Jay Little - Software Obsessionist
Coronavirus: Deniers, Civil Liberties and Survival of the Species

4/7/2020 3:42:38 PM

One debate that keeps rearing its ugly head is the one about just how far society should go to combat the Coronavirus. Practically everybody I know is debating this in some form or another and the debates are often full of vitriol and exceptionally strong opinions. So who is right? Who is wrong?

Well as you likely have already guessed, I have an opinion. However you'll probably be surprised by what my opinion actually is especially if you are familiar with my previous posts in which I have repeatedly and consistently championed what I consider to be basic civil liberties for the human race as a whole. While I don't hold all of the rights enumerated in the American Bill of Rights in such high regard that I consider them to be core rights (the right to bear arms in particular), I am a consistent champion of preserving the spirit behind them so long as it suits the best interests of the human race.

But here is the problem: In a pandemic type of situation, championing these rights blindly creates a scenario in which we are putting ourselves at risk along with the rest of the human race. The Coronavirus is rightly being called a pandemic because it overtly threatens our ability to exist as a species. It isn't limited by borders or influenced by some regional geopolitical event. It is a species wide event that has the power to wipe us completely off the map.

The reality of that changes the nature of the calculus for me. Civil rights should not be compromised in neither normal circumstances nor most abnormal situations. This is especially true when we are faced with situations that naturally occur as a result of the abstract systems that we already have in place. September 11th is a great example of this, because after that event transpired, the US Government used it as an excuse to flagrantly violate the civil rights of millions of American citizens and those actions ultimately yielded very little actionable intelligence and/or measurable improvement in the underlying factors that birthed September 11th.

However in the case of the Coronavirus, allowing people to continue to enjoy a lot of their freedoms is directly impacting our ability to fight this battle in a very negative way. For instance, I'm a big fan of digital privacy. I generally refuse to compromise on this value in any way, shape or form. Most people I know consider me to be a hardliner in this respect. They are not wrong. However given the nature of this pandemic, I would be more than willing to install some CDC or WHO application on my smart phone that allows my location to be fed back to those organizations along with an indicator of whether or not I believe myself to be infected and/or exposed. I would also support making installation of such an app mandatory. Yes this constitutes an invasion of our privacy, but in this pandemic, being able to track the locations of citizens and contact points between confirmed infected people and others makes a hell of a lot of sense and would very likely result in many lives being saved.

Now lets be clear: Once the crisis passes, I'd wipe my phone and start over. That app would not be reinstalled. Needless to say other rights that I consider to be core ones, could also be scaled back in a way that makes logical sense. For instance, freedom of speech is great and I'm a hardliner on this front even when it comes to speech that I strongly disagree with or am repulsed by. However in the context of this situation, Coronavirus Deniers need to be muzzled. Whether we are talking about foolish individuals who lack the brain power or courage required to be honest with themselves and others about this thing, or organizations such as OAN and Fox News who seemingly have a vested interest in downplaying it, anybody who openly advocates for individuals to ignore the crisis and act in a way that threatens themselves and those around them should absolutely be shut up.

Shocked yet? Hold on, because I'm not done. Since Easter is coming up, there has been a huge focus on how Christian churches are grappling with this and for the most part, a lot of them seem to be handling it in a reasonable manner. By reasonable manner I mean, not having in person services at all, and encouraging people to stay home to protect themselves and their family. However some churches have decided to go a different way and some of those churches have been forcefully shut down. Sadly state governments in the United States suffer from disagreement on this front. In the case of my particular state, our mongoloid governor, Henry McMaster has gone so far as to even encourage churches to still hold in person services on Easter Sunday, just so long as they "do it outside".

This is pure insanity as far as I'm concerned. All in-person gatherings need to be banned immediately and the penalty for ignoring the ban needs to be quite severe. This includes church services, sporting events, family reunions and employees congregating together at an increasing number of non-essential businesses who are trying to bend the rules and act as if they are essential.

Lets make it clear: Essential means one of the following things: Food, Water, Shelter, Basic Utilities (power, gas, water, sewer, internet) and Medical services. Everything not directly related to allowing society to continue to provide those services needs to be shut down until such a time arrives that they can be safely brought back online. People around the world need to shelter in place and wait this thing out until we get the appropriate testing and medical infrastructure in place to be able to handle the secondary and tertiary rounds of the battle.

I envision a future where once we all go back to work, we'll be tested each morning when we come in and if we fail the test, we are sent home. I envision a future where upon attempting to enter a grocery store or some other third party location, we'll be tested and if we fail, we are sent home. This is not a future people like to envision, but when it comes to the survival of the human race, I'm willing to compromise virtually every other principle to ensure it.

I would hope that these measures don't need to be permanent and any laws created enacting such measures should absolutely contain a clear and understandable set of metrics and goals for when they would be automatically rolled back based on the data. But it's really impossible to know how this pandemic is going to go, because we still don't know that much about the virus. This thing may very well be a one time thing or it may be a seasonal thing and we'll have to grapple with this year after year. We just don't know right now.

When it comes to planning for the future, my sole rule of thumb is as follows: Plan for the worst and hope for the best. It's long past time humanity as a whole got on board with that approach because ultimately adopting that approach will undoubtedly save millions of lives.

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