It’s Monday, which is allegedly a day off for me. It rarely works out that way — I always end up doing something work-related — but I have no deadline bearing down, I spent yesterday dusting and vacuuming, there’s food in the pantry and we’re supposed to get two to four inches of snow today, so I’m clearing the decks and declaring this a Real Day Off. I’m going to read my old friend David Heath’s new book about the development of the Covid vaccine and maybe even take a nap.
But first, a few words for you lovely people.
I read Neil Steinberg’s year-old blog about John Kass this morning, and it reminded me of a truth about newspapers, or what’s left of them: Not everything in it is for you. Or for me. A newspaper is what used to be known as a generalist publication, meaning there had to be something in it for everyone in the whole family. Horoscopes, puzzles, comics, sports scores, stock prices, etc. When we arrived in town, the News and Free Press would even include a few paragraphs of shipping news, i.e., which vessels would be passing up and down Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River, in case you were curious about what the Arthur M. Anderson was carrying, and where she was heading.
If I had read Neil’s blog before I read yesterday’s Page One weeper in the Freep, I might have found the strength to avert my eyes before they started rolling back in my head. It’s paywalled, so I’ll summarize: A registered nurse, a father of seven young children, is recently widowed. The headline: While ER nurse was saving wounded Oxford kids, his wife was dying from COVID-19. He was working the ER, his usual post, when the school shooting happened last November. The story is pitched as a tribute to #OxfordStrong, as the inevitable hashtag goes, because even though he has lost his wife and has all these kids and a demanding job, his church and neighbors are rising to the challenge, etc.
This is not the sort of story I generally find compelling. I’ve read too many of them through the years, and that people are capable of great good and generous grace is not news to me. I’m glad the guy is getting by with a lot of help from his friends. I’m ready to leave the rest of it unread when, record scratch:
As Holt prepared for Elizabeth’s funeral, he Googled her name, trying to find her obituary for some details, and he came across a website that mocked Elizabeth’s illness and death. John and Elizabeth Fowler held strong anti-vaccination views and were attacked on social media.
“I stumbled upon that website,” Holt said. “You know what? I’m OK if you want to be anti-vax or pro-vax. But I’m not OK when you’re anti-people. The problem with politics and vaccinations and religion, and all of that, is that people get caught up in the concept, or they get caught up in the construct of it, rather than the people.”
This wasn’t a debate about an issue. This was an attack, almost a gleeful celebration that she had died.
I bet I know which website he might have found — there’s one whose URL I can’t remember, which lists the deaths of outspoken antivaxxers, and then there’s the Reddit sub called Herman Cain Awards. Probably one of those two. I’ve seen them, but don’t participate; I haven’t the emotional bandwidth, and the older I get, I figure, why bother, it won’t do any good.
That said, this nurse is full of shit. His late wife was a nurse, too, I should mention that. So these two nurses, health-care professionals, he with a master’s degree with “an emphasis on public health,” are/were not only anti-Covid vaccine, they appear to be anti-all vaccines, if this passage is any indication:
“I don’t trust the vaccine companies,” he says. “Because there’s no control. They can make a product that the FDA or whoever CDC says it’s safe. But then if your kid is affected, you cannot do anything to them about it. They’re completely protected by the government.”
He says that McLaren Oakland allows medical and religions exemptions to a vaccine mandate.
“I have a master’s in nursing with an emphasis on public health,” he said. “So I’m not uneducated, right. It’s just, I, I’ve told my kids I said, ‘hey, when you get older, and if you want to pursue college, I’m perfectly OK with you when your immune systems are stronger. If you do a slow course of the different vaccines you need to forward your education, I’m OK with that.’ I just didn’t want to do it when they’re young.”
“Do you regret that you and your wife were not vaccinated?” I ask.
“No,” he says.
Just once, just once!!! I want to hear one of these people say, “Y’know, we were wrong about that. Elizabeth should have gotten the vaccine. All of our now-motherless children should be vaccinated against the vaccine-preventable childhood diseases. And of course I, a nurse who works in an emergency room during a pandemic, will be getting my Covid vaccine a.s.a.p.”
I mean, he’s a NURSE. He works in a HOSPITAL. He has a MASTER’S DEGREE. He studied PUBLIC HEALTH. And somehow he got that degree without learning about vaccines. Or the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, for that matter. I wouldn’t set foot in that fucking hospital.
I shouldn’t have read that story. It wasn’t for me.
OK, then. The snow is coming down, but in flakes so fine you have to look for it out the window. Time to crack that book. Happy Monday, if that’s possible.