Hey Everyone, It’s “Totalitarian Slogan Time!”

I clicked on an article from USA Today — a most aptly named rag at this moment — not to read the story, of course, but to see the pictures. Two pictures, to be precise.

The first is a lighted roadside sign, the kind that normally says things like, “Church potluck at 7pm,” or “Everyone welcome.” This one reads, “Keep Social Distancing.” And for an extra cute touch of propaganda, the photo is carefully staged to include a very old man in a mask walking by in the foreground.

The second, a big blue billboard from your friends at “covid19.ca.gov,” reads “Stay home. Save lives.” How nice. Does this mean that if you do not stay home, you are costing lives? Yes, of course it does, because nothing says “We care” like a public shaming campaign and a government boot on your throat.

As for that formula, “Stay home. Save lives,” I wonder how the experts did the math on that one. For example, how do they define “life” in this context, or “saving”? Furthermore, how do they know that the cumulative lives you will “save” by staying home outnumber those that might be lost due to the effects of crippling the world economy, postponing or shelving non-coronavirus medical priorities, or generally undermining natural human sociability, moral connectedness, and hope. Not to mention — oh god, how dare I think this aloud? — the potential lives lost by not letting this thing run its course through the community in a more normal way, so that a greater number of healthy people develop some measure of immunity or antibodies, as quickly as possible, in order to be able to resist its harshest effects more easily in the future.

Here is my alternative slogan, directed at governments and their media mouthpieces everywhere: “Shut up. Save lives.”

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