Tag Archives: hysteria

The coronavirus and its metaphors

The baby boomer doomer (a.k.a. the baby boomer remover) is kind of pretty, isn’t it? Kind of like a Christmas tree ornament…

I remember the hysteria when HIV/AIDS first emerged in the 1980s. There were calls to quarantine gay men, even though HIV is not at all spread through casual contact — I remember the wholly unfounded hysteria that perhaps HIV was quite easily spread — and, of course, there were the innumerable pronouncements that AIDS was God’s punishment. (“AIDS kills fags dead,” one slogan put it succinctly.)

Because we gay men were — and still are — considered to be expendable, of course the Reagan regime dragged its feet on doing anything about HIV. The “right” people (if we can even call them people) were dying, after all.

So now comes along a new virus, one that curiously takes out primarily older people. According to data from China, where the new coronavirus first hit, the death rate for the virus breaks down by age group thusly:

The chart is astounding. It suggests that newborns to those aged 9 have a zero percent chance of dying from the new coronavirus, and the death rate goes up with each age group. My age group (the 50s) is 1.3 percent. Of course you don’t want to be part of the 1.3 percent, but that’s still a pretty low death rate for a plague.

As soon as you are in your 60s, however, the death rate is approaching 4 percent, and in your 70s, you’re looking at 8 percent — and approaching 15 percent for those 80 and older.

No wonder they’re calling the coronavirus the “baby boomer doomer” and the “baby boomer remover.”

Not that the herd couldn’t use some culling, and not that I would be torn up if a huge chunk of the baby boomers were offed, but the psychosocial dynamics of a plague sure are interesting.

Because this plague is killing baby boomers, we’re seeing much swifter governmental action, of course; we must save every precious baby-boomer ass, right?

But if HIV/AIDS felt like “justice” to the right wing and to other homophobes (such as the Joe Biden voters of today…), well, the coronavirus seems to me, at least in its initial stage, to perhaps offer some poetic justice.

I mean, the cruise is the bright, shining example of baby boomer over-privilege: The baby boomers’ parents passed their wealth down to their baby-boomer offspring, and today, the baby boomers are passing “their” wealth down to the likes of cruise-line companies. (To be fair, they’re also putting the nation’s wealth into McMansions, recreational vehicles, world travel, unnecessary home improvement, bright shiny new cars, time shares, golf, fine dining, expensive wines, etc.)

Boomers ostentatiously spend the nation’s wealth on cruises, on which they expect to be treated like royalty. They are to be catered to exhaustively by wage slaves who aren’t paid anything even like a living wage — and woe to those wage slaves who don’t smile the entire time of their servitude.

I listened to a recent local NPR interview of a baby-boomer-sounding woman who was on the infected Grand Princess cruise liner stopped first in the San Francisco Bay and then redirected to Oakland, and its passengers quarantined at Travis Air Force Base in Northern California.

The whiny, impossible-to-placate baby boomer acted like she was Yelping Travis Air Force Base as though it were just an extension of her fucking cruise experience. Clearly, the entire world is supposed to be designed (just like a cruise liner!) to cater to the whim and whimsy of every single fucking baby boomer; it’s their world, and the rest of us are here only to serve them.

In the baby boomers’ world, you’re either a feudal overlord (a baby boomer) or a serf (everyone else).

So: While I usually don’t wish people pain and suffering, given all that I have experienced and observed in my Generation-X lifetime, including, as a gay man, seeing how my fellow gay men were treated (and not treated) during the AIDS crisis, and including how I have been under the baby boomers’ thumbs for my entire fucking life, am I going to shed a tear for the baby boomers (and those older) felled by the coronavirus? No, not really, unless one of the vanishingly few good older people, such as Bernie Sanders, were to be taken out by the virus.

Coronavirus, as plagues go, is pretty tame. The flu pandemic of 1918 to 1920 killed anywhere from 20 million to 50 million people worldwide, with a death rate of 10 percent to 20 percent, and, very much unlike the new coronavirus, most of its victims were young adults.

That said, should we read into plagues? That is, should we see “signs” in them, including which portions of the population the plagues take and the plagues’ body counts?

No, probably, we should not, and there probably is no greater meaning in pandemics — no moral meaning, anyway — but it sure is fun to interpret them, as it were.

For instance, I kind of like to think of the coronavirus as like the earth trying to shake off the parasitic baby boomers in a global act of karmic justice. But that very well might be much more my own private fantasy than anything like fact, which I recognize. (Surely those who proclaimed that “AIDS kills fags dead” didn’t doubt whether or not that stance — that gay men have deserved to die of AIDS, probably as a death sentence handed down by An Angry God Himself — has been anything like factual.)

All of that said, even though I’m not in one of the highest risk groups for death from the coronavirus, I’m still at 1.3 percent.

Ironically, just Friday morning I had a routine check-up with my doctor. I felt fine. My vital signs were normal, including my temperature, and the doctor examined my throat and ear canals and apparently found nothing out of the ordinary.

But just later Friday, I started to develop an upper respiratory infection, which I’d avoided all of this past winter until now. I’m experiencing a lot of mucous production, nasal congestion, a bit of a headache and now, a mildly sore throat and an occasional cough. It’s annoying, but not severely debilitating.

Is it the coronavirus?

I’m guessing that it’s not, that it’s one or more of a myriad of other pathogens, viral or bacterial, that cause upper respiratory infections, the vast majority of which my body will conquer on its own, but even if it is the coronavirus, a death rate of 1.3 percent isn’t high.

Besides, as a Generation X’er, I’m used to life not being like I’m on a perpetual cruise. Entirely unlike the over-privileged and overly comfortable baby boomers, I can handle some pain and suffering — and even death, if it comes to that.

Ironically, the boomers, quite unintentionally, over the course of my entire lifetime have prepared me to face the worst while they avoid — like the plague… — even the least amount of trouble, inconvenience or unpleasantness.

P.S. Seriously, though, the coronavirus exposes how incredibly fucking stupid the masses are, hoarding such bullshit like hand sanitizer, bleach, rubbing alcohol and even toilet paper.

The ignorant masses excel at seeing risk where it does not exist and at not seeing risk where it does exist. And accordingly, they take actions that they don’t need to take and fail to take actions that they do need to take.

P.P.S. The title of this blog piece, if you didn’t catch it, is a riff on the late Susan Sontag’s book AIDS and Its Metaphors. (Sometimes something just comes into my mind like that…)

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Memo to the maenads: Misandry is not feminist

A depiction of the maenads attacking Achilles.

The Woody Allen chatter won’t end (although it has died down a bit, thankfully), and it’s not the pro-Woody camp that is perpetuating it, but the pro-Mia-Farrow camp, the members of which have an ax to grind — an ax with with to castrate, apparently.

The New York Times on Sunday published Allen’s response to Mia Farrow’s adopted daughter Dylan Farrow’s write-up in the New York Times a week earlier, but one typical ax-weilding castrator for Salon.com wrote today (links are the writer’s, not mine):

… It’s been two weeks since Dylan Farrow published her open letter detailing the alleged sexual abuse she experienced at the hands of Woody Allen. Since then, she has addressed the abuse in interviews with People magazine and the Hollywood Reporter.

It’s been 20 years since Allen held a press conference on the steps of Yale University to announce the findings of the Yale-New Haven Sexual Abuse Clinic’s (incredibly fraught) investigation into Farrow’s allegations.

Since then, he hasn’t much addressed the issue, but really, he doesn’t need to. He is a critically celebrated writer and director in a culture convinced of its own righteousness, confident that it would never grant such distinctions to a sexual predator.

Despite enjoying two decades of the presumption of innocence (and a massive accumulation of wealth), Allen was given column inches on the New York Times editorial page to assert his innocence (and impugn Farrow’s mental health and character) — in the name of “balance.” …

So this is the misandrist’s apparent “argument”: That Woody Allen must be guilty as charged because he has wealth and power (and, of course, because he is a man), and that because he has wealth and power (and testicles), the New York Times should not have given him the opportunity to refute Mia Farrow’s adopted daughter’s serious allegations against him that the Times had recently published.

Because “balance,” you see, means that any female should be able to make any allegation against any male, and if the male refutes any such allegation, then it’s a misogynist attack upon all females. The male should just shut the fuck up and take his castration like a man!

If he is innocent, so what? If he is sacrificed by the gonad-slicing maenads, it’s just to make up for all of the wrongs that other men have done to other women!

This is “justice” to a misandrist, you see. It’s a lot like “justice” to the misogynist: the scales of justice are to tip in favor of the misogynist’s or the misandrist’s own sex.

Fuck objectivity, fuck fairness, fuck justice. Fuck facts, fuck truth, fuck decency. It’s all about the war between the sexes and which side of that war you are on.

I consider myself a feminist. I believe wholeheartedly in equal rights for women.

I wish that far more women were in Washington, D.C., where women are woefully underrepresented; I think that our national priorities, as they are played out in D.C., anyway, would change for the better if more women were in power in D.C.

I keep giving money to Wendy Davis, whom I hope becomes the next governor of Texas. From what I know of her I like her, and I fully support women’s right to govern their own reproductive systems. (I’ve given money to Planned Parenthood and to NARAL, too — and I’m a gay man who has no desire to reproduce myself, so this is from my looking at the bigger picture, not from my looking at only my own narrow, selfish interests.)

While I am not excited about the center-right Billary Clinton, whose actual remarkable accomplishments I don’t see, I would love to see a woman — an actually progressive woman — as president of the United States.

But I assure feminists that the path forward for feminists is not to become the flip side of misogynists, to believe and to operate out of the belief that since women historically have been kept down by men, it’s time now for payback, and women now should exact revenge against those who were born with the XY chromosomes.

Because when you exact revenge upon a whole class of human beings, you are sure to harm the innocent, and while you smugly and self-righteously believe that your revenge is justified, it most certainly is not. True justice is meted out on a case-by-case, often one-on-one, basis, never en masse.

On that note, the chatter about Woody Allen isn’t really about Woody Allen. Allen has been just the stand-in for misandrists to publicly vent their hatred and bile. (Indeed, the headline for the bad Salon.com article that I excerpted above begins with the words “A Nation Ruled by Creeps.” Clearly, many if not most if not even all males are “creeps.” It’s not OK for misogynists to paint females with such a broad brush, but it’s perfectly fine for misandrists to do so to males, you see.) And probably all of recent misandrist chatter (using Woody Allen as an excuse) is meant to strike fear in the hearts of all of those who possess testicles.

Interestingly, in the midst of the for-some-reason-still-ongoing chatter about Woody Allen, I received this e-mail today from Change.org. Its subject line is “I told a lie that put my dad in prison.”

It reads:

When I was eight years old, my mom scared me into telling a lie that would change the course of our family’s life.

One day when I was at home watching my dad work, I came out of the bathroom and my mom asked me if my dad had ever touched me. Confused, I said no. But then she asked me again. And I said no. She kept asking, and I kept saying no, until she became angry and threatened to beat me with a belt until I said yes. I was too young to know that my mom was using drugs at the time, and I was scared. So I said yes.

My dad was convicted of sexually assaulting me and has been in prison for over 15 years for a crime he didn’t commit. Now that I’m an adult and a mom, I’m working hard to right this wrong that should have never happened. I started a petition on Change.org asking for the Governor of New York to pardon my innocent father. Click here to sign my petition.

I remember sometimes during dinner my mom would make excuses to leave so she could find drugs. When my dad would try to stop her, they would fight, and I would cry. Now I know it’s because he wanted her to stay home with the family that he was working so hard to keep together.

After my dad was sent to prison, my siblings and I went to live with my grandmother. I told her the whole truth: that my dad had never touched me, and that my mom taught me all the words to say that would get him in trouble. My mom even admits now that this happened during one of her drug binges, and she doesn’t know why she did it.

I’ve been fighting to set my dad free with this evidence since I was 15 years old — but all of my appeals have been denied. I was recently interviewed about my story by national news, and I believe that this wave of public support can help my case. That’s why I started this petition to pressure Governor Cuomo into pardoning him. Will you help me by signing?

Ask Governor Cuomo of New York to pardon my dad Daryl Kelly, an innocent man, by signing my petition on Change.org.

Thank you so much for your support.

Chaneya Kelly

Gee, reading this woman’s story in her own words, what’s a misandrist to do?

My guess is that your hardcore misandrists, your dyed-in-the-wool man-haters, would respond to this case by claiming that of course Chaneya Kelly is lying, that of course her father sexually abused her, that she just wants to get him out of prison for some reason, maybe out of sympathy (which is antithetical to the misandrist, just as it is to the misogynist), or maybe she’s psychologically all caught up with her abuser and so she wants to protect him (I love that pseudo-psychiatric “diagnosis” — under that “logic,” you see, there is no fucking way in hell that a male accused of sexual abuse ever could be innocent; indeed, the accusation itself is tantamount to guilt!).

There is precedent of women instructing their daughters to lie about sexual abuse in order to exact revenge upon or to otherwise damage men. Perhaps especially when women have strategic reason to instruct their daughters to thusly lie — such as in the midst of a custody battle, as Mia Farrow and Woody Allen were when Farrow accused Allen of having sexually abused Dylan — their accusations need to be examined and investigated very carefully, because such lying happens. Just like actual sexual abuse of females at the hands of males also happens.

All of that said, I still don’t maintain that Woody Allen is guilty or innocent. I was not there. I don’t know for sure. The more that the hysterical misandrists pile upon Woody Allen as some sort of misguided apparent self-therapy for their own apparent wounds, the more, perhaps, I tend to suspect his innocence, but when it comes down to it, I still don’t know.

But I do know that I find misandry to be as unacceptable as is misogyny — because I find sex-based discrimination to be intolerable, regardless of who is engaging in it — and if feminism is to succeed, it cannot make misandry its centerpiece.

Because Woody Allen is just a stand-in for all of the males whom the misandrists despise, of course they’ll never let him off the hook, because they most likely will take their hatred of men with them to their graves.

“Since then [two decades ago], he hasn’t much addressed the issue,” the Salon.com maenad whose piece I excerpted above sniveled about Allen.

The belief there, apparently, is that although Woody Allen never even was criminally charged with sexual abuse, nonetheless, he should have continued to have the mere allegations publicly rubbed in his face constantly for the rest of his life. Indeed, his life should have been ruined by the mere allegations. That he went on to earn a lot of money! How unjust! He should have died already, penniless and alone in abject poverty because he had been absolutely ruined by the allegations! That would have been “justice”! (Just like burning “witches” and tarring and feathering always were “justice”!)

What probably incensed the Allen haters the most about his response in the New York Times on Sunday to the Farrows’ recent flare-ups is that he ended it with these words: “This piece will be my final word on this entire matter and no one will be responding on my behalf to any further comments on it by any party. Enough people have been hurt.”

Indeed, the maenads have wanted the back-and-forth in regards to Woody Allen to continue in perpetuity, but that is made much more difficult when he refuses to play their sick and twisted game.

This (probably, hopefully) will be my final word on the matter, too.

Fuck the maenads. I love feminism, but I hate misandry, and I reject it just as I reject misogyny.

P.S. Bill Cosby apparently is the maenads’ next target. The afore-quoted Salon.com maenad also wrote about him in her aforementioned misandrist post, and another maenad who writes for Slate.com asks today, “Why Doesn’t Anyone Care About the Sexual Assault Allegations Against Bill Cosby?”

Um, because we (are trying to) have lives?

Because not all of us are hysterical man-haters trying to stir up shit from the past that may or may not have any factual basis whatsofuckingever?

P.P.S. Wikipedia defines “feminism” as:

… a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic and social rights for women. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. A feminist advocates or supports the rights and equality of women.

Merriam-Webster defines “feminism” as “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes; organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.”

I’m on board with those definitions, in no small part because as a gay man I am familiar with being treated unequally, but I’m not on board with misandry, and I disagree vehemently with those who wish to make misandry a prerequisite for counting oneself to be a feminist.

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The nanny state can’t save you

Those who decry the “nanny state” — usually wingnuts who don’t want to pay their fair share of taxes and/or who want no governmental restraints on capitalism (because just look at the great effects of unbridled capitalism on our national economy!) – seem to do so pretty fucking selectively.

I can’t believe that the failed attempted bombing of an airliner on Christmas Day still dominates the news headlines (such as “Watch List Grows as Extra Airline Screening Begins,” “Spotty Enforcement for New U.S. Air Screening Rules” and “U.S. Lawmakers to Pore Over Christmas Day Bomb Plot,” all from just today).

Security is important, no doubt, but it’s important every day, and there’s no reason to go ape shit over the occasional security lapse — especially when the lapse resulted in no deaths or devastation. You don’t go ape shit, but you calmly and rationally and intelligently correct the problem, learn from your mistake(s), and then you move on.

Nor should security issues be used politically, as the Repugnicans – whose record on keeping Americans safe is uber-shitty (think 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina) – have been doing since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 that the unelected Bush regime failed to prevent despite the Aug. 6, 2001 presidential daily briefing titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.

Salon.com’s Glenn Greenwald sums up nicely the mentality, stoked mostly by the members of the Repugnican Party and other assorted wingnuts, that keeps the failed Christmas Day bombing attempt alive:

…The citizenry has been trained to expect that our Powerful Daddies and Mommies in government will — in that most cringe-inducing, child-like formulation — Keep Us Safe. Whenever the Government fails to do so, the reaction — just as we saw this week — is an ugly combination of petulant, adolescent rage and increasingly unhinged cries that More Be Done to ensure that nothing bad in the world ever happens.

Demands that genuinely inept government officials be held accountable are necessary and wise, but demands that political leaders ensure that we can live in womb-like Absolute Safety are delusional and destructive. Yet this is what the citizenry screams out every time something threatening happens: please, take more of our privacy away; monitor more of our communications; ban more of us from flying; engage in rituals to create the illusion of Strength; imprison more people without charges; take more and more control and power so you can Keep Us Safe.

This is what inevitably happens to a citizenry that is fed a steady diet of fear and terror for years: It regresses into pure childhood. The 5-year-old laying awake in bed, frightened by monsters in the closet, who then crawls into his parents’ bed to feel Protected and Safe, is the same as a citizenry planted in front of the television, petrified by endless imagery of scary Muslim monsters, who then collectively crawl to Government and demand that they take more power and control in order to keep them Protected and Safe.

A citizenry drowning in fear and fixated on Safety to the exclusion of other competing values can only be degraded and depraved….

Yup.

Again, there is no such thing as absolute security.

Better to deal with one’s neurosis of believing that life can be (or even should be) 100-percent risk-free than to continue to expect the nanny state to keep oneself 100-percent risk-free.

And I, for one, do not miss the post-9/11 days — well, years — in which the unelected Bush regime crammed Terror! Terror! Terror! down our throats 24/7, and it sucks ass that the new year and the new decade are beginning with this bullshit that the presidential election of 2008 should have put behind us.

P.S. While I, possessing a bachelor’s degree in journalism, usually disagree with attacks on the media, I have to agree with Greenwald’s further observation that “political leaders possess an inherent interest in maximizing fear levels, as that is what maximizes their power,” and that

For a variety of reasons, nobody aids this process more than our establishment media, motivated by their own interests in ratcheting up fear and Terrorism melodrama as high as possible. The result is a citizenry far more terrorized by our own institutions than foreign Terrorists could ever dream of achieving on their own.

For that reason, a risk that is completely dwarfed by numerous others — the risk of death from Islamic Terrorism — dominates our discourse, paralyzes us with fear, leads us to destroy our economic security and eradicate countless lives in more and more foreign wars, and causes us to beg and plead and demand that our political leaders invade more of our privacy, seize more of our freedom, and radically alter the system of government we were supposed to have.

The one thing we don’t do is ask whether we ourselves are doing anything to fuel this problem and whether we should stop doing it….

Catering to the basest within us makes the media money, even though it harms the nation (the media corporations are in the business of making money, not doing what’s best for the nation), and my guess is that the reason that all of the mainstream media are guilty of fanning the flames of faux terrorism is that they want to keep up with the competition, so they all cry wolf. (We have FOX “News”; why not WOLF “News,” too?)

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Even unsuccessful terrorist attacks are successful if we respond with terror

Is it me or do Americans actually miss the post-9/11 hysteria? Based upon the it-must-be-a-slow-news-week media coverage and the politicization of an apparent failed attempt of a 23-year-old Nigerian to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day, you’d think so.

There is President Barack Obama, missing only a superhero’s cape, proclaiming that “We will continue to use every element of our national power to disrupt, to dismantle and defeat the violent extremists who threaten us.” Just replace “violent extremists” with “evildoers,” and that sounds like it’s right from the mouth of “war” “president” George W. Bush.

Then there are the hypocritical chickenhawk Repugnicans using the incident for political gain — as though their party weren’t in control of the White House on Sept. 11, 2001, and in August 2005 when Hurricane Katrina struck, with both catastrophes — the former of which I believe quite possibly was preventable, and the latter of which was was wholly preventable — killing more than 2,000 Americans each.

Yeah, the Repugnican Party has a great fucking track record on keeping the “homeland” (I shudder at that Nazi-like term) safe.

Let’s keep this in perspective: a failed attempt is not the same as a successful attempt. And any commercial airliner can be targeted for a terrorist attack at any time. There is no such thing as a completely risk-free ride on a commercial airliner. Never was, never will be.

Yes, let’s be on alert, but let’s not go ape shit.

After all, the purpose of terrorism is to create terror, is it not?

To go all ape shit over something that might have occurred but did not occur only encourages even more attempted terrorism; the ape-shit overreaction only encourages the evildoers because it rewards their behavior.

Duh.

And anyway, I don’t want my illusion of Americans being all tough and bad-ass and fearless being shattered — over something that didn’t even happen, for fuck’s sake — so let’s all chill the fuck out.

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