eradicating polio, smallpox, and minimizing the spread of hepatitis?
Could it be that your opposition to mandates of the COVID vaccines are not out of sincere consistent concern about vaccine mandates but grew out of irrational tribalism that sprang up in the wake of COVID?
I’m rather glad to be living in a country that still mandates masking in indoor public spaces, even though I’m told that a couple of families in our ward flaunt that – this despite a recent kind email reminder from our bishop. I also know that most wouldn’t mask if it wasn’t mandated because that happened when the directive was lifted last summer prior to the Delta wave that hit hard.
I do think that masking and the higher vaccination uptake is helping because after checking the per million death rate – Canada is at about 1/3rd that of the US. It’s still too high when you consider our population density isn’t nearly as high.
Dave B.: Many thanks for taking on something like this in a post and for raising these important questions. Honestly, I’m to the point where I suppose I agree with you that we should be doing more to push against vaccine hesitancy and the massive amounts of misinformation that are out there given the incredibly high human cost on a daily basis. On the other hand, given that Trump, Joe Rogan (and his ilk) and a bunch of conspiracy theory-believing, anti-vaxx ignoramuses are a large part of the reason why we have such high mortality and illness rates, I’m just too tired to fight all of this any more. I’ve seen a lot of things since I became politically aware in the 1980s, and most aspects of human behavior don’t surprise me, but I never thought I’d see the day when people literally have a way not to die of a disease and they refuse to get a shot (or two) that will save their lives. This is madness.
And you really see the misinformation coming to the fore here as a kind of arrogance. I think many of the people on that particular bandwagon are like aporetic1’s brother in law: They want to think they’re smarter, more informed and better than other people and they’re so insecure and desperate to be superior in some way that they believe and peddle absolute nonsense that can be disproven in about thirty seconds. And since the LDS Church is all about having special knowledge of the “truth” and about how we’re basically better than other religious people (we don’t say that specifically, but it’s obvious that a fair amount of TBM’s have that kind of desperate arrogance in common with conspiracy theorists, anti-vaxxers and die hard Trump followers), a lot of members are cut from the same cloth. So really, there’s nothing to be done. Yes, the church leadership was late on this (surprisingly, since they’re the only true prophets, seers, revelators and special witnesses for Christ on the earth and should have been way ahead of this) and yes, misinformation is a big problem, but from the Mormon perspective, this kind of arrogant ignorance is a feature of the religion, not a bug. The smugness I encounter when dealing with the more “righteous” and priesthood-aligned church members is staggering. We can’t fix this.
And lastly, I have a general question that I’ve really been puzzling about. Since a lot of the anti-vaxxer misinformation folks (Joe Rogan, etc.)lean conservative, and since a fair amount of people who are anti-vax are conservative, why are conservative conspiracy theorists spreading misinformation that will end up killing more conservatives? Isn’t it kind of counterintuitive to kill off members of your own group? Just curious.
@Brother Sky, don’t forget that we learned at Church that our feelings are reliable indicators of facts and more trustworthy than science … and a belief in secret combinations and all that … and yeah, we can’t undo this.
As to your question, I don’t understand that any better than I could understand why some of my poor, midwestern, uneducated, public-assistance-dependent relatives were die-hard Trumpers. I think there’s the issue that liberals come across as snobby “we know what’s best for you” (and that’s absolutely a fair criticism that the left has got to address) and Trump I guess made them feel powerful by, I dunno, activating their white nationalism or something??? But in reality, he hated their kind, thought they were total trash, so it made no sense to me why they’d rally behind him.
@John W exactly, vaccination requirements for public schooling aren’t new, although unfortunately the anti-vaccine groundwork has been brewing for 20ish years now. It was just fringe and less of a public health threat until now (but it was definitely a public health threat).
Thanks Josh h for the response. And other than immigration policy, I’m total down with your list =). Not that I care if the church has a position on it per se, but the members are so anti-immigration in that they believe country lines literally exist on the ground from God, I appreciate that the church reigns this in sometimes. But that’s a whole other story.
I’m torn on the church encouraging members to wear masks and vaccinate. I suppose I got vaccinated for two reasons: I love to travel and vaccination made that possible, and I have people in my life that I care about that seemed like they would be high risk for a bad COVID response. I certainly wasn’t worried about myself or my young kids; we are not high risk at all. While I understand one could legit argue my vaccine status is selfish (ie to travel and visit people I care about) I’d like to think getting vaccinated for these family members WAS a Christlike act. If it isn’t Christlike because it benefited me, is anything we do really not self-serving? Vaccination seems more Christlike than avoiding a second ear piercing, for example.
Also I agree with Brother Sky on all points.
aporetic1 and jaredsbrother, you’re both right about Trump. I see him as both a symptom of a right-wing turn that has been occurring among conservatives (birtherism and conspiracist paranoia about Obamacare (“death panels”) were deeply embedded in the right-wing base before 2016) before the Trump presidency and a cause of the conservative movements further descent into conspiracism. Trump had long created a cult of personality around himself. I remember knowing about him and jokes about his hair in the early 1990s. The Apprentice helped him reinforce his image in the 2000s. By 2012 his full embrace of birtherism showed that he was willing to go where other Republicans durst not go and with full shameless force. He ignited the conspiracist wing of the conservative movement, which had been large asks unwieldy before his rise. Trump emboldened right-wing conspiracism in ways that other candidates simply couldn’t have gotten away with. He unabashedly exhibited authoritarian tendencies and repeatedly expressed admiration for worldwide dictators, something that would have sunk any other Republican candidate almost immediately. Trump was one of a kind and maneuvered in impossible ways that no one else could.
Had Mitt Romney won in 2012 and did a second term 2016-2020, I have reason to believe that he would have had a taming effect on the conspiracist wing and kept them at bay. Trump opened Pandora’s box. And in a way that I fear will unravel the US over time. For that he is the worst president the US has ever had, and by a long shot. No other president even comes close.
A comparison I make about how arbitrarily people follow the example of senior Church leaders is seeing how many refuse to wear a mask in spite of seeing EVERYONE in Conference wearing one unless they are speaking (or singing in the choir) and the thought experiment of what would happen if these same men all wore blue shirts in Conference. How many blue shirts would we see the next week? Why is a second pair of earrings a sign of defiance, but not wearing a mask is none of the Church’s business?
It’s pretty pointless to argue one way or the other in this debate because both sides are so rabid in their beliefs. The truth is that politicians and activists on BOTH sides have tried to use COVID to their own advantage at every turn. Many of us were on board with all the precautions initially when it was “two weeks to slow the curve”, but now, two years and a much milder variant later, we’ve had enough of “the sky of falling” rhetoric. Life is full of risk. Do your best to minimize yours and go on with life.
And while this discussion continues, I just read about a nearby hospital where about 70% of patients admitted to the hospital are unvaccinated for COVID-19, as are more than 90% of those who die there.
However imperfect my mask is, it captures some of my exhaled water vapor — so I wear masks as a courtesy to others in indoor spaces.
Yes, I am pro-vaccine and pro-mask.
In my ward and stake (far from Utah), masks are worn by everyone in sacrament meetings except speakers when speaking. I’m a Primary teacher, and everyone in Primary wears masks even when speaking.
And I just read this from another newspaper–
Shortly before dying of Covid-19, a father in Los Angeles texted family members to express his regret over not getting vaccinated.
Christian Cabrera, 40, tested positive for the coronavirus around Christmas. Not long afterward, he was in an emergency room with pneumonia in both lungs.
“I can’t breathe again,” he texted his brother, according to KTLA. “I really regret not getting my vaccine. If I can do it all over again I would do it in a heartbeat to save my life. I’m fighting for my life here and I wish I [had] gotten vaccinated.”
On 22 January, Mr Cabrera died. His family shared the tragic news on a GoFundMe raising money for his three-year-old son, Noel.
Elisa: I’m with you 100% on this…the absolute worst are the TBMs who say “follow the prophet” on everything else but then say “he’s speaking as a man” when RMN asks us to wear masks. The selective following is despicable
re: the church leadership’s mask guidance- I was curious if the letter would even be mentioned in my ward. What absolutely stunned me was having a member of the stake presidency read it, then continue with a reminder that we are under no obligation to follow it. I have never heard a letter from the first presidency treated that way before, no matter the topic.
Why didn’t they just not really acknowledge the letter? That was pretty much what I was expecting, and would have at least given them a veneer of consistency.
I’m in Idaho and Boise State University just released a poll. They asked respondents if they would advise friends and family to get the vaccine. They didn’t ask religious affiliation but some of the numbers are fascinating.
Overall, 51% would recommending getting vaccinated while 26% would not. Among those 65+, the numbers were 65/20 in favor. Republicans were split 36/35 while Democrats favored by 82% to 13%. The Idaho Falls/Pocatello area (heavily LDS) recommended getting the shot by a 50% to 23%.
Step 1: Label those with differing viewpoints as “idiots” right from the start
Step 2: Gang up with others who are like-minded and be condescending to anyone who expresses a different opinion under the guise of an intellectual “discussion”
Step 3: Wonder why we’re all so polarized and can’t come together on anything.
Slight modifications to Bishop Bill’s statement, sticking with auto themes.
I always stop at red lights and believe that everybody in a car should.. But I adamantly oppose forcing others to do so. That was Satan’s plan.
I always drive sober and believe that everybody in a car should.. But I adamantly oppose forcing others to do so. That was Satan’s plan.
I always resister my car with the DMV and believe that everybody in a car should.. But I adamantly oppose forcing others to do so. That was Satan’s plan.
I always maintain my car’s brakes, and believe that everybody in a car should.. But I adamantly oppose forcing others to do so. That was Satan’s plan.
There are certain behaviors that society deems important enough to incentivize with penalties for failing to comply. As a member of society it is our duty to engage in these debates and accept the societal decisions. Not letting humankind work out its own rules through reason, empathy and experience was Satan’s plan.
Jaredsbrother, In Aus we have the internet but only observed trump. Less than 5% of us went the way that a much larger proportion of Americans have. I blame trump more. But America is furthur to the right politically, so that may be part of the problem.
@geoff aus, I hate Trump but tend to agree that he revealed and invigorated and empowered and incited something that was already there bubbling under the surface. White nationalism, xenophobia, sexism, anti-science / anti-experts, conspiracy theories … they’ve been there in American society especially as the middle class has disappeared and blue collar workers have lost their jobs and their power. People who were paying attention and were willing to believe weren’t surprised. Most of us just weren’t willing to believe it.
I mean, Sarah Palin was the VP Nominee in 2008 which didn’t bode well. Things have been looking bad for a while.
These vaccines are experimental and thus cannot be forced upon the population per the Nuremberg code enacted to prevent another Hitler from realizing their sick genocidal fantasies. Anyone who has succumbed to the bully tactics from our tyrannical leaders and propagandizing media and has gotten the jab is now a part of a huge experiment for an unproven treatment. A legitimate experiment requires a control group for which I and many others are willing volunteers. Time and the truth will tell which group made the right choice.
@aporetic1 looks like your bro-in-law decided to join the conversation. Unless he gets moderated away which I wouldn’t object to even though moderation here is light.
I presume you know that forced vaccination to deal with a pandemic was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, even over personal objection, in 1905? Today’s efforts fall far short of what is allowed under the U.S. Constitution. And, the COVID vaccines, at least two of them, no longer can be deemed experimental as they have full approval.
Facts, rather than hysteria, are hard to deal with . .
Fostering a cancel culture and stifling free speech is a principal bully tactic of tyrannical leaders and a propagandizing media.
The recent revealed ignorance of our current supreme court justices gives reasonable doubt to any claims of fact being grounded in nothing but the truth.
@elisa lol I doubt that’s actually him, although I think you could have copied and pasted that paragraph from one of his recent posts. (However I’m sure they both came up with it by “thinking for themselves” rather than repeating what they’ve heard on conservative radio and news sites 😉
On a serious note, the “Hitler” thing comes up a lot, and I don’t think it’s just bluster or rhetoric for these guys. They actually do view that as the path that we are on, which gives them the moral high ground. They make the leap from, “You’re just going along with what the government says and what popular culture is doing” to “If you were in Germany in the 1940’s you would have gone along with Hitler. But not me.” That’s why getting them to change their minds about vaccines is so difficult. It’s no longer about protecting others, it’s now a moral question of whether you’d take a stand to protect everyone’s freedoms.
I recently read an article saying that the divisions in this country aren’t due to people having a lack of values, it’s that they feel their values very strongly- and conservatives and liberals just have different values.
To my brother-in-law’s credit, I really believe that if he were in 1940’s Germany he would have stood up to Hitler, regardless of the consequences for him. I’d like to think that I would too- I’m guessing about 99% of people think that about themselves. History and social psychology tell us that this absolutely wouldn’t be the case.
I’d argue that that it wouldn’t be those who are okay with the loss of 800,000+ lives, as long as they don’t have to wear a mask and get vaccinated, who would stand up against him. My brother-in-law would argue that it wouldn’t be those who believe the government and just accept freedom-stripping-mandates, who would stand up against him. (Because hey- different values).
I’ll finish with my Pollyanna soapbox. I think what our nation needs in order to heal is for each side to recognize the values that the other side holds so dear, rather than vilifying them. The more I vilify them, they more they dig their heels in and vilify me- and it goes both ways. It doesn’t seem like it, but we can learn to understand the other side’s position.
My question for any anti-vaxxers here is: Are you okay with not having an ICU bed when you’re in a bad accident? Or your teenager? If those beds were all filled with unvaccinated Covid patients? Are you okay when your surgery to stage and treat what looks like an advanced cancer has to get pushed out several months when time is of the essence?
Those that only get one dose or are within 14 days of their 2nd dose are considered unvaccinated, given that most adverse reactions occur within 14 days of the jab do you think the distinction between vaccinated and unvaccinated is meaningful? Do you think the perverse monetary incentives for hospitals to label and treat patients as Covid leads to any inflation of the true mortality rate of Covid? Wake up people- government literally means mind control.
Juls (who I suspect is also GM and Wayne and JCS) repeatedly brings up this issue of whether masks or vaccines “work.”
“If masks work, then wear one and you will be safe regardless of what anyone else does.”
“The response of the church, and many comments here, exemplifies the ultimate mode of irrationality — namely, that of people who get vaccinated to protect themselves from the virus and yet demonstrate through their behavior that they don’t really believe the vaccines work.”
I think others have already made this point, but Juls and your sock puppet friends, “work” is not an all-or-nothing thing. Of course it would be great if you could get a shot or two and be 100% resistant to COVID forever. The question isn’t whether they work or not. It’s how much they work. They reduce transmission of the virus and mortality for people who do get infected.
I’m hoping you don’t practice this type of absurd black-and-white thinking in the rest of your medical decisions. Get a mammogram? No way! They don’t work! [They don’t detect 100% of cancers.] Take antibiotics when you have an infection! No way! They don’t work! [A few infections are antibiotic resistant.]
“I’m just really struck by how poorly the U.S. has done compared to other nations.”
Can’t disagree with that, Steve. When the truth is optional and Trumpism reigns there are many consequences. Our ability to respond to Putin’s threats in the Ukraine is severely compromised by the toll he took on NATO and our relations with Europe just as surely as our inability to deal with the virus.
That was an interesting Atlantic article referenced in the OP. The tragic irony of the situation is that the far right agenda is like the tobacco industry, in that it seems to be comfortable killing off its own best customers by the thousands. But at some point, Big Tobacco realized this was not a sustainable business model and started marketing aggressively to young people. I’m not sure if the far right can manage such a pivot, especially since young people today are quick to see the deception for what it really is–much quicker than their parents and grandparents.
“Wake up people- government literally means mind control.”
Where to start, where to start. Let’s see. Both of my parents are retired public school teachers. My brother-in-law is an assistant principal. My brother works for the BLM and fights forest fires every summer (well, almost year round now at this point). My other brother-in-law is a retired Utah Highway Patrol officer. I have neighbors that work in libraries, public schools and universities, public works, city animal control, veteran affairs office, etc.
The government is us. I can promise you my 79 year-old mother is not interested in controlling your mind, GM.
I think someone pointed this out above, or maybe it was on another thread I follow, but what a sad life to think that the entire world is out to get little old boo. There’s fluoride in your water, anthrax on your bagel, and tracking devices in your phones, oops I mean vaccines.
Your government is also Anthony Fauci who has presided over the decline in western medicine over the past almost 40 years. He has turned our medical system into an incubator for big pharma exploitation of the populace, creating drugs that rarely cure but merely mask symptoms and in the process create more disease that only perpetuates it’s existence. – a business model that would make any Wall Street mogul salivate. Vaccines are their penultimate snake oil with captured clientele and expense government paid.
GM.. persons vaccinated less than fourteen days only count as unvaccinated for purposes of classifying those with sufficient level of protection from the vaccine. It takes time for the body to develop an immune response sufficient to protect against infection.
They definitely do count as having had a vaccine when it comes to studying adverse reactions to a vaccination. No one is ignoring adverse reactions less than fourteen days after getting a jab. There’s no conspiracy here.
Yeah move along, nothing to see here. Just coincidence that the highest vaccinated countries like Israel or Chile are having the biggest spikes in Covid cases…
I feel sorry for you and the misinformation you’ve absorbed and spread.
Israel – 1/3 of the deaths per million of the U.S. While Omicron has hit those without boosters, their death rate has seen only very minimal increase — because of vaccination.
Chile – though slower to vaccinate than Israel, still has a death rate 1/3 less than ours. And, with their relatively small surge now, the death rate has barely budged. Another win for vaccinations.
Dr. Fauci – The lies you spread indicate you spend your time with Tucker Carlson and Rand Paul. Both are chronic liars who make points — then run — to generate ratings and fundraising.. Fauci was used by Reagan, Bush and Clinton to tackle AIDS. His performance on past pandemics have been stellar. The silliness about “gain of function” is word games. The reality is we need to study potential illnesses before they jump to humans. If the Trump Administration had followed his direction earlier, many lives would have been saved. Ironically Trump pushed Pharma to make the vaccines — that you now deride. This gentlemen will retire with honor, while his critics continue to look silly. My guess is you would have blasted Lincoln for failing to win the Civil War the first month, that he probably financially benefited from a drawn out conflict and that he was in the pocket of Southern cotton owners. Ludicrous.
It is good that GM and co can come on here. I am unable to make comment on millennial star or meridian magazine, the 2 conservative sites I watch. The right seem to be unable to take criticism, though they are happy to dish it out. Sometimes it is good to see the other point of view expressed by its proponent to see the reality of how rediculous it is.
We’ll Know Our Disinformation Program is Complete When Everything The American Public Believes is False. – William Casey, CIA Director 1981
I read GM’s 4:48 comment as coming from GM, which is the better way to read it.
You’ve been tricked again. That is a fake quote created by Barbara Honneger. She claims to have been at a Reagan cabinet meeting and heard it. She also later wrote a widely debunked book claiming Reagan officials conspired with Iran to keep the hostages before the 1980 election. The alleged quote has been rocketing around recently by conservatives, in reference to COVID or Russia-gate. But, anyone who knew Bill Casey knows that he would not voice such a nonsensical claim.
The urge is strong to respond to GM, but I would suggest no more feeding of trolls. This is person is never going to engage in good-faith conversation.
Here’s a small sampling of recent headlines:
COVID Vaccines Causing Miscarriages, Cancer and Neurological Disorders Among Military, DOD Data Show
Attorney Thomas Renz on Monday told a panel of experts that data provided to him by three whistleblowers show COVID-19 vaccines are causing catastrophic harm to members of the U.S. military.
COVID Vaccines a Spectacular Failure, Data Show
Data analyses from multiple countries show a negative correlation between COVID vaccination rates and worsening infection rates and other health trends.
‘Mandates and Freedom Don’t Mix’ — 30,000+ Rally in DC to Fight for Our Constitutional Rights
Dozens of scientific experts, academics, media personalities and COVID vaccine injury victims risked their careers, their personal privacy and their safety to tell more than 30,000 Americans at Sunday’s “Defeat the Mandates” rally to stand up and fight for freedom and democracy.
Nothing to see here? No problem? No conspiracy? Really?
I agree with those who don’t like compulsion when it doesn’t affect others (e.g. seatbelts), but children should be properly restrained, even if their parents don’t believe in seatbelts or carseats. It would be an easy call if masking only protected the wearer, but it doesn’t. It prevents further spread of the disease. Vaccinations do also, and the fewer people that get it, the less it can mutate into additional variants, prolonging the disruption to society. Unfortunately, when it comes to both masks and vaccinations, the absolute least safe place I ever go right now is Church. I go to the store, but I’m never as close to as many people, singing, coughing, talking, etc. in a store. I go to a restaurant where I only face the people at my own table, and I talk to a member of wait staff who is usually somewhat distanced. Air travel is less dangerous because everyone is masked and the air is well circulated. Everyone in our small office is vaccinated and we are all distanced as well.
I’m at the point where I honestly do not care anymore if people who are unvaccinated get it. I am not masking for their protection. Hopefully they will survive. Most of them will. If they don’t, they can be comforted with the idea that it was God’s will and nobody forced them to do something they didn’t want to do. Bear in mind, though, that the spread of this virus is not victimless. If you don’t know anyone who has died from it, you need to know more people.
Much trickier are schools, healthcare providers, and other essential workers. Do we owe nothing to them in terms of protection? Are they casualties in a culture war? What about hospitals that have to turn away patients for non-Covid emergencies because they don’t have available beds (personally, I say turn out the unvaccinated to accommodate those cases, but that’s not really what doctors do). Speaking of compulsion and “small government” why is it OK to add laws that prevent mask mandates in areas where Covid is raging? Why is it OK to prevent vaccine mandates for those in risky situations like schools and hospitals? Isn’t that also forcing people? Masking is a social phenomenon. When it’s the norm, people will wear them. When it’s not, they won’t.
@jaredsbrother I’ll stand up for GM and say that I believe he? is arguing his side in good faith. If your objective is to change his mind, then I agree that yes, continuing to engage with him is pointless.
I woke up and got on this site this morning (my time) and thought, “Did no one pay attention to my rousing speech about seeing that the other side is coming from a good place, and honoring their values? ” 😉
From what I can tell, GM is honestly concerned about protecting your freedoms and not having you be harmed by an unnecessary vaccine. He doesn’t want the government taking more and more of your freedoms, to the point where they have control over an abnormal and unhealthy degree of choices. (with the lockdowns that occurred, many agree they already crossed a line.) If the government were to continue down this path and be able to mandate what injections everyone receives and where you can and cannot go during the day, this ultimately could result in… forced sterilizations, restrictions from attending churches, etc… and an overall big-brother state that nobody really wants. So GM, I appreciate that you care about these things, which I agree with and I don’t want to see happen ever. However, I respectfully disagree with you that that is what is going on.
GM-I believe that the vaccine that has been produced and the mandates that have been made really have been put forth to prevent people from dying (and not a ploy by our government to take control- These things are going on worldwide, and I just don’t see how there could have been a worldwide coordination from all governments to simultaneously all move forward with this nefarious plan). You may not believe that masks work- but doctors have been wearing masks for over a century when interacting with sick people, because they do reduce transmission. (N95s are more effective, but before N95s were invented in the 70s, doctors wore cloth masks because they were still helpful). Everybody that I know who has gotten a vaccine and has worn a mask has done so out of a feeling of love and concern for their fellow beings. They want to do what they can to prevent people from getting sick (and dying)- and not because they support a tyrannical government. My friends on this site who are arguing with you feel strongly about the need to do all we can to protect human life – which I believe is a value that you share (which is why they think you should get vaccinated and wear a mask too). So even if you think they are wrong and deluded, I hope you can see that they are coming from a good place. I don’t expect to change your mind, and surely you don’t expect to change anyone’s mind who is on this site. But thank you for expressing your views.
And here is the part where I ignore my own advice.
This is the glorious history of Thomas Renz’s legal career:
In one of dozens of recent media appearances, Ohio attorney Thomas Renz was claiming that coronavirus vaccines were more harmful than the virus itself. “The people that are dying are vaccinated,” he said on a conservative online talk show in July.
As Renz spoke, a message flashed across the screen with his website address. “Donate to his cause,” it urged.
Renz, who became a licensed attorney only months before the pandemic began, has rapidly gained prominence among covid-19 skeptics for leading federal lawsuits in six states that challenge shutdowns, mask mandates and the safety of vaccines while alleging that the danger of the virus has been overblown.
Anti-vaccine groups, conspiracy theory enthusiasts and far-right media have embraced him, and his best-known client, the group America’s Frontline Doctors, calls him part of a “Legal Eagle Dream Team.”
It is a highly visible role for Renz, 44, who passed the Ohio bar exam in November 2019 on his fifth attempt and has limited litigation experience, according to a Washington Post examination of his career.
Before becoming a lawyer, he worked an array of jobs, including at a nonprofit that told The Post it terminated him and at a rural credit union. Two female employees at the credit union accused him of repeatedly making sexually suggestive comments at work and one alleged he touched her breast in 2014, according to letters the women wrote to the credit union’s chief executive that were obtained by The Post.
GM: a classic troll who comes on here to hit us with drive-by comments and misinformation. Any effort to correct the misinformation won’t be acknowledged or addressed by GM. Instead its onto the next conspiracy theory and the next. Gish Gallop. Whackamole. Anomaly hunting. And if a real anomaly can’t be found, just make one up anyway. If an actual seemingly small anomaly is found, immediately throw the baby out with the bathwater and cry conspiracy. If someone says, “you’re promoting a conspiracy theory” reply, “who said anything about a conspiracy, I was just asking questions and noticing strange things.” And lastly, they hit us with their eternal refrain: “do your own research.”
The people at the top of the knowledge pyramid aren’t PhDs, well-published researchers, heads of research organizations, lab directors with state-of the-art technology and machinery with teams of the best and brightest who’ve proven themselves under intense scrutiny of other experts, etc. It is guys who’ve watched a couple of YouTube videos and listen to podcasts.
Where does this misplaced trust in authority, prestigious institutions and high degree individuals come from? Is it really that hard to imagine that medical science is largely controlled by just a few people who control the funding of research? Does it not concern you that these people are not recommending simple, safe, effective and affordable ways to strengthen your immune system and overall health? Is it not concerning that over the 40 some years Fauci has presided over our healthcare system we have only seen an increase in chronic diseases, conditions and drug dependency? Is it not concerning that the AMA and our medical schools are principally financed by Big Pharma? Is it not concerning that safe, affordable treatments are being sidelined to make way for patentable and profitable treatments? Is it not concerning that allopathic medicine is the only form of medicine promoted by these powers that be? Trust not in the arm of flesh.
Your misunderstanding of the U.S. medical system is astounding.
You have no concept how many different players are doing medical research. NIH funds a wide variety of research but much is driven by private companies and universities. I am a Type 1 diabetic. There are dozens and dozens of various research initiatives, public and private, that I am aware of —- for just one disease. There are thousands of initiatives going at any one time in a vast array of areas.
Fauci doesn’t oversee the U.S. medical system. He is designated to deal with infectious diseases. I think your physician would scoff at claiming he leads our health care system.
As to the value of treatment versus overall health, that debate has been around forever. If Americans want to maximize their health, they would lose weight, eat a healthy diet , get some consistent exercise and obtain regular checkups. Yet, many of us are obese, our diet is tremendously lacking, and vast numbers of Americans fail to get any regular form of exercise. And, a stark number are unwilling to go to a doctor regularly, let alone once something is seriously wrong (just learned about someone who waited until she had stage 4 cancer before going in). A few pills aren’t going to fix the problem when we have a culture where so many think essential oils and silly supplements are the path to health, rather than ditching the Big Gulp and getting off the couch.
Yet, your can’t blame this issue on government (except, maybe, for subsidizing unhealthy foods). How long have various initiatives encouraged Americans to watch their portion size, eat a wide variety of foods, and move more? The problem is primarily people ‘s idiocy . .
I believe the beginning of the end of quality communication and information began with the introduction of cable tv. Before cable, everybody got their information from reputable journalists/reporters like Walter Cronkite etc. on the major networks.
Specifically, the Fox network has significantly degraded the quality of information viewed by the public.
And the internet has made it exponentially worse, because people don’t care about reliable info and don’t bother to check what they are reading or-they have no idea how to look for reliable sources.
Additionally, the Republican Party began nurturing their more extreme followers with the rise of the Tea Party.
Then the election of the first black President ignited factions inside within the Republican Party.
The party that was once set to vote to impeach Republican President Richard Nixon now turns a blind eye to the slimey, potential criminal actions, of Donald Trump.
Trump makes Nixon look like a choir boy.
GM, two issues. 1) You’re telling us that we shouldn’t trust in all of these big organisations: the government, Big Pharma, etc. Who should we trust? Why should we trust you? The world of conspiracism suffers from a massive trust imbalance. Inherent and automatic distrust of any large system or mainstream knowledge (without even understanding what they are or how they work), but extremely naive and unquestioning trust of particular veins of alternative knowledge (I.e., hydroxichloroquine, ivermectin, etc.).
2) You live in a world of endless suspicion and questioning (of the establishment), but questioning is only one side of the equation. Trying to draw tentative conclusions is just as important as questioning. And that’s something you don’t do. Coming up with tentative answers that are attached to strong evidence is vital. The world of conspiracism thrives only on the sidelines. It starts to unravel once it acquires any sort of standing in the body of mainstream knowledge. It fires shots at mainstream knowledge from the sidelines. Then when/if the mainstream fires back, it goes and hides in different bushes firing different shots, never taking responsibility for its lines of questioning, never providing evidence for its assertions.
My doctor is a fine fellow who worked with Dr. Fauci and has nothing but good things to say about Fauci.
Take it from someone who actually knows Fauci.
If your dr is advocating for the experimental vaccine and against alternative treatments such as ivermectin and hcq, then he is not a fine fellow. He is an useful idiot. Dr I am science Fauci and his cronies had to gin up studies discrediting other treatments in order to pave the way for their experimental use authorization gene therapy treatment. They then had to change the meaning of vaccine to add to the illusion it was a preventative measure against a disease less deadly than the flu. The “science” adoring complicit media pounded the airwaves with their fear porn and here we are today.
Real science is drs and medical professionals working together to find treatments and understanding of what we’re dealing with. It is certainly not virtually one man dictating the narrative and solutions while the media censors and drowns out those voices not following the official narrative.
How is ivermectin not experimental?!?!? The vaccine has been tested way more thoroughly and rigorously than that. Good grief.
GM if you get sick please don’t take any ICU beds since by your measure all the doctors are corrupt and all their treatments are “experimental”. Save the beds for the cancer and heart patients and treat yourself with your YouTube treatments from the feed store.
Someone tell me when GM stops commenting and this thread is worth revisiting.
Thanks for the comments, everyone. What an entertaining discussion.
I can’t possibly respond to all deserving comments. I’ll just make one specific comment: I second Angela C’s observation that “the absolute least safe place I ever go right now is Church.” The leadership has, to a large extent, just punted on this serious problem at this point. Good advice is not enough. It’s hard to escape the conclusion that they don’t mind seeing a few thousand attending LDS die from Covid contracted at maskless, shoulder-to-shoulder LDS meetings, in return for keeping in-person attendance going to maintain allegiance and keep the checks coming. It’s almost irresponsible.
Just one observation for the folks who have commented here doubting the new vaccines, Dr. Fauci, and the modern medical establishment. I can say with almost absolute certainty that if these folks or a close family member were injured in an auto accident, they would be very happy to be taken (and probably insist upon being taken) to an emergency room and given proper treatment by doctors and nurses. If they or a family member were diagnosed with cancer or some other serious condition, I’m sure they would seek treatment advice from a qualified doctor and give serious consideration to following the recommended treatment unless the condition is deemed terminal and the patient opts for palliative care while nature takes its course. And so forth. So I view the loud rejections by these folks of doctors and medicine as justification for refusing the vaccine and denying its efficacy as simply a false front. It’s disingenuous. It’s a facade. It’s BS. Some people are in so deep they actually believe their own BS. They have in essence outsmarted themselves. I suppose it happens to all of us from time to time, but in this context it is just a tragic course of action. You might lose your life or that of a family member who heeds your misguided advice.
I can’t even say this has much to do with simple smarts or intelligence. Remember that Steve Jobs, no dummy, was diagnosed with cancer but for a year pursued alternative treatments rather than the recommended standard medical treatment. This almost certainly resulted in an earlier death for him. Smart people can believe dumb things.
Best wishes for health and safety to all, whatever your choices. I’ll leave the comments open as long as the discussion seems productive and people don’t end up lobbing insults at each other. Thanks for all your comments.
Ivermectin has been around for years and has proven to be a very safe and effective drug. The “vaccine” is an experimental gene therapy never used on humans until just recently. We have no idea what the long term effects of these drugs will be, but the huge uptick in VAERS reported death and injuries and the rise in mortality among working age Americans doesn’t bode well for its future.
Equating covid to a car crash seems to me to be making a mountain out of a mole hill. I had Covid and it was a bad cold or flu at worst. I now have natural immunity so why would I want an unproven, experimental treatment? Yes if I was in a car crash I would be very grateful for the expertise and training of health care officials, but if I have a bad cold or nasty flu, my experience with doctors is if it’s not bacterial there is nothing they can really do for you except say get plenty of rest and fluids. Flu vaccines are notoriously ineffectual, like throwing a dart at a dartboard and if you’re lucky it hits the bullseye. Now I”m supposed to believe for this one bad cold or nasty flu they have miraculouosly discovered a new vaccine in record time that will eradicate the pathogen and save the planet? Makes the craziest conspiracy theorist sound sane by comparison.
Our son is a cardiothoracic surgery resident in Northern California. Last Sunday he told us of an unvaccinated COVID patient who had just died. Earlier in the week, the patient’s son brought a laptop to the hospital to play Joe Rogan COVID videos to his dad. After the viewing the videos, the patient insisted he be taken off of remdesivir and be given ivermectin. He also told the medical staff not to intubate him or put him on a vent. The hospital withdrew the remdesivir. Days later the patient died gasping for breath.
It takes so long and requires so much dedication to become a doctor, let alone the kind we would seek out to treat us in an emergency or when we have cancer or any of a host of other conditions. Dr. Fauci likely trained for 12 or so years after high school before he could embark on his career in epidemiology. His work on AIDS and SARS paved the way for the groundbreaking science that brought us new vaccines and other COVID therapeutics.
It takes less than 12 minutes of “original Internet research” to cast doubt on Fauci and everyone else trying to help us through this pandemic. It’s so easy to cast aspersions and cultivate doubt, especially by mischaracterizing the way science works with its inevitable twists and turns, false starts and periodic triumphs. (Line upon line, precept upon precept, anybody?)
Uncertainty is part of the human condition, and I can appreciate maybe wanting to hold back a bit on various medical advances. One can respond to this post with “what about this or that”-ism regarding that poor patient’s demise. After all, as I’ve heard from more than one person who opposes Dr. Fauci, the medical establishment, science, &c., what’s one more death among many?
I can tell you: each death leaves a blast zone of grief and pain well beyond our comprehension. Maybe some grace, graciousness and humility is called for in the wake of such a momentous time as these.
GM, what is your aim in posting your comments here? That is something you need to ask yourself. It is quite obvious that you’re not convincing anyone here. It is also quite obvious that those reading your comments see your comments as seriously misinformed and see you as a person who is a few fries short of a happy meal (no offense, but…ya know). My guess is that you’re trying to prove something to yourself. It is almost as if you want to prove your own mental toughness against dissenting voices. It is almost akin to many believing Mormons who read literature that challenges Mormon truth claims and interact with ex-Mormons and critics not to try to learn anything from them, but to be able to say, “I’ve interacted with critics, read critical literature, and still believe, look at how strong my ‘testimony’ is.” Your beliefs about COVID are similar to a religious believer’s beliefs in their special set of truth claims. You arrived at your beliefs on some anomaly that someone brought up, and that took you through a portal to a world of alternative information. A world that supports itself by creating a boogeyman out of mainstream knowledge and repeatedly attacking it with outlandish and evidence-less claims, but claims that make you feel better about having embraced the alternative information view, claims that work as a confirmation bias, sending relief to your mind that you’re not crazy. And the more defenders of mainstream knowledge come into your territory to show how your worldview is wrong and incorrect, the more you hunker down, not in actually coming up with facts and evidence to support your claims, but by creating a shield of sound bites and mental gymnastics that you work to perfect through interactions like what you’re doing.
What you’re doing is tragic on a personal level. I want to be here to help you out of this mental crisis that you’re in in what ways I can, believe me. But I doubt that you’ll let me or people like me help. Unfortunately, on a collective level, people like you pose a threat to knowledge and reason as we know them and are a threat to a crucial pillar of human civilization and flourishing. Conspiracy theories and conspiracism and its waves of misinformation are acting as a sort of social climate change, threatening to unravel the fabric of institutions of progress and knowledge that keep humanity thriving. Conspiracism is among the biggest challenges that humanity faces. And it appears only to be growing and growing like a cancer.
I won’t respond any more to GM. He’s either a troll here having a spot of fun with all of us, or his thought process is so different than mine that any internet debate will prove fruitless. Either way, a waste of my time.
I’m commenting again as I meant to respond to Angela C and Dave B that our family also agrees that church is the riskiest activity we participated in during the pandemic. This is coming from a family that flew to Iceland in August, went on a Disney cruise in December, and visited some very crowded theme parks this year. In all these other spaces, people were more than happy to follow guidelines of masking and spacing, and the cruise and trip to Iceland required vaccination. Common courtesy was on display 24/7 with very few exceptions, and while we couldn’t fully see each other through our masks, there was this expression in everyone’s eyes that we felt so fortunate to be out living life that we had a moral obligation to be kind and protect each other, strangers as we were.
Contrast that to church, where people I’ve known for decades completely stopped caring for one another, and it broke my heart.
We were never really afraid of COVID per se, other than acknowledging there was always a chance of being one of the unlucky ones, and also didn’t want to inadvertently spread it to others. But our mantra this past year was that if we were going to get COVID, it was going to be doing something fun; not from attending church. Since we hadn’t been to church in two weeks when COVID finally found us in late December, it seems we got our wish.
Just two days ago, my unvaccinated cousin was taken off of life support. And now he’s dead. Killed by an entirely preventable disease because he bought into GM’s fatal brand of ignorance and lies. But, golly, he sure owned the libs, didn’t he?
No patience whatsoever for anti-vax horse%hit. Anti-vaxxers have an ocean of blood on their hands.
Off topic but jealous of your Disney cruise @Chadwick 😂. You timed it better than ours – we had one scheduled in a couple of weeks and are all vaccinated but with omicron can’t risk testing positive at the port (since we have to fly there) so we canceled. A few months earlier or later and we probably would have been fine and taken our chances.
I agree that Church is the highest-risk activity for our family too (schools in second place bc no masks required this year, but last year church was most risky by far). We have also traveled & visited theme parks during the pandemic because we aren’t high risk, the places we’ve gone to have all felt safer than Utah County and Church because masks and social distancing have been adhered to (social distancing not anymore really, but it was during some of our earlier trips), and we isolated before and after our trips so that we didn’t expose anyone in case we picked something up while traveling. I don’t know where exactly I got Covid but it was around home.
@mike Spendlove I’m sorry, and I’ve got extended family in the same boat. I suspect nearly everyone does.
Phr is right. The numbers are staggering and every single one is an actual person.
Sorry to hear about these deaths of loved ones. This is an emotionally charged issue for sure for some people. My understanding is Ivermectin is useful as an early intervention treatment and not for late stages of the disease. Intubation is practically a death sentence and Remdesivir is certainly not the safest drug. Early intervention and treatment with safe effective treatments is key to preventing covid deaths – as is an emphasis on good health practices in general to energize and utilize our God given immunities and ability to ward off disease.
Sorry some of you are experiencing cognitive dissonance that your government leaders and officials are not white knights in shining armor. Strong delusion is upon us. We need to awake to our awful situation as the Book of Mormon warns. Covid is the tip of the spear of a secret combination that exists that seeks to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries. It is built up by Satan who is the father of all lies. Agenda 21 and now Agenda 30 as well as the Great Reset are all part of this plan for you to own nothing (and you will be happy) and to be basically a slave to whatever our would be masters dictate. Central Banks across the world and especially the Federal Reserve are key players in this plan as they are massively inflating the money supply to fulfill their end game to be the buyers and lenders of last resort – to basically own everything.
We need to repent and turn to God and not rely on the arm of flesh.
Now I get where you are coming from. You are a member of (or get your information from) the John Birch Society, The same folks who asserted President Eisenhower was a communist.
Agenda 21 — bike paths and walks my paths are the road to tyranny. At least that was the take of a JBS speaker in my hometown.
And, if you were to add the Jews are behind all of it, you would close the circle (of nonsense) . . .
Walk paths . .
Yeah, awaken to our awful situation is a tell. For those unfamiliar with this group, check out their posts on facebook and the books available on Amazon.
I spend too much time thinking about this page, but I do want to share my final thoughts to get them out of my head. In my first post on this thread at 4:22 I shared 5 points that really played out in the discussion with GM.
1. I’m willing to bet a Benjamin that GM is a Trump supporter who believes the things Trump has repeated, and that’s what led him to conspiracy theories. (I’ll even include in the bet that before Trump’s inauguration he didn’t get in ridiculous internet arguments like this).
2. As Chadwick and John W pointed out, GM seems to inhabit a different reality, and arguing with him (using facts or any other method) is pointless and isn’t going to change his mind.
3. I’m not sure if my comments to GM were helpful at all (since he never responded to me), but my hope is that it lead to him thinking, “At least @aporetic1 isn’t as blind to reality as the rest of these idiots. I can’t believe how wrong and deluded he must be to see the actual reality but not believe it. But I can see he’s coming from a good place, and I can at least tolerate him.”
My comments might not have been helpful, but as John W. pointed out, the majority of the comments here will just cause GM to cement his beliefs, strengthen his “Testimony” of his worldview, and to vilify the other side.
4. After this back and forth, how many of us feel that GM is dangerous and needs to be stopped? I’m betting that GM thinks that our trust in a government that “seeks to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries” is dangerous and needs to be stopped. If thousands (millions?) of GM’s across the US have interactions like this over and over (at church, work, on the internet), leading them to believe that the other side is dangerous and needs to be stopped, where does that take us as a society? Will it cause them to isolate more and just associate in echo chambers with those who think like them?(that’s why I welcome GM and his comments here.) Will it cause them to think that something drastic needs to happen to get the sheeple to wake up or be stopped? Will it cause us to think the same thing? Yikes.
5. Maybe my hope that we won’t get to a tipping point is completely unfounded. I hope not though.
The Salt Lake Tribune’s Mormon Land podcast has an excellent interview of Dr Samuel Brown who is a faithful church member and ICU physician and researcher who has treated numerous patients with COVID, both vaccinated and unvaccinated. He has a remarkably charitable view of those patients he treated with COVID who were unvaccinated. Google “sltrib Mormon Land Samuel Brown” and it should come up. I’ll post a link in a separate comment below. It’s well worth listening to.
These are links for the Samuel Brown podcast on Mormon Land:
@aporetic1: Does GM need to be stopped? Depends on what he’s going to do. Does he need to be stopped from disagreeing with people on random web sites by posting unhinged thoughts based on religious dogma? Nope, he is free to do that all day.
And why would anyone who posts here regularly care whether or not GM can tolerate us? I certainly don’t.
BTW, I do believe you’ll see the tipping point if you look in your rear-view mirror.
@jaredsbrother – You’re right. I hope we don’t think he needs to be stopped from posting unhinged thoughts on the interned. And in our sane and happy world, it doesn’t matter if an internet troll can tolerate us, and it doesn’t matter what we say to them.
I apologize because my paranoia is showing. This is a personal topic to me because of my own unique experiences. And It matters to me if people like GM can tolerate others, because when they can’t, terrible things can happen. After the Jan 6th attack on the Capital, all of the mass shootings that we’ve had in America, knowing that my brother-in-law and many like him are anticipating (and looking forward to a civil war), –my sane and happy reality feels at risk. I have to actively tell myself “We’re not going to get to a tipping point. The world is a safe place. These are good people.”
But in the back of my paranoid mind, the stakes are actually really high. I know that arguing and having contentions back-and-forths with people with unhinged views isn’t helping. I’m overly sensitive (and overly terrified) of these negative interactions that I recognize are constantly happening because I worry that civil disruption that once seemed unfathomable, will happen if the divisions in this country continue to accelerate. And honestly I feel really helpless about it. I don’t have any real solutions. So the best I can come up with is: “Each side to recognize the values that the other side holds so dear, rather than vilifying them.”
I’ve had these thoughts in my head for a while, but haven’t had anywhere good/meaningful to share them. I’m mainly posting for my peace of mind and to get these thoughts off my chest. So I hope it doesn’t come off as a lecture.
*Deep breath* And reminder to myself “The world is a good and safe place. We’re not actually on the brink of a civil war. Most people are good and great people. It’s more likely that things are going to get better than worse. It’s going to be okay.” *Deep breath*
Again, I recognize that I’m overly paranoid and I apologize for it. If you read my comments as coming from a place of paranoia, they make more sense. I totally see your points of view that aren’t coming from a perspective of paranoia, and they make sense to me too. I agree with most of the statements on this thread. Thank you all for your perspectives and patience with me.
Unhinged thoughts on religious dogma? No one needs to or ought to stop that.
False medical information that is getting people killed? Not so sure about that. Doesn’t really matter on this forum because no one believes GM but who should be held accountable for lives lost due to lies and misinformation and why should people have a “right” to spread outright lies and false information (as opposed to opinions)?
I don’t know the answer to that question but I think it’s a real, actual question and not a foregone conclusion that forums have an obligation to host that kind of content or that the speakers of that content have a right to be heard and to spread misinformation without accountability.
@aporetic1 I admire your patience – not being sarcastic. I feel like I’ve been on the giving end of patience and gotten zero reciprocation from the trumpers and the GM’s and if it’s a one-way street I don’t know where it gets us so I’m better off going out of my way keeping them out of power. But if you’ve seen it bear good fruit, that’s encouraging.
@aporetic1: I have to thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. I think you’re being overly hard on yourself by using the word ‘paranoid.’ These are perilous times, and you have to do what you feel like you have to do.
The willingness of so many on this issue to grab onto this or that as “proof” that vaccines are of the devil drives me crazy, especially when it is just plain false or twisted out of context. Two current examples:
Claim: Pfizer CEO said their vaccines don’t work. Shows vaccines are useless.
Truth: He said that the protective effect needed to be enhanced by a booster and that Pfizer will roll out an Omicron-tuned booster in March.
Claim: Head of the CDC just admitted most of those dying from COVID have 8 or more co-morbidities. Shows vaccines are only for those who old, fat, diabetics, etc.
Truth: She referenced a study that showed that, of the vaccinated, few die and those who do have lots of co-morbidities.
Claim: Israel and Australia have lots of current cases. Shows vaccines don’t work.
Truth: The vaccines don’t work as well against Omicron as to transmission. But, they absolutely reduce severity and death. Both of those countries have seen sharp spiked in cases, but relatively few deaths.
Three examples . .
It appears many of you are motivated by fear so I shouldn’t wonder why the push for masking and vaccinating mandates and even lockdowns persist despite increasing evidence they have little efficacy and in fact cause more harm then good to us physically, mentally, and socially. It is this fear that makes of you useful idiots to those who would enslave us. Their end goal here seems to be vaccine passports which does not take much of a leap of imagination to see how those could lead to the mark of the beast that one cannot participate in the economy without. Climate change is another bogeyman used more and more to manipulate and control us.
We need to not fear and be wise as serpents but harmless as doves and not comply with their freedom robbing policies. There are way more of us then there are them. Don’t let them take your power away. Power to the people not the powers that be. Jesus Christ rebuked the rulers and wise men of his day, why would our times be any different? Fear not! The Lord is with us!
“Mark of the Beast”! I thought that was my social security number?
Because the alternative to the right to free speech is even worse.
It’s strange to me that you chastise us for our “fear,” GM. Yet you’re the one cowering in fear that every utterly reasonable public health measure is evidence of a huge conspiracy. You’re jumping at shadows, worrying about masks and vaccines that make total sense if you can just start with the real-world premise that COVID is here and that it’s super contagious and it’s hospitalizing and killing some people. But as long as it sounds like you’re following this fringe media that’s determined to sow fear in you, you’re willing to swallow these outrageous ideas, that are absurd on their face.
it’s a series of tubes, free speech isn’t an absolute and never was. So stop treating it that way. It is illegal and immoral to deliberately and misleadingly yell “fire” in a crowded theater. Slander and libel are illegal. Leaking information that is labeled by the government as confidential, top secret, or classified is illegal. Leaking conversations covered under attorney-client privilege is illegal. Surreptitious recording in many states is illegal. The spread of misinformation that might lead to the physical injury or death of another person is illegal. And COVID misinformation is most certainly falls under that category. Now is what GM is doing illegal? No. GM is most likely a hapless dupe who is gullibly absorbing misinformation and then panic-spreading it to make himself feel powerful (because he probably has a feeling of deep powerlessness and insecurity, and possibly some other mental health issues going on). But there are people who are deliberately concocting misinformation, fully knowing it is a lie. I don’t know what their motives are. Anger, revenge, mistrust, cynicism? I’m not sure. But what they are doing is most certainly illegal and they should be brought to justice for their reprehensible actions. What they’re doing is NOT protected under free speech laws. And all free speech crusaders need to recognize this and stop crying wolf about free speech when no free speech is actually being violated and stop self-righteously preaching about a concept that they know nothing about.
To destroy a society it is first neessary to delegitimize its basic institutions. Deprive th citizens of democratic societies of a shared sense of moral purpose.
I’m not afraid of Covid – it’s a big nothing burger. Interesting how the flu disappeared last winter. Interesting how mortality rates didn’t change significantly in 2020. Interesting how mortality rates rose in 2021 and are rising now that we have these miracle vaccines.
What IS alarming is the irrational over reaction by governments, the unrelenting fear mongering from the media, the virtual absence of any true science being practiced by the medical establishment and the censoring and shutting out of authoritative voices by all of the above. It smacks to me of a coordinated attack to manipulate the global populace to subject to control measures and accept a new normal, much like how since 9-11 we have to submit and endure invasive and sometimes humiliating measures by the good folks of the TSA. I am not a Trumper. I’ve been waking up since 9-11 to the reality we live in that their is an enemy we face that seeks to take a way our freedoms. The battle is spiritual as much as it is temporal.
D&C 97:23 says “The Lord’s scourge shall pass over by night and by day, and the report thereof shall vex all people: yea, it shall not be stayed until the Lord come:” This sounds to me like Covid as it is the report of it that is vexing all of us. Verses 22 and 24 tell us it is because of our ungodliness that the Lord is scourging us. We need to repent and turn to Him, We are dwindling in unbelief. We are learning the precepts of men. We are relying on the arm of flesh. We are treating the scriptures as a light thing.
Ha ha ha! “. . . and the report thereof shall vex all people . . .” “I’m not afraid of Covid – it’s a big nothing burger.”
I’ll respond to your misdirected rant in pieces. First off, let me state that I believe GM is paranoid and poorly informed (or rather, has been maliciously misinformed). Secondly, I’ll state that my opinions on the COVID topic have been generated by working directly, over the past nearly two years, with many of the top scientists in the world in the niche area of mRNA vaccines and related COVID diagnostics and therapeutics. I’m about as informed a person who lacks a PhD in immunology can be on these topics. Usually, I’m the sole person in the room with “only” a technical masters; I’m there because of my professional doctorate and regulatory expertise.
Meanwhile, re free speech:
True, I never stated otherwise.
Usually true, but not always. Additionally, it may be moral c.f. the Pentagon Papers, Snowdon revelations, etc.
Again, usually true but not always.
True. But it is legal in many states, and even where illegal it has often been a powerful tool for exposing corruption, crime, and other nefarious activity.
Sorry, but this is just a gross misstatement of several areas of law, including the relevant principles of tort (for example, your statement both excludes causality and proximity analysis) and first amendment jurisprudence.
Unfortunately, your statement regarding what is illegal is so far off base it’s “not even wrong.”
I’ve been practicing in this area of law, focused in particular on certain regulatory regimes and related technology, for the better part of two decades. I’d love to hear how you came by your expertise on the topic in question.
I’ll say it again: the protections afforded under the first amendment are not absolute, but they are very, very extensive. And those protections allow many kinds of speech others would disagree with, including in many circumstances speech that is disgusting, hateful, or untrue. It’s the bargain the founders chose, because the alternative is far, far worse.
What @john w said. I’ve literally taught law school classes on the first amendment and the misinterpretations and misapplications of it are so tiring. People don’t have a constitutional right to spread false and harmful information on whatever (private) platform they choose. I’m not talking about government censorship or throwing people in jail.
What’s funny is that GM is the only one who sounds scared to me. I’m not scared of Covid. I’m trying to be socially responsible and public health measures but I’ve never been “scared.” GM and the talk of some massive government and healthcare conspiracy and cover up? That is what is scared. And, yes, I am scared of people like him trying to take matters into their own hands. *That* is tyranny.
@jaredsbrother and elisa, thanks for the compassionate responses. When I no longer felt on the defensive, I was able to reflect on how I got to my paranoid state. In trying to understand my brother-in-law’s point of view, I would enter his echo chamber of ideas- and while I was able to recognize that they were wrong (and pretty crazy)- what alarmed me were how many people were sharing his thoughts. It feels very mainstream when that’s who you’re associating with-so in my mind I began to think “Well, this must be how most people on the right think. They are literally ready to march tomorrow and take things into their own hands.”
So it felt like there’s this big dangerous bomb that’s ready to go off, and everybody on the left just keeps poking that bomb (by arguing), rather than trying to diffuse it (by understanding it). And I was like “Woah, woah, woah! If everyone everywhere keeps poking the bomb, it’s gonna blow! But if everyone everywhere diffuses it, we can be okay.”
But I think (and hope), that I was overestimating how mainstream my brother-in-law’s views are. In reality, most people on the right probably don’t belong to his niche group, and GM probably doesn’t either. Most people on the right are not ready to take things into their own hands-so a bit of internet banter isn’t as high stakes as I was making it out in my mind.
Taking a minute to realize that I was more paranoid than most about a right-wing revolution happening within this year, has helped me to calm down and feel more at peace. That’s not actually where we are right now. *Whew*
(Revolutionists have murdered a very small number of people this year. Unfortunately, disinformation causing resistance to vaccines and other precautions has lead to a lot of deaths. My emotion around that isn’t fear, it’s just a feeling of tragedy.)
@Dave B. I certainly agree with your conclusion to this post, “It’s tough to think clearly in a crisis. It’s maybe harder now in 2022 with so many sources of information and disinformation to choose from.” Participating here has helped me to think a bit clearer. So thanks.
Have you worked with Dr Robert Malone?
it’s a series of tubes, deliberate lies leading to someone’s physical harm or death isn’t illegal? Of course it is. It just might be hard to prove in a court of law (well, at least as the courts as currently set up, which allow for lots of misbehavior to fall through the cracks (just look at how much Trump and his cronies got away with)). But ultimately you’re missing the point: misinformation about COVID is causing more deaths and physical harm than needs to be. I don’t know how you can say that it isn’t. Therefore it is incumbent upon law enforcement to apply existing laws to stop misinformation and penalize peddlers of misinformation. In areas where there are cracks that misinformation spreaders can slip through, it is incumbent upon lawmakers to devise new laws that strengthen law enforcement’s muscles against misinformation peddlers.
Let’s not get too carried away glorifying the Founding Fathers or 1776 or 1789. The society they lived in practiced slavery, women were mostly treated as chattel, only 6 percent of the population was eligible to vote, and oppressive cultural norms prevailed that suppressed free speech. Sure, free speech was a noble ideal, but the early US severely lacked the mechanisms, or even willpower, to ensure it. The freedom of speech we have now far surpasses anything ever experienced in the US. In fact it has gotten to the point that free speech and popular interpretations of what it’s supposed to mean are impinging on other freedoms, such as the freedom from COVID suffering. It’s time to curb people’s freedoms to spread lies and misinformation especially because they are taking away from other people’s freedoms to enjoy life and health. And freedom from a deadly virus is a freedom that many free speech crusaders are forgetting.
what if we focused on obesity instead of vaccine mandates? The U.S. has the most unhealthy population in the world!
Obesity in the U.S. is a significant health issue. But, it is not a substitute for dealing with the pandemic directly.
The fundamental problem is that many Americans have ignored (and continue to ignore) the basic advice for decades to control portion size, eat healthier, and move more. Despite various public and private initiatives that date back to after WWII. There was the presidential fitness awards to get young people to exercise. Various attempt to define portion size and place labels on foods. USDA has repeatedly emphasized the key role of variety. Many communities have created bike and walking paths. Private companies private incentives to lose weight. None have moved the overall numbers. That doesn’t include soda taxes or the idea of taxing corn syrup. But, again, there is limited evidence those kind of efforts impact behavior.
So, while a reduction in overall weight would help boost American health numbers, there has been no magic bullet identified.
For COVID19,l the formula is simple. Vaccinate. Avoid close quarters with those who might be exposed. Mask when necessary. If you give really sick, there are now treatment that can reduce the chance of severe impacts. Waving a magic wand and saying if Americans lost weight the pandemic would fade is not realistic.
Mass formation psychosis is a phenomena that has fearful historical precedents.
Hopefully all those under that hypnotic spell can wake up to the reality of what is going on.
The John Birch Society and its ilk are predicated on mass delusions: 1) The whole world is controlled by this conspiracy or that (Jews, the Queen of England, banks, Bill Gates, etc.), 2) Everyone else is being misled by media or scientists , etc. and 3) Only we can stop things.
The reality is that none of the conspiracies are real. Anyone who has worked in D.C. knows that the federal government is not competent to pull off any conspiracy. Fluoride really isn’t for mind control or to kill people if placed in your water. Vaccines (pre-COVID included) are not poisons designed to reduce the population by 30% or 80% or whatever. In fact, it is hard to identify any true conspiracy that changed the arc of history or had real significant impact.
Some love feeling special by diving into this nonsense. But, it diminish them in the eyes of the family, friends and neighbors and just makes their life unpleasant.
“of course”. OK. John, I see now that you are arguing from a place of emotion, rather than from any legal or law enforcement training. That’s fine, but let’s not pretend there is any further basis for what you are calling “illegal” or “legal.” You are arguing about what you believe to be “right” and “wrong.”
An easy hypothetical example that proves your blanket statement false: Alice is in a relationship with Bob and loves him passionately. Bob is cheating on her. Alice grows suspicious and asks Bob “Are you cheating on me?” Bob deliberately lies: “No.” That night, Alice searches Bob’s phone, discovers evidence of his infidelity, and in despair takes a lethal dose of her sleeping pills and vodka. Bob’s deliberate lies led to Alice’s death. But nothing he did was against the law. Many would say it was immoral and wrong. But it was not illegal.
Yes, that’s absolutely true. Freedom sucks sometimes. A lot, when people make crappy choices. It just sucks less than the alternative.
What “existing laws” are you referring to, exactly? Can you cite a single federal or state statute you believe is being violated? No? Then really you are just stating, in conclusory fashion: “I think that’s wrong and they should be stopped!”
As to the founders vs. today, the scope of free speech regulation and jurisprudence continues to evolve. It’s not a dead or out of date idea. Much of the current legislative and philosophical debate centers around whether the protections offered by Section 230 of the CDA remain appropriate, or should be modified.
Ah, there it is: the “benevolent” fascist hiding underneath emerges. Sorry, but a world where the actual protections (not the popularly misunderstood ones) of the first amendment exist is a far, far better world than the world where they are taken away or never existed. And if you think otherwise, I agree that there’s really nothing of substance left to talk about.
Here is an actual headline in late 2020 before vaccines were available in the US and the pandemic was supposedly raging:
Dr. Fauci and the New York Times confirmed the PCR tests are too sensitive to be considered worth anything
November 1, 2020 Kevin Blog
coronavirus covid-19 government New York Times Politics SARS-CoV-2
How do you suppose things would have been different had true journalism happened and this story was looked in to and investigated by major media sources (and remember it was published by a major media source – The New York Times)? Do you think this whole concept of a pandemic would be reconsidered, given this assertion from Dr Fauci himself, that as much as 90% (as the article goes on to state) of the positive Covid results from PCR tests may be false?
This is just one example of the false reality we have lived in over the past almost 2 years now.
Forbes, on Robert Malone and his claims about mass formation psychosis:
Also, Malone claims to be the inventor of mRNA vaccines. Nature is considered one of the top scientific journals within the scientific community. It has a long history of publishing peer reviewed research. In Nature, this history of mRNA vaccine technology development is detailed. While Malone played a role in the development of the vaccine technology, it was by no means a solitary effort and his claim that he invented it undermines his credibility.
It is frightening when one group of people is telling us one thing and another tells us something very different. It is telling, however, that even Donald Trump is encouraging his followers to be vaccinated.
Usually in heated debates among good people there are at least tiny (but not necessarily trivial) merits within the arguments put forth by both sides. From aporetic1, “I think what our nation needs in order to heal is for each side to recognize the values that the other side holds so dear, rather than vilifying them. The more I vilify them, they more they dig their heels in and vilify me- and it goes both ways. It doesn’t seem like it, but we can learn to understand the other side’s position.”
The concern that governments might use pandemic measures to tighten control of their citizenry is not without merit. Companies are using it as a cover for making permanent changes that help their bottom lines, and governments may be inclined to do likewise. The right to self -determination is a newer concept within medicine and has application in public policy settings. At times mandates are necessary, but when they are excessive, not necessary, or made without explanation/time limitations they may result in backlash. I, personally, watch for the encroachment of liberties while I also choose to engage in serious pandemic precautions. It is not an either/or situation.
I do wish church members and society in general would be more willing to be vaccinated and wear masks in public while the pandemic is continuing. It is disheartening to me to see people unwilling to engage in disease prevention efforts when our hospitals and ICU’s are full of people unnecessarily infected with a deadly virus.
Who is more likely to be telling you the truth? The major media which is controlled and owned by just a handful of people; or several disparate mostly self-funded independent news sources such as The Highwire with Del Bigtree, The Epoch News, Dr. Mercola, G Edward Griffin, The Blaze with Glenn Beck, Sarah Westall, Sovren Media with Ben Swann, Sharyl Attkisson, Stew Peters, Gregory Mannarino, Dr David Martin, Common Sense with Dave Hodges, etc. etc. etc.
I’m supposed to believe that these various mostly unrelated sources of information are presenting a coordinated false information attack against the leviathan of corporate media controlled at the top by just a few people (and largely funded by Pfizer and other Big Pharma through add revenue I would add). The same big media from which you hardly hear a peep about the mass demonstrations in other countries especially, like the Canada Truckers rally which is getting huge (Trump would say yuge!) support from the populace of our friends up North. Huge protests against lockdowns, vaccine and mask mandates and other Covid caused Government overreach in Europe and Australia that go virtually unreported here in our lamestream media.
Widen your scope of the world people and wake yourself up from the official covid narrative hypnosis.
We don’t need a Great Reset – we need a Great Awakening.
GM, with your concern about false positive PCR tests, you just need to read a statistics textbook, ok? Just go take Stats 101.
IF 90% of PCR tests were giving false positive results then do we have a pandemic? No we have a casedemic fueled by a rash of false positive results.
Nope. There is not “huge support” for the truckers rally from the populace. Not. At. All. Just like in other areas of the world, it’s a tiny, vocal minority and the majority of people are frustrated and angry about the misinformation being spouted.
Not to mention, the irony of someone who likely thinks universal healthcare is evil saying that Canadians are concerned about government overreach is just mind blowing.
You know that Epoch News is run by a Chinese cult?
Interesting. Thanks for the info – they are much bigger than the other sources cited so that does give one reason to pause and proceed with caution.
GM, again, not an actual NY Times headline. Are you able to post links to these sources that supposedly support your position?
GM, “Who is more likely to be telling you the truth? The major media which is controlled and owned by just a handful of people; or several disparate mostly self-funded independent news sources such as …”
1) Of course you listen to these fringe media sites. Surprise, surprise. I could tell this by practically the first sentence you spewed out on here.
2) There is no evidence that parent companies or large owners of prominent media outlets fully control the ideological tints of those outlets, or that what is published in large media outlets has to or necessary does reflect the ideological views of its owners. There are cases where this could be true (for different reasons), but it is not inherently true. Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post because the Post is a widely read paper with an established reputation and has a lot of readers. So good and safe investment. Is the Washington Post going to shift to Bezosism? 1) It is unlikely that Bezos has formulated a vast ideology that he seeks to impose on the Post. 2) Bezos is reliant on the current organization of the editors-in-chief to operate the Post. He doesn’t have the time or ability everyday to write the whole newspaper. Large media outlets don’t have much incentive to tell deliberate lies, as you are charging. Many individuals monitor them and hold their feet to the fire where they can. WaPo and NYTimes have many, many enemies who seek every minute of the day to discredit them and bring them down. They are under intense scrutiny. NYTimes can’t afford to hire loons, liars, and otherwise sloppy people. There is tight competition to be an investigative reporter for the NYTimes/WaPo and other big publications. If someone gets something wrong, they will get eviscerated and replaced, and with a long line of people seeking to replace them. By publishing too many easily debunkable lies, the journalist will get discredited and looked down upon. Likely money-loss will follow if the outlet keeps them on. Smart investors like Carlos Slim and Jeff Bezos didn’t make their billions by making bad investments. They know that NYTimes and WaPo are reputable money-makers. Another advantage of large media outlets is that because they are so large, they do not have to be beholden to a particular audience’s ideological slants. They can deliver inconvenient truths in this world without the risk of audience backlash hurting its sales of content.
3) Smaller sites like the ones you reference are a crapshoot, through and through. These are often people who couldn’t make it in the bigger leagues, so they have been forced to go after the anti-mainstream audiences, whose preferences and predilections range significantly. Much of the anti-mainstream crowd are the right-wing conspiracists, to which you belong. These smaller media outlets provide stuff that you want to hear. They want to make sure that they don’t upset you, otherwise you’ll stop listening to them. They want to keep you hooked, so they fill you with outrage-driven content and bias-confirming views that will keep you listening. They are small, so they don’t have much time to research. They need fast output, but unlike the larger organizations, they can’t afford to hire quality investigative journalists, so they have to spend their time seizing on the latest outrages. They rely on talk-format models in which one person just keeps talking and talking. How much is that one person going to know? How is that one person going to fill all those hours with fresh, well-researched content? Also, because these outlets are small, they can’t attract the best and brightest figures for interviews. They have to reach out to fringe figures. Their reliance on a particular audience often makes them extremely biased.
4) You operate under the assumption that small=trustworthy and big=untrustworthy. The world is simply more complicated than that. I suggest you take the time to actual think things through and stop believing things simply because a preferred media-outlet reported it. Try to figure out how the media outlet arrived at this knowledge. Does this media outlet have people scrutinizing it? What do these scrutinizers say about the media outlet and its content?
5) It is pure irony that the “do your own research” crowd actually doesn’t do their own research. They rely on fringe news sites, almost unquestioningly, to inform themselves. Then they turn around and say that mainstream people aren’t questioning enough. You folks are the ones not questioning enough. If the New York Times reports it, well then it is a lie. If the Epoch Times reports it, then it is absolute truth. It is so gullible, so naive.
We truly are living in Orwell’s 1984 complete with the ministry of truth ( the media or fourth branch of government) spinning lies; freedom is slavery, inflation is prosperity, poison is health, infanticide is choice, white is racist, rioting is peace, looting is justice, a man can be pregnant, a woman can impregnate, a man can breast feed, and you better believe that 2+2=5 (pick a lie, any lie) or you will be canceled.
Kiribati proves the lie that the vaccine, testing and quarantines are effective.
Thanks for the comments, everyone.
I think this discussion has run its course, so I’m going to close comments now.
Comments are closed.