Blocking of speech
Who cares who or what Twitter blocks? Everyone should. Or rather, those who still believe in free speech.
Almost every day, this newspaper publishes letters and columns that I believe are filled with doubtful facts and mistaken conclusions. Do I get to block them? No. And I would not if I could.
Free speech is not the silencing of others. It is the foundation of freedom. Guaranteeing your differing opinions is the guarantee that mine are heard. To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, it neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.
Twitter blocked, along with other individual accounts, the New York Post, one of the oldest newspapers in the U.S. and fifth largest U.S. circulation, because it thought you should not be allowed to judge the contents for yourself. How many others have been blocked? Have you been blocked? Your friends? How would you know? Who gets to decide? Orwell's Ministry of Truth?
I believe that when someone else decides what you should hear and who should be prevented from publication, make no mistake: That is censorship.
Virus will still spread
There are some people blaming politicians or their government for not doing enough to prevent the spread of covid-19. This is naïve and intellectually lazy. For the most part, people are wearing their masks and socially distancing, yet this aggressive virus continues to spread. The government cannot protect you from a virus. As long as people are interacting, the virus will find a way to spread. The only way to prevent infection is to 100 percent isolate. Our society is simply not prepared for a 100 percent lockdown; no electricity, no grocery store, no hospital, etc.
Wait, we can't do without electricity, it's essential! Okay, electrical workers are essential, what does that mean? Well, fuel stations are now essential, so they can fill their tanks to get back and forth to work. Truck drivers have to deliver the fuel. Mechanics have to repair broken vehicles. Tire shops have to replace worn-out tires. This is just to get the workers back and forth to work. There would be more essential businesses to supply the fuel to actually generate electricity, maintain the power grid, etc. Each business that remains open has a supply chain that becomes essential as well.
Now, apply this supply-train thought process to a grocery store. For any given product on the shelf, how many businesses become essential to get from raw material to finished product on the shelf? The amount of workers required grows exponentially. At this point, there are so many workers out of isolation that common sense will tell you a lockdown would not be effective and the virus will still spread.
Since a 100 percent lockdown is not practical, and a partial lockdown is not effective, where does that leave us? Each person must weigh the risk of infection based on their own health condition and make decisions accordingly. Wear your mask, keep your social distance in public, and wash your hands. Live your life. But please stop blaming everybody else for the spread. The virus gets a say in this too.
A common humanity
Thanks to Peter Marvin for giving voice to what I have been thinking about Philip Martin's columns. They are ubiquitous and lack meaning. I miss the writing of Paul Greenberg, and the way he spoke to our common humanity.
Herd immunity sham
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has done a huge public service by providing comprehensive free coverage of covid-19, including the outstanding "Lives Remembered" series. But this past Sunday the opinion piece, "A compassionate covid strategy," stood in glaring contrast to the front-page headlines.
'A compassionate covid strategy" was perhaps the worst headline possible to describe an attempt during a worldwide pandemic to influence public opinion against the simple measures that all reputable health authorities agree are necessary to slow down illnesses and deaths. The article proposes "herd immunity" by allowing young people to go out without masks or social distancing until enough of the population gets it that the virus no longer spreads.
There are huge holes in this argument. It is not known if catching covid provides any immunity from future covid infections, and there is simply no way to completely divide our culture between people who are 65 and older, and those younger. Plus, quite a few younger people are a greater risk for complications because 50 percent of Arkansans have underlying health conditions.
Rates of new covid infections in Arkansas are on the way toward tripling. Hospitals are warning about running out of capacity, and health-care workers are being overworked while regularly facing a deadly virus and the possibility of bringing that virus home to immune-compromised loved ones. What's compassionate about loading bodies of loved ones into refrigerator trucks or performing mass burials like they did in New York City? Overloading the health-care system is not a display of compassion.
The ADG did a disservice running this discredited herd immunity opinion piece, and I hope will give equal space soon to the health authorities who warn we could face very dark days ahead this winter if the public doesn't take the simple precautions of social distancing, wearing masks and hand-washing.
'Gift' gives and gives
It appears Trump's refusal to allow the transition to commence is his latest assistance to Putin. And to China, and North Korea, the Taliban, ISIS, stability in the Middle East, and the world in this time of covid-19. Trump as national security threat continues.