One of the great things about Facebook has been the ability to share thoughts with people on a wide variety of subjects. In political debate groups, I have managed to make some good online friends—even with people who disagree with me 99.95% of the time. We respect each other, and that’s enough. If you are left of center and are reading this, you are likely one of those people. And I thank you.
But I am making a concerted effort to leave debate groups, and I am mostly to blame. You see, I always thought that as I got older I would develop more patience for people. I remembered the older people in my life when I grew up. Even when encountered with nuclear-grade stupidity, they would offer up a “Well shucks, bless their hearts…they don’t know any better. They MEAN well.” I figured when my grey hairs and liver spots began sprouting, so would that endless grace that older people seemed to possess. I fear the opposite has happened. I am crankier and more impatient than ever. That makes debate groups a poor fit.
There are few things I love more than a good, honest invigorating debate. To me, it’s like mental calisthenics. The process has expanded my understanding for how others think and helped me appreciate their positions FAR more than I did before. Unfortunately for every good debate, there are two dozen people who only want to instigate. Most of the time I block or ignore them. But a particular genre has emerged recently which has given me pause.
I am a Constitutional Libertarian. “Mind you own business and keep your hands to yourself” is probably the best one-sentence summary I could give to encapsulate it. Seems simple. Seems more or less like the Golden Rule. But in a pandemic, libertarians are NOT popular.
By their nature, pandemics require collective actions to make a significant difference. Libertarians are not “group people.” We don’t usually belong to clubs nor constantly seek others’ approval. We don’t get invited to many parties and that is just fine by us. We are perfectly comfortable in our own company. We are reflexively guarded against doing something when others are doing it. Now that doesn’t mean we’re idiots. We realize that some common sense precautions are prudent during a pandemic. But what we have seen from many leaders goes beyond prudence. They raise serious Constitutional and ethical questions. And that is where the conflict begins.
Depressingly, this pandemic has revealed that a lot of people are VERY comfortable with being told what they can and cannot do. This likely was the case before the pandemic, but COVID has lent an altruistic bent to their proclivities—while giving them permission to demand that everyone else join them. To libertarians, that idea goes over like a loud fart in Sunday School.
What has sent me over the edge in recent weeks is the large amount of people who actually get angry when I ask if a government restriction is fitting and proper. Seriously, they do. The thought of mere QUESTIONING of government restrictions during a pandemic is seen as blasphemous. I am not exaggerating. Whenever government suspends or severely restricts an activity, I think it is MORE than fair to insist they demonstrate that said activity is causing a spike in cases. That seems the LEAST they could do. But to this subset of Covid Cowards, even asking the question makes you a monster. These are the people who have pushed me to the edge.
It is fine to be concerned about the virus and be willing to follow government recommendations. But when you crap all over yourself when someone merely QUESTIONS them; then you have become a subject and not a citizen. And quite frankly, someone as cowardly as this infuriates me. I don’t know why. You would like think mass murderers would bother me more—but they don’t. To me, the WORST thing you can be is someone who is afraid of their own shadow, who demands Government make them feel safe, even if that means making everyone a virtual servant.
The very existence of people like this is sickening and I am done acting like they deserve sympathy. I finally snapped on a few of them this week. You have every right to be concerned about this pandemic and willing to take preventative measures. But when you are actively hostile to ANY questioning of government restrictions, that’s where you lose me. That’s where you become unworthy of my time and concern.
This bodes poorly for the immediate future. Why? Even after the pandemic, people will still be able to plausibly argue that since you COULD transmit a deadly disease, you should always wear a mask—and be punished if you do not. You can NEVER be too safe, right? And since they have established that an acceptable role of government is to restrict people in order to reduce the chance of carrying a communicable disease, the only defense we will have is transmission rates. That’s all.
So, I am slowly drifting away from debate groups and will post more and more stuff here on my page where only smart people can respond. I’ve played the field and discovered that there are more stupid people than I suspected. The best thing about free speech is that is helps us identify idiots more easily. The downside is that is often exposes a LOT of idiocy. I will simply no longer engage. Being a Virginia Tech football fan already makes life frustrating enough.