Today's scorecard starts with Lexington, Kentucky pastor Tim Parsons, who died after his church had advised parishioners not to worry about COVID because "God is in Control."
As someone who does not believe in the Great White Alpha Male In The Sky Who Micromanages Individual Lives and Grants Wishes like a Bottle Genie, this kind of thing makes me nuts. I've never had patience with this, and I started having less after Mr. Brilliant was diagnosed with bladder cancer in March 2013 and I was plowing through online communities looking for other people for him to talk with and every time someone would go into remission, it would be because "God is good." I always wondered how that made the people feel whose cancer didn't respond to treatment or who had a recurrence. I see it in the moyamoya groups now, where successful cerebrovascular bypass is credited to God and the skilled neurosurgeon who DRILLED INTO THEIR SKULL is ,what, chopped liver?
This morning I watched this lovely video of how The Neurosurgeon Formerly Known At The Old Place As Dr. Chess Club saved a baby from a DIFFERENT congenital brain disorder, and if the parents had credited God instead of the good doctor, I think my head might have exploded.
It's infuriating because this belief in a micromanaging deity protecting the anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers from COVID because they pray, or go to the right church, is not just causing unnecessary deaths, but these people see their pastors, their kids' teachers, and the owner of the local convenience store die, and yet they still somehow think their deity doesn't want them to wear a mask. I just don't get it.
Then we have this rocket scientist, Georgia police captain Joe Manning, who died this week at age 57, leaving behind a wife, three children, eight grandchildren, and a Facebook page full of anti-vaccine messages and advocacy of Ivermectin as a COVID treatment.
Why are these people so UNwilling to try to prevent COVID, but so eager to try whatever snake oil QAnon kooks and right-wing talk show hosts can cook up? Distrust in the medical establishment is nothing new; the growth of the anti-vaccine movement has been occurring for at least a decade and a half, with high-profile anti-vaxxers such as Robert Kennedy Jr. and possible future Jeopardy host and "nerve supplement" snake oil pitchperson Mayim Bialik disseminating erroneous information from a since-discredited study about vaccines and autism. Then there's the Great Conspiracy (TM) to keep "natural cancer cures" -- plants you can grow at home -- away from us in the name of Big Pharma Money, never explaining how pharma is keeping plants anyone can grow away from us.
Yes, some drugs have adverse effects, and some cancer treatments don't work,, or don't work for all kinds of cancer, and occasionally there is data manipulation and big drug scandals like DES and thalidomide (the latter of which has demonstrated effectiveness in some forms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma) and Baycol. And yes, the active ingredient in the statin drug lovastatin (monacolin K) comes from red yeast rice, which meant that all red yeast rice supplements sold in the US have this removed. BUT....when was the last time you saw someone with a new case of polio? Never, right? Especially if you are under 40. You know why? Vaccines.
And now we move onto our third tragedy of the day in the person of Caleb Wallace. Wallace has been hospitalized with COVID-19 since early August after self-medicating with vitamin C, zinc, an inhaler, and -- wait for it -- Ivermectin. According to his wife on the family's GoFundMe page, he will be moved to comfort care tomorrow. If this is anything like the comfort care Mr. Brilliant had, it will involve removal of the ventilator and what's called palliative sedation -- enough fentanyl to allow the person to let go painlessly.
This one punches me in the gut because I've been in Jessica Wallace's situation (only I wasn't eight months pregnant the way she is), and it's awful. Caleb Wallace may be an archetypal Trumpazoid:
In addition to the rally, Caleb organized "The San Angelo Freedom Defenders," a group "to educate and empower citizens to make informed choices concerning local, statewide, and national policy and to encourage them to actively participate in their duty to secure God-given and constitutionally protected rights," as stated on the group's Facebook page.
...but his wife is not. I can't fault her for not nagging him to change his mind, because men will dig in their heels the more you nag them. Or perhaps she tried and took the path of least resistance. In the latest update on the GoFundMe page, she says "I prayed he’d come out of this with a new perspective and more appreciation for life. "
How do you grieve for someone who put erroneous beliefs, politics and fealty to a carnival barker over being there for his wife and kids? I am not about to judge a woman with three small children and another one on the way who has hospital bills piling up, a husband for whom she has had to make "the decision," who has to deal with the vitriol of people venting their frustration about anti-vaxxers and who has to resort to crowdfunding to keep her head above water -- especially one who ISN'T an anti-vaccine anti-masker. I'll be thinking of her tomorrow because I do know what it's like.
What's it going to take? When is this madness of horse dewormers and bleach drinking and other assorted fuckery hawked by people with no expertise going to stop? When is self-destruction going to be decoupled from the idea of "freedom"? I already know the answer, and it's "never." Because when we didn't care enough about 20 dead children in Newtown, Connecticut to do something sensible about guns because people like the guys now dying of COVID in the name of "freedom" are so terrified of a Black Planet that they have to pack an AR-15 to go to Walmart, that's when we should have realized that in the United States of America, "Christian conservatism" is a death cult.