…but you must fear COVID

Billings Gazette

Early Wednesday morning a 19 year old woman died in a car accident. I did not know her. The only residue of her passing was the debris scattered from the impact and the barricade closing the street that I travel to my office. The upturned pickup remained in place as crime scene investigators proceeded with the grisly task of gathering evidence. Her death presented no political opportunity. Consequently her short life will disappear in the mountains of data recording deaths that do not matter as she did not succumb to the virus du jour. Unfortunately her passing will be joined by too many others as the State is recording a 30% increase in road fatalities this year. Many the result of a 100% increase in alcohol related traffic violations. Although we can never know the specifics of her life that lead to that unfortunate moment where two vehicles collided, we can consider the broad brushstrokes of the the18 months that preceded her untimely death to get a sense of her world.

She was a person who should have been enjoying some of the best years of her life. Instead she spent that last year and a half isolated from friends and family. She lived under a constant barrage of gloom and woe from political authorities and news personalities. She was locked down, permitted only electronic entertainments with minimal personal interaction. She witnessed her friends and family attempt to cope with unemployment and financial stress that had no prospect of end. She saw cities burn in riots, termed “mostly peaceful”. She was denied seeing a smiling face or any face for that matter. Her outings limited to the brief hurried trips to gather needed supplies at box stores while her neighbors shops were closed under government fiat. Her release from the at home prison was conditional provided she and her friends wore face coverings, limiting gatherings and never visited grandparents.

Normal interactions at school were prevented as instruction was limited to ZOOM. Sports and extracurricular activities were verbotten or held without spectators. Prospects of college scholarships based these activities dimmed as the islolation expanded. Her senior year of high school with its recognition of accomplishment shared with friends was denied. Her high school graduation, a virtual event possessing only the vaguest relation to what in America counts as among the few recognized rights of passage afforded to kids. Stripped of its physical attributes, the event rang hollow.

Instead of being told her future held promise, authorities assured her she had little chance of a happy life. Her existence was to be defined as a victim of patriarchy, gender instability and white privilege. The claim of “New Variants” and other invisible boogiemen threatened to throw her back into isolation at any given moment. She was coerced at every turn, socially distance, mask(s), goggles, face shields, vaccination 1,2,3 times perhaps more, and then it still may not be enough.

In exchange for her submission to the state of fear, she was compensated by issuance of “free money”, rent free living and the promise that by 2030 she would own nothing and she would be happy; more a command than a suggestion. Under such circumstances it is easy to understand that many of her age turned to alcohol and drugs, chemical solace to quell the anxiety in a world gone mad. This mix of fear, anxiety, and isolation culminated Wednesday night in the impact of two vehicles that killed one, injured another and to a destroyed the lives of the survivors under a charge of vehicular homicide.

All this, the result of political decisions and public health policies regarding a disease from which she and her friends had essentially no risk of death or even significant discomfort. A disease that if we lacked the technology of genetic testing, would have been noted as just another bad virus, one in the litany of mother natures toxic creations, an unfortunate yet normal condition of human existence to be endured by every generation.

When faced with a pandemic far more lethal to the young, her grandparents did not hide under a rock, nor were they encouraged to. Instead they went to Woodstock, hitchhiked across the country to get a taste of Haight Asbury communal living and gathered by the thousands to protest the war in Vietnam. They lived their lives and looked to a future, to be sure full of challenges, but also expecting opportunity to present the path to a successful life as they cared to define it.

Instead the young of today are being dragged along by aging Boomers & GenX-ers who, in a fit of irrationality on a par with Salem and its witch panic, are rapidly propelling us into a state of Hygiene Socialism. This is an emerging paternalistic Safety State where opportunity is replaced by equity. Equity as determined by the champagne drinking, foie gras eating, bowtie class. Equity that at any moment is subject to review and revocation if you fail to abide by their rules. Speak unapproved words, display the incorrect symbols or think incorrect thoughts and you stand to be cancelled, soon to be oastracised even from financial services. Under such conditions who could blame the youth for rebelling at every turn.

Perhaps this too often repeated tale could have been averted if the messaging from authorities was different. Perhaps if our health authorities would have said we have a disease and we have to get through it. That the young had minimal risk and therefore should continue their lives with minimal alteration. That their parents could continue to work and provide for their families. That those at risk should be the only ones isolated until treatments and vaccines were developed. Perhaps then this and countless similar tragedies could have been averted. However such was not the interest of our ruling class. Trapped in the prison of two ideas, only COVID was to be considered, all other priorities were rescinded.

The personal tragedy of the people and the families involved in this event will not make a blip on the national psyche. The brief Warhol-ian moment of fame in death will fibrous and fade but never completely leave those involved. However in the halls of the ruling class her death will at most appear on the mortality spreadsheet under “other”, a death so insignificant as to not command a classification. She and her families suffering will be dismissed under the logic of South Park where all human created disasters are excused under the nostrum “well people died but at least we learned something”.