How Government Makes the Crazies

Some of us have lived with lockdown measures in one way or another since the beginning of the pandemic. Not on and off with the ever present specter of another sudden revocation of our basic rights looming over us. An ongoing, grinding set of restrictions and rules applied to various degrees but never being removed completely. In some parts of Canada we simply no longer know what it’s like to live without restrictions on our movements and activities beyond the laundry list of ridiculous limitations we had come to accept prior to the onset of the pandemic. An entire generation is growing up not only living under these draconian measures but being taught to actively support them and, worse still, shun those who question them.

Demonization of the skeptic is no way to run a successful society. Although it is an authoritarian wet dream.

The distinction between rabid anti-vaxxer and simple interlocutor is gone thanks in no small part to government support for the idea that the dissonant are all equally dangerous. Today we have two camps: those who abide by and support lockdown measures (be it out of a sense of duty or sheer terror) and those who eschew any and all steps taken to curb the spread of the pandemic and believe that vaccinations are mind control devices. Simply asking when our rights will be returned to us or if we should consider the possibility that COVID is here to stay and that it will not disappear overnight in some Trumpian rapture seems to place one firmly in the latter.

The fact that experts have been saying for the better part of a year that we need to learn to live with this issue and that we cannot vaccinate the planet biannually is put aside. After all, the tobacco companies had their own experts telling us that everything was fine not long ago.

COVID has been successfully politicized and like everything else that is boiled down to a simplistic left/right distinction, the ability to talk about it with others has been decimated.

In this part of Canada we have been particularly Canadian. That is to say we’ve obeyed the government and looked to it as our saviour as we quake in our boots. Our competent leaders have flip-flopped between various new measures meant to prevent the unpreventable and we have stood by cheering them on in vain hopes of a miracle. Canadian criticism generally comes in the form of hindsight. We complain that X did not go as well as expected and that our leaders should have done something else. Beyond that, there is little in terms of questioning the ongoing response because we are paralyzed by fear. Canadians have neither the entrepreneurial nor the independent, from-my-cold-dead-hands spirit that our neighbours to the south enjoy. And while these have their own detriments to be sure, they foster a populace that demands their freedoms and rights in the face of both adversity and hardship. We lack this. Canadians fold immediately to pressure and run to the government like a child hiding behind their mother’s skirt. Our rights will hopefully be returned later when we’ve been told that it’s safe for us to be free.

That leaves us with our current situation. The government has decreed that movement, access, and basic societal participation is contingent upon ever-shifting and randomly enforced procedures that will, contrary to promises at the time of their implementation, seemingly exist in perpetuity. On January 13, 2022 the federal government stated that despite what they had said previously, truck drivers would not require a vaccination when returning with vital goods and supplies from the United States. A few hours later they again reversed their position and decided that even though we stand to lose about ten percent of our existing truck drivers (roughly 12,000 people) and even though we are already short 22,000 in this critical field, it would be best if their message remained consistent as to avoid looking weaker than they already do. Those who applaud the government in this undertaking are also the ones who will be first to complain retroactively about the worsening supply shortages or the increase in the already absurdly high prices for food and basic necessities across the nation without the slightest hint of irony.

Canada has one of the highest rates of vaccination on the planet. With well over 80% of the eligible population vaccinated, we have surpassed every milestone set out to indicate safe numbers yet we have seen little in terms of a return to normalcy. There is a never ending series of goals that seem just out of reach until one is finally hit moments before it is deemed insufficient and a new, more difficult to attain goal is placed before us. We have moved from flattening the curve to getting everyone vaccinated to creating a divided society via vaccination passports to getting everyone vaccinated yet again and this time also children. These same children that we are told can safely return to the classroom as transmission between kids is relatively rare. The restrictions picked up along the way have never been entirely dropped, with a “temporary” vaccine passport system implemented to enter a restaurant or exercise in a gym. The nightmare that is Quebec recently announced a tax on those who have yet to be vaccinated. In one of the few nations that has absolutely no restrictions on abortions (despite the majority of its citizens supporting restrictions) with a “my body, my choice” mentality as the driving force, it seems strange that one can not only be ostricized and quite literally told that they had to be home by a certain hour but still taxed if they decided to put up with these infringements on their basic human dignity. Get the jab, don’t, it doesn’t really matter. You still have a bedtime. (Even with the planned end to the curfew, this will be neither the first nor the last time it is implemented. The same can’t be said for all pandemic restrictions as many have never been retracted.)

Are you reading this and wondering why you are paying any mind to a far right conspiracy theorist anti-vaxxer? If so, I appreciate you proving the point. This author has all three of his doses (more are coming, to be sure) and has dutifully lived a hermit-like existence since March of 2020. Aside from traveling to the workplace and back on a daily basis (someone has to pay the taxes — don’t worry, COVID doesn’t spread at the office or if you’re protesting certain types of injustice), the number of unnecessary outings can be counted on one hand. None of this was an issue when the pandemic first hit or the months that followed as we were completely unprepared. Two years and a new president later, that is no longer the case but we’re still living as though nothing has changed. Milestones were missed, connections were lost, and families have grown ever distant all in the name of safety. Yet so many who have both complied and agreed with pandemic restrictions from the very beginning have somehow joined the maniacs for asking when precisely we will set up and stick to a set of guidelines that will lead us out of this mess. Not when will the virus disappear from this plane of existence but when we will be in a position to resume our lives. When will we be permitted to visit one another without arbitrary limits, when will we be allowed to travel or, heaven help us, be outside of the home after 10pm. The thing about being an obedient Canadian is that it never ends. Any step out of line and you are immediately held in contempt.

I’ve written previously about the futility in assuming all characteristics of a person based on one statement or position on a particular topic. But as you can see, I would like to know when we will adopt a rational stance on this problem and am therefore also announcing the following: the planet is flat, vaccinations cause autism, Hillary Clinton is a murderous reptile, and Jeffrey Epstein did not kill himself.

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Philosophy, politics, social commentary. Life of the party.

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Charles Lafontaine

Charles Lafontaine

Philosophy, politics, social commentary. Life of the party.

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