It’s been so long since I wrote on this page. So long since I wrote anything at all. It seems like, since COVID ended, nothing is worth talking about. Sure there is the war and there is the big abortion debate in America, but I am not really interested in these issues. Life is moving on for me and I haven’t had time to sit down and gather my thoughts on anything for almost a year. Actually, I haven’t made time to do it. But how could I? Between working and being a father to a toddler it’s really not easy to fit many other activities. But writing is such a great tool to find out what we really think that I decided to spend even as little as ten minutes a day to spill my thoughts on the keyboard.
Looking into the notes on my phone, I can see ideas I’ve had for articles – many of them thought provoking and controversial. Many of them, unfortunately, are no longer relevant. I was writing a great piece exposing the behaviour of people during the pandemic – how many people did “the right thing” simply because everyone else was doing it. But then it became old news and I am happy with that. I don’t want to live in the past. I see so many people on social media still exposing the lies, still fighting. I can’t live like this. I even think it’s time to admit that many of our predictions were, in fact, just conspiracy theories and we were simply wrong about them.
It surprises me, for example, how many of the people who were against the lockdowns and everything that happened, were also complete lunatics when it came to other things. The whole anti-lockdown movement has been crowded with people who believe dinosaurs never existed and that the Earth is flat. They believe star signs have a real meaning in determining our past, present and future – also known as astrology. I don’t buy any of that. It’s only when I look at some of the things we have been saying with some distance or when I hear others saying them still today, I cringe with embarrassment that I at some point said the same things.
I think many people who were fighting the good fight now suffer from the same thing they accused others of suffering from – the Stockholm Syndrome. They used to say, we used to say that people wanted to be stuck in an endless circle of lockdowns and were filling to cut the government some slack for their lies and incompetence. Now that everything seems to be back to normal, at least for the most part, people still think we are in the fight between good and evil. They refuse to believe that we’ve either won the battle or that it is over and we were wrong. We were wrong to think there was a conspiracy to get us all vaccinated, microchipped or eliminated. What they think, instead, is that all this is still happening but has been postponed because of the resistance. Resistance? Please! Comparing to the compliance, resistance was fragile and tiny. Don’t get me wrong, I’d still resist if we were faced with the slightest sign of government overreach and tyranny. I’d rather die on my feet than spend my life on my knees.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that even though the general population were getting fed up with face masks, PCR tests and all that crap we were made to do to go about our lives, the general population have also shown that no matter how inconvenient things get, how wrong they might feel they’d still comply. Especially in the UK, I think, where people don’t have a history of suffering, fighting for independence and against tyranny. If you grew up in Eastern Europe, like me, you’d have it in your blood. In England, people will be walked into by someone and still apologise. You can’t stand up to a tyrant, if you believe there is one, if you apologise for being walked into by someone.
I’m not even sorry. It’s time to admit we were wrong about some things. The sky is probably not being sprayed with chemicals designed to kill some of us. After all, the people behind it would be exposing themselves or their families to the same danger. When I pointed this out to someone, they said, “well, the elite have their way to get away from it”. The dinosaurs most likely did exist and their bones are as old as scientists say they are. Our blue planet most likely is round and not flat and Soros probably doesn’t want to see the world burn.
I won’t edit this. It was just for me to find out what’s on my mind today.
Here’s a little riddle for you. A woman is lying in hospital after just giving birth is told she has been “in contact” with a person who’s tested positive for coronavirus. She is told to self – isolate when she is released. The midwives, however, decide to do a COVID19 test. How many tests do you think is needed to determine whether the woman has COVID19?
This is what happened to my sister. She gave birth to a baby boy on Christmas Eve. When she went into labour, the midwife on shift convinced her she had to have a coronavirus test. I would imagine that most women in labour, who are already in so much pain, don’t have time or energy to think about it and whether they have the right to say no. This is what happened to my wife four weeks ago, when she went into labour. They said it was to determine whether our birth plan could go as we had planed or if we should be placed in a different room and reduce the number of midwives, doctors and nurses interacting with us. The argument of mask wearing by the medical staff is slowly starting to fall apart already. Both my sister and my wife went ahead with the test and the results were negative in both. My wife’s labour didn’t go as planned anyway and we ended up in the same room as we would have if she had refused the test or if it had been positive. During my wife’s labour, it was demanded of me to wear a mask even though such contagious disease would surely get us both or none at all. In other words, if I had it, so would she and her test wouldn’t have been negative.
My wife was already in a lot of pain, the labour was taking too long and eventually ended with forceps – the very last and the most feared option on my wife’s birth plan. So, I had no intention making a scene over a facemask that day. Things for my sister took a different turn. Her labour ended with the caesarean, but apart from a minor infection, both her and the baby were fine.
My sister was already reluctant to take the COVID19 test. Not because she believed it was all a hoax designed to bring about The New World Order, but because she simply wasn’t looking forward to having anything stuck up her nose. She let them do it to her anyway, probably because saying no to a medical staff who speak with authority and are about to deliver your baby sounded like an inappropriate thing to do. I bet that most women think they don’t have much choice in the matter too.
After her son was born, my sister and him were kept in the hospital for two days and given antibiotics for the infection. In those forty – eight hours, she was told that she had been near someone who tested positive for COVID19 and was told she would have to self – isolate when they released her from the hospital. The staff then kept my sister on lockdown in her room and told her to only leave it for essential reasons and with a mask and gloves on.
‘But hey, we are in the hospital, can we not just test her again instead and determine if she has to quarantine or not?’ Something along those lines must have been said that day because they tested my sister not once, not twice. The tests came back negative, so just to make sure they tested her again. Bear in mind that she had already hated the very idea of the test and so far she had had it four times (once in labour and three times after the birth) all in the space of two days. The result of the third test was also negative. You’d think that after three negative tests she would be told not to worry about the quarantine, but this wasn’t the case.
The nurses told her that the virus might still reveal itself which, in other words, means the tests aren’t as reliable as we are told. What was the point, in that case, of testing her three times on the same day? Another question I have is that, given they insist on testing all pregnant women before providing their services, how did someone who tested positive ended up in close proximity to my sister and her new born baby? A baby who has no immune system yet? Wouldn’t you think they would make sure these people don’t cross paths?
It poses even more questions if it was a member of staff who tested positive. For example, why panic if everyone is wearing PPE? COVID19 stands no chance against an army of people in masks, shields, gloves, plastic gowns and sanitising stations. No chance. Isn’t it how the argument goes – the medical staff wear masks to stop getting others sick? Isn’t it what every BBC watching sheep has said in a facemask argument hoping to win the debate? Just think about it. COVID19 seemed to have found a way to sneak into the most sterile environment on the planet, but people still think wearing a piece of cloth on their face when shopping in Tesco will make any change? On top of that, medical staff do not wear masks to stop others getting sick. That is not the purpose of facemasks and never was. Not until 2020 at least when science started to change to fit what politicians say. You can find this and other commonly used arguments for facemasks debunked here: Unmasking COVID19 Logic – Deserts of Mars (wordpress.com).
Just a couple of final points. These tests are what decisions about your life are based on. You’d think that a test that has the power to kill the economy, close your business, stop you from working and prevent parents from seeing their kids on Christmas and for the better part of 2020 would be more reliable, wouldn’t you? Also, if facemasks are so great at stopping this virus, how did it find its way into this maternity ward? In fact, how does the virus find it possible to infect people in places where facemasks are mandatory and where people largely obey this rule – like shops and trains? Gyms for example have no mandate to wear masks and the cases are almost non – existent. Here we have a hospital – one of the most sterile places in the world right now, and COVID19 managed to find its way in.
Finally, just before releasing her, they tested my sister the fifth time. This time she is told to wait for the result. Ask yourself, if my sister “must” quarantine after four negative tests, which means she can’t have our mom over to help her with the baby, why would you ever rely on that test at all? Why would you ever self – isolate after testing positive once and having no symptoms. Why would you ever not self – isolate if you tested negative knowing that the virus may still reveal itself? Why would you ever let politicians use this test to scare you with growing cases and in turn put you into lockdown after lockdown? They recently used this test to determine whether thousands of lorry drivers stuck in Kent were allowed to go to their home countries for Christmas. Drivers that weren’t even the citizens of the UK. They were not allowed out of this country unless they tested negative using this unreliable test that even when performed four times is not trusted by the medical staff themselves.
Even if we ignore how coronavirus found its way into that maternity ward, we still are left with the problem of tests and their accuracy and reliability. If we ignore the accuracy of tests we are left with reliability of facemasks against COVID19. Regardless of what you think, these things continue to affect us all and the worst thing is, the experts seem to have learned so much about the virus that they developed a vaccine in a record time, but the government is still using the same approach as they did when they knew nothing about it at all. What do you think about it?
On Saturday, Boris Johnson told Santa Claus he wasn’t welcome in London and surrounding areas. Not only that. He ordered every man, woman and child in, what he calls, Tier 4 to stay home and not visit their families over Christmas. If this wasn’t bad, oppressive and intrusive enough, he threatened these families with fines and arrests if they broke these new and sudden rules. Leaving or entering London after midnight that day was criminalised to the point where even the mainstream media compared the packed train stations across the city to war time evacuation. This time, however, they were not escaping explosions and destruction, not even from the mutated virus, but from the tyranny of their own leader.
Many people would use the word incompetence instead of tyranny, but I do not see Boris Johnson as incompetent. At the moment of writing #BorisFailedBritain is trending on Twitter, but I do not believe he failed Britain, at least not in the way he is being accused of. He has failed and he has failed us dramatically by destroying our lives with continuous lockdowns and other restrictions designed to make us pretend COVID19 is our only weakness and the only thing we should worry about. Truth is, we are not Supermen and COVID19 is not our Kryptonite. There are other things that can and have killed us over the course of this year, and some, like cancer, growing depression and unemployment will claim more victims in the coming months and years and the blood of these men, women and children will be on Johnson’s hands, as well as on the hands of everyone who pushed for more lockdowns and other restrictions that came with them. I don’t even think Boris is a tyrant or a dictator. I think the majority of the public are so scared and incapable of making their own decisions that they need not simple guidance, but a clear list of rules to follow. If the majority are scared of that one thing – the virus – then they will hold him responsible for the handling of this virus. He then gets to pull the lever, like in the trolley dilemma, and in hopes of saving a few elderly people from dying of COVID19 and the NHS from being overwhelmed, he chooses to let the trolley run over cancer patients, anxious and depressed people, obese people, unborn children, business owners and economy as a whole. He pulls the lever because he knows people will not blame him even if in the end more lives will be lost. By then, however, it can be attributed to something else. So, he may not be a tyrant as we know it, or he may not have always been one, but that doesn’t mean that with a little help of the public he can’t become one.
His response reminds me that of every major corporation when facing a possible backlash or boycott. When corporations fail to accommodate or acknowledge an identity group it almost always leads to outrage of activists. Companies want our money, they want to survive, so they choose to avoid bad reputation and put rainbows on their displays. This strategy works because it pleases the minority who would otherwise loudly voice their outrage. So, it’s best to keep them quiet by appearing virtuous and inclusive. Those who accuse them of “bending the knee” to wokeness will be called bigots and no corporation wants to be associated with bigotry. And this is what The Prime Minister has done. He pleased those who are likely to make the loudest noise of disapproval. Fear of COVID19, in this case, is the wokeness he has to please. The anger and desperation of people like me is the bigotry he can deal with by force and nobody will feel sorry or voice their outrage in our name.
Christmas saving lockdown that ended in Tiers
“The only way to save this Christmas”, government officials said back in October, “is to introduce a four-week national lockdown”. And so, on the 5th November, we closed our businesses, cancelled our plans and worked from home if we could. Some businesses, however, did not close their doors. Before the November lockdown was announced, some parts of England had already been hit with major restrictions when they were put in Tier 3. All non-essential businesses in Tier 3 were ordered to close until further notice. This gave rise to resistance of gym owners in Liverpool, the city where the Tier 3 restrictions were in place in October.
Nick Whitcombe, one of the gym owners in Liverpool, became the face and the voice of the resistance. His gym remained open despite daily visits from the police who were delighted to fine him and the members of his gym. Nick, along with other local gym owners, campaigned to make gyms essential for mental health reasons. His mission was science and evidence based. The government data clearly showed that gyms were “part of the solution, not the problem”, which later became the slogan of the campaign. His argument to, not only allow gyms to stay open, but to make them essential, was based on the low infection rate in the gyms and huge mental health benefits of physical activity. This, he believed, could not be neglected especially in the dark, cold and depressing winter months, when many people, especially women, may not feel safe to workout outside.
The Liverpool gyms were visited by the police multiple times a day threatening their owners and members with fines and arrests. Soon after, the rest of the country faced the same fate as the North. A four-week national lockdown to save Christmas was announced. This time many gyms across the country showed solidarity with the cause and refused to bend the knee to the lockdown rules. Gainz Fitness and Strength in Bedford and Zone Gym in London were among the many who vowed to defy the lockdown rules. They were soon joined by other business owners who simply had had enough. Restaurants, beauty salons, tattoo shops and local gift shops were just a few that made themselves heard on social media and made it to the news. Police visited all of them, fined and arrested when they refused to shut.
Beauty salon owners, who put their foot down, played a big role in the movement, but it was all about the gyms. This issue became a worldwide story and Nick Whitcombe was interviewed by media and invited on London Real TV. Over six hundred sixteen thousand people signed the petition to prevent gyms from closing again. This number simply could not be ignored by the government. Supplement company, Grenade, joined the campaign and many other fitness-oriented names and brands soon followed. Many remained quiet until getting called out or boycotted by fitness enthusiasts. Gymshark, for example, remained largely silent about the importance of gyms despite having no problem whatsoever getting involved with other political issues in the recent months. They even changed their Twitter handle to Homeshark during the first lockdown to support the #StayHome cause and later joining the activists in posting black squares on their Instagram to support Black Lives Matter. It took weeks of #makegymsEssential campaign for the CEO of Gymshark to express his support for the gym industry, but in my opinion it was just to avoid backlash, especially since black Friday was just around the corner and Gymshark needed to sell as many skinny tracksuits and leggings as possible.
What happened after the lockdown surprised everyone. Boris Johnson introduced a new and redefined Tier system. Tier 3 remained the highest level of alert with the toughest restrictions, but this time gyms and beauty salons were allowed to stay open. Pubs and restaurants were delt the worst hand. Another thing people noticed was that most of England left the November lockdown worse off than they entered it. Millions of people came back to more restrictions than they had in October. Many joked that this was just another lockdown disguised as Tier System.
It was, however, a small victory for gyms. and it meant that people like me, who work in fitness, finally had some sort of certainty in their lives. Athletes could finally set their long-term goals and adhere to their fitness regime to get to them. It was a small victory because gyms were still not made essential, which meant that in case of another national lockdown, we’d be back to square one. It was, on the other hand, a huge victory for all of us and I will explain why.
To obey or to disobey?
In one of my previous posts The Dark Side of The Greater Good – Deserts of Mars (wordpress.com), I addressed the communist regime that swept through Poland and Eastern Europe for four and a half decades. Russia, after defeating The Nazis in World War 2, deceived Poles into accepting communism as their saviour. The next forty years were filled with misery and foreign oppression disguised as the greater good. The disguise came in slogans like “collective good”, “equality” and “we’re in this together”. Of course, these exact words might not have been used, but it was just a cover up for the lies, deception and war crimes committed by the Soviets. It took rebellion and resistance to end this in the late 1980s. The Communist cloud was removed and for the first time in over forty years forecast for Poland looked brighter than ever before. Maybe the Soviet Union would have collapsed regardless of Polish rebellion, but maybe not. It took resistance to release Poland from the power-hungry claws of the Soviets, who used the war as the crisis and Nazis as the threat. Together they formed the excuse to invade Poland without tanks and bombers, without actually invading them.
Today, COVID19 is the threat and the pandemic is the crisis and lockdowns disguised as solution are like the Soviets disguised as the saviours. Russians agreement with Poland was based on a lie. First they murdered twenty-one thousand Polish prisoners of war and kept this crime hidden for nearly fifty years. The officers and other prisoners they shot were, if released, a potential threat and an obstacle to absolute control. Today, the government is willingly sentencing thousands of people to die of cancer and suicide, only to offer solution to the pandemic.
Today, nobody gets shot in the back of their head for refusing to believe COVID19 is a genuine threat that justifies continuous lockdowns and assaults on our liberties. As we have seen, however, the most prominent voices out there are the target of censorship online and police brutality on the streets. The police keep a close eye on those with large enough following on Instagram and whenever an anti-lockdown protest is organised, those are the people who are always the victims of arrests. The police tactics here are so transparent – find the leaders and make an example out of them. Piers Corbyn has been arrested at every protest he attended. Andreas Michili or @g00nbag on Instagram, the owner of Zone Gym in London, is another person who has been targeted by the police at two anti-lockdown protests. They deliberately searched for him in the crowd of thousands of protesters. Ellie Grey or @officialelliegrey on Instagram is another anti-lockdown activist with sixty thousand followers. She too has had bounty on her head for spreading information about the upcoming protest.
Why them? In my opinion it is as clear as day. The authorities hope their arrest will discourage their audience from attending the next protest. If I got arrested at a protest, I’d share it with my couple of hundred followers. It would most likely reach up to 25% of them and it would not make a huge impact. The police know that arresting someone who they know has thousands of followers, is like arresting all of them at once. With every arrest, more people get discouraged from attending the next protest. What other possible reason could there be? If all protesters are breaking the same rules, then should it matter who gets arrested? As long as the constables don’t come back empty handed, right?
I have recently read “On Tyranny” by Timothy Snyder who, apart from believing Donald Trump is a dictator (if this were true, the book, as well as all other Trump criticism, would never see the light of day), made some good points and observations. “Protests”, he says in one of the chapters, “can be organized through social media, but nothing is real that does not end on the streets”. He continues, “If tyrants feel no consequences for their actions in the three-dimensional world, nothing will change”. It doesn’t, however, require a tyrant for protests to be needed. Whenever a group of people have witnessed or experienced injustice, oppression or inequality they almost always brought about a positive change through protests or some sort of resistance or strike. You can’t talk about gay rights, women’s rights, end of slavery, racial equality or even animal rights, and not mention that they were all achieved through protests and even riots. These activists took to the streets to question the status quo. They took a stance for what they believed in and spoke against injustice they either experienced first-hand or witnessed all around them. This is the driving force behind every protest – it is a group of people who believe they are being oppressed and they don’t see any other way but to gather and make their voice heard.
Today, many people believe our freedoms are under attack and lockdowns and intrusive rules take away our rights to be human and our access to prosperity. These people question the status quo. They believe lockdowns are unjustified and politicians enforcing them corrupt or incompetent. These people are not convinced by the pandemic argument. The government created rules banning protests because of the pandemic and for many people this is good enough. The protesters, however, some of whom are business owners who have lost everything, fathers who have not seen their children because of lockdowns, young people whose education has been interrupted and people who have lost their job, gather precisely to protest those rules that assault freedom of assembly, freedom to make a living and live with dignity. If you don’t support the protesters, you can’t quote the rules they are protesting to stop them from protesting. It would be like telling women to not demand the right to vote because they don’t have the right to vote. You may not agree with their cause, but their right to stand up for what they believe in is your right to do the same when you believe you have no other choice. I should also mention that not a single protest resulted in a spike in cases or COVID19 deaths. If you believe in freedom, in rights, in progress, in power, in corruption, then you must also believe in the right of the people to defend themselves against bad politicians and their policies.
What happened after November stay at home order then? Boris Johnson released us from our chains only to tie our hands and feet. In other words, the Tiers returned, only this time harsher and with more restrictions. Many areas went into lockdown from Tier 1 and finished it with Tier 2 or 3. Watford, where I live, was considered lucky to start December in Tier 2, only to move into Tier 3 – highest level of alert – a couple of weeks later. So far lockdown worked perfectly, didn’t it? Then, after Johnson put us all through a lockdown to save Christmas and after he promised Christmas would be saved and after he put us into Tier 3, he announced, just days later, that London and surrounding areas would go into an emergency Tier 4, of which we had never heard of before, of course. But I’ll talk about that later.
First, what changed and why in Tier 3 since October? This time, gyms and beauty salons were allowed to open across all Tiers 1 – 3. This is before the introduction of Tier 4. Before lockdown, Tier 3 meant gyms and hairdressers had to shut. Now, this was no longer the case. The government responded to over six hundred thousand signatures and rebellious gym owners. They still hadn’t recognised gyms as essential businesses, which meant that in case of yet another national lockdown, they would be told to shut again, but it was a start. Why did the government have a change of heart? I have a theory.
I believe that the government knew that fines for gyms and other businesses were unenforceable and arrests were unlawful. They knew that men like Nick Whitcombe or Andreas Michili would continue to disobey the orders. They knew that any successful resistance would expose their weakness and empower people. The resistance didn’t just come in form of protests and disobedience of business owners. It evolved into educating people about their rights and how to handle themselves in the event of an arrest or what to do when being fined or how to legally refuse to shut their business. People learned about their human rights and the laws that protect those rights from the state and that no other human, no matter what authority they have, should have the power to suspend those rights. So, the government, knowing they would eventually lose (either because of mass disobedience or loss of public support due to inability to enforce coronavirus rules), decided to “allow” people to do what they were going to do anyway. Gyms were allowed to stay open because many of them would stay open anyway. Nick Whitcombe’s campaign had by then gained a worldwide attention, hundreds of thousands of people signed the petition to save gyms so the government had no choice but to bend the knee to our demands. This is my opinion anyway. According to the experts, for example, supermarkets are the places that produce the most cases and gyms, restaurants and pubs are at the very bottom of the list, resulting in next to no cases per hundred thousand visits.
In Tier 3, however, pubs and restaurants had to shut. This meant that restaurants in Hertfordshire, for example, reopened their doors on the 2nd December, fully equipped in PPE, cleaning and sanitising stations, social distancing measures in place, reduced capacity (all of which cost money, effort and job losses), had to close again on the 16th December, as per Tier 3 rules which allowed take away only. The difference between the restaurant or pub owners and gym owners is that the former, in good faith, closed their doors in November, while the latter disobeyed and made it known to thousands of people on social media. This resulted in a win for the gyms and a loss for pubs and bars who, previously could stay open in Tier 3 provided their customers ordered a “substantial meal” with their drink, now had to shut.
As we entered Tier 3 on the 16th, people like me, fitness instructors or personal trainers still had a job to go to. Pub workers went into pretty much another lockdown just two weeks after the taste of freedom and a hope for a normal Christmas was returned to them. The promise that was given to them in November was broken. For now, however, we still had Christmas to look forward to. Then, out of nowhere, came Tier 4. I should mention here that a COVID19 test centre emerged in Watford, just on my way to work. Coincidentally that led to more cases which led to Tier 3 and then 4. No article I’ve seen mentions any deaths or even hospitalizations, only cases. My wife gave birth almost four weeks ago and the midwives, as nice as they all were, told her she “had to” have a COVID19 test before giving birth. Her test was negative, but I can imagine a lot of people’s tests came back positive even if they themselves had never felt better and could be in the hospital for a completely different reason. My sister, who gave birth on Christmas Eve, in Luton, was also forced to have the test. Tier 4 arrived to save us, in other words, from cases.
2 + 2 = 5
The announcement by the Prime Minister on the 19th was a breaking point for thousands, if not millions, of people. Everyone, including those who hadn’t previously expressed their views on coronavirus lockdowns, had something to say now. I had made my opinion known long ago. By the third week of the first lockdown, I’d already sensed something was not right about it. Police issued warnings that they’d be looking in people’s bags to see if they were buying essentials. They’d patrol parks and tape off benches and outdoor gyms. They made it criminal to sit alone in the field or take your dog for a walk in the middle of nowhere. Where I come from, this is known as the early sings of a democratic country turning into a police state. A police state voted in by fear and compliance.
When Johnson finished his announcement, which resulted in pretty much another lockdown in London and surrounding areas, the lockdown disguised as just another Tier, the whole hell broke loose. People were outraged and had every right to be. One particular group of people believed they knew who stole Christmas. Only now it wasn’t just about Christmas. For millions of people, it meant at least two more weeks of not working and not seeing family. Typical human response is to find someone to blame. I guess I have done it myself by holding those who blindly obey and never questions the orders they are given responsible. But one person, who I know personally made a statement that I believe represents the views of a growing number of people. He blamed the rule breakers for Tier 4.
“To all those who broke the rules, didn’t wear masks, and I know some of you personally, this one [Tier 4] is on you!”, said one of my friends on his Instagram. I don’t blame him for being angry. I applaud him in a way. He’s been, until now, quiet about lockdowns, but they affected him significantly. He has lost most of his clients and considered just getting a normal job for the guaranteed income. He has the right to feel angry and I am glad that he does. But I think he should aim his anger and outrage at the government and not that one occasional person without a mask he sees in the cereal isle in Tesco. Truth is, I’ve been out in the shopping centre twice in between September and October and both times I was the only person without a facemask. Most people, for one reason or another, follow the rules, so Tier 4 can hardly be blamed on that one guy here and there.
I sensed desperation in his words, which just like anger, is alright to feel. I believe he speaks for a lot of people, so it is not just about him. These people don’t seem to be too concerned with saving lives, they just want their lives back and believe the only way to do that is by pleasing the government with total obedience. He added in his post that in New Zealand, people just did what they were told and now live a normal life. He attributes that to strict lockdown and people following the rules, but I would say geography played its part too. Chances are, there is, on average, a lot less flights going in and out of New Zealand than there is in the UK. Truth is, there is always more factors at play, and simply saying “lockdown did it” is dishonest. It’s also interesting how people love to mention places where lockdown “worked”, like New Zealand and Melbourne, Australia, but fail to mention Sweden which achieved similar results without lockdown. They fail to mention countries that imposed strict lockdowns and changed absolutely nothing. Peru, for example has had the world’s toughest lockdown and still one of the worst death tolls in the world. Spain, France and Italy have also had tough lockdowns and have achieved almost nothing. In short, lockdown is a lottery – it may work this time, it may not and whatever the result, there are always other factors at play. For example, Peru might have a really poor healthcare system, which is why their deaths have gone through the roof. I don’t know if that’s the case, but it could be. People love to discredit Swedish approach by talking about their population density i.e., why lack of lockdown wasn’t the “real” reason for their success, but when they talk about countries where lockdown “did work” they forget to look into other factors that played a role or made the lockdown possible in the first place.
So, no, locking down too late is not the problem and locking down early or at all is not a solution. Even World Health Organisation urges the world leaders to not rely on economy destroying lockdowns. My friend blames the restrictions on the rule breakers. He thinks the only path to freedom is through obedience. He has accepted that most of the rules make no sense and that government has control over his life, but his only choice is to comply and hope this will end soon. I don’t blame him. He, and others like him, is a person who has sacrificed and lost a lot this year and is desperate to blame someone or something for why this keeps happening. I sympathise with him, but I do not think giving up our freedoms should be the only way to get them back one day. People he represents would go to a park, beach or a Christmas market to enjoy themselves and pretend everything is normal, only to then complain about other people being there too and call them selfish, irresponsible and lacking common sense. These people will follow some rules, bend and ignore others if they think they don’t apply to them only to then shame those who don’t follow rules they follow. It’s the mindset that says, “I wash and sanitise my hands, so I will have a workout with my friend, but if I see others enjoy aspects of their lives they aren’t willing to give up, I’ll assume they are dangerous and irresponsible granny killers”.
It takes resistance to stop tyranny, but it only takes compliance to allow it to exist and take over every aspect of our lives. We have seen politicians and media suggest what we should and should not be allowed to do in the privacy of our own homes and how we should and should not interact with out loved ones. Some even go as far as claiming they have the power to “ban sex” between partners who don’t live together. We have also seen that business owners can successfully stand their ground and win the right to remain open without harassment.
Those brave men and women who didn’t close their doors, who have been fined and have spent a night in jail showed that the only way to get back to normal is through resistance. Allowing the government to play lockdown lottery with our lives only encourages them to continue doing so. We have to show them we suffer, and we are angry, otherwise they will never know and will never change. Other businesses, both big and small, should now do the same and show our leaders that they too are essential. You and me should also make the government aware that COVID19 is not the only threat and there are long term side effects of lockdown that we will all have to live with long after those who put us through it, have resigned or retired.
It is time to stop pretending, like the media want you to, that two plus two equals five, and that lockdowns are and have always been the only way to fight a virus, or that herd immunity is just a “theory” and can only be achieved through (mandatory) vaccines. Even WHO have recently changed the definition of Herd Immunity from exposing people to a virus to protecting people from a virus. I don’t know about you, but I know that if you always lift the same weight, you will never get stronger and if you never expose your body to germs or viruses, your body will never build defence mechanism against them also known as immune system. The media just approvingly repeat the slogans, like “Christmas IS cancelled this year” without hesitation convincing viewers that it is normal and that there is nothing strange about politicians thinking they have the power to cancel a religious celebration and that they have always had this power. Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia. Time to resist or this will never end, and lockdowns will claim more victims than COVID19 could ever dream of. The age range will also be a lot wider as we will die and suffer of unemployment leading to crime and suicide, cancer, poverty, loneliness and more in the coming months and years. Time to realise that we are in a toxic relationship with the government and the “rule breakers” aren’t to blame for this, it is the compliance of the masses.
When Big Brother hits you again, don’t pretend he didn’t mean it, fight back or he will do it again.
Freedom of speech has been going extinct in the UK for a few years now. On paper, we have the right to freely express ourselves, but in practice, if someone gets offended or if you’re spreading conspiracy theories, they will come for you with torches and demand your head. This rather long article is my way of getting my head around the subject as well as an attempt to defend free speech and why I think we should embrace it, cherish it and use it in the name of truth.
“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they don’t want to hear”
Cover your eyes
I don’t have too many memories of my father. He left before he was able to pass on his wisdom to me, but today I am reminded of one particular Sunday afternoon. The year was 1996 or 1997 and I was just nine or ten. My dad had by then infected me with his love for martial arts movies. He was to me an action star himself. He could do side splits and handstand with almost no effort at all. That afternoon we were sitting in the living room and watching the newly released on VHS Rumble in the Bronx with no other than Jackie Chan, who is known for his impressive fight skills, fight choreography and being his own stunt double. His movies, though action packed, are usually family friendly with moderate violence and nothing extremely upsetting or offensive. We were both admiring his athleticism, and my dad was excited to introduce me to him. He’d say to me, “He does all these dangerous stunts himself, you know? He’s nothing like those Hollywood fakes”. As Jackie Chan kicked, punched, jumped and climbed and surfed his way through the movie, something unexpected happened. His character was about to kiss a girl.
In order to explain what happened next and why it matters in the context of free speech, let me take you back a little. My sister and I often watched movies, either on TV or on VHS, with our parents. The unwritten rule was simple: don’t look when they tell us to. This meant that whenever there was nudity or violence in the movie, we weren’t allowed to see it. This might sound like a weird practice to you, but you have to understand that this was before sex and violence were everywhere. There was no internet, no violent video games, and movies rarely included sex scenes (and when they did, they were like a kiss on the cheek in today’s standards), and music videos focused more on telling a story than on showing tits and asses. Of course, these things did exist, but they did not flood the TV screens like they do today. Not in 1990s Catholic Poland anyway. Those days the only way I could be exposed to a naked female body was by discovering my dad’s secret stash of Playboys, which I did. I remember taking some of the magazines down to my parents’ shop and showing them to their young female employee, Renata. Because I had no real concept of age and I segregated people into grownups and kids, I never thought Ms Renata, as I called her, was perhaps a lot younger than my parents. She might have been twenty at the time. Me and Renata were friends. They sold electronics, so the shop was never too busy. I often came down after school with comic books and we’d read them together. Sometimes, Ms Renata helped me with some schoolwork too. Imagine the surprise on her face when, instead of the latest Batman comic book, I brought down a bunch of Playboys. We looked through them together without a shade of embarrassment. We both laughed when one of the models’ name was Renata. I don’t know if she ever told my parents. You can see how, before the internet or on demand TV, the only time you could see these things was if you physically went to a shop (no self-check outs either), picked up a copy of the dirty magazine, walked up to the cash desk, looked the lady in the eye, handed her the magazine and paid for it. If you’ve never done it, it is a pretty embarrassing experience, trust me. So, you can imagine that even Renata might have not been exposed to such pictures too often.
And now Jackie Chan is kissing the girl. My dad looks at me and, just like a hundred times before, orders me to close my eyes. But this time, I don’t. I look on. In my head, I am ready to see this. Not necessarily because of the Playboys because I don’t remember if I discovered them before or after this afternoon. I just think I am ready. I am not a kid anymore. I want to see the forbidden scene. “I can handle this, dad”, I think to myself. The kiss doesn’t last that long, but it goes on forever in light of my disobedience. My dad is not happy. The look on his face says if all as he repeats, “Don’t look!”. The anger mixed with surprise, disappointment, embarrassment and powerlessness are all painted on his face as he witnesses, what I believe to be, the moment I become a man. “Why?”, I demand. Silence. The movie goes on, Jackie gets the girl and I learn that it’s important to be the good guy of your story, and I also learn that adults do this disgusting thing called kissing – Yuck!
Looking back, I know my parents only tried to protect me from being exposed to what they knew and thought I wasn’t ready to see. I think this is reasonable. Parents should keep their children from harm, even if it means not letting them look at scenes they may not understand or that may upset them. You could say that parents get to censor certain content to protect their children’s vulnerable minds.
What is speech?
“If everything you did was right, you would never know what was wrong“
As I write these words, someone is making a You Tube video expressing their views on climate change. By the time I finish the next sentence, millions of Twitter users will have condensed their complex thoughts into a narrow box of a tweet and posted them on the platform. Some of them will get hundreds, perhaps even thousands of retweets by other users who either agree or disagree with the statement they’re responding to. Somewhere else two friends are having a drink and are trying to settle their argument about the ending of Inception. Some politicians are having a debate about taxes. By the time I finish expressing my views here, millions of students around the world will have raised their hands in the classroom, ready to answer a question or ask one themselves. Millions of preachers and priests around the globe will have told the faithful about the glory of God and his kingdom, while thousands if not millions of job seekers will have declared themselves non – religious on a job application. All while someone somewhere, unaware of it all, is thinking and wondering about the world. He asks questions and ponders the possibilities. He is thinking.
What is speech? It’s all of the above because speech is communication. Speech is thought spoken out loud. Speech is the extension of a thought which then becomes known as “your opinion”. A thought that finds its way out to the world. It takes the shape of an idea, a view, a theory, a narrative, a solution. Of course, not all thoughts, when spoken out loud, lead to scientific breakthroughs or million-dollar ideas, but it is by communicating these thoughts to others, can we create new ones. Only by sharing our views can we find out if we are right or wrong and come back with an upgraded worldview. Without telling others what we think, what we believe to be true, without communicating, it is impossible to replace bad ideas with good ones or see the problem we are facing from a different perspective. We must all believe we are free to speak our mind. We must all value this ancient contract in order to be able to connect, solve problems and continue to prosper. Speech is a platform, the town square for our thoughts to meet, to gather, to mate, and language is a tool that allows them to flirt and create other thoughts. Speech is an arena where thoughts of people, like the gladiators in Ancient Rome, can fight to the death. Free speech is the right of an individual to allow their thoughts to come out and hope to be interacted with. Free speech is the right of an individual to present his or her thoughts to those who will listen. It is their right to do so without the fear of violence, persecution and with hopes of being listened to, understood, agreed or disagreed with, related to, learned from. It is the right to repeat a joke, share a meme. It is their right to say, “I don’t believe you!”. It is the right to let their thoughts, which are largely influenced by the outside world, to be spoken out loud. If speech is not free, and I mean all speech, then neither is thought. If speech becomes a crime, then so does the thought.
What is a thought?
Around the time I found those Playboys, my sister had a pet parrot. We learned that pet birds enjoy seeing their own reflection in the mirror, so we put one in her cage. God, I miss those days – when you couldn’t Google everything so every fact or information you found out felt like a ground-breaking discovery. I think this is what makes my generation unique. We spent our childhoods without our faces glued to mobile phones, our parents had to worry about bruises on our knees and not online predators, sexual content and social media bullying. Now we get to spend our adulthood consuming as much information as we want without taking technology, that makes it possible, for granted. But I digress. The mirror detached from the cage and fell on top of the parrot and she died. My sister was upset. She was only about five or six. The mirror tricked the parrot into thinking she had company. Her tragic death in the loneliness of the cage was caused by something that was supposed to save her sanity.
A thought is like that parrot in the cage. Instead of feathers she is made of words, images and memories. The cage is all she knows. What if she were to escape? What if she were set free? Through the mouth of the cage the parrot would announce her presence, her freedom to the world. And so, out through the window she goes. Still just the same, but now she gets to interact with the great outside. As she flaps her wings awkwardly, trying her best to do what she’s been designed to do, she gets noticed. Other birds (thoughts), who have been free for as long as they can remember, observe her with suspicion. Her unconventional colours and her unfamiliar song threaten, puzzle, fascinate, gain admiration, cause a debate above and below all at once. From this interaction alone, they all learn something they didn’t know before. The birds who all look the same, sing the same, behave the same, have learned that it is possible to be different. They now know that there is a world beyond their colony. The parrot now understands that the outside world can be uninviting. She knows now that she has to learn to communicate. She knows that not everyone will understand her song, its meaning, its context and her intentions. Richer in experience she can now go back to her cage and reflect, then try again tomorrow.
This is what happens to our thoughts. They live in our head. They remain unchanged, unchallenged, unconfirmed for as long as they stay unrevealed. These thoughts, these ideas, claims and theories that form in our heads need to be exposed to the sunlight. Only then can they grow and become better. Bad ideas and radical thoughts, when exposed, can be stopped in their tracks. They can be debunked, criticized, ridiculed, questioned and possibly destroyed. Interesting ideas, theories and points of view, on the other hand, can be pondered, explored, learned from, praised, helpful, revealing and revolutionary. We only ever find out when our thoughts turn into speech. If our idea has the potential to make the world a little better, we won’t know until we share it with someone who can put it into practice. If our opinion is wrong, unfounded, based on false information, formed on incomplete evidence, then only by exposing it to someone who may have already battled with the same arguments, can we really know if we’re onto something or not. If we allow our thought to stare at its own reflection, it may die admiring its own greatness before ever reaching its full potential, or it may live on and forever remain a delusion. I will argue that even if our opinion is clearly wrong or offensive it needs to be free to express. It may be, no matter how incorrect or hateful, based on pure ignorance and indoctrination.
Imagine if the parrot that was set free earlier is some form of a narcist, extremist or a heretic. She loves her blue, green and yellow feathers. After all it’s all she’s ever admired when she stared in her own reflection. Nobody ever challenged her. She flies out of the window and into the city and she sees that pigeons act like savages. They fight, they eat McDonalds leftovers on the street, they lack any manners, they poop everywhere. She comes to a conclusion that all pigeons are inferior to her. All grey birds are inferior, in fact. They are dirty, she thinks. She is now convinced that parrots are smarter, superior, more intelligent, cleaner, smell nicer and are more beautiful than all grey, black and white birds. She is a bigot. We know she is a bigot because we know what she thinks. Most of the time, we don’t know what people, or parrots think. We only know what they decide to share with us. How can we engage with the parrot’s views if we don’t know what they are? If she tells us her opinion, we can then explain to her why she is wrong. Both of us must feel confident that we are free to express ourselves without the threat of violence or punishment. We both must feel comfortable that our thoughts are safe when we let them out of our cage. Without it, no real progress can be made. Our opinions and arguments will never meet, they will stay in our heads and confirm their righteousness in their own reflection. Here they don’t die, like our parrot did earlier, they remain a delusion that never gets debunked.
It seems like in the world today, we prefer to prevent people from expressing their thoughts rather than dealing with those thoughts. Stopping a heretic, extremist or a conspiracy theorist from expressing their views does not eliminate heretics, extremism or conspiracies. It only suppresses an individual’s right to tell their truth, often pushing them further into their illusion by confirming their convictions. Racism, sexism, homophobia still exist despite the so-called hate speech laws. Facebook, Twitter or You Tube can delete offensive content all they want, but it will not turn the world into a big happy politically correct utopia. I am not saying that hateful content should be unfiltered (threats of violence or calls for violence should be reported and deleted), but I am saying that this only makes things look nice on the surface and the problems it tries to solve still exist. Would we prefer our parrot to remain silent about her racism, or would we prefer to know about it and engage with it, find the root of it and try to reason with it? It wouldn’t be easy, it could be impossible, but simply censoring her speech would not solve the problem at all. We can always choose to distance ourselves from the bigots. We are free to think. Speech is the expression and extension of thought. Thoughts seek validation. Speech should, therefore, be free as it is just a thought, just an idea that can be confirmed or debunked only by someone else using his freedom to speak his mind.
Of course, we can all read a book or go online to confirm or debunk our beliefs. But even a book can only exist because the author and the scientists and philosophers, he quoted in his book, all exercised their freedom of speech. Only thanks to free speech can The Bible and The Origin of Species be sold in the same bookstore. Only thanks to freedom of speech can you pick up both of them and decide which idea makes more sense. Freedom of speech of everyone employs your critical thinking. For thousands of years there has been no other truth other than that preached in churches. As a matter of fact, a few hundred years ago, in Europe, you’d face a certain death if you made a scientific discovery or a claim that went against the teachings of Christianity. In 1600, an Italian man, Giordano Bruno, was burned alive for suggesting that Earth was not the centre of the Universe (something Galileo got away with it just a few decades later and is now credited for that discovery).
Now, thanks to free speech you can listen to ten different people telling you what they think. You can agree with some and tell others why they are wrong, and they will tell you why you are wrong. The thoughts would be mating and fighting again. This is how critical thinking works. It wouldn’t be possible if our thoughts remained trapped in our heads or censored by those who think you are not ready to see them, that you are not capable of making your own judgement, that you are not an intelligent adult who can think for himself, that you need to be protected from your own thoughts. We don’t need our fathers to cover our eyes anymore. We are ready to see nudity because nudity is truth. We are capable of deciding what to do with it. I might have been just a little kid, but I didn’t go around kissing everyone after seeing Jackie Chan do it. I wasn’t interested in it. Twenty – three years later, I can read psychology books, news articles, watch You Tube videos about UFOs, ghosts or politics, documentaries about the Universe, listen to David Icke talk about lizards, judge Trump’s presidency based on his policies or speeches. I can do all that and decide for myself what I think and believe. I don’t need my views presented to me and formed by a third party. What I need is free and equal access to all sources of information, so I can evaluate it and create my own worldview based on which I can then vote, campaign, work and raise my children. I can be wrong but let me be wrong.
We are still being parented and the content presented to us is filtered and moderated. It’s almost as if we are back in the 90s, all sitting in my living room with my dad, who is deciding what we are and aren’t allowed to see, what we may not understand, what is incorrect or “false information”. He is our moderator and our fact checker. He is our daddy, and his name is Google. You can click here Vaccines or Immune System? – Deserts of Mars (wordpress.com) to see just how the information you google is manipulated before it is given to you. Don’t get put off by the title, it was just a quick experiment on what search results you get from Google and a less popular search engine when you search for the same exact phrase.
Of course, words have consequences. Whatever you say may be used against you. You tell the wrong joke at the wrong party, and you will be remembered as that inappropriate guy never to appear on the guest list again. The same joke worked when you said it to a few of your friends, and it worked even better when it was said by Ricky Gervais on the stage and in front of a thousand people. But at that party, people didn’t appreciate your dark humour. What for one person is “you shouldn’t joke about these things”, is “I know I shouldn’t laugh, but it’s so funny!”, to another. The line is different for everyone which means no joke is inappropriate.
Of course, this has to do with political correctness and hate speech. The former has been weaponised to change how people think and the latter has been relabelled and criminalised so that anything “offensive” you say can be used against you. But remember, offense is taken, not given. What should be just a disapproval of your family and friends, now has real criminal consequences. What people who create these laws don’t seem to understand is that you can’t put a joke behind bars. You can’t fine an opinion. No matter how offensive or controversial they sound. You can’t arrest a room full of people who laugh at a racist joke, so why should you arrest the one saying it? The same joke said in a different room would be met with a disappointment and disapproval and that should be the end of it.
It isn’t only offensive content or opinions that you can get in trouble for. I remember the time when you could go on You Tube and go down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories about 9/11. Plenty of them arguing that either the US government or the Jews were behind the attack. These videos had hundreds of thousands of views, which over ten years ago was a big deal. I admit, I did shortly buy into the theories, but apart from wasting my time watching hours of content, it changed nothing in my life. Now, Google, who bought You Tube a few years ago, are acting like our daddy again. If you type in 9/11 in the search box, your top results will be the so – called reputable sources like CNN and other usual suspects (despite having far less views than the more intriguing conspiracy videos). Alternative journalism, commentary and sources of information are as good as dead on You Tube. Your daddy, Google, not only tells you to look away, but also deletes all the content in case you’re not able to think critically and make your own judgement about it. What used to be a great platform for people to share ideas in a video format has now become just another TV channel. Unless you’re subscribed to various Youtubers, your landing page will have some music videos, movie trailers and news stories and it will be very difficult for you to find other people like yourself and find out what they think. You Tube, Google, Facebook and increasingly the government are like a restaurant where you don’t get shown what’s on the menu. Instead they serve you a meal they think you should eat and enjoy. In this virtual restaurant you are not trusted to decide what meal is good for you. You are not trusted to look at the menu, read the ingredients for yourself and choose your food. You’re just served the same vegan salad as all other guests – bon appétit.
Over the last four years, since I started paying attention, I have witnessed a lot of controversial views being silenced, stomped down, and their authors or even messengers deleted off the internet. I’ve seen a biology professor being removed from Twitter for stating a scientific fact about males and females which went against the transgender ideology. Offensive charm, triggering rants and controversial views got Katie Hopkins deleted from the certainly left leaning platform as well. Stefan Molyneaux, a You Tuber with nearly a million subscribers and nearly a decade of making thought provoking, philosophical videos, was removed from the platform without a warning. Not to mention hundreds of lecturers and speakers on US campuses that were cancelled or met with protests by students who were triggered by their very name. Just this week I read about another attempt at censoring controversial views. Jordan Peterson is a Canadian psychologist, University professor and a published author. His well thought out, evidence based and eloquently presented and controversial views gained him a large following as well as cult – like hatred. He has become a target of the Left who labelled him with every “ism” you can think of. His publisher, Penguin, have just announced his new book Beyond Order – 12 More Rules for Life. Some of Penguin employees, who believe Peterson to be a Right – Wing fascist, demand the book to be cancelled. A few months ago, a similar thing happened at Spotify, when Joe Rogan, who is Peterson’s close friend, moved his extremely popular podcast from You Tube to Spotify. Some staff at Spotify were not happy to host The Joe Rogan Experience, so they protested. Luckily, both Penguin and Spotify didn’t bend the knee. Their triggered staff however sound a lot like they don’t want you to see the menu and decide what information you want to consume.
Speaking of Joe Rogan, one of his guests and now the 2nd richest man in the world, Elon Musk, said on his show that sometime soon we might have mind reading technology. He suggested that a microchip could not only collect your thoughts but communicate them to somebody else’s brain through their chip. He argued that this technology would allow ideas to communicate more efficiently without the barrier of our vocabulary or inability to express ourselves. With a chip like this, I wouldn’t have to spend hours writing this trying to make my opinion of free speech clear. I’d simply have to transfer my thoughts through my chip to yours without having to explain what I mean. You’d just get it instantly by downloading words and images that form that idea or a thought.
My dad was right to protect my ten – year old self from offensive content I wasn’t ready for. My compass of right and wrong was still developing, and I needed guidance or perhaps he just didn’t want to or didn’t know how to address the questions I’d have after seeing that kiss. His censorship was justified. So where does this put the government or the social media platforms who take it upon themselves to decide what you can and cannot be exposed to? Censorship of speech, opinions, views is not only Orwellian, but also suggests that those who do it consider you and me to be incapable of critical thinking or dealing with negativity and offensive content. They think it is up to them, just like my dad did, to protect your eyes and ears from seeing and hearing what they think you wouldn’t be able to process. They think we are operating on that still developing compass and need them to hold our hand. They think that if you watch an interview with David Icke, you will immediately become a conspiracy theorist. They think that if you listen to Katie Hopkins, you will not be able to filter her words yourself and you will become what people accuse her of being – a racist, which I don’t believe to be the case. These people, whether they sit at the headquarters of Facebook, Google or Twitter or in the Parliament genuinely think that they are superior to us therefore get to decide what you can and cannot read, watch or listen. Yet somehow porn is easier to access than ever. What is so dangerous about believing a so called “conspiracy theory” or spreading or being exposed to so called “hate speech”? What is it that at the same time makes porn so widely available? We are all adults, and we don’t need the information, no matter how crazy or offensive, filtered by these people who think they know better. It is condescending to us and in the long run, ineffective at achieving whatever they’re trying to achieve. Are we not allowed to decide for ourselves anymore?
We already moderate our thoughts and filter what we share with people. We do it because we know words have consequences. We want to maintain social life, so we don’t tell people what we think all the time. Just imagine if someone had access to your mind just for a day. How many times did you think of something offensive? What are some of the taboos you battle over in your head sometimes? Did you ever fantasise about doing something horrible to someone you know? Do you ever have these dark thoughts that just pop into your head out of nowhere? How many of those, if you spoke them out loud, would get you in trouble or make your family, friends and colleagues distance themselves from you? Imagine if someone could open up this diary in your head and read every page. All the embarrassing memories you don’t think of too often, but when you do, you relive that embarrassment again. All those times you imagined beating up that customer. Throughout our day, we only give people a taste of what’s in that diary. Only the stuff we want them to know. In a way, we personalise the menu of what’s on offer in our head. But that’s ok. We want to maintain that friendship, keep that job, see that girl or man again. We censor ourselves and we know when to not say things that are considered crazy or controversial. Unfortunately, now, the Scottish government wants to take away your right to free speech even at your dinner table. They want it to be criminal to make a “controversial” comment while talking to your family and friends at your table. Think about it.
And yet, despite our self-moderation, thought crime is possible. It is possible because we read our diary out to people. We share some of its pages with friends and on social media. By doing so, we give people access into parts of our mind. It’s not always pretty. Sometimes it’s cold, offensive and unfriendly and aggressive. But, if this invitation into your head triggers the wrong response, you may end up losing your friends, your job or worse – with a criminal record preventing you from taking on certain jobs in the future. All because of your thoughts. All because what was in your head came out through your mouth and landed on somebody’s sensitive ears. Now your friends don’t want to be associated with your controversial views, your boss thinks they’re bad for business or for staff integrity, and the law enforcement must defend those fragile feelings of those you did or might have offended, so they must punish you. Your speech is now that kiss scene my dad tried to “protect” me from because he “knew” what was best for me.
Freedom of speech is your right to express yourself; it is your right to be wrong; it is your right to disagree; it is your right to speak your truth; it is your right to explore ideas; it is your right to protest; it is your right to demand answers and evidence; it is your right to consent to refuse and to deny; it is your right to lie; it is your right to think out loud; it is your right to teach and to learn from others; it is your right to laugh at a joke; it is your right to defend your beliefs; it is your right to vote; your right to demand justice; it is your right to listen and say you don’t believe; it is your right to write a tweet, a blog or a book; it is your right to say the unspeakable only because you first thought the unthinkable; it is your right to criticise or to praise. If any authority tries to rob you of that right, they are inevitably robbing you of your consciousness and your right to think.
The bottom line is this. There is time and place to speak our mind. We should all be able to freely hold our beliefs and express our opinions without the interference of the government, social media platforms or our boss if they happen to be your friend of Facebook. Free speech allows us to argue and debate, disagree and criticise. It allows us to listen to and read about different ideas, problems. Free speech allows diversity of opinion, diversity of thinking which are often key to solving problems in the company to figuring out how best to tackle a crisis like COVID19. Without free speech you are not exposed to different ideas. This disables your critical thinking and the ability to think for yourself and shape your own opinions. Similarly, when your phone upgrade is due you surely spend at least a little while comparing the latest phones to choose the one that suits your needs best. The freedom of Apple or Samsung to provide you with the options is your freedom to choose from them. We need free speech. We must not let the corporations or the government take it away from us because when it comes down to it, this is one of our fundamental human rights, given not by them but by Mother Nature herself when she endowed us with the ability to think and to speak. We must not hand it over to the state because without their suits and titles they are just the same as us, governed by the same laws that come from Mother Nature.
Who would have thought that a piece of cloth would cause so much controversy? Who would have thought it would divide us just like the Brexit vote did? And yet, here we are. The Facemask. It’s on everybody’s mouth right now. Literally and figuratively. Some people oppose the facemasks being mandatory in public settings, some claim they don’t mind it. Which camp are you in? Me, personally, I don’t wear them, haven’t worn them, and don’t plan to. I don’t believe I can convince anyone not to wear them, so I am not going to try, at least not in this article. Today, I will just attempt to deconstruct some of the most common arguments, statements, accusations, choices, beliefs, and claims, and more made by mask wearers or mask supporters. These come largely from Twitter, so in no way am I trying to paint everyone with the same brush. I know Twitter brings the worst of us and in no way represents the entire group of people, in this case mask wearers, Karens, whatever you want to call them. Some of the things I mention are my personal observations in my daily life, so again, I only interact with a small sample of the population so the conclusions, whatever they may be, are drawn from this small sample, and they are all my reflections. This is why I will try to stay away from scientific research on whether facemasks work, how they work, and who should wear them. I may include some links at the bottom. I should say this though – not all doctors and scientists agree that facemasks work or should be worn by the healthy individuals, so let’s stop pretending that they do. And now on with the Facemask Logic.
Facemasks and other measures explained
The mandatory facemasks in shops. Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? But which beginning? Beginning of mandatory masks, or all non – essential shops reopening? Because the former happened nearly two months later. For two months people had a choice and could make their own judgement whether or not to wear a mask. Nobody judged those who chose not to wear it. Nobody called them “conspiracy theorists” or “anti – maskers”. Not until 24th July. Then, just because the government had pulled this rule out of their ass, if you opted out of covering your face, you became a fugitive, a criminal, a serial killer and a sociopath. Even though a day earlier, you could walk into the same places and you would have been greeted and all your needs would have been met. Makes you think, doesn’t it? Is it about the health, or is it about obeying the rule? What really makes one a bad person? Seems like disobedience is the answer. Nobody likes the rule breakers who get away with it.
The baggy mask. This is something I see all the time. That baggy, moist, blue cloth flopping around on your face. I know you think you’re helping, but you’re really not, darling. Assuming that your facemasks is supposed to prevent you from spreading this deadly disease, how exactly is this baggy parachute, you call face covering, supposed to stop anything?
The mask on the chin. This comes in many forms. The chin is definitely the second, after the face, most common body part people wear their masks on. I get it. It’s a drag. You hate it, but you must obey the rules. You’re in and out of shops, so you pull it down when you can, and put it back on as soon as you step into Poundland. Not to mention pulling your mask down to unlock your phone using face recognition. You probably touch many things in between. Your face becomes itchy, so, instinctively, you give it a little scratch. The constant touching of your face and your mask creates more problems than it solves. To protect yourself from the harmful side effects of wearing it throughout the day, you’d have to change masks every time you touch it after your hands have touched an item in the shop or a door handle. Something tells me many people don’t do it and they just use the same mask. Later they either put it in their pocket, as my friend told me he does, for later use (I don’t even want to know what collects on it from loose change, sweat or hands).
The Mask graveyard. The street is where many masks reach the end of their road. They die slow and miserable death. First they get flattened, almost like that legendary curve. Then the blue fades and they die. You’d think that such dangerous items should be disposed of more carefully. Instead, apparently they can just be binned, if they’re lucky. Some get picked up by birds. Others tangled around their legs, or necks. Whatever the way, the fate is the same – death. They served their purpose – they saved humanity.
The Seatbelt. “So, you refuse to wear a seatbelt as well?” People use this argument thinking it will win them the argument. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard it. Those who use it fail to see their own fallacy. First they will try to convince you that facemask protects others from you, then they compare it to a seatbelt. Seatbelt protects the wearer. While we’re on the subject of seatbelts, I must mention another common disagreement I often have with people. I strongly believe that we are, or at least we should be, responsible for ourselves, not for each other. At least not constantly. I think our priority should be our health and safety and that of our loved ones. It is your job to look after yourself, not mine. To illustrate what I mean, let’s use the seatbelt analogy. As a driver, I am responsible for my passengers. I make sure everyone has a seatbelt on. It is not my problem if people in other cars are wearing their seatbelts. They make their own choices, however bad they are. I obey the traffic rules, but they are there to prevent accidents, not just potential accidents. There are no exemptions. There is no conflicting science about the traffic rules. They are there because all drivers must know and agree on them when driving at high speed. Let me give you a better argument. Sufficient sleep can be better used to argue for the use of masks to protect others. Insufficient sleep is the leading cause of driving accidents. If you routinely sleep less than six or even seven hours, you increase the risk of falling asleep behind the wheel and causing an accident. To protect others, you should only drive if you’ve been sleeping enough.
The Titanic. Someone shared this meme on Facebook. It attempts to ridicule “conspiracy theorists” in a similar way as the above nonsense. I want to focus on a couple of points here. The “Nobody can force me to wear a lifejacket” is just another version of the above argument. Lifejackets save the life of the wearer, not the others who are drowning. Also, we can’t really be comparing the sinking of the Titanic to our current situation. Just think about it. You’re on board and even if you’re on the “dry” bit, you can’t deny that the ship is sinking. It is happening. The disaster is unfolding right in front of your eyes. It is inevitable. You don’t need to see data, statistics or evidence of it. You don’t ask for a second opinion. With things like mask wearing, lockdowns and various other restrictions, you can and should be asking questions. There are many discrepancies in the official COVID19 narrative and calling those who point them out “conspiracy theorists” is simply not good enough of an argument. People on the Titanic had no reason to doubt the reality and seriousness of the situation. There were no “sinking deniers”. Coronavirus data, on the other hand, is conflicting, and many people wonder if we aren’t simply overreacting. And many of us have lost and sacrificed a lot blindly trusting the government and listening to the so-called experts.
“You wear clothes, don’t you?”. Before he blocked me, one Twitter user tried to persuade me with another weak argument. He argued that I disobey the mask rule, while happily complying with the rules concerning wearing clothes. As in covering my naked body with clothes. This is actually one of my favourite stupid argument because it reaches into areas I find interesting and fascinating – anthropology, biology, history, evolution and psychology. I am in no way an authority on any of these, but I’ve read enough to know that we don’t wear clothes simply because of some rules imposed on us by society or authorities. What we wear, of course is influenced by where we live, how old we are, what is available to us, and if we’re trying to advertise our personality with our clothes. Why we wear clothes is a different matter. Protection is the main if not the only reason for covering our bodies. We have to remember that modern humans emerged around 100 000 years ago, but human evolution that led up to it happened over millions of years. Most of this time was evolutionarily uneventful, however some tools were invented. Humans lived in small tribes and moved around a lot. As we left Africa, we had to protect ourselves from new and often challenging weather conditions. Predators and parasites, mosquitoes were also a threat. I am not saying we covered our bodies head to toe, and I am not saying that whatever we used was effective either. Another reason for wearing clothes as protection is our upright posture. It exposes our most vulnerable and essential body parts and organs to potential threats whether it’s from the predators, infection or other humans. On the outside we have our reproductive organs which are essential and female breasts for feeding the offspring. All other mammals have their backs to provide hard and wide cover for the internal and external body parts. We needed to find another way as our upright posture open a whole new world of possibilities. Shame and embarrassment were probably introduced by our brain to reinforce this new habit of covering up the vulnerable body parts. They are still with us today. If wearing clothes was just some rule written down in a book somewhere, then we wouldn’t feel embarrassed about being seen naked or exposed. But we do, which shows that covering up is rooted in our psychology and is governed by subconscious rules rather than societal policies, and it had to evolve over tens of thousands of years, if not millions. And what was once used as means to protect our bodies from climate and predators led to men wearing skinny jeans and women exposing their most attractive parts and covering those unappealing. But this is something for another time – what we do to attract the opposite sex.
The Coronavirus doesn’t go to the gym . Turns out she doesn’t like pubs either. The experts in the government seem to have made the masks mandatory in certain places, but not others. Apparently the masks aren’t mandatory where they are inconvenient. Of course, in a pub or restaurant you eat and drink, so a facemask can be very inconvenient. But, if you take into consideration that we are meant to be in the middle of the worst pandemic known to mankind, you’d think inconvenience is a small price to pay to keep everyone safe. However, recently Boris and his advisors must have read my mind because they have now made facemasks mandatory in those places too. You are now very likely to spread the virus when waiting to be seated, walking to the toilet, but not when seated. Same thing with gyms. COVID19 will apparently not target you when you’re squatting or bench pressing. You can go mask free and enjoy your workout. Having said that, The Pure Gym have apparently made their members wear masks between each set and each exercise. Huffing and puffing in front of a dumbbell rack is ok, but when you’re done, please keep everyone safe, and #WearTheDamnMask
“Go back to your country if you’re not happy”. I wasn’t going to include this one, but I have since heard it so many times that it just begs to be addressed. Usually someone on Twitter, without having much to say to defend their argument, would look at my Twitter bio and think they found a way to shut me up for good. “Go back to your country, if you don’t like censorship, dictatorship, suppression of freedom of speech and assembly” was the most recent response I got when I defended people’s right to gather and protest what they think are injustices, which include coronavirus measures taken by the government. These people, don’t for a minute, stop and think that they, or their children will be next. They seem to see nothing wrong with the government arresting people for speaking out. But the very reason why this argument is a fallacy is because it is personalised to me. To win an argument or debate, one must address opposing arguments, not who they are coming from. My views are shared by thousands of Brits who can’t “go back to their own country”. What will you say to them?
Asian people wear masks all the time. They do. They do because of pollution which affects them more than it affects us. Also, if they are wearing masks, then how did coronavirus ever manage to escape China and travel the world as quickly as it did? I mean you see Asians wear their masks in London too, so it’s not like they stop when they leave Beijing. Another interesting fact is that Chinese people get seasonal flu just like the rest of us despite the growing mask culture. We also can’t neglect the psychological effects constant mask wearing poses, not to mention long term medical problems that can occur. China and other Asian countries are collectivist societies, while we, in the West, are individualistic. This means that it may be easier for them to get in the spirit of “We are all in this together” or “The greater good”, than us. I am not saying one is better than the other and we ought to be like Japan, but we simply cannot ignore the differences between us and say we should just over night become like them. Let’s not forget that China is a communist regime, where citizens must be on their best behaviour all the time, including their private life or they face consequences. Let’s not pretend it’s all sunshine and rainbows. Their obedience of the rules comes as a package. You can’t just pick one aspect of it, and hope it would work in the UK, which is divided politically, nationally, racially, and expect people to have the same level of commitment to the collective society. You don’t want to be like China. Trust me.
Facemasks are the new virtue signal. At the beginning, when countries started locking down, celebrities were all taking part in the #StayHome. When I say all, I mean all the ones we heard from, most remained quiet. All of them showed us how virtuous they were, how responsible they were by staying home and saving lives. They all did their home workouts, Instagram live from their living rooms – just to show they are staying at home. I should also mention here, how a few celebs seemed to get COVID19 at the beginning, almost like it needed more advertising, more screen time to get us all in line. Then, when facemasks were on everyone’s mouth – figuratively and literally, all these celebrities, politicians and other public figures started posting their pictures and videos with masks on – something they never had done before. Not until it became a new way to show how good and responsible you are. It’s kind of like they have to be seen wearing a facemask so that the general public sees it as the right thing to do. Quite recently The Rock also announced he had coronavirus. How strange that a man with millions of followers needs to tell them he has a cold, but Chadwick Boseman managed to keep his cancer to himself. He obviously sadly died recently, while The Rock is back on the set. Somehow, none of those who announced their infection died of it or were hospitalised. Some musicians and other artists have died AFTER testing positive (meaning not necessarily because of COVID19, but with it or simply of other causes up to 28 days after testing positive), but I don’t remember any announcements from them.
All governments can’t be wrong can they? Of course, they can. Most governments have locked down because they listened to a handful of men and their predictions. Neil Ferguson made a doomsday prediction which made Boris Johnson and Donal Trump decide to lockdown. Many other countries followed simply because they didn’t want to do the wrong thing by not doing anything. Most government officials are just trying to save their careers, not our lives. If they don’t do anything, people will have their heads. Sweden did pretty good, but nobody wants to talk about it. Australia has turned into a police state, where you can’t even put a Facebook post up disagreeing with lockdown or you get arrested. The UK’s rules and restrictions make no sense at all. On top of that, people seem to need to have someone hold their hand constantly and tell them when it’s ok to cross the road. Just make your own judgement. All governments can be wrong! Billions of people still believe in some version of a god and are most likely wrong. For most of the human history, people bought and sold slaves in every corner of the earth. That was wrong. In every country that faces restrictions, thousands of people have protested against them. You may believe they are wrong. One expert made a scary prediction for the entire world, and everyone listened. The question is. How many of us will get any taste of normality back after this?
“I really don’t mind wearing a facemask”. No, you don’t mind not having a choice but to wear a facemask. People think they don’t mind wearing it are just kidding themselves. They have simply been convinced that they can no longer make decisions about their bodies, and they are alright with it. This passive obedience is easy and comfortable. The hard thing to do is to say no. It is easier to pretend everything is fine, because if you don’t, if you admit that your rights and freedoms are being taken away from you, you face a dilemma. You either have to stand your ground and fight, which is hard and difficult, may result in losing friends and social life. Or you don’t do anything about it and admit you are a coward, hoping someone else will be the hero you need. Doing nothing is hard in this case too because every day you obey these rules, you step out into that world and live a lie, it is eating you inside, and in the long term, this will not be good for your mental health. Pretending that everything is alright is the easiest thing you can do. And that is why you do it.
Masks should be mandatory outside. – I watched a clip on You Tube. A reporter was asking people in Liverpool what they thought about the coronavirus measures taken by the government. One man said that masks should be mandatory outside. I found it really ironic because he was outside, and he was not wearing a facemask. He could voluntarily wear one outside, as many others do already, but he is waiting for Boris Johnson to make it mandatory, is that right? This is the state of these people. These are the people who would go to the beach and complain that there is no sign warning that the water is wet.
False sense of safety. Facemasks provide false sense of safety. There have been many studies that suggest that facemasks don’t stop the spread of viruses. This includes surgical masks. This information is available, so I won’t get into that here. Not to mention the way people wear their masks, how many times they reuse the same mask, how they store their reusable masks, and what type of masks they wear. People tend to touch their face more often with their masks on. I mean, just yesterday, I was getting a haircut, and my barber kept adjusting her mask. Had she been given a choice, she would not be wearing it, but this applies to everyone else. People touch their faces more often because masks irritate them. This often happens before they get a chance to wash or sanitise their hands. Add to it the number of times they have to take off their mask to unlock their phone and eat or drink. When you look at it like this, you can’t help but think about all the bacteria you transfer directly to your face from the surfaces you constantly touch. You may think you’re helping others, but you’re harming yourself.
If nurses can, so can you. This argument gets thrown around a lot. It also comes in the form of “If masks don’t work, then why do nurses wear them?”. Everyone likes to sound like they know what they are talking about, but they don’t. Right now, during the pandemic, nurses and other medical staff wear facemasks throughout their shift. This, however, was never the case before. And it is the before this argument is based on. Let’s tackle it. As I mentioned, the medical staff never used to wear facemasks their entire shifts. They did so only when working close to a patient’s incision. The reason for that was and is not to not infect the patient with a flu or another virus. It is precisely to not infect that surgical cut with bacteria from their mouth. On top of that, masks are not the only way they reduce the risk of such infection. Their whole outfit is sterile and again – it is only to not infect the patient with bacteria. There is conflicting data on whether surgical masks stop the spread of flu like viruses. So, the argument is not good enough, because nurses do not wear masks all the time (in normal circumstances), and when they do, it is not to stop everyone from getting ill, but to stop the spread of the bacteria directly into patient’s incision. If, however, you want to rely on the medical staff, let me tell you something. The other day my wife went to the hospital. She is pregnant and has asthma. At the time we weren’t clued up about exemptions too much and we thought they didn’t apply in the hospitals which made it harder to stand our ground. I didn’t wear it, but I wasn’t allowed to go past the reception anyway. Tried to explain to the man that she was pregnant and had asthma. His response? He put his finger inside his mask, pushed the mask out to allow more air flow, and said this should be sufficient enough to grasp some air if she struggled to breathe. So apparently it is ok to put your finger, full of bacteria, close to your mouth (while all posters and medical advice asks you to not touch your face without washing your hands) to allow yourself to breathe freely. The man also said that without a doctor’s note, she had to wear the mask, but doctors are not allowed to give exemption notes. Had this happened a week or two ago, I would have known our rights in these illogical rules.
Grief. This will make me sound heartless, and maybe I am, but grief is not an argument. Feelings are not arguments. I feel sympathy with everyone who has lost a loved one in any circumstances. But losing a loved one to COVID19 does not prove the severity of this disease. I would argue that grief, just like anger blind our judgement and censor our critical thinking. Think of a boxer stepping into a ring. If he is angry with his opponent, he is very likely to let the anger rule over his experience, expertise and his plan of action. Only if he is calm, focused can he stick to the plan, rely on his skills and strength. He has to be emotionally detached from the fight. The same applies to everything else in life. No good decision is ever made when we are angry or upset. The book How Not to Worry by Paul McGee taught me this. We are less likely to make a good judgement when we are emotionally attached to the situation at hand. This is why after a breakup we might think we will never love again, but our best friend reassures us that this feeling will pass. How is the friend so confident? Because she is not emotionally attached to your problem. I am not saying we should not be emotional when we lose a loved one during the pandemic. I am saying that when we do, it is hard for us to think critically, look at the statistics, the real death rate as well as somebody else can without grief blocking their common sense. Fear, grief and anger are your worst friends when trying to remain rational. Once you block them, your vision becomes clear. But they are not arguments.
This list could probably go on. Feel free to add your own. I have been collecting these for weeks and had to narrow them down to the ones I find most illogical and stupid and the ones that come up the most. If you think I am wrong about any of this, also let me know. Who knows, you might just have the right argument and turn me into a mask wearer.
“Should I shut up and be quiet in the face of things that I think are injustices because it makes me safer? A lot of pragmatic people will say, ‘Well, yeah, you’ve done enough, you’ve done your part. Be safe, be happy’ […] The system, the world, it all gets worse every day that we don’t do something about it. Every day we stay silent about the injustices we see, the world gets worse. Yeah, it’s risky. Yeah, it’s uncomfortable, but that’s why we do it. Because if we don’t, nobody else will. All those years I was sitting hoping for someone else to come forward, and no one did, is because I was waiting for a hero. But there are no heroes. There are only heroic decisions. You are never further than one heroic decision away from making a difference. It doesn’t matter if it’s a small difference, or a big difference, because you don’t have to save the world by yourself. In fact, you can’t. All you have t do is lay down one brick. All you have to do is make things a little bit better, so that other people can lay their brick on top of that, and together, day by day, year by year, we build the foundation of something better.”
Feeling like saying misleading information about COVID19? Don’t worry. Every time the temptation to do so is stronger than your rationality, the mask will censor your speech by making a “beep” sound. The best part about it is, you can customize the censorship sound by connecting to your favourite Spotify playlist! Now, every time you want to say things like “masks don’t work”, you will instead entertain your listeners with your favourite tunes!
I bring to you The Smart Mask! You heard me folks! No more wet baggy cloth flopping around on your face. The future of masks is here, almost like they’ve been working on it for some time.
But that’s not all! Just when you thought our smart mask couldn’t get any better, it does! Whenever you question the mainstream narrative, the government, existence of coronavirus, intentions of the billionaires involved in saving you, and many more, the mask sends electric shocks, which strength varies depending on what you speak against. Full list of offences comes with the mask, but you can add your own forbidden speech too!
Do I have you at the edge of your seat yet? Well, you will just love this next feature! When you’re feeling adventurous, and decide to go on a road trip during lockdown when Pandemic 2 happens, (we call it the pandemic 1), the mask will lock on your face and restrict your air flow, suffocating you, if you do not return to the zone within the government mandated distance of your home. Don’t hesitate! Order yours now! Keeping your community safe has never been easier.
Approved by factcheckers, WHO, Bill and Melinda Gates foundation
So, out of curiosity, like every other conspiracy theorist, I googled “How to boost your immune system”. I was expecting to find plenty of tips from our beloved, clap worthy NHS, and The World Health Organization. There was, however no articles, or tips from any of them on the first two pages of the search result. The closest I got to anything “reliable” was this article from April by the trustworthy BBC, who always have your best interest in mind. Here they attempted to debunk the idea that you can boost your immune system. Funny how, before the pandemic, it was a well known fact that good nutrition, sleep, rest, managing stress, regular exercise, and even sunshine boosted your immune system. They may not protect your from every virus, 100% of the time, but they increase your chance of beating it or getting away with minor symptoms.
Now, if you google “Vaccines”, NHS and WHO jump to the top of your results, all promoting vaccination. Don’t get me wrong, I am not questioning effectiveness of vaccines. I have never really thought about them. I just assumed they were part of life. What I am questioning in this post is that you’d expect NHS and WHO to be your top results when you’re asking how to naturally stay healthy. Instead, they just tell you to take more pills and vaccines.
Another interesting fact is, if you use another search engine (I use duckduckgo.com whenever I want to find unfiltered results), and search for “vaccines” you don’t get bombarded with NHS and WHO sites. Instead, you get a variety of results, including articles on side effects, and pros and cons of vaccines. The first WHO page appears as number 60 in the results, comparing to number 3 when you use Google. When you use duckduckgo.com and search how to boost your immune system, the results are similar to Google, with no NHS or WHO mentions.
Are drugs the only way to keep us healthy? Why searching for exactly the same words gives different results when using different search engines? Even if you search for “pros and cons of vaccines”, Google will give you slightly different results, bringing the “pros” to the top of your results, while duckduckgo gives you a variety to look through.
Regardless of what you think about vaccines, don’t you think people should know their pros and cons, and be able to find them using any search engine? All I am saying is, it’s funny how all the ancient wisdom of immune system seems to have died of COVID19 this year. Now you are just told to stay inside, avoid people, avoid sun, wash your hands, wear a mask and stay put while they work on the magic elixir that will make you healthy. That is all you need.
Some lockdown restrictions are back in parts of Northern England, and as I read through the news article about it, I realised something. I realised how the word “Household” quickly replaced words like “Family” and “Friends”.
If you convince us we are nothing but households, it’s easy to convince us you can put restrictions on us. After all, we are not people, persons, and definitely not families. Just households. Your mom is no longer your mom, but someone in a different household. It’s easier to dictate to households what they can and cannot do, than it is to dictate to parents and their children or boyfriend and girlfriend who want to see each other. But if you reduce us to households and get rid of our relationships, it is easy to convince us you can allow or disallow our interaction.
What is reducing us to households if not an attempt to weaken ties with our family and friends so we don’t rebel against these restrictions? Just turn us into brainless TV consuming, not questioning anything obedient members of society, where family is just some word you hear in old movies. We have Zoom, we can tell Alexa to turn on our TV, and our Amazon parcel is only 6 stops away. Who needs distractions like a family, friends, and the sense of belonging?
“Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety”
What follows might be bollox, so be warned.
Me and my wife went to London the other day. It was the first day out since lockdown started. It was also the first time either of us used public transport. It was a nice day, but it would have been nicer if it weren’t for the constant dehumanizing reminders that we are all dangerous, potentially infectious, dirty bags of germs. Before boarding the train in Watford, everyone masked up like a good, responsible citizen. Everyone apart from us. My wife had kept two masks in her purse in case we were told off, but I was not going to put one on no matter what. My wife, who is asthmatic, was willing to suffer a short-term discomfort to avoid confrontation. I wasn’t. The people in Euston stared at us like they had just seen Bonnie and Clyde – that couple they recognized from the “Wanted” posters. Some eyes spelled fear, while others expressed disgust, and confusion – how are they getting away with this disobedience?
The ancient instinct
As the quote above suggests, I am not willing to sacrifice my liberties for temporary safety. I am responsible for my own safety and you are for yours. This should be where the mask debate ends. But it doesn’t so, if you’re persuaded by the government’s advice and “the science”, then by all means, wear a mask, gloves, goggles, and a top hat if you want. My problem is with the government trying to take my right to take responsibility for my own life away from me. I don’t need the state to be my parent. I can make my own informed decisions about my health and safety. I can take risks and those who don’t want to take them can, just as well, stay home and “stay safe”. This has been my stance throughout the lockdown. The belief that it is OUR job to take responsibility for ourselves and our immediate family and keep them safe from harm. It’s not up to me to keep you or your grandad healthy or alive. As harsh as this sounds, this is true, and no amount of online shaming is going to change that.
We care for our own. Countless scientific research, as well as common sense, confirms that we, as humans and as mammals, value the health of our own family members more than that of strangers. Our own children and children of our siblings are the priority because they carry our genes. And even though we don’t think about it like this, our genes want to survive by being passed on to our offspring. So, the genes make us love and care for our children and protect them from harm. We share genes with our brothers and sisters, so their kids are, by definition, successful copies of our genes. Unlike our parents, who have already contributed to the growth of our family tree. The job of the next generations is to continue that expansion. That’s why we love our children and want the best for them. Anyone who has children or is expecting one, like me, knows how important it is to keep them safe and everyone else, including our own parents, becomes less important. It’s not that we stop caring. Poor health or the death of a parent definitely does hurt, and we never fully expect it even when we have every reason to. It’s that we know that as they age, the chances of them getting seriously sick skyrocket and we are wired to accept that. It’s tough to think your mom or dad will die one day, but this day will come, and you know it. We never think in these terms about our children. Because we know the circle of life by now. “No mother should bury her son”, I heard once in a movie. We, as parents, should be the first to go and it’s up to us to make sure the natural order occurs.
This instinct is hard wired so deep inside our subconsciousness that we can’t control it. We think we can. But we can’t. In the end, there is an order in which we value human life and what we are willing to do to protect, save, or defend it. This means risking our life, health or even principles, beliefs and values we hold to save somebody’s life, depend on our relationship with the person and what danger face. Another factor also plays a role. It is the hypothetical victim or a number in the statistic VS a real person we know or can relate to. Smoking illustrates it perfectly.
The older you
Research finds that approximately seven thousand non-smoking adults die from lung cancer in The United States each year because of inhaling second-hand smoke. It is not a big number in a country of three hundred and thirty million people. Nevertheless, it’s over seven thousand people whose lives are cut short because of other people’s unhealthy lifestyle. How many smokers would be willing to quit smoking if it helped lower that number? I’d say no one would when presented with a simple statistic. How many would quit or be more mindful of others if the statistic turned into real people with names, families, dreams and plans? I’d say more people would consider quitting. What if quitting smoking meant saving someone they knew? Someone they were close to? I’d say the number of quitters would rise significantly.
It is for the same reason we don’t really think or care about starving children in Africa, but we would care more about a single African child with a name, face, and dreams even if we only met him in a documentary, charity advert or a leaflet from the same organisation. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s what we do. We think it’s upsetting and unfortunate, but we aren’t willing to do anything that would cause us discomfort to help those in need.
According to the Telegraph article from 2019, six thousand non-smokers die of lung cancer in the UK each year. The article however links the deaths to pollution. How many of us, honestly, are willing to give up certain luxuries, like flying or driving to save six thousand people? My guess is this number doesn’t impress anyone even if it’s so close to home. The truth is, in my opinion, that we don’t want to give up our comfort because we convince ourselves that our effort has little to no impact on the lives of those six thousand men, women and children. It is the same with smoking. Cigarettes pose a threat to the smoker and those around him, but he is not convinced to quit. Why? I believe it’s because he doesn’t see the direct correlation between his actions and the health of his friends and family. And smoking doesn’t always lead to death of lung cancer and when it does, it takes years or decades. If cigarettes killed or caused cancer in 99% of smokers within months and not decades, then less people would smoke. Smoking however, doesn’t always lead to lung cancer and smokers often live to a very old age. In fact, cigarettes can just contribute to poor health with the help of other unhealthy habits like eating junk food and lack of exercise. So, even though there is addiction involved, many smokers just don’t see a direct threat. The damage isn’t done in a day or a month and can’t be observed in real time. One day you may or may not develop a cough and may or may not die prematurely, but the “may or may not” is not convincing enough to make a lifestyle change. This is, I believe, the reason why people start smoking even though there are no health benefits. It’s because they don’t have to deal with the consequences right now. They come later. When they are older. When they expect to be in poor health. When it almost doesn’t matter. The fact of the matter is, we all make choices in the present, pursue short term pleasures and let our older selves deal with the consequences. Cigarettes, in my opinion, fall into that category. If we deliberately sabotage the health of our older selves, how can we ask others to care for the anonymous members of the risk group? Just like I stated above, as species, and as humans we prioritise the youngest among us and the fact that we are willing to destroy our bodies from within and let our older selves deal with it, shows it perfectly.
Who do we save?
Recall the scene from “Titanic” where women and children were prioritised to take the limited number of spaces on the rafts. It makes perfect sense, if we think of humans as one big organism that grows with every child and can’t afford to lose women of childbearing age and children. The same instinct, among certain social and cultural factors, sends young men to war. It’s because even a hundred years ago, when the world population was only two billion, we could afford to lose men, but not women. Once a woman is pregnant with a man, she can’t get pregnant with another man, while a man can make multiple women pregnant. Obviously, this is not what usually happens, because we are governed by many other laws of human nature, but if you think of us as mammals, and males and females, you can see how reproduction can be a big deal for us subconsciously. We are more than animals, so I am not suggesting we sacrifice the elderly because they won’t have anymore kids. No. I am saying, if we are one big organism that wants to grow then it makes sense why we don’t care how our older selves will deal with the consequences of the choices we make today. This can also explain why we may not be willing to do certain sacrifices for the “high risk” people, who are mainly the elderly, when they are presented to us as soulless and anonymous graph or statistic. I also realize that we don’t think if these categories, but I believe there is a more powerful force at work, and it promotes certain feelings and supress others to trigger a certain behaviour. It makes us feel discomfort when we experience or are about to experience something bad for our health. It makes us feel pleasure when we do things that are good for our survival or survival of our genes, like eating or sex. It makes us love our children, so we protect them and make sure they survive. In a way, this force will trick you by making you feel different things physically or mentally, to make you do what it wants you to do. Imagine picking up a pencil and piercing it through your hand. Could you do it if you wanted to or is something stopping you?
So, how does all this relate to face masks? For some people it’s just a mask. No big deal. Others, however, are clearly against it to the point where it angers and upsets them and makes them feel anxious about trying to live a normal life again. They say the new rule is invasive and the government is overstepping by taking away their freedom. They refuse to comply and prepare for war on the 24th July.
This brings me back to the previous paragraphs where I highlighted what level of discomfort we are willing to suffer for others and how it depends on our relationship with them and the level of danger they are facing. For example, if someone were drowning, we would be willing to jump in and get our clothes wet. Would we jump in if it were a frozen lake and there was a huge possibility of not making it back to the surface? What if someone were drowning when the infection rate was at its highest? Would we jump in and save the life, or would we hesitate because of the possibility of getting coronavirus and infecting our loved ones?
You must be calling me mad for even suggesting we would hesitate for the fear of the virus. We might hesitate for other reasons, including not willing to risk our own life. Nevertheless, it is a valid comparison. When facing immediate life or death situation, we are more willing to risk our life or health, sacrifice our belongings, suspend our beliefs, and suppress biases. But we wouldn’t distribute them equally. So, we would risk getting coronavirus to save a drowning child, but we wouldn’t risk drowning to save a child from getting coronavirus. Why? Because drowning is an immediate threat and the child may or may not get the coronavirus. Same applies the other way around. If we don’t jump in, he is definitely going to die, and the risk he is infected and will infect us is unknown just as how our immune system reacts, and it is just as likely for us to be carriers.
I know, I know! Nobody is drowning. Nobody has to make that decision…
The government telling me – a healthy person to wear a mask, is like telling me how many people drown each year, therefore I shouldn’t take my family to the beach or lake. The government telling me to wear a mask is like telling smokers how many non-smokers get lung cancer as a direct result of breathing their cigarette smoke and expect them to quit. In the end, I am responsible for my children at the lake, and non-smokers have a choice of waiting outside. A parent might make a good choice to never smoke around her children, but she doesn’t need to quit to contribute to lowering the statistic and save some hypothetical lives which she may or may not affect. We don’t think we are all equal. We value life according to our relationships, unconscious and conscious biases and we make sacrifices according to that hierarchy. For some of us the mandatory face covering is too much to ask to save hypothetical people who may or may not get a virus. Especially when the data about the benefits of masks is conflicting to say the least.
“You can’t convince someone out of something he convinced himself into“
We could sit here all day and argue about COVID19. You’d tell me it’s killing people. I’d tell you, so do influenza and pneumonia. You’d quote the latest number of deaths. I’d ask, “Where did the flu deaths go?”, and tell you how hospitals around the world have been exposed for quoting COVID19 whether it was the cause of death or not. (One of my colleague’s relatives died recently after a hundred years old. They never had or tested positive for coronavirus, but the hospital classed them as COVID19 death – as if they were expecting a hundred-year-old person to live another twenty years if it weren’t for the pandemic.) You’d tell me how many experts say this is serious and I’d tell you about many other experts, who don’t get interviewed by the media, who suggest otherwise. You’d tell me I wouldn’t be saying all this if someone I love died or were on the ventilator. I’d say that personal experience or emotional blackmail are not arguments. I could say the same about cancer patients who have had their operation postponed. First time moms who haven’t received the same care they would have if access to hospitals and midwife service were normal. My wife, for example, is pregnant for the first time and just noticed something concerning on her breast. It could be nothing or it could be something serious. Before getting an appointment with the doctor, she first has to describe the problem to them on the phone so they can just disregard it as nothing to worry about and nothing worthy of a doctor’s time in these “uncertain times” when everyone could be a danger to others. English is not her first language, but only she knows how she feels and the sensation of the area she that worries her. What if she gets nervous when describing it on the phone, and her description of the problem will not be taken seriously? Since when do we self-diagnose mysterious lumps on our bodies? In other circumstances she would have it looked at right away.
So, the quote above perfectly illustrates our situation. You think you have every reason to believe that you need to be in the panic mode and live in fear until told otherwise, and I believe there is no pandemic, in a sense that the virus seems to be lethal to already seriously weakened immune systems. The defence systems are down and the virus attacks. We both look at the same data but see different information. I think I am the one with the glasses on and see the subliminal messages and you think I am crazy. I am convinced the only way for you to see the truth, is to put the glasses on, but you aren’t interested. We are both certain we hold the right position.
“It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they’ve been fooled“
The quote by Mark Twain illustrates how hard it is for people to admit they’ve been fooled (and I may be guilty of it too), even in the face of new evidence. Especially when they’ve been emotionally invested in the matter. You have spent four months trusting the government and their experts, who broke their own rules, like Neil Ferguson, the man who gave us lockdown and social distancing. You are unwilling to even think that all this has been unnecessary. Even more so, you are unwilling to let your sacrifice be all for nothing. It’s like discovering your partner cheating and lying to you after you’ve invested and sacrificed so much to be with him. The realisation that it didn’t mean anything to him is hurtful. So, you block the idea that the sacrifice you’ve made for the last five months for the greater good has been for nothing, unnecessary, unreasonable. Furthermore, you might not even be willing to accept that the government is lying to you or doesn’t know what they are doing in this crisis. Between you and me, I don’t know what’s worse, lies or incompetence. Living in denial or voluntary ignorance.
All I know is that I don’t believe the threat is real. Because of that, I don’t believe I should be required to wear a mask. I would really wear it just because you are scared, and I refuse to cover my face with your fear. Remember when we talked about what sacrifices we are willing to make for others? Well I, and many others, based on our independent research, believe it is unnecessary for us to give up our bodily autonomy and right to breathe, because someone, somewhere may or may not get sick. Even if masks worked perfectly, which they don’t, their effect can’t be witnessed in real time and it is not clear whether they have stopped the virus or if the virus has simply gone away for the Summer, as they do. We simply don’t want to let the government have the power to invade our privacy and freedoms to such extent as to mandate what to do with our faces. You, on the other hand, have come so far, haven’t you? Four months of living in fear and feeding it through your TV screen. You can’t give up now. How do you, Brits say it? In for a penny, in for a pound? Others like me refuse to join this madness and in four months wake up to a headline that says, “Research finds masks have been a waste of time”. For me and others, the evidence is not sufficient. Whether we are talking about the masks or the danger of the virus itself. So far we just have evil or incompetent government who are either executing their evil plan perfectly or are too scared to take strong initiative or unwilling to admit they were wrong to enforce lockdown in the first place. The lockdown that was enforced only because of Ferguson’s inaccurate prediction of how many would die. When he lowered his predicted number of deaths, we continued with lockdown. We continued with it even when he, himself had broken the rules and his excuse was “I thought I was immune to it because I had got it already”, which was the opposite of what the government officials had been telling us about the virus and immunity to it the whole time.
The tribes we belong to
When 9/11 happened, it brought the citizens of New York together. The crisis created a sense of belonging and meaning in the community. Both the crime rate and suicide rate dropped following the attacks. New Yorkers felt they were part of something bigger than themselves. Everyone wanted to do their part even if it seemed insignificant. The Blitz made people feel the same way. People depended on each other mentally and physically. Coming together in a time of crisis is not new to our species. We evolved in small tribes for millions of years and living in big cities, often alone and away from our families (our tribes), robs us of that feeling of belonging and contributing to a community. Crisis, according to the war journalist and author of “Tribe”, Sebastian Junger, awakens our ancient instincts that helped our ancestors, who lived in tribes, to survive. Junger describes many other instances where crisis brought strangers together and points out how all men and women become equal in the face of crisis. Why can’t we come together during this pandemic and agree on a seemingly small issue like wearing a mask? I have my own theory.
It is based mainly on the fact that, in my opinion, it is almost impossible for people to relate to, let alone, care about a death toll or death rate. An anonymous graph of daily infections and weekly deaths. A death toll of a major earthquake is more relatable as it claims thousands of lives in a single day and it doesn’t discriminate based on age, race or sex. It makes all men and women equal. Maybe that’s why it’s more relatable. If the COVID19 graph is made up mostly of older people with underlying health conditions, it’s not easy to relate to it. An earthquake, however, doesn’t take hostages. The death toll might still be anonymous, but we can see the devastation, and imagine the horror of mothers looking for their children in the ruins of their homes. The COVID19 deaths aren’t, at least to people who have been against the lockdown, that scary. The fact that people don’t care too much about an anonymous graph, is supported by how we usually react to the death of a celebrity. We mourn because we have invested so much time getting to know them, watching their movies or listening to their music. We relate to them. We know their name, their face and voice. We have seen them get married, have kids or throw tantrums on live TV. The death of a celebrity is so hard to process that we even create conspiracy theories suggesting he or she is still alive somewhere or that their mysterious suicide is just a cover up for something bigger.
Final reason why COVID19 pandemic has failed to bring us together, in my opinion, is that we have spent too much time dividing ourselves. Coronavirus is so invisible and weak that it simply cannot remind us of our ancient instincts. You, me, your sister and your friend Joe, all belong to groups. We all wear many labels. We all have unconscious biases towards members or our own groups and against those in the outgroups, even if the biases are subtle. This is an evolutionary trait related to tribalism. We (our ancestors) needed to be suspicious of strangers because they could be dangerous or carry unknown disease. Something that gets developed over millions of years, doesn’t disappear overnight just because we now have skyscrapers and smartphones and don’t live in small tribes. The unconscious bias is just a tiny legacy of our ancient ancestors and their lack of trust to strangers. Research shows that while we may not always treat others differently, different areas of our brain respond to members of our group and members of the outgroup. The groups can be anything from race, accent, to political views or even star sign or shared name. Of course, we have developed other traits alongside, like empathy, being social and many others which overrun the unconscious biases in most people. The recent decade, however, has seen the rise of identity politics which divided us into Us and Them. Feminism, Black Lives Matter, the election of Donald Trump, and Brexit divide us into categories. White, black, men, women, racist, sexist, homophobic, gay, straight, and so on. Even now, during, what’s supposed to be another Spanish Flu, we have managed to divide ourselves into black and white, BLM supporters and racists. Brexit vote and the election of Boris Johnson and his delivery of Brexit, divided the UK into Leavers and Remainers. Not only are we divided, but we also view each other as enemies. How can one relate to a death toll so diverse?
Speaking of diversity. I am an immigrant. I came to the UK fourteen years ago. That’s almost half of my life. Would I die for this country? No. Do I care about the royal family? Not really. I would help my community in the time of crisis. I have a family now. Would I stay here if the country turned into an Orwellian police state or socialist Venezuela? No, I wouldn’t fight for this country. What I am saying is, that this pandemic is too weak to convince everyone to come together. Diversity isn’t our strength. When you have a multicultural society, it is harder to come together to fight a virus what has 99.96% survival rate. Whether we like it or not, we care for our own. We respond better to real victims rather than graphs. We are willing to suffer different levels of discomfort for others and the more related we are to the (potential) victims, the more discomfort we are willing to suffer. The graph below demonstrates how we measure the sacrifice against the relationship when facing an immediate threat.
You’ll have to excuse my amateur skills at making a graph, but as you can see, we would risk our own life to save or protect our loved ones but the more unrelated we are to the people who are in danger, the less we are willing to do to help them. I’ve actually seen countless videos where a fight breaks out on the train (often between a man and a woman), and the other passengers choose not to intervene. Some even remove themselves from the area. I think there is a lot of people who would sacrifice more to save their mobile phone than another human. The sacrifice isn’t always physical. If someone doesn’t believe the masks are necessary, and believe the government is overstepping by making them mandatory and threatening them with fines for disobedience, then they will not make that sacrifice for anonymous people in a graph. People who don’t want to wear masks, whether they have or haven’t looked into their risks and benefits, are already angry with the government and the police for how they have been treating all of us for the past four months. They have been treating us like children. From how often to wash our hands and what song to sing, to what to wear on our faces. Not to mention the contact tracing system which has made a lot of people question the intentions of the government. I am not going to wear a mask and I will sooner be arrested than accept a fine for it. For people like me, being unmasked is a statement. We want to be heard. For some it is just a mask, perhaps providing safety, anonymity, comfort. For others it is infringement of our freedom. It is too much to ask and maybe, if it weren’t for Trump, Brexit, Black Lives Matter, identity politics, we would have a different response and would come together. Instead the rich of this world have just got richer during the pandemic while the poorest got poorer and this alone can create rebellion against the establishment even if it comes in a form of unmasked smiling face of a free man or woman.