Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Coronavirus and Human Nature

 

For a few weeks, we in the coronavirus-stricken parts of the world have been living under “shelter in place” or “stay at home” orders. The only conceivable purpose of such orders is to keep people from congregating and spreading the disease. But I can leave my house while also avoiding human contact — a truth evidently lost on Italian authorities, who’ve been punishing the criminal scum of their society for engaging in the recklessly dangerous activity of jogging with their dogs; or on the social-media malcontents who believe that carping at their neighbors is 2020’s equivalent of storming the Normandy beaches.

In Britain, police shamed hikers for daring to wander the wilderness in solitude. Do the moorlands have a preexisting condition? Are birds and butterflies at risk of dying from coronavirus-induced respiratory failure? Britain’s own lockdown law allows residents out of their houses for only “one form of exercise” per day. Does combination exercise cause coronavirus to spring up out of nowhere, like maggots spontaneously generating in a hunk of rotting meat? Who cares whether Simon and Bertha spend their entire day camping in the countryside?

There may be no witches to burn but superstition is alive and well. For some, coronavirus panic has become a sign of moral purity — and those who refuse to take part bear the weight of 50,000 deaths, whether or not they’ve done wrong. The churches are closed, but every home is now a monastery, and proper religious practice consists not of contemplating God, but of consuming news and nurturing a vampiric fear of sunlight.

If maintaining public health were the only matter of concern, Mrs. Jones wouldn’t give a rat’s you-know-what about how her neighbors spent their time, provided they kept to themselves. But she does. Whatever’s happening, it involves more than just public hygiene. It’s akin to the social dynamics of a riot, where extremes beget more extremes and the urge to conform becomes more and more irresistible.

For a long time, foolish idealists in our society have said things like, “I don’t understand. How could Germans let Hitler do that to the Jews?” and, “Hundreds of thousands of Stasi informants? How does that happen?” Well, this is how it happens. A crisis occurs (or is manufactured), leaders take extreme measures (some justified) in the name of public safety, and a fraction of the population psychologically predisposed to social policing springs into action, happily harassing and dragooning those the authorities have marked as evildoers.

An apocalypse is a revelation, and this particular apocalypse is revealing who can be trusted with power … and who can’t.

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  1. The Reticulator Member

    And now the Grand Canyon is closed to the public. It was the last holdout in the National Park System.

    If a hike into the wilderness is no longer acceptable behavior, it seems that whatever we’re doing is no longer about social distancing. 

    • #1
    • April 2, 2020, at 6:47 AM PDT
    • 12 likes
  2. Retail Lawyer Member

    I get your point. There are petty rule-slingers amongst us. I permanently detest our federal park rangers who were way too zealous obeying Obama’s orders to shut down the parks during a “government shutdown”. I wish them all the very worst and will never labor under the illusion that they regard the parks to be for the public.

    On the other hand, earlier this week I bicycled through Stanford and witnessed 8 young men playing a very lively game of basketball.

    Or, see this:

    http://www.smalldeadanimals.com/index.php/2020/04/02/its-probably-nothing-79/

    • #2
    • April 2, 2020, at 7:11 AM PDT
    • Like
  3. DrewInWisconsin, Ham-Fisted Bu… Coolidge

    Locally, our county officials keep telling us it’s okay to go outside and go for a walk or a run. (And I think I’ve seen more people out walking in the last week than I ever have.) I think they’ve waived entry fees to all the state parks, and they say “go out for a hike, just keep safe distance from anyone else who might be hiking.” The parks are all open, but the visitor centers are closed.

    I thought that was the case in most of the national parks, too?

    • #3
    • April 2, 2020, at 7:15 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  4. The Reticulator Member

    DrewInWisconsin, Negative Infl… (View Comment):

    Locally, our county officials keep telling us it’s okay to go outside and go for a walk or a run. (And I think I’ve seen more people out walking in the last week than I ever have.) I think they’ve waived entry fees to all the state parks, and they say “go out for a hike, just keep safe distance from anyone else who might be hiking.” The parks are all open, but the visitor centers are closed.

    I thought that was the case in most of the national parks, too?

    Maybe I should check my sources.

    • #4
    • April 2, 2020, at 7:29 AM PDT
    • Like
  5. DrewInWisconsin, Ham-Fisted Bu… Coolidge

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Negative Infl… (View Comment):

    Locally, our county officials keep telling us it’s okay to go outside and go for a walk or a run. (And I think I’ve seen more people out walking in the last week than I ever have.) I think they’ve waived entry fees to all the state parks, and they say “go out for a hike, just keep safe distance from anyone else who might be hiking.” The parks are all open, but the visitor centers are closed.

    I thought that was the case in most of the national parks, too?

    Maybe I should check my sources.

    Well, I could be wrong. I just remember reading that they were waiving all entry fees, and I commented to a friend that this was my time to go visit Isle Royale. Except I wasn’t sure if the Ferry was free, too. ; )

    • #5
    • April 2, 2020, at 7:32 AM PDT
    • Like
  6. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSul Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Kephalithos: Hundreds of thousands of Stasi informants? How does that happen?”

    Rod Dreher has been talking a lot about this over the last year on his blog at American Conservative. Even before this crisis hit, I was noting with much alarm the proliferation of rainbow-flagged “safe spaces” signs in stores all over, and thinking “there will come a time when to fail to display that sign will get your windows smashed.”

    • #6
    • April 2, 2020, at 7:35 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  7. The Reticulator Member

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Negative Infl… (View Comment):

    Locally, our county officials keep telling us it’s okay to go outside and go for a walk or a run. (And I think I’ve seen more people out walking in the last week than I ever have.) I think they’ve waived entry fees to all the state parks, and they say “go out for a hike, just keep safe distance from anyone else who might be hiking.” The parks are all open, but the visitor centers are closed.

    I thought that was the case in most of the national parks, too?

    Maybe I should check my sources.

    I’ve seen some notes saying it’s as you describe, but according to this press release, the Grand Canyon park is closed. Period. But you are welcome to make a virtual visit to the park from your computer.

    • #7
    • April 2, 2020, at 7:37 AM PDT
    • Like
  8. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSul Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    DrewInWisconsin, Negative Infl… (View Comment):

    Locally, our county officials keep telling us it’s okay to go outside and go for a walk or a run. (And I think I’ve seen more people out walking in the last week than I ever have.) I think they’ve waived entry fees to all the state parks, and they say “go out for a hike, just keep safe distance from anyone else who might be hiking.” The parks are all open, but the visitor centers are closed.

    I thought that was the case in most of the national parks, too?

    This has varied greatly by state and locality. In Ohio, while municipal parks have been told to stay open, and people have been encouraged to get out and exercise, the state park campgrounds have all been closed, as have all the facilities. I do not know if the trails and so forth remain open.

    @thekingprawn told me that meanwhile the federal lands, all 8000 acres of ’em, have been closed by state order, right by him.

    And in Los Angeles (where else) they are paying rewards (bounties, really) to informants for ratting out people.

    • #8
    • April 2, 2020, at 7:38 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  9. A-Squared Coolidge

    In IL, even golfing is no longer permitted as it was in the initial Shelter-in-place order.

    I can’t think of an activity better suited to social distancing. The closest you ever get to another group of golfers is maybe 50 yards (and for the record no carts or caddies were allowed and the local course put foam things in the cup so you never even touched the flagstick.)

    This is no longer about social distancing, it’s about government power over the economy so that, like a kidnapping victim, we will feel nothing but gratitude when our economic overlords allow us to do something that they find acceptable.

    • #9
    • April 2, 2020, at 7:58 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  10. DrewInWisconsin, Ham-Fisted Bu… Coolidge

    SkipSul (View Comment):
    And in Los Angeles (where else) they are paying rewards (bounties, really) to informants for ratting out people.

    We’ve encountered a few rats here. We’re still live-streaming our church services, which means a small number of us do have to be over at church to run the show. But one nosy Mrs. Kravitz wrote to inform us that she counted the cars in our parking lot and we had too many people there!

    • #10
    • April 2, 2020, at 8:03 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  11. MarciN Member

    There are two glimmers of hope for me:

    (1) The percentage of people willing to put up with these restrictions will get smaller and smaller as the weather gets nicer and nicer. We have had a nor’easter parked off Cape Cod for the past two weeks, and it is projected to last until next week. It’s gray and cold here. People will put up with these restrictions as long as the storm is directly offshore. But when it finally blows out to sea next week sometime, the local government will have to relax. The warm weather may not kill the virus, but it will kill the tight restrictions.

    Many years ago, when our town was embroiled in tax-increase wars to improve our schools, the superintendent, a father of four and a dear friend, said, “The finance committee forgets that I pay taxes too! I’m not asking for this increase because I want it.” :-) I don’t know what the weather is elsewhere, but I know on Cape Cod, we will soon find our town administrators at the beach too! :-) The rain falls on the just and unjust alike. :-)

    (2) The businesses that have been deemed essential are paving the way for a new way to do business to avoid the virus for themselves or passing it along to their customers. They are the laboratories for designing and testing a new way for businesses to interact with the public safely but pleasantly. I’m really impressed by the intelligent methods and protocols that business owners are designing and implementing. It’s going to be a while until we get an effective vaccine, so the workplace remodeling that’s going on now will help everyone when they do eventually start getting back to normal.

    I’ve lost hope of ever seeing someone smile again. I think smiling at each other will be a funny archaic cultural practice the historians talk about as part of the pre-Covid-19 society. :-) Now that I think about it, we might as well don face masks. No one feels like smiling at other people anyway. :-)

    • #11
    • April 2, 2020, at 8:33 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  12. Kephalithos Member
    Kephalithos

    SkipSul (View Comment): Rod Dreher has been talking a lot about this over the last year on his blog at American Conservative. Even before this crisis hit, I was noting with much alarm the proliferation of rainbow-flagged “safe spaces” signs in stores all over, and thinking “there will come a time when to fail to display that sign will get your windows smashed.”

    A sentiment I witnessed just today, during my Zoom class, which descended into a capitalism-bashing session, and then became a two-minutes’ hate directed at Chick-Fil-A.

    Every cloud has a silver lining. Being hundreds of miles away from these people is coronavirus’s gift to me.

    • #12
    • April 2, 2020, at 9:41 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  13. The Reticulator Member

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Negative Infl… (View Comment):

    Locally, our county officials keep telling us it’s okay to go outside and go for a walk or a run. (And I think I’ve seen more people out walking in the last week than I ever have.) I think they’ve waived entry fees to all the state parks, and they say “go out for a hike, just keep safe distance from anyone else who might be hiking.” The parks are all open, but the visitor centers are closed.

    I thought that was the case in most of the national parks, too?

    This has varied greatly by state and locality. In Ohio, while municipal parks have been told to stay open, and people have been encouraged to get out and exercise, the state park campgrounds have all been closed, as have all the facilities. I do not know if the trails and so forth remain open.

    @thekingprawn told me that meanwhile the federal lands, all 8000 acres of ’em, have been closed by state order, right by him.

    And in Los Angeles (where else) they are paying rewards (bounties, really) to informants for ratting out people.

    The Stasi used to reward its informants, too.

    • #13
    • April 2, 2020, at 11:21 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  14. Bob Wainwright Member

    Are people actually ratting on others merely for going outside? That’s not even a violation of the stay at home orders. You’re allowed to go out, walk your dog, exercise etc. You just have to keep distance from others. People who congregate should be reported. 

    • #14
    • April 2, 2020, at 4:22 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  15. Randy Webster Member

    MarciN (View Comment):
    I’ve lost hope of ever seeing someone smile again. I think smiling at each other will be a funny archaic cultural practice the historians talk about as part of the pre-Covid-19 society. :-) Now that I think about it, we might as well don face masks. No one feels like smiling at other people anyway. :-)

    I don’t know where you work, but where I work there is no shortage of smiles and even laughter.

    • #15
    • April 2, 2020, at 4:44 PM PDT
    • 1 like