Because I have an unhealthy habit of reading all of the headlines from multiple news sources on several social media channels, I have been taking in a lot of heavy, heartbreaking, and anxiety-provoking information. People are losing homes to wildfires and hurricanes. The situation in Afghanistan is horrific. And COVID-19 is everywhere and people are fighting for their lives; many are dying. When I read that another anti-masker or anti-vaxxer is positive for COVID or died of it my reaction is not one of compassion, though. Serves you right, I think. I know I’m not alone, and, no, we’re not horrible people. We’re fed up and our empathy is gone.
Over the weekend I saw that Marc Bernier, a Florida conservative radio host who called himself “Mr. Anti-Vax,” had died after being hospitalized with COVID. He should not be confused with another conservative DJ named Dick Farrel who also died of the virus after refusing to get the vaccination. These dead men are now in the company of Caleb Wallace, co-founder of the San Angelo Freedom Defenders and an anti-mask organizer and who lead rallies to protest mask mandates. On November 13, 2020 he said this, “My health has nothing to do with you. As harsh as that sounds, but our constitutional, fundamental rights protect that. Nothing else. I’m sorry if that comes off as blunt and that I don’t care. I do care. I care more about freedom than I do for your personal health.”
Well, he’s certainly free of all the things now and it’s a bummer his “fundamental rights” didn’t care about his health. Too soon? Too harsh? I don’t think so.
I, we, scientists, medical professionals, anyone with common sense and human decency have been offering proof, pleas, and even prayers for every person to get a vaccine and wear a mask—yes, even if vaccinated. I don’t know these three men, but I wish they had taken the recommended and necessary steps to have prevented their illness and death. I don’t agree with their political views and likely wouldn’t agree with much of what they say, but I wasn’t wishing for their death.
Wishing these stories of irony and regret would mean wishing the destruction these people caused because of their actions and arrogance. I’m not sad for the anti-vax, anti-mask, COVID denying conspiracy theorists; I feel empathy for the people who had to clean up their mess. Despite my lack of fucks to give over these idiots who spread misinformation and unfounded fear, I care about the health care workers and hospital workers who are burnt out and barely hanging on. Those are the people I have empathy for.
There have been too many stories of nurses and doctors begging people to protect each other through vaccinations and masks. They have seen and heard the end-of-life wishes of patients. They have seen people both begging to be saved and begging to be let go because of how awful this virus is to those on death’s door.
Even Dick Farrel had called Dr. Fauci a “lying freak” prior to his hospitalization, but before he died texted a friend and told her to get the vaccine and said he wished he had. She obliged. Why do we have to wait until something impacts us directly to take someone seriously or to have it feel personal? Why, when so many people put faith in a God they have never seen or a Q leader they don’t know the name of, do people deny the existence of science and reality of over 637,000 COVID-19 deaths in the United States?
Sorry, Dick, but you had it coming. Sadly, you and others probably impacted the decisions of others who also got sick, infected loved ones and strangers and placed stress on our hospital systems, teachers, parents, and front line workers. I have zero empathy for the people willingly adding to the number of COVID cases and deaths because of their “freedoms.” Freedom to die? To destroy the mental health and financial security of others? Fuck your freedom.
I feel bad for the people who loved these people. The children, friends, and spouses who are left behind didn’t need to experience this outcome.
I’m pissed for them. I’m livid at the state of humanity and the ongoing number of people who decide taking horse medication will save you from COVID. I want to launch people into space who continue to speak out against public health measures and mask mandates, especially in our schools. I want to scream into a void for days over the fact that so many people get sucked into nonsensical beliefs because they amplify their own doubts as they cling to a political or religious identity. These people are too selfish and arrogant to engage in critical thinking or any amount of what they view as sacrifice.
It’s okay if you’re angry too. I continue to say that we could have avoided this. We could be in such a better place if people had just taken care of one another. But we’re still here. We’re still navigating a pandemic and we’re exhausted to the bone.
I’m not suggesting masks or the vaccine make us invulnerable, but masks work, and people who are unvaccinated are 29 times more likely to end up in the hospital than vaccinated people. These people are the ones who continue to spread the virus and take up medical time and space from others. They are the reason why so many people are being denied non-COVID related but still necessary care.
So many people are being punished by the assholes who refused to take this virus seriously and at this point I would be okay if they were denied care. If marginalized groups are denied care because of biases, religious beliefs, and transphobia then doctors should able to refuse care to those who refused to take the pandemic seriously. You chose that hill to die on, so have at it. I don’t care about your regret or pleas for help. You were offered it and refused.
I feel compassion for the people who have done everything “right” and still got sick. I have empathy for the people who haven’t been able to access the vaccine yet but want to. I feel tremendous gratitude for people who put themselves at risk every day to take care of the sick and dying. But if you’re on your deathbed because you chose not to mask or get vaccinated, my empathy well is dry.
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