The Undebatable About the Undeniable
We have not entered into the COVID-19 situation undefiled by our past submissions to the “right-think” inquisitors. We know that from somewhere far above and unseeable has emerged the set of “correct answers” to which we all are expected to bow. They have isolated a single dimension of the good and turned it into a unique and unassailable token of virtue. Anyone who dares to ask difficult questions or to propose an alternate solution can only be motivated by evil motives.
If you limit your resources to the Mainstream Media or the statements of politicians and bureaucrats then these “correct answers” seem obvious. No decent person can possibly object. We find this token of virtue explicitly defined in the recent statement by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (emphasis added):
“I want to be able to say to the people of New York — I did everything we could do,” Cuomo said. “And if everything we do saves just one life, I’ll be happy.”
Do you imagine that this was a unique statement of virtuous idiocy by the Governor of our fourth most populous state and the center of our financial industry? Not by a long shot. For example, “There is no price too high to save a life,” says New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. No price too high? What if the “price” paid drives millions into poverty and despair? Nope, not too high by the leaders of what is now approaching a nation of virtue grasping, hysteria driven recluses.
I implore you to think carefully about these statements. By voicing these supposedly virtuous ideas the good Governors imply that saving “just one life” from COVID-19 would justify policies that could cause many more deaths and untold human misery. But, you see, those deaths and that misery occur outside of the narrow window of moral sight allowed by the “correct answer” proto-totalitarians. Thus we can all skip down the garden path singing of our own indisputable virtue without fear of contradiction.
But the real world cares nothing about our fantasies of virtue. The reality of consequences absolutely independent of our intentions will inexorably come to pass, for example:
- The ruination of a young generation’s hope for financial independence, personal responsibility and initiative due to an economic depression, possibly resulting in embrace of Socialism with it sure death and destruction;
- The increase in suicide, addiction and depression brought on by loss of job, business or retirement savings;
- The increase in divorce caused by the stress of all the above, resulting in many more broken homes and damaged children;
- Reduced national resources to deal with issues of all kinds, from public health to national security to economic independence, resulting in significant increases in death and suffering.
The good news is that, here in the United States, there are many brave souls who are willing to publicly question the received wisdom and propose alternate solutions. This blessing is due to the more robust protection of free speech created by our First Amendment. But this freedom is under continuing, vicious attack. Were we to become passive in its defense we could well end up in a situation described for the United Kingdom as it deals with the COVID-19 crisis (emphasis added).
In an emergency, freedom of speech doesn’t stop being important. It becomes more important. The vast majority of people accept there will be restrictions on their everyday freedoms in the next few months. … But even in a moment like this there should be not a single restriction on freedom of speech. The right to dissent from the middle-class apocalypticism enveloping the Covid-19 crisis is the most important liberty right now.
And it’s a liberty under threat. The speed and intensity with which questioning extreme responses to Covid-19 has become tantamount to a speechcrime is alarming. …
How swiftly we become McCarthyites. How naturally intolerance comes to that section of society that thinks it knows best. …
The right to question this is essential, for two reasons. First, because we should never feel comfortable with restrictions on freedom. Even if we accept them as short-term measures in a mass act of social solidarity to protect life, they should still make us bristle and balk and constantly ask questions: ‘Why is this necessary? When will it end? When will the Coronavirus Bill be repealed?’
And the second reason freedom of speech becomes even more important in a crisis is because of one of the key things that freedom of speech does – it encourages intellectual humility. Freedom of speech is the means through which all of us entertain the possibility that we are wrong. The great service of freedom of speech is that it helps us question ourselves. The unfettered existence of all kinds of interesting, challenging, strange and offensive views is the great and essential guard against our own tendencies to dogma. It invites rethinking, re-evaluation. It gives us that great liberty: the liberty to change our minds.
We must not ignore this warning from our cross-Atlantic cousins. They are farther down the road to depression and tyranny, but we are on the same road just a few steps back.