Category: current events

You’re Not the COVID Police

I get it. We’ve all been dealing with COVID (in one way or another) for well over a year now. We’re all getting very tired of this whole ordeal. (At least, I assume I speak for everyone with that statement. Maybe there’s someone out there who thinks this is all a blast?) But one thing that’s definitely not helping is to have people start sniping at other people over the things those people are doing when it comes to COVID.

This goes both ways. You’ve got people who are yelling at other people for not wearing masks and others who are yelling at them because they’re wearing masks. You’ve got people upset that others are going on vacations, and others who are upset because more people aren’t going out and living their lives.

I have plenty of friends on Facebook. My feed is filled right now with pictures of them out and about, having fun in different places. Some of the places they’re having fun seem like situations I personally wouldn’t go to at the moment. Anything in-doors, unmasked, basically. Most of the places are out of doors, and I wouldn’t blink at doing that, especially if you can stay somewhat distant from other people.

But what I’m not doing is wasting time worrying about what they’re doing. My friends are grown adults, capable of making their own decisions, and they certainly don’t need to clear their activities with me before they go out and have fun. So instead, I’m trying to assume the best. Assume they’re all vaccinated. Assume they’ve already had COVID and so are immune for at least 6 months. Assume the people they’re with are in their personal bubbles. Assume they’re making the best decisions they can with the information they have available to them.

Right now, there are a million different approaches to “what’s right” when it comes to COVID. I went out to play tennis with a friend Saturday. We were at the local high school in the morning. Sunny. Breezy. Gorgeous. Neither of us was wearing a mask, because everything I know about this disease says that outside playing tennis is not the way I’m going to catch it. We never got within six feet of each other. It felt very safe to me. But then someone from the high school came to inform us that we all had to be wearing masks to use the court.

I went and put my mask on. I didn’t complain. I didn’t protest about my rights or about this being America or whatever. I was grateful I could use the public courts, and I’m willing to do whatever I’m asked to do, even if I may feel it’s overkill. (I’ve been on the other side of that interaction, having to tell people they can’t eat or drink in the library, and that they need to put their mask on. When it comes to my building, I am the COVID police, because I need to ensure people are following the rules for using our space.)

I’m sure if I had posted a picture of my friend and I playing tennis, some would have seen it and been disappointed we weren’t masked. I in turn would be disappointed in them for thinking so little of me as to assume I wasn’t being careful. Right now, it feels like following COVID guidelines is a lot like being a good driver. Everyone sees the choices they’re making as being justified and necessary and right, and it’s too easy to see the things other people are doing as reckless or too concerned.

This is coming from a person who very much believes this pandemic is real, and who’s very much concerned that people are treating it too lightly, on the whole. That said, I don’t believe people are going to be guilt tripped into following “the rules,” regardless of what you may believe those rules to be. (And that’s the thing, isn’t it? We all have different opinions of what you should and shouldn’t be doing, and it’s pretty much impossible to “prove” your opinion is right.) And so since pointing fingers isn’t going to do any good at all, what use is it to waste all that time, energy, and goodwill on something that does nothing to actually help the situation other than (debatably) make you feel better for having “done something”?

It’s easier to assume the best, remind ourselves we’re all in this together, and just keep plugging away as best we can.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Assessing Risk as We Approach Post-Pandemic

One aspect of the pandemic that’s been frustrating to me is the continued inability for us to assess risk. What’s really dangerous for us to do, and what isn’t? Part of this came (for a long time) from the fact that we just didn’t understand that much about the virus. We assumed it was like other viruses, and so the emphasis at first was on washing hands and cleaning surfaces. Masks were dismissed as overkill. However, as time has gone by, the studies have continually identified that surface transmission just isn’t that likely. One of the few studies that actually tried to estimate it put it at less than 5 in 10,000.

But here’s the thing: I have no idea what that actually translates into when it comes to real world applications. 5 in 10,000. Does that mean if there are 10,000 interactions with a person touching a contaminated surface, then 5 of those will result in a new COVID case? Is that high? Is that low? I have no clue. Lab studies have been done to try and identify how long the virus lives on different surfaces, but those studies were almost all done in lab conditions, starting with a ton of the virus, and then checking to see how long that high concentration of the virus would live. They didn’t check to see what it was like when all sorts of variables are introduced.

But because scientists can’t guarantee the virus doesn’t get passed from person to person via infected surfaces, they’re not comfortable telling people they don’t need to worry about cleaning surfaces as vigorously. And so we live in a world where libraries continue to quarantine books for 3 days before they’re put back on the shelves. (Some libraries are quarantining for a week. I’ve heard others say they have no plans to ever stop quarantining books, since it “just makes sense” from a health perspective.) When I go to church, the pulpit is disinfected between every speaker. The pews are all wiped down after each meeting, even though there won’t be anyone else in there for another week. And that’s here in the hinterlands of Maine. (Well, hinterlands by most people’s standards. By Mainer standards, I’m just a bit of a ways off. Nowhere near hinterland status.)

I understand some of it. You want to feel safe, and so it’s important to feel like you’re doing something to make yourself safe. But the science has more and more indicated that air is much, much more dangerous than surfaces. Masks and ventilation are where to put the focus, and even when it comes to masks, it’s almost all on indoor mask usage. Outdoor transmission just really doesn’t happen. But my kids’ nordic teams have all been skiing all winter with masks on.

Then again, which is more important? That you ingrain in people the need to wear masks to be protected, so that they can remember to wear them indoors where it’s important, or a general loose approach to masks, which might lead to them being ignored indoors?

So much of dealing with the pandemic has come down (in my opinion) to a difficulty in assessing risk. As a relatively young, healthy person with none of the mitigating health factors to make my risk for serious COVID spike, my personal risk all along has been quite low, I’ve felt. I’d have to contract the disease (not a sure thing) and even if I did, the odds were strongly in my favor for coming through it just fine. Likewise, all my immediate family here in Maine also falls into the same low risk category. If my only concern were for protecting my family, I pretty much could have ignored the whole pandemic, gone about my regular life, and almost definitely been fine at the end of it. (This is, naturally, ignoring the restrictions placed on me by my work and my government, which I wouldn’t have done. But this is a thought experiment, folks. Work with me.)

I only took one philosophy class in college, but it was a good one, and I still remember Kant’s categorical imperative. Basically, it’s the thought that you should only act in a way that you would be comfortable with if it were made the universal law. How I’ve always understood it is that if what you did as an individual caused little relative harm, but if it were done by all people would cause a great deal of harm, you shouldn’t do that thing. COVID has been a perfect example of that, for me. Yes, I could have ignored it, but by doing so, if everyone else ignored it as well, a huge portion of the country would suffer. We’ve seen this played out time and time again across the world. It’s why I haven’t eaten in a restaurant in a year and a half. It’s why I haven’t gone on a vacation in the same time frame.

Except now we’re beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and my thoughts are shifting away from how we needed to be acting to preserve everyone’s health. There’s all this discussion about what you can and can’t do once you’re vaccinated. And as I hear much of it, it seems to me the goal has shifted from “flatten the curve” to “make sure no one dies from COVID” and now to “make sure no one gets sick with COVID.”

It’s true that there are aspects to this disease that we still don’t understand, and I do worry that some of them may have longterm implications, especially long COVID. But one thing the vaccines do well is reduce the severity of the disease to the point that (as I understand it) no one gets a bad version of the disease after they’ve been properly vaccinated. If that’s true, then once I’m vaccinated, I’m really no longer concerned with getting the disease at all. Though I’m still uncertain what the odds are for unvaccinated children catching the disease, and how at risk they are. From what I’ve read, it’s very very low risk, but I’d love to have some concrete advice out there by doctors outlining what’s recommended.

But I don’t think the advice should be centered around “no one gets COVID.” If having COVID is no longer nearly as dangerous, I’d like to focus on reducing risk to an acceptable level. (You could say that’s what this has been about all along, with people having different views on what an “acceptable level of risk” is.)

In the end, I want guidelines that are more like “wear a mask” as opposed to “wash all surfaces.” I don’t need busywork to keep me feeling like I’m doing something, even when I’m doing nothing. There’s a whole lot of health theater happening right now. I realize some of it might be necessary, but that doesn’t mean I don’t roll my eyes a bit at it. (For the record, my library is still quarantining books for 3 days, mainly because it’s been an agreed upon standard for all libraries in the state, and I definitely want people feeling safe around our library books. I believe they are safe, but if it takes a 3 day quarantine to prove that to people, so be it.)

I don’t know. Today’s post has been all over the place, and I don’t have the time to go back and edit it down. If you want some further reading on the topic, I recommend this article in Nature that was pointed out to me today. I know the CDC’s supposed to be coming out with more recommendations on what vaccinated people can safely do. I hope that includes children in the mix somehow, because that’s an area I feel has really been ignored. If any of you have any good resources or articles you’ve come across that intersect this topic, please pass them my way. I’d love to check them out.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Big Problems, No Solutions: How Daylight Savings Time Embodies America’s Current Inability to Address Problems

Every year, it’s the same routine. I see a slew of complaints on Facebook and hear them from my friends and family, all focused on what a pain it is to lose an hour to Daylight Savings Time. Yes, many talk about how they’re excited to get more daylight in the evening, but the actual process itself is a real pain in the keister. And every single year, I wonder why in the world we’re still doing this. It’s 2021. The time change seems like one area where there’s almost universal consensus that we’d be better off without. So why can’t we just fix it? Easy problem. Easy solution.

Except it isn’t, clearly, for a number of reasons.

Yesterday I read this article on CNN that highlighted some of the issues that come up around this topic. Some points stood out to me. First off, when asked if they’d like to keep Daylight Savings Time year round, keep Standard Time year round, or keep the current system of switching between DST and ST, 28% of Americans said they wanted to keep it like it is. 28% is a much higher number than I anticipated. In all my years of complaining about the time change, I have never once had someone tell me they like the time change, and they’d be sad if it went away.

Now, some of those 28% probably say they want to keep it because they just don’t feel like it’s a big enough problem to bother with. Some must (somehow) like the time changes, true, but a chunk of those aren’t wedded to the idea. They just don’t have strong enough feelings around it one way or the other. However, if 28% want it to stay, that means 72% (give or take) want it to go. So the vast majority of Americans want the thing gone. But of those, 31% want to keep DST year round, and 40% want to keep standard time.

And so here we are, stuck with a thing only 28% of the country is satisfied with (to one extent or another) because the majority can’t agree on a solution.

I bring it up today not really just to complain about how I don’t like the time switch each year. More just to highlight how hard it is to fight against the status quo. This is a very simple problem. It doesn’t involve religion or political biases (that I’m aware of? Maybe there’s some sort of lobby out there for keeping the time change?) I don’t remember a single time I’ve gotten in a heated argument online or in-person over the issue. But here we are, stuck with doing the same thing every year, even though we don’t want to do it.

What’s the solution? What if we somehow went with a ranked choice vote on the matter and committed to the results? I think a majority of Americans would choose either going to DST all year or staying with standard time all year. So at least we’d be with the majority’s first or second choice, instead of the minority’s first.

But beyond the simple issue of solving this first world problem lies the bigger one. If we can’t come together to solve easy things, how in the world can we ever be expected to solve big things like our disaster of a healthcare system?

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

$1.9 Trillion: Too Much Help?

I am not an economist. This post isn’t going to be about the nuts and bolts about how government money should or shouldn’t be spent. I’d be out of my league, and there are many other places you could go to get information on that. Of course, the places you choose to go will in all likelihood simply confirm the pre-existing opinion you have on the subject. If you think government spending is out of control and this is just the latest sign of that, I’ve already read plenty of articles that agree with you. If you think we’re in the worst economic, social, and health crisis our nation has seen in decades (at least) and that necessitates extreme measures, then again, I’ve already read plenty of articles that agree with you.

Some people like to point out that the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill is popular, and they’re baffled why no Republicans supported it. Republicans like to point out that just because something’s popular doesn’t make it right, and it’s pretty easy to be popular if you’re handing out money. They express concern that this extreme spending will in turn cause extreme problems for the country in the future. They might be right. As I said: I am not an economist, and I’m not qualified to pass judgement on those sort of things.

No, in the end I’m just a librarian, and so by profession, I’m much more likely to end up on the side of the people trying to help out the general populace than the ones trying to hold onto the purse strings. I have a fair number of opinions about this whole mess we’re in, and they’ve been stewing in my head for a while. I wanted to see if I couldn’t get some of them out of me so I could make more sense of it all.

First, America is a wealthy, wealthy country. The 11th wealthiest country in the world, and the ones ahead of us are much, much smaller. (So it’s easier for the averages of the country to be tipped by a relatively few number of wealthy individuals.) There’s no way to argue we’re a poor country, and I don’t think anyone realistically would. What have other wealthy countries been doing to address the COVID crisis? Is the American response grossly out of line with what other nations have been doing? There are reports that have compiled this sort of information. Let’s break it down for 10 of the top wealthiest countries with significant populations:

NationCOVID Stimulus (in Trillions)GDP (in Trillions)% of GDP
USA$5.6$21.4326%
China$1.4* $14.3410%
Japan$2.1$5.0841%
Germany$1.0**$3.8626%
India$0.1$2.873%
United Kingdom$0.6***$2.8321%
France$0.3**$2.7211%
Italy$0.5**$2.0025%
Brazil$0.1$1.845%
Canada$0.2$1.7411%
*China hasn’t really been forthcoming with exactly what it’s done, so this number is hard to pin down.
**The EU passed a $450 billion dollar COVID relief measure in addition to these separate efforts by countries
***The UK passed several other measures that weren’t immediately clear as to how much they cost

One thing to note is that in the process of trying to fill out this chart, I realized just how difficult it was to compare things across the board. This is my best 5 minute math estimate. Actual economists would no doubt have a better, more reliable number for you. Also, if you take away the lates $1.9 trillion stimulus bill that just went through, then the US’s % of GDP would have dropped to 17%.

Looking at this back-of-the-napkin math, there appears to be a fairly large range of approaches to handling COVID and the fallout from the pandemic. Much has also been done through monetary policy and not just fiscal spending. However, it appears to me that American hasn’t exactly broken the piggybank when it comes to dealing with this crisis. Yes, you could delve into the intricacies of the relief measures, but you could no doubt do that with any of the other countries up there on that list.

Is it a lot of money? Yes. But it’s also a singular problem our nation is facing. The Republican hand-wringing around the subject loses a fair bit of credence for me when I see them now arguing we need to do away with the estate tax and when you keep in mind the Trump tax cuts that skewed heavily to the wealthy. Income inequality is only getting worse in America, but it feels to me like the Republicans have at this point abdicated all hope of actually being any sort of a party that represents people other than strict conservatives and rich people. A large part of my perception is no doubt influenced by the fact that I’m around a slew of college-aged students every day. I talk with them. I’m friends with them. I hear about what they’re worried about and what they hope to accomplish. And then I’m the parent of three school kids. So when I read about pundits and people dismissing these students as snowflakes or uninformed or manipulated, it just doesn’t carry any weight with me.

I’m impressed with the youth of today. I think they’re genuinely interested in making the world a better place, and all they’re looking for in return is a chance at having the sort of life their parents (or grandparents) had. They see real problems with the way minorities are treated in this country, and they’re much more willing to be compassionate and understanding with people who aren’t like them. They’re a generation that has grown up seeing a ton of hypocrisy, and they’re very good at spotting it. Gun violence, income inequality, LGBTQ+ rights, racial injustice, and more. These are all issues they’re passionate about, because they’re issues that affect them.

This is a generation that has been affected by not one, not two, but three separate national crises. Between 9/11, the great recession, and now COVID, that’s a 20 year span of living under extreme measures. It’s going to skew anyone’s perception, but for people who grew up in it, they don’t know any different. The world we live in now is a very different one than the world I grew up in, and yet so many Republicans seem to want to insist that it hasn’t changed, and that our responses to what’s happening don’t need to change.

Is $1.9 trillion too much money? You could argue it is. Maine will be seeing much more coming from the government than it lost in its budget over the past year, to the point that lawmakers are wondering what to do with it all. I have worked steadily throughout the pandemic, and I’ve seen 100% of every stimulus check that’s been available. I know I’m not alone in that. Though at the same time, my position could easily have been much worse. There are universities and colleges that have folded in the last year, after all.

In the end, it’s hard for me to get behind the argument that we don’t have the money to spend, when we spend so much money on things like our military or tax cuts. If we have enough money to fund drone strikes abroad, how can we justify the inequality we have here at home? I realize that as soon as I say that, I risk having a number of Republican friends roll their eyes at my bleeding heart and begin to debate whether it’s worth it to write a comment explaining to me The Way Things Are. And that’s how it comes across when they do it. Like they’re the only reasonable person in the room, and it’s on them to explain why we can’t buy All the Things, but we still have to buy the things they happen to believe we need to buy. Each time this dynamic plays out, I believe there are fewer Republicans at the end of the conversation, as more and more people throw their hands up at the whole thing and start looking into joining a commune.

Speaking from experience at the small university where I work, there are a ton of hard working people who do the best they can with what they’ve been given in terms of a budget. I see the same story played out in libraries across the state and the Northeast and even the country, in my conversations with other librarians in the field. And these are individuals who consistently see their budgets cut (in libraries specifically and higher education for my part of Maine) because they’re deemed non-essential. And yet I also see the first generation students who come here and have their lives changed for the better because of what they experience here. I see the children in public libraries who grow to love reading. I see the community members who can’t afford internet access who are able to suddenly do so much more because of what libraries offer.

And I see that a small slice of the $1.9 trillion is going to libraries. More money than libraries have received from the federal government in years. And I see a chunk of the money going to higher education, a sector that’s been really negatively affected by COVID. This money is desperately needed. The same applies to my local school. And to think that for once, those institutions will be looking at more money than they’ve gotten recently doesn’t make me shake my head and wonder why in the world we’re wasting that money on those places. It makes me excited to think of what they’ll be able to do with it.

If that’s the case with the small piece of the COVID relief bill that I’m actually somewhat qualified to opine on, I don’t think it’s a huge stretch to think it’s the case for much of the rest of it. So I’m not going to stand up and say it’s too much money. If anything, I hope it’s a change. A sign that we might start begin to offer adequate funding to the institutions we rely on as a society to look out for the underprivileged and to enable the framework that makes the American Dream possible. You can’t pull yourself up by your bootstraps if you don’t have any bootstraps. Education, libraries, infrastructure, and the ability to avoid crippling debt are, in my mind, a basic bootstrap component.

I’m out of time for today. There’s more I’d like to say, but it’ll have to wait for the comments section or a future post. But for today, I’ll just go on the record that I’m grateful the COVID bill passed and leave it at that.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Canceling Dr. Seuss?

If you follow children’s books at all (or even just the news in general), you likely saw the story yesterday on the decision by Dr. Seuss Enterprises to stop publishing 6 Dr. Seuss books due to racist imagery contained in them. In a nutshell, the publisher decided those 6 books crossed a line it was no longer comfortable crossing, and so they’ve voluntarily stopped publishing those titles.

First, it should be noted that this is a sort of self-censorship. No one asked the company to stop publishing the titles. The government didn’t require them to do this. True, you could argue the company decided simply to preemptively censor itself because it was concerned about what the fallout would be if it chose to keep the status quo, but at that point, you might as well start complaining when fast food chains stop offering fare that isn’t as popular or is causing financial headaches for it. Also, it’s important to note this was a decision the Dr. Seuss folks came up with on their own. Random House didn’t force them into it.

That said, is Dr. Seuss being canceled, as so many people have started to claim? And should this move have been made? First, seeing how popular Dr. Seuss books are, and how this is a fraction of the books in his catalog (less than 10%), I think you’d be hard pressed to say he was being canceled. Because of the announcement, Seuss books rocketed to the top of Amazon’s bestseller list, taking up half of the top 20, for example. I don’t think anyone should really worry about Seuss suddenly disappearing from the shelves of bookstores.

Should the decision have been made? The books in question contain blatant stereotypes, and they’re aimed squarely at very young children. If you’d like to stop perpetuating those stereotypes, a good way to begin is by doing your best to have children stop being exposed to them at an early age. That said, if they hadn’t been stopped being printed, I also wouldn’t have been calling for their elimination. I would have just . . . not bought them.

But then again, I’m pretty agnostic when it comes to what should and shouldn’t be published. Calling for any one thing to stop being printed is a good way to put other things you want printed at risk. In other words, censoring things you don’t like might feel good at first, but then it starts spreading into people censoring things you do like, and it’s all downhill from there. I don’t think Huck Finn should be banned. I don’t think Dr. Seuss needs to be banned. But this isn’t a banning of Dr. Seuss. This is a decision by Seuss folks to stop publishing some Seuss books. Does that make it sound better?

I wonder if all the people clamoring against it would be clamoring quite so hard if the item being cut were something else they already didn’t like . . . I think of all the furor over books like And Tango Makes Three, for example. It’s hard to make the argument that a book about gay penguins can’t be put in front of impressionable young minds while also saying that a book containing blatantly racist caricatures can, though the reverse of that is also true. The key difference here is that it’s a publisher and the entity in charge of Seuss’s books making the decision, not a library or a school or the government.

All of that said, this does highlight once again the simple fact that people are human, regardless of their professional or public role. Theodore Geisel made some flagrantly racist political cartoons. He also wrote a slew of beloved books for children. If we start to limit what we’ll watch, read, or listen to based solely on a purity-of-the-artist test, I tend to think we’ll end up with nothing to watch, read, or listen to. But sometimes there are cases where the art itself is questionable. We always have the option to not watch, read, or listen to it, whether it’s about gay penguins or kids running a circus. Likewise, a company has the option of deciding not to print it, just like an artist can decide not to create it.

This is fairly easily translated over to other areas of pop culture. If a person is making inflammatory remarks on Twitter, the person’s employer can choose to stop employing that person, especially if they work in a position where image is key. That’s not canceling. That’s a business decision. That person is free to go find someone else to employ them, and if enough people want to hear what that person has to say, they’ll still find a platform to say it.

But the more I write on this topic, the more something’s feeling offf to me. I read this piece in the Deseret News this morning that essentially calls out both sides for creating an environment where people feel unsafe to question anything that might deviate from the popular norm. I’m still not sure what my thoughts are around it. For a long time, it seemed like censorship was a favored tool of conservatives and right. McCarthyism comes to mind, and the fear that went along with it. I said earlier in this post that what the Seuss Foundation was doing was self-censorship, and Bari Weiss, the author of that article I just linked to, cited self-censorship frequently as well.

If people refuse to speak because they’re terrified that they’ll say the wrong thing, how is that different from not being allowed to speak in the first place? There are nuances there, true, but is the end result the same? I’m sure there are some on the left who say people should self-censor. That there are things that no one should say, because they’re wrong-headed, out-dated, or whatever.

To me, the more I think about it, the more this sort of self-censorship is dangerous ground to walk on and encourage. As long as it’s in line with what you don’t agree with, then it might feel appropriate or warranted, but once that path is well-worn, it becomes much easier for things you want to protect to be deemed worthy of self-censorship as well.

Is “cancel culture” a new phrase for “censorship”? When they’re both viewed in that light, do we see any similarities between the two that make us uncomfortable?

I guess for me the conclusion (as it’s always been for me in the past) is “it’s complicated.” And anyone trying to reduce it to a simple black and white issue is being overly reductive. Hopefully this post has shown that I’m still stuck in the middle on this topic. I’d really love to hear some other points of view, though I ask that they remain cordial. (Am I asking people to self-censor? If that’s what it takes for people to treat each other kindly, then yes.)

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