Tuesday, August 3, 2021

An equal and opposite overreaction

 I was in a Twitter conversation over the weekend that made me think. We were talking about the pandemic, the vaccines, and mitigations when the guy that I was talking with, whose account is now deleted, mentioned that he wasn’t afraid of COVID because he had already had it and had not had any symptoms at all.

I responded that COVID with no symptoms meant that he was an asymptomatic spreader. While that was good news for him, it wasn’t so good for people who were around him if he didn’t isolate himself. I won’t quote his answer since his account is gone and I couldn’t do it accurately, but my next reply was, “I take it you aren't pro-life.” His answer to that was that he opposed the murder of unborn babies.

“So am I,” I answered, “But I’m also against needlessly killing and sickening adults as well.”

Photo by Nadir sYzYgY on Unsplash

The exchange made me wonder why so many people seem to assume that the terms “pro-life” and “anti-abortion” mean the same thing. There is overlap, but the two phrases have specific and different meanings.

“Pro-life” is a general term that could have the synonym “anti-death.” On the other hand, “anti-abortion” states opposition to one specific form of ending lives. Life may begin at conception, but it does not end at birth so why should pro-life actions and beliefs end when the unborn baby is born?

If you look at the issue this way, then both sides can claim to be pro-life, at least in part. The Republican Party is staunchly pro-life when it comes to not killing the unborn, a position that I agree with. Democrats can claim to be pro-life when it comes to not causing needless pandemic deaths. That’s a position that I also agree with. So both parties can legitimately claim to be pro-life and I am more pro-life than either party.

That made me think that there are quite a few other areas in which the two parties can make similar arguments against each other. One that is ripped from recent headlines is the decision to cut and run in Afghanistan. Both Donald Trump’s and Joe Biden’s fingerprints are the decision to withdraw American soldiers and abandon our Afghan allies to the Taliban.

Another is example popped up Sunday night when Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) tweeted, “Inflation is taxation.”

Well, no, it isn’t, even if inflation’s effects on our bank accounts can be compared to taxation. Inflation may be a metaphor for taxation, but do you know what is literally a form of taxation? Tariffs. To her credit, Rep. Stefanik did oppose President Trump’s taxes on trade.

Many Democrats opposed Trump’s tax increases as well. Those same Democrats opposed Republican tax reforms and would like to see increases on at least some taxes under Joe Biden. Once again, very few of us were right on both issues, but we can claim to be more fiscally conservative than either party (especially since both parties also spend like drunken sailors).

As I thought about it, there was another example of an incident where the parties acted similarly. The right’s reaction to the death of Ashli Babbitt has a lot of parallels to the left’s reaction to the death of Michael Brown.

You may not have thought about Michael Brown for a while. There has been a lot of water under the bridge since 2014 when the 18-year-old was shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri after he had allegedly robbed a convenience store.

What does Michael Brown have to do with Ashli Babbitt? The left jumped on reports that Brown was shot by the officer as he tried to surrender and that he was shot in the back. If you think about it, those claims are somewhat mutually exclusive since someone giving himself up would probably not have his back turned to the officer.

The phrase, “Hands up, don’t shoot,” became the mantra of protests and riots that followed, but as it turned out, forensic evidence, as well as a number of eyewitness reports, indicated that Brown was the aggressor. The sum total of the evidence showed that Brown attacked the officer and tried to take his gun. The officer fired, hitting Brown who initially ran away but then turned and attacked the officer again. The officer fired more shots, ultimately killing Brown.

So how is the case of Brown like Ashli Babbitt? Babbitt was also confronted by police while she was committing a crime. Also like Brown, she was the aggressor.

DOJ report on the Babbitt shooting, backed up by video from several different angles, details how she was part of a mob that was trying to break into the House of Represenatives. The rioters were breaking windows in doors inside the Capitol and Babbitt was trying to jump through one of these windows when she was shot.

Neither Brown nor Babbitt was armed, but both were criminals involved in attacking police officers. In both cases, the officers involved acted reasonably, but in both cases partisans rejected the obvious truth.

Many on the left still believe that Michael Brown was executed in the street and many on the right believe that the death of Babbitt, a woman who was part of a mob that was attempting to attack Congress - and any police who stood in their way - was unjustified. In truth, the lesson in the two cases is the same: Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. What we end up with is two tragic but justified shootings and political activists that are engaged in an equal and opposite overreaction.

The most shocking thing about Babbit’s death is that she was the only rioter killed that day. The officers defending the Capitol would have been clearly justified under federal law in using deadly force against the attackers and I am sympathetic to the argument that a mob comprised of people of different ideologies or hues might well have been given a hotter reception.

Neither party has a lock on morality or even good policy ideas, just as neither is uniformly pro-life. More and more I see both parties as deeply flawed and unworthy of leading the country. We need an alternative.


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Thanks to everyone who has asked about and prayed for my wife during her bout with COVID-19. Debi has had a relatively mild case with Monday being her eighth day since infection. My son and I both tested negative on Monday. We didn’t test my daughter, but she hasn’t had any symptoms.

I think that we owe all of that good news to both God’s grace and the vaccines. I firmly believe that her mild illness is largely due to her vaccination while the vaccines probably kept the rest of us from getting sick at all. Anecdotally, the doctor who gave me my test said that about 20 percent of the positive results that he has seen recently are people who are vaccinated.

Another anecdote is that Debi has a friend who is also positive. This friend is unvaccinated and seems to be having a much worse experience with high fevers, fatigue, and generally worse symptoms than Debi. The friend said she didn’t want to the vaccine because people got sick even if they were vaccinated. She seems to have missed the point, however, and now she’s committed to fighting the virus on her own while simultaneously trying to keep up with a one-year-old (who is also positive but whose main symptom seems to be that is has made him more hyper).

Debi has had low-grade fevers with some headaches, coughing, sneezing, and stomach problems. She still has her sense of taste but seems to have lost her sense of smell. Her other symptoms seem to be improving so hopefully her sense of smell will return soon as well.

After her diagnosis last week, Debi isolated herself in the bedroom to protect the rest of the family and that strategy seems to have worked. She has come out occasionally to walk outside or sit on the porch to get fresh air.

Debi was concerned about our dogs since there is a risk of canine infection so we’ve kept them away from her as well. She took the photo below of our dogs staring into the bedroom past the cooler that we set up for her and some boxes of drinks. The doggos could easily get past the obstacles and into the bedroom but they usually stop at the door and just watch her. They definitely sense that something is not as it should be.

That experience made us wonder if any of our readers had stories about how their animals reacted to owners with COVID. If you have a story, we’d love to hear it.

May be an image of dog and indoor
Photo credit: Debi Thornton/Facebook

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