You don't want this award.
September 22, 2021 5:50 AM   Subscribe

 
After seeing the title and first few lines I went to the sub before reading the Slate article.

I would recommend others do the same and especially read the posts that mention Slate or media in their titles. 1 2 3 4

It looks like the mods of that sub have a huge job.
posted by I shot a fox in Skyrim and it made me sad at 5:59 AM on September 22, 2021 [26 favorites]


It sounds like the author is unfamiliar with the Darwin Awards, a gallows-humour institution that probably predates the web.

And given that these are people who have actively caused harm to others by siding with a virulent, deadly disease to “own the libs” or whatever and are now suffering the consequences of their actions, the least they could offer the world in restorative justice is to act as an object lesson in why, yes, you should wear a mask and get vaccinated as soon as you can.
posted by acb at 6:11 AM on September 22, 2021 [47 favorites]


Avoid that sub if schadenfreude is not your thing.
posted by tommasz at 6:13 AM on September 22, 2021 [1 favorite]


What kind of content are we being warned about?
posted by zamboni at 6:15 AM on September 22, 2021 [4 favorites]


'Unbelievable grimness'? A major American political party has devoted itself to the idea that the pandemic is not really happening, and you should show how Smart And Free you are by belligerently refusing to adopt simple public health measures, while people die around you. If there was a list of the Top 1000 grimmest things about America right now, that subreddit would not make the cut, not even nearly.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 6:21 AM on September 22, 2021 [178 favorites]


What kind of content are we being warned about?

On the subreddit /r/HermanCainAward, most of the posts follow the same basic structure:

- A COVID denier / anti-vaxxer / anti-masker / Ivermectin believer has their facebook posts with all the crazy anti-vax memes linked, usually 8-10 of them in a row

- About halfway through the FB screenshots, the person contracts COVID and gives a couple more updates

- The last two posts are from family / friends announcing the death of the anti-vaxxer


Mostly seems like not a ton of "celebration" of this shit, just grim gallows humor.
posted by lazaruslong at 6:21 AM on September 22, 2021 [45 favorites]


I have zero sympathy for vaccine deniers and those who publicly attempt to downplay Covid. I don't hang out on this subreddit, but I have read it from time to time.

We have movies, teevee shows and video games that graphically depict grotesque murders, decapitations, mutilations, gunshot wounds, etc, etc, etc. Yet our media mostly reports on Covid related deaths in dry statistics, numbers that pass through people's heads with very little impact... "X number of people dying per day in a country with billions? Why, Covid is a drop in the bucket! And those people must have co-morbidities, or were destined to die soon anyway"

I'm all for MUCH more graphic and realistic reporting and more information spreading about what it's like to get really, really sick from Covid. Maybe it will get a few million more people vaccinated? Maybe it won't? But why gloss over the real world suffering, pain, and death—and gruesome hospitalization scenarios—for dry number reporting like it's the daily lottery numbers? We need graphic coverage of what a hospital stay for Covid is like, and we need that posted and televised often and everywhere. Our media is doing a piss-poor job of this, mostly.

As I type this I have chest cold symptoms. I started feeling them yesterday afternoon and woke up feeling like garbage. Home from work today and I am about to use a home Covid test kit once I get some coffee in me. My job has me interact with the public on a daily basis. My parents just both turned 80. I'm 50 and my wife is 57.

It's far past time to take this pandemic seriously. Is the Herman Cain Award crass? Why yes, yes it is. Using people's publicly posted social media bullshit to shame them is not something I have an issue with.
posted by SoberHighland at 6:21 AM on September 22, 2021 [137 favorites]


I couldn't read the whole Slate article because of the paywall. But I saw this last night and ended up scrolling through their Twitter feed. Maybe it's different if you're reading it on Reddit, but after spending some time going through the Twitter posts, I was sobbing uncontrollably, more than I have since this started. I have not personally known anyone who died in the pandemic, and going through those cocky initial posts followed by these people's terror, then their obituaries - it's not a celebration. It's devastating.

I'm sure it is schadenfreude for some people, but it wasn't for me. Yes, I'm angry at all the people who aren't getting vaccinated. I have cancer, and the vaccines don't work well for people like me, so the people who aren't getting vaccinated are harming me. I'm terrified that I won't be able to get healthcare I need because the system is overloaded by people who won't get vaccinated. I worry that I'll never see my grandchildren again. So yes I'm angry. But the Twitter feed made these people more real to me. It gave them faces and life stories and families who loved them. I also know that I've been wrong and stupid in the past. I just didn't have to die from it.
posted by FencingGal at 6:22 AM on September 22, 2021 [103 favorites]


I’m an unrepentant subscriber to HCA.

Many many comments on the article that I agree with on Slate and reddit, but here are two that fairly represent my sentiments:

“… If you go on r/HermanCainAward, you will find that many of the awardees/nominees are some of the most racist, homophobic, xenophobic, deliberately ignorant people this country has to offer. At times, their hatred, selfishness, and disregard for others will just about take your breath away.

And still, this author is saying Won't someone consider the nazis' feelings?

“ A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.” -Mark Twain

It is true that their minds have been poisoned by disinformation, but their baseline racism, homophobia, entitlement, and willful ignorant selfishness was fertile ground for that poison.

Their selfishness and entitlement, actively prolonging everyone else’s misery, has left me without any more fecks to give.
posted by Calibandage at 6:22 AM on September 22, 2021 [147 favorites]


The folks at r/HermanCainAward have posted a response:

I normally hesitate to speak in blanket statements, especially regarding a group that is now over 278k members at the time of this writing. Any member could have any of a myriad of reasons to join, but I'd like to think there is one commonality that threads itself throughout. Take it all in... the nominations, awards, the occasional brutal redemption. IPA posts (which has been a nice addition) and daily rant threads. We aren't here because we like to point and laugh like some common internet trolls, we're here BECAUSE WE DON'T WANT TO FUCKING BE HERE. These people are YOLOing themselves (and loved ones) into the void for lack of any reason or common sense, and at some point, this has become the social media equivalent of gawking at a very preventable car wreck.
posted by Alison at 6:28 AM on September 22, 2021 [86 favorites]


I also know that I've been wrong and stupid in the past. I just didn't have to die from it.

Unless your "wrong and stupid" behavior had a very high chance of making other people (many of whom may have been opposed to said behavior) either sick and disabled for the rest of their lives or dead, I don't see how this is at all relevant to the thread.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 6:31 AM on September 22, 2021 [30 favorites]


I expected the article about the subreddit to be tone-policing, but, although there's a touch of that, it ends with this: "It is an anti-persuasive venue, a place that dispenses with rational appeals for people to behave better in favor of something much more primal and horrifying. And who knows? Maybe it’s persuading people specifically because it’s not trying to." I did raise an eyebrow at "rational appeals", though; not sure what kind of bubble the author is living in, but we are so far beyond that.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:31 AM on September 22, 2021 [8 favorites]


This is specific to the pandemic of course, but it seems like a manifestation of the attitude held by many that a problem is either not real, exaggerated or the fault of the individual...until *you* experience it.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:33 AM on September 22, 2021 [20 favorites]


I had an elderly man in my care, with a history of strokes, who was suddenly much weaker. His doctor's office said to call 911. I did, and the EMTs came and checked him out. Vitals good, no obvious sign of a neurological episode. The ambulance driver advised me NOT to take him to the ER, since, if he didn't get turned away, he'd just wait all night, exposed to Covid delta variant, and probably be told there is nothing they can do and make a doctor's appointment. They told me various horror stories about area ERs. They were pretty upset about it. I was not real happy with just saying, well, the EMTs say he looks OK, let's just blow it off, but I did take this advice. So, I don't want to gloat over people's suffering and death, but I also don't have a whole lot of interest in empathizing with the feelings and thoughts of the people who caused that to happen.
posted by thelonius at 6:37 AM on September 22, 2021 [81 favorites]


Also, having read through that very same supposedly awful Twitter account, there are tons of people listed who had influence or even outright control over COVID policy among their communities. Those people are mass murderers, and because of their politics in almost every case they're also angry or even violent bigots, not dewy-eyed innocents.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 6:37 AM on September 22, 2021 [63 favorites]


it's not a celebration. It's devastating.

It's definitely not a celebration, but I find reading through more angering than devastating. These are all people who first did their part to be harmful (like by sharing gross anti-vax, racist, etc memes) before having their personal tragedy. That doesn't mean they deserve to die, but it does limit my sympathy.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:39 AM on September 22, 2021 [15 favorites]


My assumption here is that a lot of the "COVID is fake news" crowd are either the same people (or their kids) who bought duct tape and trash bags for their windows in 2001 for "bioterror" attacks.

Their response seems to depend entirely on the attitudes of the media they consume and the politicians they venerate. If Trump and Fox treat the next H1N1 like smallpox returned we would never hear the fucking end of it, even after that was superseded by H#N#.

"Trust us and our feelings on things, not the experts!" was messaging from on high from their side for twenty years and now that's come home to fucking roost.
posted by Slackermagee at 6:41 AM on September 22, 2021 [13 favorites]


It's depressing that the the actions of people who won't vaccinate/mask during the pandemic has brought me to the point where the only thing I feel about all these dumb mother fuckers is rage at them taking resources from people who didn't choose to put themselves and others at risk. I'm so fucking burnt out and exhausted I no longer have even a shred of sympathy for them. I treat them the way I would treat someone who bragged about drunk driving constantly driving headfirst into a tree.
posted by Ferreous at 6:41 AM on September 22, 2021 [63 favorites]


I'm all for MUCH more graphic and realistic reporting and more information spreading about what it's like to get really, really sick from Covid.

FWIW there's been reams and reams of articles on everyday individuals who have gotten sick and died from COVID and on what it's like to get sick from COVID. If these stories aren't resonating with the public it's not because the reporting isn't there.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 6:45 AM on September 22, 2021 [6 favorites]


I visit that subreddit occasionally. You know what is neither schadenfreude, gallows humor, or a celebration? Seeing the true, basic, cause and effect. That soothes me. To feel reassured that although this is all tragic, that again and again, you don't get the vaccine, you get Covid, it does not go well. What is said to happen, happens. Very rarely does that all line up in such obvious fashion in this chaotic hellworld. Grim understanding that reality is reality.
It's also a slightly removed context to get an idea of what exactly these people are sharing on FB, because I Do Not Go There anymore.
But yeah, it's not for fun when I visit that subreddit.
posted by wellifyouinsist at 6:47 AM on September 22, 2021 [45 favorites]


debdrens on Twitter: We have watched the dumbest, most selfish assholes in the world get away with doing incredibly awful shit scot-free for decades. And now, finally, they are getting assfucked by simple irrefutable biology. I’ve never been happier
They can call the vaccine fake and tell each other covid is a scam and their governors can forbid vaccine mandates and they can have maskless vaccineless fuck n suck events to own my stupid leftist ass. the virus is incapable of caring and will raw dog 1.5% of them to death


I read this a while back and it haunted me because deep inside I agree. I hate that I do.

But if my unvaxxed relatives die I will be genuinely devastated. I can’t square that circle. I guess it’s because they are real people to me and not MAGA cartoons, even if they like to act that way on Facebook sometimes.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:48 AM on September 22, 2021 [48 favorites]


Yeah what made me really go to alert, back in March 2020, was a video from a healthy (before she got Covid) young woman in the UK, made from her hospital bed, urging people to take this seriously. She couldn't finish a sentence without taking a deep, gasping breath in the middle. Got my attention.
posted by thelonius at 6:48 AM on September 22, 2021 [7 favorites]


Reacting to the response from the community:

We aren't here because we like to point and laugh like some common internet trolls, we're here BECAUSE WE DON'T WANT TO FUCKING BE HERE. These people are YOLOing themselves (and loved ones) into the void for lack of any reason or common sense, and at some point, this has become the social media equivalent of gawking at a very preventable car wreck.

I also think that the anti-vaxxers and the HCA "winners" are often just plain mean about their stance. They're not simply and quietly abstaining from the vaccine or abstaining from habitual mask-wearing - they are aggressively demonstrative about it, almost like they are daring someone to pick a fight with them over their stance.

They are provocateurs, and it strikes me that the subreddit is simply giving them the negative attention which they have been seeking.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:49 AM on September 22, 2021 [96 favorites]


I've never seen this reddit before, but my spouse was deeply embedded into vaccine advocacy groups and had decided they wanted to aim for NICU work during their nursing degree well before COVID. In part, this was because of their desire to effectively reach parents who are traumatized, terrified, and looking for a way to feel in control of taking care of sick children before antivax advocates can reach them. (There are other reasons--this is a field they feel extremely strongly about--but that was and is a big one.)

....which is a short hand way of saying, I'm not remotely surprised it exists, and I am probably less ambivalent about it than I might be if I hadn't been spending this pandemic while watching my spouse finish a RN and enter the workforce, knowing that they were collecting as much ICU experience as they could during the early phase of a career. Sometimes they show me some of the things from their job or shared from other health care workers in their professional networks: a clot that encompassed a patient's entire femoral artery, groin to ankle; a long COVID patient sobbing because after seven months in ICU they had failed their sixth swallow study and were terrified of never being able to eat food by mouth again; ICUs taking precedent from NICUs learning about helping mothers heal from stillbirths and taking foot and handprints from mothers who survive COVID only long enough for their infants to be born, so their children have something to remember them by. The world is full of horror stories.

If you don't have loved ones in health care, though, it's easy to miss out on the frontlines experience of COVID that our health care workers are facing down, especially those doing care for COVID patients (either currently dying of the disease or treating people with COVID sequelae like long COVID). It's easy to miss those stories, especially because most people do not care to marinate in inescapable horrors.

So I'm ambivalent about the callouses that form when we allow compassion fatigue to set in, but I have a lot of empathy for the rage that inspires it--and I also think there is a lot of good to be done in giving civilians like me access to stories about the many people who struggle and die with COVID. The narrative of getting COVID tends to be either you get sick for a week, it's awful but you recover, or (heavily implied: if you have pre-existing conditions, you weakling) you die, I guess. We don't see details of what that death is. We don't see what people who survive go through. We don't see as many stories of the disabled people whose lives still go on, because we don't like to talk about disabled people.

I am more concerned, honestly, about the callouses that form on our sense of compassion when we ask people on the ground to continue acting morally while people with power profoundly abdicate their responsibility. I think that looking at suffering, understanding and immersing in the reality of a deeply unpleasant situation, can galvanize people to action and to change things. Much of the experience of this pandemic for we civilians has been an experience of abstractions, and humans learn by stories. Telling the stories of people who boast that the real threat of COVID is no threat at all and then die after their hubris is perhaps a better way to learn what the reality of the threat actually is.

One of the things I keep repeating whenever we talk about trauma here is that trauma is much more likely to set in when people in deeply stressful situations feel judged to be responsible for those situations by people they trust and love. By the same token, the most protective factor against a powerfully stressful experience becoming a long term trauma that will not recede is feeling one's community surround the person experiencing the stress with meaningful protection, comfort, and support: declarations that the threat survived was real, it was dangerous, and the community will protect you while you recover.

When we are worrying about the traumas we set with our judgement, then, I wonder: what do we as a community want to communicate to our health care workers? What do we want to communicate to our immunosuppressed people? What do we want to communicate to people who are trying to remain safe but whose bosses force them into unsafe situations?

It seems to me that channeling our judgement and fury onto the people who declare that a threat does not exist serves in part as a declaration of responsibility that explicitly takes responsibility off of people who were trying to act sensibly and were hurt, and directs it instead onto people who denied the threat and refused to take action against it. I would like to see more of that judgement directed at our sorry, worthless excuse for leadership, but I will take seeing the fury of communities directed onto anti-vaxxers and anti-mask groups over other potential places for it to come to roost.

Humans understand the world through stories. When we tell the story of this pandemic, who will we cast as our heroes and who will we cast as our villains?
posted by sciatrix at 6:51 AM on September 22, 2021 [127 favorites]


I would recommend others do the same and especially read the posts that mention Slate or media in their titles. 1 2 3 4

There's a comment in one of those threads that suggests that COVID has become a "young person problem" now (and further posits this is due to the high vaccine uptake in older groups).

And, indeed, the CDC's data suggest that this is the case. In recent weeks, the COVID death rate for every under-55 group is the highest it has ever been, where the rate among those over-55 is less than half of what it was during the peak in January of this year.

Delta is killing a lot of younger people and it's absolutely "hidden" in the aggregate numbers because they're not as high as they were during previous peaks.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:52 AM on September 22, 2021 [10 favorites]


Yeah, I don't think it's a persuasion venue so much as it is a coping venue. (Actually, I will wildly speculate that there might be some under-40 Reddit folks who see some of the not-elderly deaths on the Herman Cain Awards and are inspired to get a vaccine if they had been putting it off.)

My understanding is that they don't include the actual names of these people and discourage harassing their families, which would be reprehensible. Having a loved one's picture and posts shared on an internet forum making fun of them? It's not nice, and if you don't like that sort of thing I recommend you don't seek it out! But I think the schadenfreude is a normal reaction -- I'm an atheist who believes in prison reform, and spent the last few years desperately wishing hell was real. On some level, we all want the universe to punish people who we think deserve it.

Remember a couple of months ago when it felt like a half dozen conservative radio guys died of COVID? They were regionally successful guys, but in different markets. You maybe had heard of one of those guys, if you lived where he was broadcast. The news of their death was widespread, with the subtext that these antivax guys really had it coming, but the main text that ACTUALLY THIS IS A TRAGEDY. WE JUST FEEL SAD, AND YOU SHOULDN'T SAY ANYTHING BAD ABOUT THESE GUYS, BECAUSE THIS IS ACTUALLY JUST VERY SAD. The HermainCainAwards subreddit is ugly, but I think it's in reaction to a tone of conversation and coverage that feels performative and dishonest.
posted by grandiloquiet at 6:56 AM on September 22, 2021 [30 favorites]


That Slate article is terrible. The HCA are not a celebration. It's dark, tragic comedy.
posted by dazed_one at 7:07 AM on September 22, 2021 [21 favorites]


I think it's important. Over and over again people in the hospital are saying "I didn't realize".

These vaccine hesitant people need to see that people JUST like them are dying. People who thought like them. People who took the vitamins and supplements right wing hosts are selling. People who state "I HAVE AN IMMUNE SYSTEM".

It shows young, fit people. (Over and over again people state those who die are obese or ill or old, as if that matters)

I am sure there are lousy and heartless comments. It doesn't feel shocking because I follow Fox news on facebook where they cheer any death they feel is someone not from their tribe.

I do NOT celebrate these deaths - every one I feel like "Maybe this one will hit home? Maybe this one will make them stop spreading lies that are killing people?"

Being in a Covid support group online where those grieving say they cant say their family died from Covid because of the insensitive attacks and must do so privately online makes me so angry. They are told the doctors lied to them for money and their parents didnt die from Covid. Or that they must have been sick or obese. Or that well they are in a better place now.

I feel like these awardee are spreading these lies are helping murder others, along with themselves. It's very hard to process. It's very upsetting. I can almost understand those who seem unsympathetic.
posted by ReluctantViking at 7:11 AM on September 22, 2021 [27 favorites]


(Actually, I will wildly speculate that there might be some under-40 Reddit folks who see some of the not-elderly deaths on the Herman Cain Awards and are inspired to get a vaccine if they had been putting it off.)

This one, perhaps!
posted by wellifyouinsist at 7:12 AM on September 22, 2021 [6 favorites]


"The person got their just deserts."


I too would prefer to just put these people in the desert.

I don't believe in punishing ignorance and wrong-headedness with death.
posted by mikeand1 at 7:13 AM on September 22, 2021 [1 favorite]


I mentioned the HCA awards in the mandate thread here on the blue almost two weeks ago. At the time I was really worried there'd be a negative reaction, that people would find it ghoulish and unkind. It probably is in some ways, but I'm glad we are discussing it now. And that some of you understand why it exists.
posted by Catblack at 7:13 AM on September 22, 2021 [9 favorites]


HCA pops up occasionally for me on reddit, and my reaction is always 50-50 “to hell with these people” / “I am a monster for reading this.” It consistently nails the precise schadenfreude inflection point like nothing else I can recall reading. The exact moment empathy gives way to righteous anger and it just stretches on and on… I typically last two, maybe three minutes before I have to close the tab.

It occurs to me that if it had become a thing just a little earlier it would’ve made for a great shoutout on Bo Burnham’s Inside; perfect example of the things catalogued in both “Welcome to the Internet” and “Funny Feeling.”
posted by Ryvar at 7:14 AM on September 22, 2021 [6 favorites]


What this massive record of human suffering really illustrates (in all its startling, repetitive sameness) is how seamlessly anti-vax communities reconcile themselves to the deaths their convictions will perpetuate.
Idk if I found this on metafilter or not, but this thread discusses that 'reconciliation.' tl;dr marks rarely face up to the con

I am more concerned, honestly, about the callouses that form on our sense of compassion when we ask people on the ground to continue acting morally while people with power profoundly abdicate their responsibility. (...)It seems to me that channeling our judgement and fury onto the people who declare that a threat does not exist serves in part as a declaration of responsibility that explicitly takes responsibility off of people who were trying to act sensibly and were hurt, and directs it instead onto people who denied the threat and refused to take action against it.

The clarity of this blew me away. Thanks, sciatrix.
posted by snerson at 7:15 AM on September 22, 2021 [20 favorites]


These vaccine hesitant people need to see that people JUST like them are dying.

Bingo.

Trying to separate what I see as two groups of unvaccinated: The unrepentant, aggressive (often racist) group on one side, and people who struggle to make sense of up or down in a world that has become frighteningly nonsensical since 9/11 on the other.

I genuinely have some empathy for people who don’t know how to parse anti-vax messages from family and friends along with scientific information, and are unsure how to proceed with whether or not to get vaccinated. They’re being fed complete and utter bullshit, but I think many of these people have been through 9/11, the disastrous War on Terror, the 2008 financial crash and the nightmarish 2016+ years, and the world today is on very shaky ground absent a global pandemic.

Our society is crumbling, and whenever institutions are rotting and failing there is an opening for people to be confused and lack trust that the information they are receiving is genuine or true. No matter how much the government tries to tell people, “hey, this is true,” the culture we live in is so thoughtless and debased I can see why someone with a poor education (by design) struggles to understand risk.

I have ZERO sympathy for the sociopaths who post conspiracy theories, racist memes and aggressive content on Facebook and end up getting covid and dying. Same goes for the mass murderer politicians who enabled this disgusting behavior.

These people are killing their neighbors, families and friends while proudly marching there until it’s way too late. That’s the group that is doing the most harm, and the group that makes up virtually all of the /r/HermanCainAward posts. And there is something to seeing actual consequences for their actions. The virus doesn’t care how proudly they protested vaccine mandates or fought with people over wearing masks.

So, yeah. If their loud, obnoxious, anti-vax posts are put up next to their death timeline from covid, good. Because I do think it will help change some minds to see that hey, this thing is very real. And ultimately that’s what we need to move past this awful nightmare.
posted by glaucon at 7:19 AM on September 22, 2021 [30 favorites]


I don't believe in punishing ignorance and wrong-headedness with death.

SARS-CoV-2 Delta does.
posted by flabdablet at 7:22 AM on September 22, 2021 [105 favorites]


marks rarely face up to the con

Yes. There are people who decided, implicitly or explicitly, that they would rather die than make an entirely private, wordless admission that a Democrat might be right about something. And that’s what they’re doing.

Not all of them are like that, of course, especially the POC who have a well-founded distrust of doctors. I feel really terrible for them. It’s just that the most visible deaths are the right-wing ones.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:22 AM on September 22, 2021 [19 favorites]


I don't believe in punishing ignorance and wrong-headedness with death.

The implication that those of us that have spent the last two years doing our part to mitigate COVID's impact are "punishing" anti-vaxxers with death is nonsense both-sidesism. No one is punishing these people except themselves.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 7:23 AM on September 22, 2021 [103 favorites]


I also think that the anti-vaxxers and the HCA "winners" are often just plain mean about their stance. They're not simply and quietly abstaining from the vaccine or abstaining from habitual mask-wearing

Indeed, the HCA is specifically about the vocal antivaxers/deniers/etc. The online trail is needed for nomination.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:28 AM on September 22, 2021 [35 favorites]


I occasionally browse /r/all to break out of my personal bubble and see what the hive mind is talking about, and so I've seen the "top" HermanCainAwards posts coming up over the past month.

The sub provides a remarkable format for a macabre and ironic morality tale, each "award" a tragedy in three parts. The important thing here is that the first part of the story is never simply that the person was unvaccinated. HermanCainAwards is exclusively about people who loudly, boorishly and continuously have insulted and discredited the very thing that would have saved their life. It's a specific and important story to tell.

When I flip through one of the stories, there is always a feeling of relief when the story transitions to the second act, and an even greater sense of relief at the close. The content always very dramatically changes from the kinds of absurd lies, bizarre rationalizations, meaningless insults and loud, angry, unproductive bullying to very calm, poised, almost certainly true (if downplayed) descriptions of the symptoms, and finalized with a family member or friend's reasonable and understandable plea for kindness in the face of their loss (through prayers or financial help). Throughout the Trump years we've been assaulted a literally unbelievable assortment of lies and unjustified attacks, and to see a natural end point to that kind of approach is honestly something that provides some sort of weird sense of hope that we won't be stuck in this kind of unproductive and baffling discourse forever.

So, is it macabre? Yes. The sub is about death. Is that wrong, or unfair? No. These are almost certainly true stories, redacted screen captures instead of urban legend-like stories. Is it productive? I think it just might be. These are stories that are not just playing out on the sub, they're ripped from personal Facebook pages, playing out to people who are in no way seeking this kind of thing out. Even without the HermanCainAward packaging it's virtually impossible not to get the macabre, ironic message that is naturally playing out here, and my hope is that when these people's family and friends encounter these stories as they happen, and see the horrifying end results of not only ignoring but also insulting and bullying the very thing or people that could save their life, I think minds and behaviors will change even before they're posted to HermanCainAwards.

To me, the sub is like getting a booster shot, or at worst, like watching one of those gory drunk driving films or those scare pictures of smoker's lungs. One story is chilling and the message is unmistakable, but reading three or four of these in a row while being unvaccinated must be terrifying, or make you think twice about mocking the vaccinated. Just because the sub bluntly accepts death, and treats it in a somewhat ironic fashion (which these situations naturally are, even without comment!), it doesn't mean that it's having a negative effect. I think there are broad swaths of our population who, as people, need this.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 7:33 AM on September 22, 2021 [56 favorites]


There are so many comments up above that capture the nuances much better than I could. I have been to that subreddit a dozen times and grappled with how to feel about such on-the-nose (celebration? commemoration, at least) of these daily tragedies.

On the one hand it is a really straightforward, cause-and-effect, bad-things-happen-to-bad-people sort of schadenfreude. I live in a state with a mask mandate and have a mom with cancer and am a long hauler myself and I get really angry when people walk smugly through grocery stores without a mask even dangling from their ear. It's simultaneously a dare for someone to call them out and a proclamation that they've substituted their own half-considered judgment in place of the clearly communicated and easily understood rules. (It would be a massive tangent to point out that the venn diagram of people openly and performatively flaunting mask rules and people suggesting that victims of police violence would have avoided injury or death if they had simply complied with the law is basically a circle, but that blatant hypocrisy and knowing that they will suffer no consequence from disregarding the mandate adds to the frustration.) So when I see these easy-to-digest snapshots of people aggressively attacking basic COVID precautions, mocking people who do follow them, and then getting sick, it reinforces that there's not a both-sides validity to the debate of whether basic precautions are sensible.

On the other hand, as you see the real emotion from family members after someone who is a 'Facebook Asshole' has died you understand that they probably were way more 3D than a collection of mean posts suggests. And you realize that there's a ton of other people on the right who are caught up in the misinformation and die too. An old roommate's unvaccinated dad just died of COVID in Florida. He got sick and got worse and died within just a couple of weeks. He was a devout Catholic in his 60s, super fit and active, with 5 grandkids and a ton of smiling pictures on a beach, and with a Facebook profile that was completely "normal." Knowing that there are tons of those people out there - loving parents and grandparents who are not on-purpose-assholes, just Fox News viewers in their bubble - makes it really sad to see how the virus just mows down otherwise healthy (at least in 2020 USA terms) people.

It is darkly funny, and horribly invasive, and weirdly reassuring, and totally misleading, and a guilty pleasure, and a guilty...not pleasure, and a sobering reminder of the virus's potency, and a depressing realization of our deep division, all wrapped up in one.

I'm probably gonna go over there now.
posted by AgentRocket at 7:33 AM on September 22, 2021 [21 favorites]


One thing that struck me from seeing about a dozen of these posts in the last month is how uniform the calls for prayers are once the person gets sick and dies. I guess it's the most Christian social media space I'm exposed to anymore, so while not surprising I find it striking.
posted by little onion at 7:35 AM on September 22, 2021 [10 favorites]


If pleading, persuasion, and bribery won't convince some people to get vaccinated, I'm willing to try callousness. Not out of spite, but desperation.
posted by cardboard at 7:36 AM on September 22, 2021 [24 favorites]


It’s okay if it’s a little bit spite. They’re insisting on acting as breeding vats for further mutant strains, and almost always advocating for others to do the same. A little spite cherry on top is entirely appropriate.
posted by Ryvar at 7:40 AM on September 22, 2021 [14 favorites]


I hardly knew anything about the 1918 pandemic. Where I live, there are no memorials to the victims or the healthcare workers who fought it. There's no wall of names to reflect upon, or statues to pass by, and I strongly suspect that was intentional.

Having lived through 2020, I don't want that to be the case for future generations. I don't want everything we've gone through to be quietly forgotten because the politicization makes the subject too uncomfortable to remember. I don't want all the suffering, turmoil, and loss to be swept under the rug because it's too embarrassing to recount the deadly, selfish mistakes of our leaders and those who followed them. I don't want the pain to be dismissed in the name reconciliation. I want people to know what happened and to remember.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 7:45 AM on September 22, 2021 [64 favorites]


Here, here, RonButNotStupid--and let me add, I don't want that pain to be dismissed in the name of moving on and healing, because shoving it into a box at the back of our minds is easier than confronting the full magnitude of our collective response. I want that pain to be remembered, held, and reckoned with.

We need to recall our history, even when it hurts us, if we want to learn from it. I like the notion of public memorials to COVID recalling the health care workers who fight, or litanies of the dead and their ages: bring the weight of the virus back into the foreground of our lives, so we can integrate it into our understanding of the world instead of tucking it away until the bloodstains have faded enough to cease frightening children.
posted by sciatrix at 7:50 AM on September 22, 2021 [20 favorites]


If you don't have loved ones in health care, though, it's easy to miss out on the frontlines experience of COVID that our health care workers are facing down, especially those doing care for COVID patients (either currently dying of the disease or treating people with COVID sequelae like long COVID). It's easy to miss those stories, especially because most people do not care to marinate in inescapable horrors.

Sciatrix, your whole comment is the perfect encapsulation of my experience as a Covid nurses spouse right now. I am so thankful you shared this because I was sitting here in despair that I was just too mentally exhausted today to get all of the headwords and feelings this post brought up written out.

I am filled with stories of despair, regret, body horror, denial, hope, spite - all the things. When he gets home from the hospital my husband needs to tell his stories as part of his processing. I bear witness. My head is filled with stories of the human condition and all the ways a body can just go off the rails. So many that the real miracle to me, is that body's work at all ever!

But it is all behind a curtain. Last week my husband called out from work after a particularly rough shift that included a 42 year old dying from ivermectin induced liver failure among other things (that was actually the least traumatic patient of the day.) He just couldn't make himself go back the next day. I had medication to pick up at the hospital pharmacy so I had to go grab it myself. The lobby area with the pharmacy is pretty well removed from the ER so I didn't expect it to be super crowded, but it was eerily quiet. When I walked in (for the first time in like 18 months) it was a ghost town. Just one person at reception to take my temp and sign me in. One person at the pharmacy. I was there for about 10 minutes and saw no one else. No evidence of the horrors happening upstairs in my husband's 4th floor PCU.

It was such a moment of dissonance. And I got in my car and started crying because the thought that keeps running through my head constantly right now (thanks adhd!) Is "It's all invisible. They don't know. They won't look"

My family lives in a completely different reality than the people that surround us right now. We see behind the curtain. And I try to tell people and they don't want to listen.

I didn't know about this subreddit before this post, but I find it very cathartic.
posted by Lapin at 7:52 AM on September 22, 2021 [105 favorites]




Having lived through 2020, I don't want that to be the case for future generations. I don't want everything we've gone through to be quietly forgotten because the politicization makes the subject too uncomfortable to remember. I don't want all the suffering, turmoil, and loss to be swept under the rug because it's too embarrassing to recount the deadly, selfish mistakes of our leaders and those who followed them. I don't want the pain to be dismissed in the name reconciliation. I want people to know what happened and to remember.

We need to place the pandemic equivalent of "hunger stones":

...boulders that were once used to record low water levels. The rocks are etched with dates, and the earliest one currently visible is 1616.

But hunger stones did more than simply document drought: They also lamented difficult conditions and let people know that trouble was afoot. One of the rocks, for instance, “expressed that drought had brought a bad harvest, lack of food, high prices and hunger for poor people,” according to a 2013 study of drought in Czech lands. A German inscription on the same rock reads: “When you see me, weep.”

posted by Dip Flash at 8:03 AM on September 22, 2021 [25 favorites]


The implication that those of us that have spent the last two years doing our part to mitigate COVID's impact are "punishing" anti-vaxxers with death is nonsense both-sidesism.

I did not mean to imply that you are punishing anyone, and I'm not sure how you inferred that.

I specifically referenced the assertion that someone who dies of covid got their "just desserts" -- the assertion that they deserved to die because of their stupidity/ignorance/intransigence.

I don't believe in the death penalty even for heinous crimes committed with intent. Why should stupidity be more blame-worthy than malice?
posted by mikeand1 at 8:03 AM on September 22, 2021 [6 favorites]


Okay, pedantry time: "Just deserts" is the correct spelling. "Desert" (emphasis on the second syllable) is a mostly forgotten English word meaning "that which someone deserves." The etymology is obvious once you see it. The expression has nothing to do with either sand or sweets.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:08 AM on September 22, 2021 [79 favorites]


I don't think they deserve to die, but for those who are truly committed to not only remaining a danger to others but who actively spread the lies and who actively engage in risky behavior, I will not shed a tear at their deaths. They were unwilling to protect others by getting vaccinated, wearing a mask, getting tested, or staying distant. Each one of these deaths makes us a little bit safer. Their deaths are tragic, but in the way a committed alcoholic dying in a single-car drunk driving accident is a tragedy.
posted by jedicus at 8:09 AM on September 22, 2021 [8 favorites]


"Just deserts" is the correct spelling.


Thanks, I had no idea -- I quickly googled it to make sure, and did not come up with that result. Next time I'll consult a proper usage manual.
posted by mikeand1 at 8:15 AM on September 22, 2021 [3 favorites]


Mod note: Couple comments deleted. So far folks have been doing pretty well at navigating talking about some complicated things here without introducing extra edgy awfulness, let's try to maintain that. (Specifically please don't suggest executions or be callous about fatness; but not just that; this request to not be awful applies more generally, too.)
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:15 AM on September 22, 2021 [9 favorites]


I don't believe in the death penalty even for heinous crimes committed with intent. Why should stupidity be more blame-worthy than malice?

I don't believe in the death penalty in large part because I don't believe one person should die at the subjective behest of another, but also because there is a large (better than even in some judicial systems) chance that the "guilty" party will be murdered for something they didn't do. This subreddit isn't that by any stretch of the imagination. No one is ordering these people to be killed, and the criteria for an example to be posted is that they are loudly and repeatedly proclaiming their guilt.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 8:18 AM on September 22, 2021 [20 favorites]


"It's all invisible. They don't know. They won't look"

I was at the hospital with my mom for a test in April, just as the winter surge was petering out. The lobby Starbucks, which at the time was open only to staff, had a sandwich board out front listing the number of COVID patients and percentage of beds occupied. It was startling, to say the least. I wonder how many visitors took notice.

She is headed back to the same hospital next Friday for a (hopefully minor, but inpatient) surgery. The numbers at this hospital are about the same as they were in April, and thankfully that includes even lower ICU occupancy. My mom has had cancer for more than 20 years now, and the treatment has finally caught up with her. This minor procedure could turn into an extended stay if it goes sideways, so she might wind up needing one of those beds.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:20 AM on September 22, 2021 [9 favorites]


Intersecting with the AntiMLM subreddit that is getting a huge influx of visitors on the back of the Lularoe documentary, MLMs that insisted on holding their conventions in-person have seen COVID outbreaks with the Paparazzi convention counting 10-12 deaths alone. Attendees were hastily instructed by their up lines to scrub their social media of any mention of catching COVID, with Paparazzi corporate quietly deleting the sales pages of deceased attendees.
posted by dr_dank at 8:23 AM on September 22, 2021 [21 favorites]


This has nothing to do with the death penalty. Nobody is sentencing these people to death; their misfortune is (a) entirely self-inflicted, and (b) blowback from their own actions which have also caused harm to others. This is Wile E. Coyote atop a rocket slamming into a cliff, entirely unassisted by the Road Runner.

What is the alternative? To celebrate the rich tapestry of the marketplace of ideas in which they have so enthusiastically peddled the dogshit sandwiches of their particular ideas?
posted by acb at 8:27 AM on September 22, 2021 [47 favorites]


It’s going to be a profoundly unpopular viewpoint here, but abandoning empathy here and now at this point is an abdication of a fundamental duty to humanity independent of your feelings on the matter.

I suspect that a great many more people would agree with you if the people featured in the subreddit hadn't already denied everyone else's humanity first.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:28 AM on September 22, 2021 [92 favorites]


The striking thing about the sub-reddit is the sameness of the posts. Each award-winner posts the same half-dozen memes on their Facebook, accompanied by the same kind of hyper-aggressive rhetoric (which is abandoned upon admission to hospital). The same requests for prayers when they enter the ICU. The same hopefulness from loved ones when the patient is intubated (survival is unlikely at this point). The same eulogies about what a wonderful person the deceased was, and the same GoFundMe to support their dependents (life insurance being unaffordable, I guess). Frequent mentions of "prayer warriors", whatever those are. There is some kind of sub-culture that is well-adapted to be devastated by the virus.
posted by cyanistes at 8:30 AM on September 22, 2021 [71 favorites]


On a Reddit-specific note, it'll be interesting to see what happens with HCA, given that the company has a long history of being ruthless with subs that get attention in the media, regardless of content or ideology, but will let others fester for years on end as long as no one on the C-suite has to go on record with a journalist about it. Just a couple weeks ago, the CEO posted a thread about how they weren't going hard after disinformation because of a supposed need for a "free exchange of ideas" between scientific knowledge and death cultists. They eventually ended up going after a couple sacrificial lambs during the ivermectin media frenzy, but larger and inarguably more dangerous subs that are considered ground zero for disinformation (/r/conspiracy, for instance) didn't even get quarantined and are in a lot of cases worse than they were a couple weeks ago.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 8:34 AM on September 22, 2021 [9 favorites]


As Sciatrix pointed out, eloquently and with compassion above, this short-sighted hatred for a citizenry gone astray is misplaced. Look upward. Look to a leadership playing a much longer game.

I think this is very true. While yes, these people have been "spreading lies," I believe intent matters, and it's clear that most of them believed what they were saying. They believed whoever was telling them that COVID is a hoax, that vaccines are dangerous, that their immune systems would take care of them. They believed these lies enough to act in accordance with those beliefs and ultimately to die because they fell for this misinformation. It's simplistic to dismiss them as people willing to get us all killed - they did not see it that way. I think anger toward them is completely understandable as an emotional reaction - they caused real harm because of their beliefs. And I don't blame anyone who just can't feel compassion for them at this point. But I do feel sorry for them - I see these deaths as tragic, especially when so many of them have left young children. And I don't think I'm wrong to feel that way.
posted by FencingGal at 8:40 AM on September 22, 2021 [16 favorites]


But I’ve made a choice not to, because for as angry as I am, I know that there are healthier ways to look at the world, and on a personal level, I refuse to surrender to such a transparently cruel and easy narrative.

I respect your right to make this choice for yourself, even though I do not believe it is the appropriate choice for me.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:41 AM on September 22, 2021 [8 favorites]


I mostly try not to think about everyone who's died of covid. And I especially try not to think about the deaths of strident or agressive anti-vaxxers because I think if I gave way to any kind of schadenfreude, my grief and rage over everything would just swallow me up.
posted by a Rrose by any other name at 8:43 AM on September 22, 2021 [3 favorites]


I think we can be angry -- and sometimes should be angry -- without wishing pain/death on others or believing they deserve to suffer/die.
posted by mikeand1 at 8:45 AM on September 22, 2021 [14 favorites]


It's simplistic to dismiss them as people willing to get us all killed - they did not see it that way. I think anger toward them is completely understandable as an emotional reaction - they caused real harm because of their beliefs. And I don't blame anyone who just can't feel compassion for them at this point. But I do feel sorry for them - I see these deaths as tragic, especially when so many of them have left young children. And I don't think I'm wrong to feel that way.

This is the thing that gets me. Every time I start to feel that raw tinge of spiteful schadenfreude I remember that COVID has orphaned more than 100,000 children in the US alone and I just. fucking. can't. All these kids are suffering needlessly because of willful misinformation and political posturing and nobody with the power or reach to change that gives a single flying fuck.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:47 AM on September 22, 2021 [18 favorites]


It’s going to be a profoundly unpopular viewpoint here, but abandoning empathy here and now at this point is an abdication of a fundamental duty to humanity independent of your feelings on the matter.

It’s not an either/or. Emotions are complicated.

For example, each one of these cases marks the removal of a voice that was actively encouraging people to put themselves and others at risk. Regardless of how it happens the removal of such a thing is to be celebrated.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:50 AM on September 22, 2021 [11 favorites]


They believed whoever was telling them that COVID is a hoax, that vaccines are dangerous, that their immune systems would take care of them. They believed these lies enough to act in accordance with those beliefs and ultimately to die because they fell for this misinformation.

They believed these things because of their vile priors. Because they were racist, because they were dominionists, because they believe their people are better than others, because they believe that they're entitled to prop up their own lives with the deaths of as many people as it takes. With the exception of the very young, the very old, and the profoundly mentally ill, they were "deceived" because they wanted to be and have arranged their lives around the belief that they can think and feel whatever they want without consequence. They've been encouraged in their beliefs by awful people, which hasn't helped, but that doesn't mean they were implanted surgically by third parties.

That said, while I understand the subreddit as a coping mechanism, I fear it would put too much stress on my human decency for me to be a frequent visitor. I don't believe I'm required to sympathize with these folks to continue to believe that they deserve medical care and whatever persuasive efforts actually stand a chance of working, but, as I have not yet managed to cultivate the kind of truly impersonal compassion that keeps some people working to help the "unworthy," I don't want to chance it.

(I also don't like the way it tends to reinforce the just world fallacy, which it's far too easy to fall into.)
posted by praemunire at 8:50 AM on September 22, 2021 [41 favorites]


The claim that this sub is “naked hatred” is arguable, and kind of ridiculous in my opinion.

But claiming it is naked hatred then saying people here are embracing naked hatred as an ethos is absolutely ridiculous and has no place here.
posted by lazaruslong at 8:51 AM on September 22, 2021 [35 favorites]


The striking thing about the sub-reddit is the sameness of the posts. Each award-winner posts the same half-dozen memes on their Facebook...

There are bingo cards. Spots include lion meme, prayer warriors, china virus, "this virus is no joke," etc. The point here is that these people are all posting the same stupid shit. It's the same story, over and over.

As Sciatrix pointed out, eloquently and with compassion above, this short-sighted hatred for a citizenry gone astray is misplaced. Look upward. Look to a leadership playing a much longer game.

Yes but the anger here is that all of these award winners can't see that. They vote against their own interests over and over, in order to own the libs or whatever. It's possible to be angry with leadership AND frustrated with these selfish, selfish, racist, horrible people. It's weird that NOW we're supposed to be compassionate for the people who were voting for the people who put kids in concentration camps and cheated to get SC justices who are taking away rights to choose. The chickens are coming home to roost, and it's because of these people's actions. They have eschewed all attempts at logic and reason, as well as compassion. If they don't want to engage with us reasonably, I don't see why we're supposed to extend compassion to them post-mortem.

I don't believe in punishing ignorance and wrong-headedness with death.

Me neither, but covid doesn't give a shit and this is the entire point of the sub. There isn't a single person in that sub who was punished by anyone but themselves. The information is out there, available to all. They keep betting against the house and eventually they lose.
posted by nushustu at 8:53 AM on September 22, 2021 [70 favorites]


I don't believe in punishing ignorance and wrong-headedness with death.

No one is 'punishing' THEM. These ignorant and wrong-headed HCA winners are the ones punishing everyone around themselves with potential death or crippling affliction. If the results of their stupidity is that they remove themselves from circulation permanently, so it goes. At least it's one less loudspeaker amplifying poisonous lies.
posted by FatherDagon at 8:53 AM on September 22, 2021 [15 favorites]


Most of the "winners" seem pretty small fry. The big fish are the mayors and administrators and governors (and of course the previous administration), but I presume most of them have in fact been vaccinated and will probably never face any consequences for sabotaging public health.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:57 AM on September 22, 2021 [25 favorites]


And I don't think I'm wrong to feel that way.

The older I get, the more grateful I am for my mom's refrain during my childhood: you're entitled to your feelings, but responsible for your actions. So an important reminder for all of us: it's OK to feel whatever ways you feel, sad or angry or hateful or murderous or compassionate or anything. ALL FEELINGS ARE OK TO HAVE, none of them can be wrong. It's our actions that matter.
posted by LooseFilter at 8:58 AM on September 22, 2021 [15 favorites]


As a Canadian, it's the GoFundMe stage that really gets me because I would imagine it's the result of relatives saddled with health care debt, on top of everything else going on. I guess socialism is acceptable when it's just friends, relatives and sympathetic strangers putting money in your hat.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:58 AM on September 22, 2021 [33 favorites]


I think some degree of detachment is warranted, personally. The personal choice doctrine so often peddled by these types of folks does cut both ways. Isn’t it enough to know that this is happening without building a grim document? What purpose does that really serve?

But the whole point is that too many people don't know this is happening. Or won't acknowledge it. And I find this "grim document" cathartic not because I find joy in seeing Covid deniers get some sort horrible cosmic payback but because it is a place for these hidden horrible truths to be made public. Detachment isn't an option for our family and I think detachment is a large part of why this pandemic persists.
posted by Lapin at 9:00 AM on September 22, 2021 [22 favorites]


I guess socialism is acceptable when it's just friends, relatives and sympathetic strangers putting money in your hat

Because then it's not socialism, but moral private charity. Socialism is when the state takes your money and uses it to help t h o s e   p e o p l e.
posted by acb at 9:02 AM on September 22, 2021 [34 favorites]


...but abandoning empathy...

It is very difficult to have empathy for callous, willfully evil people who apparently do not have empathy for anyone else. Last I checked, personally - I was nowhere near Jesus or Buddha levels of empathy. Good on you, if you can give them the time-of-day and a bit of your heart - however, I have find that life is too short to continue to tolerate jerks. Otherwise their behaviour will dissappear and the cycle will continue without anyone challenging it.

Even if, their ilk never actually changes their mind privately - but, perhaps chooses to self-censor the idiocy that they personally post, because their is a possible social consequence, then that is a win - as they won't be convincing other people with their memetic thought viruses.
posted by rozcakj at 9:03 AM on September 22, 2021 [9 favorites]


Most of the "winners" seem pretty small fry.

There's a truly revealing aspect to this, which was also brought up in the coverage of right-wing radio hosts dying - it uncovers the exact point in the right-wing power structure where people above the line know that the lies are lies, and people below the line do not. All of the Fox News hosts, congresscritters, governors, and wealthy donors who carefully refuse to disclose their vaccination status....yeah, they're vaccinated. Because they are above that line.
posted by allegedly at 9:05 AM on September 22, 2021 [106 favorites]


Postcard from an overrun ICU (Billings, MO):
“The patients look at you with that fear in their eyes and say, ‘Am I going to make it?’” Baxter said. “You want to encourage them to not give up hope, but you also know the chances of survival are going to be slim.”

Recently, a patient’s dying wish was to have their preschool-age child come and sit with them, to see them one last time. That typically wouldn’t be allowed, but an exception was made, with staffers at the hospital draping the child in oversized protective clothing, goggles and an N95 mask. Afterward, the nurse and doctor sobbed with the patient.

“The moral distress of working in health care is for many, many people extremely high right now,” said Allen.

Intensifying that, he said, are patients or their loved ones mistreating doctors and nurses. Threats have on occasion required a police response. Screaming, profanity-laden insults are a daily occurrence. One patient threw his own feces at a doctor. Some, even in the face of an intubation tube, question the need to be vaccinated or the effectiveness of the medicine being prescribed.

Dr. Sara Nyquist, an emergency medicine physician, said she has been asked by a patient if she is a Republican or a Democrat.

“I said, ‘I am your doctor,’” she recalled. “You do wonder how we got here.”
posted by gwint at 9:08 AM on September 22, 2021 [56 favorites]


Who do you think is reading it? Certainly not vaccine deniers and conspiracy theorists and the sorts of people who follow their intuition and disinformation poisoned brains straight into oblivion. Anyone who knows an anti vaccine, anti mask person will understand this.

At 2,000 or 20,000 subscribers I would have agreed with this, but at 270,000 and rising I strongly suspect it will start to impinge on broader circles. In particular I can see it becoming a point of pride among anti-vaxxers that they have read the page and have been unmoved by it. Certainly that is what I will be challenging my cousins to do.

And maybe one or two of them will benefit from it, if not by taking the vaccine themselves then by at least being less pugnacious about it. I count that as a win.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:09 AM on September 22, 2021 [7 favorites]


The 20th century took us so far away from the medical catastrophes that used to kill people all the time (childbirth, infection, epidemics, traumatic injury), but we kept capital punishment and the state violence apparatus and now we go around arguing about death regarding “deserve” status, and like. deserve’s got nothing to do with it.

We may have schadenfreude because we see an immoral choice leading to the “punishment” of death for that person but it’s the same death that came for everyone early in the pandemic.

I would also consider this subreddit a psychological phenomenon where a traumatized population are trying to get back to their comfort zone by reasserting the “morality” of death — it’s now mostly gonna come to those who deserve it. (Remember those who always said “the elderly and sick and disabled don’t deserve to die”. like covid gives a shit, like death is a character with a personality coming for you, or a judge or anything.). And therefore I, because I made a moral choice, will be protected from the virus — I mean also because of science but now because I am a good and smart person and the world can start making sense again.
posted by Hypatia at 9:09 AM on September 22, 2021 [25 favorites]


I think we can be angry -- and sometimes should be angry -- without wishing pain/death on others or believing they deserve to suffer/die.

Analysis of what people deserve, in this instance, is really only relevant for believers in the Just World delusion. This is about what happens when people put up a wall of denial against reliable epidemiological reportage and choose to pin their faith on unprincipled propaganda instead.

"Deserve" has got nothing to do with what happens to these deluded rubes; what we're seeing here is an object lesson in why it is so incredibly dangerous for the subcultures these people occupy to fail so spectacularly at inculcating anything even vaguely resembling critical thinking skills.

HCA is a grim cautionary tale about the perils of magical thinking, and the perils of treating a mindless, highly infectious virus as if it were capable of persuasion via the customary bad-faith Gish Gallop of self-contradictory nonsense. It has nothing to do with justice; it has everything to do with modelling reality correctly or not.

Every recipient of a Herman Cain Award was experiencing socially sanctioned psychosis before they got COVID. And people who lose touch with reality are more likely to die because reality is what it is and, except for the human parts, gives no shits at all what any of us thinks about it.
posted by flabdablet at 9:10 AM on September 22, 2021 [55 favorites]


Everyone has their limit. I think this presages much worse for us, nationally. Not that anyone here needs convincing of that fact, but it’s frustrating to watch.

Do you not understand that this subreddit is how some people are coping with that frustration? The people who post in the subreddit and have these discussions are having these discussions amongst themselves, they are not posting on the mourners' social media. And believe me, I have seen that as well - just as I have seen members of the Westboro Baptist church and those of that ilk picketing the funerals of people who died of AIDS. Shoving one's views into the faces of those mourning would be cruel and would be unforgiveable if that is what the people in this subreddit are doing. They are not - they are confining their frustration to a single space, to express that frustration in a space where - likely - the families of the deceased will not be seeing it. Those who are profoundly frustrated by their pigheadedness get to discharge that frustration safely, and the bereaved are left in peace. I suspect you would prefer this to the alternative.

There’s a difference between justified anger and naked hatred. I’d posit that a sub like this oversteps the line into the latter category.

....That is certainly a justification for a viewpoint. One can choose to subscribe to it if they so choose. I choose not to.

I’m not trying to convince anybody to see it my way.

With all due respect, you do seem to be behaving as if you were. Perhaps you are not aware that this is how you are coming across.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:15 AM on September 22, 2021 [60 favorites]


I've spent some time reading /r/HCA, and sure, there is name-calling, there is bitter mockery and laughter, there are people justifying some unattractive Othering urges with the narratives there.

But it seems to me that the undercurrent of the commentary is largely about trying to understand. Trying to find a point of view, a set of principles, or a mental framework that makes this emotionally-crushing, mostly-preventable wave of death and tragedy make some sort of sense. Looking for a pattern that could make the truth less bleak, that could offer some hope for the future.

I think that is a kind of empathy.

The Slate article sure casts around looking for a reason to be morally appalled at what is, in the end, a collection of anonymous nobodies expressing themselves, in their own words, in more-or-less public forums. In the process it uncovers some pretty fair arguments that /r/HCA or something like it is almost inevitable, and perhaps even important or necessary. I certainly wouldn't have been aware of the scale, depth, and resilience of the anti-vax sentiment without it.
posted by Western Infidels at 9:18 AM on September 22, 2021 [13 favorites]


I'm not sure when I started reading the HCA but I did get the app so I could read it. I have avoided Reddit for a long time other than reading the occasional thread. My personal situation over the past year and a half (how long has it been?) has been losing my mind trying to balance work, parenting, spousing as our country digs ever deeper at the barrel of shit we are wallowing in just to see if there is more shit down there. The fact that our last President walks free is just a bright, shining, buzzing neon flashing sign that justice is for losers. The right wing had a choice and they chose pandering to the worst of American society. Whatever intellectual cover and moral standing they had is long gone. These are their people.

My kid missed a year and a half of school to protect the vulnerable members of our community. I'm so goddamn grateful to live in a state with a governor with backbone who did the right thing consistently in the face of an insane, braying minority of chucklefucks who would flay her alive for first of all, being a woman and second of all, leading. I'm so lucky that they are a minority here so that we can have nice things even as they show up to scream "all lives matter" and "roll coal" with their stupid Gadsden flags flying from their stupid trucks. White people. Sucking. Some anti-mask idiots even showed up at my kid's school the first week to chant things on the front step.

But we are lucky right now. My kid's school happens to have a high quotient of ardent rule followers and everyone is masked on the grounds 100%. As far as I am aware, all staff is vaccinated. We have near zero cases of Covid positive in the school with the only reported cases so far from the first week with exposure origin outside of the school. Other parts of the state have been surging with Delta variant. Because those smaller areas didn't get hit as hard with the Covid waves, they are more Republican which means their identity demands that they eschew masks, and they don't like our governor. No woman will tell them what to do! Because of them, we have a statewide mask mandate and that means my kid can go to school.

I read the HCA to remind myself that while we are failing at justice and commonsense and fairness and empathy for each other and for our children and our safety net is tatters because of politics - the virus doesn't care. You want to come to my school and scream at the building about your freedoms and scare the kids and concern everyone in the community that your anti-social bullshit just might tip over into something really fucking scary? You are allowed to do that. We are letting you. We fail our children everyday with this. But the virus...it doesn't care. I need to remind myself that it is real. I have asked myself so many times in my head and out loud - "Are we still in a pandemic? Is this real?" Watching beefy dudes cosplaying military bravado scream about masks.... is this real? Seeing my uncle post racist memes that don't make any sense unless you're stupid or a totally depraved dickhead? Is that my family? Are they okay? Is this real?

When Herman Cain died, I wept for his people. Seriously. I've been doing a lot of crying during this time but this really hit me. I saw these photos of all these smiling black people and just wept for them. They are into him. They followed him. They believe in him. He took them to death's door. He led them there. He abandoned them in his pursuit of power. It's a goddamn tragedy.
posted by amanda at 9:20 AM on September 22, 2021 [55 favorites]


At 2,000 or 20,000 subscribers I would have agreed with this, but at 270,000 and rising I strongly suspect it will start to impinge on broader circles.

That bizarre performance of a Breitbart article last week seemed designed to give these people an out--"What? 99% of the people who die are unvaccinated??? And the libs didn't tell me this, just told me I should get vaccinated for the good of the community so of course I told them to fuck off??? Sign me up!!!" I don't know if this is going to be a tactic going forward: showing you the truth the libs don't want you to know about!
posted by praemunire at 9:21 AM on September 22, 2021 [14 favorites]


That bizarre performance of a Breitbart article last week seemed designed to give these people an out

Was it this one? Because this one is friggin’ art.

Breitbart Writer Claims ‘Organized Left’ Uses ‘Reverse Psychology’ to ‘Trick’ People Into Refusing ‘Trump Vaccine’
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:28 AM on September 22, 2021 [31 favorites]


marks rarely face up to the con

Yes. There are people who decided, implicitly or explicitly, that they would rather die than make an entirely private, wordless admission that


the loudest anti-vaxer I know personally is one of my oldest friends. He's as far from a political conservative as you can get, yet has managed to chase his radical-anarchist-extremism to the same basic place and thus, it seems, a very similar quandary. So much of his identity has become invested in his buy-in to the con that to step back now and acknowledge just how completely, foolishly wrong he's been for years -- I fear his ego just isn't up to it.

Death before humiliation.
posted by philip-random at 9:28 AM on September 22, 2021 [13 favorites]


Throwing a petard to hoist the libs.
posted by phunniemee at 9:29 AM on September 22, 2021 [8 favorites]




Can we be grateful even for the things that are terrible? What is there to be grateful about here? Maybe, if pleading into social media against the antivaxxers has no effect, if arguing with my relatives is like a brick wall, if compassion is rejected with FYF, if the grim statistics have no effect, no pictures inside hospitals, you cannot penetrate the Fox News bubble … a post on HCA sub is the ultima ratio (“last argument”) - not the best argument or even a winning one - just the only one left when our culture does not allow us to reach these people any other way. I can be grateful for that even if everything else about it is awful.
posted by radagast at 9:30 AM on September 22, 2021 [14 favorites]


(Over and over again people state those who die are obese or ill or old, as if that matters)

About that...

"According to one CDC study, 79 percent of people hospitalized with severe COVID-19 in the United States in 2020 had a BMI categorized as overweight or obese. The percentage is alarming in a vacuum, and the CDC does assert that high body weight is a risk factor for severe COVID-19. But it’s far from clear that it’s a major risk factor—the CDC’s own numbers suggest that almost 74 percent of all Americans over the age of 20 fall into that same BMI range, which means that, even if weight had no correlation to or effect on outcomes, you’d still expect about three-quarters of those hospitalized with COVID-19 to have a high BMI.

BMI’s uselessness as a proxy for health is a fight for another day, but even if you leave out confounding factors that might help explain the five-point difference—for example, that poor people are more likely to have a high BMI, to delay seeking costly medical treatment, and to work in-person jobs that expose them to the coronavirus—it hardly justifies making cookies illegal. If a bodily variation causes a difference in COVID-19 risk, that doesn’t mean it must be eliminated by force. If you disagree, I’d love to hear your plan for dealing with men, who are much more likely to be hospitalized or die after catching COVID-19 than women.

....CNN used Vietnam’s impressive track record against the pandemic and the nation’s low obesity rates as a foil for Americans’ own failures, both in the pandemic and on the scale.

But ample evidence exists that Vietnam didn’t contain the pandemic because its people are slender. The country relied on the kinds of interventions that aren’t very profitable to outside businesses: proactive governmental action, robust contact tracing, strategic testing, and free food and housing for those who need to quarantine. Vietnam also benefits from a populace whose median age is six years younger than that of the U.S.—a meaningful difference when the worst outcomes of a disease are more closely associated with advanced age than anything else.

The CNN article omits any information about Vietnam’s COVID-19 response or other risk-mitigating population differences. It also doesn’t disclose that the World Obesity Federation is an advocacy group that receives funding from corporations who profit when people are pressured to get thin: a number of pharmaceutical companies that already sell weight-loss drugs or have new ones in much-hyped clinical trials, as well as WW, the diet company formerly known as Weight Watchers."

Source
posted by LindsayIrene at 9:33 AM on September 22, 2021 [40 favorites]


A sub like that serves nothing more than to state plainly how reality works.

Nothing more? That is a desperately needed lesson in this country.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:33 AM on September 22, 2021 [20 favorites]


You know what freaked me out? Remember back when this pandemic started, really really early, before we knew what was going to happen? We didn't know how the virus could be transmitted, so any packaged food we'd get, we'd wipe down with anti-microbial cloths. We'd wash our hands the way you do before you're admitted to the NICU.

So my family tried to stock up on some supplies. Just basics: pasta, bottled water, basic foodstuffs, bottles of alcohol, toilet paper. We didn't go whole-hog crazy or anything, just tried to get like 2 weeks worth of stuff, instead of one like we used to do.

And I remember being on a walk w/ my college-aged daughter and saying to her, "the worst part about all this is that the goddamned preppers were right. I should have had some stuff stocked away, but I thought that was crazy and didn't want to live in fear all of the time."

Now, it turns out they weren't right, that things continued, but for a moment there, I really thought that *I* was the sucker. That my sense of the general goodness of people was wrong and naive and stupid.

So when I see these people who put their trust in god and their own immune systems, despite all of the information available to them, seeing these people who have been consistently ignorant, and proud of that ignorance, and shouting about how proud they are from the rooftops, it gives me hope: they aren't right. People aren't all uniformly assholes. Just some of them. Just this scared, stupid, dangerous, noisy group of people, that are going to be scared and stupid and dangerous and noisy no matter what.

Is this schadenfreude? Maybe. But it's more than that. It's more about hope for my kids, that the world is big and scary, but that doesn't mean we have to be cruel to survive.
posted by nushustu at 9:35 AM on September 22, 2021 [18 favorites]


A thousand Covid threads ago, when the anti-vaxx conspiracy stuff was just starting to ramp up, I said there are a lot of people who don’t want to live in a modern world of facts and reason, and many of them were going to get their wish. And now here we are.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:35 AM on September 22, 2021 [19 favorites]


Breitbart Writer Claims ‘Organized Left’ Uses ‘Reverse Psychology’ to ‘Trick’ People Into Refusing ‘Trump Vaccine’

I'm sorry. That needs a warning. I can't read past the first paragraph without thinking that I might seriously spiral into some kind of abyss of no return.
posted by amanda at 9:36 AM on September 22, 2021 [11 favorites]


I would love to read interviews with people who were rabidly anti-vax, anti-mask, "plandemic" types and came back from the brink of covid death. Like ventilated for weeks, long rehab etc. AND who had family members die. I add that last part because I feel like if nobody died then they can easily relieve their cognitive dissonance with "see, I (am not sick/have an immune system etc. etc.) that's why I didn't die."

Anyway, that's what I'd like to read. I mean really what I'd like is a view inside the minds when they are at deaths door. I know lots of them regret not getting vaccinated. BUt how do they feel about the misinformation they were fed and the people who fed it to them? What proportion go on believing it's all a hoax to the very end? Obviously people on the brink of death are in no position to be interviewed, though, so I'll settle for the people who came back from death's door.

This isn't schadenfreude...I just really want to know if/how getting that sick changes their thinking. I looked at a few of the "awarded" subreddits, and though I expected to feel schadenfreude (I do to some extent with the radio hosts), I really just felt sad.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 9:38 AM on September 22, 2021 [4 favorites]


79 percent of people hospitalized with severe COVID-19 in the United States in 2020 had a BMI categorized as overweight or obese. The percentage is alarming in a vacuum, and the CDC does assert that high body weight is a risk factor for severe COVID-19. But it’s far from clear that it’s a major risk factor—the CDC’s own numbers suggest that almost 74 percent of all Americans over the age of 20 fall into that same BMI range

We fell into that same trap here in Mexico. Thankfully the whole “obesity as a risk factor” thing seems to have died down a bit. I have a sneaking suspicion that it only lasted as long as it did (both here and in the United States) because the people releasing the information would like to see everyone lose some weight anyway.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:38 AM on September 22, 2021 [2 favorites]


The etymology is obvious once you see it. The expression has nothing to do with either sand or sweets.

I understand, and I will tow the line.
posted by thelonius at 9:39 AM on September 22, 2021 [40 favorites]


the world is big and scary, but that doesn't mean we have to be cruel to survive.

Indeed. Merely remaining well-informed is generally sufficient.

I can't read past the first paragraph without thinking that I might seriously spiral into some kind of abyss of no return

You'll be fine as long as you don't actually click any of the links that go to Breitbart, for which "some kind of abyss of no return" is a completely fair description.
posted by flabdablet at 9:40 AM on September 22, 2021 [1 favorite]


Was it this one? Because this one is friggin’ art.

Yep.
posted by praemunire at 9:42 AM on September 22, 2021


I will tow the line

Also gonna need you to reign it in even if you're loathe to do so.
posted by flabdablet at 9:43 AM on September 22, 2021 [30 favorites]


I'm sorry. [Breitbart] needs a warning. I can't read past the first paragraph without thinking that I might seriously spiral into some kind of abyss of no return.

That's just the shallow end, buddy. Wait until you read about volcano deniers in Spain.
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:43 AM on September 22, 2021 [9 favorites]


It’s going to be a profoundly unpopular viewpoint here, but abandoning empathy here and now at this point is an abdication of a fundamental duty to humanity independent of your feelings on the matter. A dead person can’t vote differently. A dead person has lost their shot at redemption. A dead person is only a negative space full of pain that radiates outward and destroys the lives of all those connected to them. Any kind of ghoulish memorializing of this event is also a memorializing of grief’s destruction.

It’s disgusting.


What's truly disgusting is the human cost of their wilful, pig-headed, unbelievable-reality-denying ignorance.

You don't win a HCA because you died of Covid. You don't win an HCA because you refused vaccination and to mask up. You win one when you gloat and brag that you don't give the smallest shit about anyone health, even your own, and are *proud* of that. And then they get killed by the very thing they mocked the rest of us for taking seriously.

You know who I have empathy for? The patients who are in pain, or dying because they can't get care because these unvaccinated-and-proud-of-it idiots are clogging up the ICUs.

The doctors and nurses that are getting spat on and called murderers by the very patients they're trying to save,
because they won't give them horse worm paste, and are burning out because they can't take any more from the never-ending tide of the unvaccinated filling the hospitals, requiring weeks of intensive care, then dying anyway.

I have empathy for the immunocompromised and their families who have had to live in goddamn isolation for 2 years, because some rightwingers need to 'own the libs' is what *really* matters.

Winners of the HCA did their absolute best to kill themselves and - others - in an incredibly painful way. They succeeded.

Yes, I'm goddamn angry. Angry at all we've lost, angry that we're still where we are when we have amazingly effective vaccines developed in record time - because the right wing media, politicians and their supporters are literally now a death cult, and they want to kill us, and gloat about it.

So fuck em. I have no empathy for them. None. I have some sympathy for their families and loved ones, but you know what? The world is a better place with HCA winners not in it, and I'm not ashamed that's how I feel. This is what they wanted, this is what they proudly promoted, this is what they were willing to happen to everyone else. It's not what they deserved, but it's absolutely the outcome that they were doing their best to achieve in their idiocy. I'm not glad they caught Covid, but neither am I sad they're gone. More people might live now they're dead.

The HCA forum has done good. It has brought about people who have been vaccinated because the social media fug, promoted and spread by these same award winners, meant they were genuinely unsure - the brutal reality that the media are covering up with anodyne statistics, that dying from covid is an incredibly painful and horrifying way to go, and once you hit that ICU unvaccinated, your chances are slim indeed.

That people are offended? After qanon, and all the racist, sexist crap we've had to put up with for years? The US attempted insurrection? Ending democracy? Trying their hardest to turn the US into a theocratic state where women's bodies belong to the state? Wishing death on gay and trans people? I really, really don't give a flying monkey's wet fart that they're offended.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 9:43 AM on September 22, 2021 [130 favorites]


On the lack of empathy of the victims. Also a somewhat simplistic view of human relationships.
Almost everyone has empathy. These people who are trying to 'own the libs' and such don't have a lack of empathy, I'm sure they are very good to their friends and neighbours. The difference generally is how far that empathy reaches. Who is your in-group that you like, and who isn't. Everyone has different borders to in- and out-groups.
Some people consider their tribe (religious, political or regional) only to be in-group.
Some people consider the whole country, or continent, or culture to be in-group (at least for these purposes).
Some people consider all of humanity. That takes work to put into practice.
Some people consider mammals generally (and may go vegetarian) or all animate beings (and go vegan).
Some people consider only their immediate family, or only themself.

If you are going to be anti-vax for political purposes you have to have a constrained in-group. Places like the HCA try to point out that even small in-groups are negatively affected by sociopathic behavior in ways that wasn't as obvious in the before-times.
posted by PennD at 9:44 AM on September 22, 2021 [12 favorites]


I'm sorry. That needs a warning. I can't read past the first paragraph without thinking that I might seriously spiral into some kind of abyss of no return.

Isn’t it GREAT? The states that are having the biggest problems coincidentally have a lot of empty places for statues right now and if this guy can keep it up I think he deserves to occupy one.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:51 AM on September 22, 2021 [2 favorites]


The world is a better place with HCA winners not in it

soundtrack for the thread
posted by flabdablet at 9:51 AM on September 22, 2021 [2 favorites]


If the Left had any decency, they'd vocally decline to get vaccinated and drop like flies in solidarity with the conservatives.
posted by acb at 9:54 AM on September 22, 2021 [32 favorites]


A friend of mine a few decades ago coined a phrase that's stuck with me: if you're going to be dumb, you've gotta be tough. Naomi Wu trots out a similar sentiment: play stupid games, win stupid prizes. Humans have enormous brains because evolution has thrown increasingly complicated problems at us that we need those brains to solve. Willfully not using that brain and thereby dying of stupidity is counter to everything that makes us human.

That said, even stupid people are human. I'm not glad they died of COVID. It's not schadenfreude I feel. It's a gentle reassurance that of all our skills as human beings paying attention to our surroundings and reacting appropriately is one of the most important skills we have. This reassurance doesn't make me happy. It makes me sad; folks have given up their evolutionary birthright intelligence for whatever reason and the environment has culled them out.

I guess that's good for humanity in general? It's still pretty icky. But that's nature: red of tooth and sharp of claw. And honey covid don't give a shit.

It's all just a huge fucking shame.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:58 AM on September 22, 2021 [13 favorites]


For folks who found it useful/instructive to read the plain descriptions of what it's like to be hospitalized for covid, here's a stark run-down of the reality from a respiratory therapist in the LA Times, "On the front lines, here’s what the seven stages of severe COVID-19 look like." Non paywalled archive.org version. Here's an abbreviated listing of just the first four stages.
Stage 1. You’ve had debilitating symptoms for a few days, but now it is so hard to breathe that you come to the emergency room.

Stage 2. It becomes harder and harder for you to breathe. “Like drowning,” many patients describe the feeling. We transfer you to the intensive care unit.

Stage 3. You’re exhausted from hyperventilating to satisfy your body’s demand for air. We put you on noninvasive, “positive pressure” ventilation.

Stage 4. An arterial blood draw confirms that the oxygen content in your blood is critically low. We prepare to intubate you. If you’re able to and if there’s time, we will suggest that you call your loved ones. We connect you to a ventilator. You are sedated and paralyzed, fed through a feeding tube, hooked to a Foley catheter and a rectal tube.
posted by spamandkimchi at 10:01 AM on September 22, 2021 [17 favorites]


Trump has a whole lot of responsibility for this. He was the leader in making Covid denial and mask refusal a political shibboleth. His initial reaction was that the whole thing was just totally unfair, everyone was talking about the pandemic instead of how the stock market was doing well and how great Trump is, it must be the Democrats' "new hoax", and as time went on, there was no progress from that.
posted by thelonius at 10:03 AM on September 22, 2021 [21 favorites]


A dead person can’t vote differently. A dead person has lost their shot at redemption. A dead person is only a negative space full of pain that radiates outward and destroys the lives of all those connected to them.

A dead person also can't callously spread COVID to children and immunocompromised people
posted by Ferreous at 10:05 AM on September 22, 2021 [62 favorites]


I remember wasting the good part of a night on the HCA subreddit a month ago. I can go there right now, and nothing has changed other than the timestamps are new.

My reaction now is bafflement over how much time some of these people spend on social media, and all in the exact same way. Copy-pasting the same memes, high-fiving each other over owning the libs, eventually donating money to each other's GoFundMes. It's a community in itself, but one that doesn't do anything productive other that supporting each other's imagined victimization and exaggerated rage.
posted by meowzilla at 10:14 AM on September 22, 2021 [12 favorites]


After seeing the title and first few lines I went to the sub before reading the Slate article.
I would recommend others do the same and especially read the posts that mention Slate or media in their titles

I read the article yesterday, visited the sub yesterday, and saw this post by someone angry at the article.

We aren't here because we like to point and laugh like some common internet trolls, we're here BECAUSE WE DON'T WANT TO FUCKING BE HERE. These people are YOLOing themselves (and loved ones) into the void for lack of any reason or common sense, and at some point, this has become the social media equivalent of gawking at a very preventable car wreck.

Saying you don’t want to be somewhere you have chosen to go to because you want to “gawk at a very preventable car wreck” is a weird kind of hypocrisy. People are being angry and nasty, because people like to be angry and nasty. Sometimes that gets results, but it is what it is. Punching someone who died because of a bad information diet, in general, feels like punching down. The bitter frame that is “owning the libs by dying” is a fun joke, but the reality is that dying this way is actually being owned by yourself and your anger, and that’s pitiable.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:21 AM on September 22, 2021 [7 favorites]


I have strongly mixed feelings about HCA, but the one thing I've taken away from it is how strong that need to be right and in control is in humanity. So strong that you even some of these stories where they don't change - like there was one about a woman ranting about COVID and how people were telling her she'd feel bad if she gave it to her daughter with asthma. She ended up giving her daughter COVID and the daughter died.

And yet there's the mom still with the cognitive dissonance about it. "god choose a different path".

It's confounding and disheartening. (I have awful asthma - that's why the story stayed with me)
posted by drewbage1847 at 10:24 AM on September 22, 2021 [8 favorites]


They're not just killing themselves, they are killing others. I have no sympathy for people committing slow motion manslaughter.
posted by Ferreous at 10:25 AM on September 22, 2021 [12 favorites]


The right wing has been at war with the reality-based community for decades now, explicitly so since Bush-Cheney, and arguably so for much longer. For years I've watched the right wing propaganda machine repeatedly double down on their up-is-down world view, sure that it couldn't keep going forever because their lies would eventually have to reckon with reality, only to be proven wrong. Instead of a reckoning we got Trump and reality-denying on levels I couldn't have believed in 2015. So for me at least, the HCA provides a bit of psychological relief by demonstrating that reality is still reality. To see that propaganda machine finally (finally) crash against cold hard truth... it doesn't bring me joy, but I don't hate it either.
posted by jomato at 10:29 AM on September 22, 2021 [33 favorites]


Vice also has an article: Redditors Give ‘The Herman Cain Award’ to Anti-Vaxxers Who Die of COVID (Which is an extraordinarily misleading title: award recipients also MUST decry vaccines, masks, and the dangers of the global pandemic as well. It's right there in the name.)

First, I think it's rich when a mainstream media outlet that looooooved Trump's 2016 election campaign for all the clicks and views it generated are now criticizing a subreddit for its "unbelievable grimness". And they're doing the same thing here: getting clicks and views by talking about something that they supposedly decry.

When I read the pinned post on r/HCA directed towards media outlets, I did have a brief few seconds wondering if this was sub was a good idea. Then a few lines below, I read another r/HCA headline: MAGA Cultist Who Said He’d Shoot Anyone Trying to Vaccinate Him Now Has COVID

This next part I'm going to be very delicate in how I phrase it: I used to not want the Herman Cain Award types, who post anti-vaccine memes to their social media, to die of covid. I just wanted them to stop spreading lies about the pandemic and vaccines so that their friends and family wouldn't die. Death does not have to be a part of that; they could just stop lying. But then I realized they won't stop lying. If they survive, they'll actually become worse: "I had covid and I survived, it's fine."

After Joe Rogan recovered from covid, he started talking up Ivermectin. It is indeed cruel to wish that his own actions caused him to not be around. But it's beyond sadistic to instead wish his millions of listeners be told by a celebrity they trust that horse dewormer is a fine substitute for vaccination.

The r/HermanCainAward subreddit is good, actually.
posted by AlSweigart at 10:30 AM on September 22, 2021 [34 favorites]


Punching someone who died because of a bad information diet, in general, feels like punching down

If they were mere consumers of bad information they are not eligible for a HCA. They have to be part of the problem.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:30 AM on September 22, 2021 [11 favorites]


I don't want the HCA subreddit to be condemned, I want it to be immortalized. I want every image preserved in the National Archives. I want hard copies printed out and distributed at institutions of learning. I want a wall of screens longer than the Vietnam Memorial, with these images, repeating forever and ever, and using the posters full names.

The only addition I would make is that after each hateful, spiteful excerpt from social media is shown, a small chyron should show at the bottom detailing how many people had died of COVID on that day alone, and cumulatively up to that date.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 10:32 AM on September 22, 2021 [42 favorites]


I've been to the ER recently. I've seen the waiting room with multiple confirmed covid patients waiting for hours. I sat with my 3'4" girlfriend in a wheelchair and chronic conditions (From birth) coming in for severe head pain while we waited 15 hours to even be brought back to the hallway where they had beds in the hallway because the private rooms were full of covid patients.

Did Covid kill my girlfriend? Almost certainly not. Did people refusing vaccines and masks, basic precautions, endanger her life? Hell yes. Did the overworked hospital staff do their best for her? Of course. Did Trumpists, Republicans, and Qtards contribute to my girlfriend dying? Yes they damn well did.

I couldn't stay at the hospital because of Covid. Because I live in a fucking red state. I lost the last days of my partner of three years being conscious and alert because of Republicans. I didn't get to hold her hand when she was scared. I don't know if I could have advocated for her in the hospital, but I certainly couldn't do much besides call the nurse every three hours and get insufficient updates as her condition crashed.

We had to fight to get family in the room when the hospital pulled the plug on the ventilator, when they stopped using the compression bag keeping her poor broken body..... Something. Not even really alive.

So in short, fuck those murderers to Hell.
posted by Jacen at 10:33 AM on September 22, 2021 [171 favorites]


But if my unvaxxed relatives die I will be genuinely devastated. I can’t square that circle. I guess it’s because they are real people to me and not MAGA cartoons, even if they like to act that way on Facebook sometimes.

This is a dilemma I'm also facing. I have a relative who has a severely compromised immune system. He and his wife are acutely aware of how low his survival rate is should he get covid, and as such they're being very careful. However, not only was he a trump supporter in 2020, he has doubled down and is already promoting trump for 2024. Despite covid having directly effected them, they have refused any form of introspection towards any other aspect of the trump presidency. I no longer believe this group of people, this 30% of our country, are capable of learning any lessons at all unless directly effected, and even then it only works on an issue by issue basis.

I'm told that this couple feels lonely because none of their friends will take covid seriously, and therefore they can't have them over to visit. I wish I felt sorry for them, but I can't.
posted by UltraMorgnus at 10:38 AM on September 22, 2021 [15 favorites]


They're not just killing themselves, they are killing others. I have no sympathy for people committing slow motion manslaughter.

There was a twitter thread I saw a while back -lord knows where, so you will have to take this on faith- by an academic who had been tracking one older woman who hadn't been vaccinated: a waitress, with what was apparently not a particularly political Facebook account -maybe ~2 shares of no mask things. Her granddaughter caught Covid -possibly from her, possibly from her unvaccinated daughter- and died. Her story went moderately viral, and the upshot was that in addition to dealing with a funeral for a child she got spammed on Facebook with oodles of comments about how she had killed her granddaughter and should be ashamed. This accomplished… nothing. No one was saved or happy. Everyone got worse.

People are often awful, and a tool to enable awfulness is bad.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:38 AM on September 22, 2021 [4 favorites]


The thing that has crystallized for me with regard to HCA is that the world safer for each one of these fuckers who are dead and gone. They can't continue to spread disease, misinformation, and hate. I'm sure people who's cared about them are devastated but they were bad people doing bad things that lead to innocents dying or being permanently damaged from COVID. When they die that's another ICU bed free, it'll probably only go to the next anti vax bastard but that's where we are.
posted by Ferreous at 10:40 AM on September 22, 2021 [7 favorites]


Punching someone who died because of a bad information diet, in general, feels like punching down

If they were mere consumers of bad information they are not eligible for a HCA. They have to be part of the problem.

The problem is anyone with a huge public microphone. The problem is not someone who posts 16 memes to a Facebook page.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:41 AM on September 22, 2021


she got spammed on Facebook with oodles of comments about how she had killed her granddaughter and should be ashamed. This accomplished… nothing. No one was saved or happy. Everyone got worse.

People are often awful, and a tool to enable awfulness is bad.


For the millionth time, HCA is not that tool, because they specifically prohibit the behavior you describe.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 10:43 AM on September 22, 2021 [24 favorites]


Facebook is the primary vector for this shit. Even if individually they're small it's part of a greater miasma of pro COVID propaganda.
posted by Ferreous at 10:43 AM on September 22, 2021 [7 favorites]


What gets me is the number of non-famous people whose last posting (done by a survivor) is a mention of the GoFundMe for their medical/funeral expenses. These are people who likely didn't support the ACA because right-wing media told them it was "communism", yet became a poster child for why we need it.

I blame right-wing media for a lot (but far from all) of the problems we currently face as a nation, but there's no chance they'll ever pay a price for what they've done to their audience.
posted by tommasz at 10:44 AM on September 22, 2021 [19 favorites]


The problem is anyone with a huge public microphone. The problem is not someone who posts 16 memes to a Facebook page.

No, as this nonsense is clearly spreading via social networks on Facebook, these people are indubitably part of the problem.
posted by praemunire at 10:45 AM on September 22, 2021 [50 favorites]


And to boot if someone was anti mask, caught COVID and killed a child via COVID they are a bad person. If the grandmother was driving just a little drunk with the kid in the car and crashed we would rightfully condemn her. Same principle.
posted by Ferreous at 10:46 AM on September 22, 2021 [18 favorites]


The problem is anyone with a huge public microphone. The problem is not someone who posts 16 memes to a Facebook page.

If people posting memes on FB didn't make a difference, there wouldn't be so many bots programmed to do it.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 10:48 AM on September 22, 2021 [30 favorites]


I no longer believe this group of people, this 30% of our country, are capable of learning any lessons at all unless directly effected, and even then it only works on an issue by issue basis.

Years ago, Michael Moore wrote in one of his books that we should all wish bad things on Republicans because that is the only way they understand the pain other people are in. This was after Ronald Reagan developed Alzheimer's and Nancy Reagan decided she was in favor of stem cell research after all.

For the millionth time, HCA is not that tool, because they specifically prohibit the behavior you describe.

They also remove posts when the family of the deceased requests it.
posted by FencingGal at 10:48 AM on September 22, 2021 [16 favorites]


People are often awful, and a tool to enable awfulness is bad.

Facebook: No one was saved or happy. Everyone got worse.
posted by banshee at 10:48 AM on September 22, 2021 [9 favorites]


The HCA Twitter account has a very different tone than the subreddit.

Because of Reddit's deep-seated hatred of doxing, all the posts there are cleansed of the full name, and any information that can be used to identify the person are removed or minimized.

The Twitter account does not follow the same rules - I think the two are running in parallel and are not related. But the Twitter account often shows the obituary of the person. It provides a more well-rounded view of the deceased instead of just the hate and spite they've posted on Facebook. It does humanize them considerably.
posted by meowzilla at 10:55 AM on September 22, 2021 [4 favorites]


Just a note, as sciatrix catches up with the thread, she would like to point out:

While I think there are bloodier hands to chain to the stockade than these people who cloak themselves in hubris, I also don't necessarily think these people are innocent parties.

I am human, and I am as angry, hollow, and distraught as anyone at the world I live in today. Compassion fatigue is real, and so compassion is (and must be) a finite resource from any single human: when we are not taken care of, the wells of our compassion run dry. It is wise, then, when we are tired and frightened and grieving, to meter and limit where we pour it so that our wells have time to replenish.

Sometimes people need to validate the pain and self assessments of the world we inhabit. Sometimes that validation means judging who is and who is not responsible for this situation. Extending equal compassion for everyone, no matter what harms they wreak, can mean in practice denying that validation of harm to people who are grieving and justifiably angry.

There is, as always, a distinction between words and deeds. As far as I can tell, the norms of this Reddit are that families of the deceased are not called into it; the purpose of the space is not to brigade or direct fury outward, but rather to touch and affirm the reality of a narrative. Yes? So we are talking about a space to express anger and bear witness rather than a space to coordinate action, as I understand it.

One thing I have learned in the past decade is that no one space can exist to meet the needs for all people at all times, even for all people suffering similar traumas at all times. As we heal and try to grieve, sometimes we become angry and need to reaffirm that what happened to us was real and not our fault. Sometimes we become sad and need to reaffirm that enough people can be saved to build a better future. Sometimes the anger of people seeking affirmation feels like a threat, and sometimes the sorrow of people seeking hope feels like a rejection. So: we partition spaces.

The thing I most worry about when I bank my rage at others is the possibility of dehumanization: the reduction of people with whom I am in conflict to unidimensional enemies. Again, this community isn't mine, and I hadn't heard of it before today. But it seems to me that paying close attention to the individual narratives of many people as they boast, suffer, and die, in their own words and the words of people who love them is not dehumanizing. Even if you are angry at the foolishness of those people, even if you are in anguish while you do so, even if you are focusing on one part of these people's lives: it seems to me that what this community is doing is bearing witness.

I can see many ways for this community to be unhealthy, but not because it dehumanizes anti vaxxers and antimaskers; because it allows people who are trying to discover how to heal to instead dwell on the sources of their traumas. But that's not an argument that the community should not exist: it is an argument for moderation and asking people to remember to sometimes turn elsewhere for gratification and joy. In the same way, exhortations to look at the bright side of life and never acknowledge pain, suffering, or misery can be equally dangerous. Moderation is the answer.

Even within this community itself.... I tell you, go read the tag for the people who say they're taking themselves out of the running and post a vaccine card or talk about where they came from. The joy and praise is wonderful to see.
posted by sciatrix at 11:00 AM on September 22, 2021 [38 favorites]


I have empathy in spades.

I have empathy for people whose immune system comes in a bottle from the pharmacist every month. I have empathy for school-aged medically complex children who can't be vaccinated, either because they are younger than 12 or because they have medical reasons not to be exposed to this vaccine. I have empathy for the people who are dying in the emergency room waiting area because there are not enough beds in the hospital. I have empathy for the doctors and nurses who have been asked to keep going in the face of this relentless tide of death for eighteen months and counting. I have empathy for the single people who have not known a human touch since last March.

Goddamn, have I got empathy.
posted by gauche at 11:05 AM on September 22, 2021 [64 favorites]


They're not just killing themselves, they are killing others.

Exactly. Asserting your own right to play Russian Roulette is one thing. Deciding that also entitles you to spray bullets round a roomful of strangers is quite another.
posted by Paul Slade at 11:05 AM on September 22, 2021 [31 favorites]


>People are often awful, and a tool to enable awfulness is bad.

For the millionth time, HCA is not that tool, because they specifically prohibit the behavior you describe.


To be more clear about that, they don’t just work on the honor system. All of the posts are anonymized to the point where you would have to do some serious work to identify the people involved.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:08 AM on September 22, 2021 [4 favorites]


I couldn't stay at the hospital because of Covid. Because I live in a fucking red state. I lost the last days of my partner of three years being conscious and alert because of Republicans. I didn't get to hold her hand when she was scared. I don't know if I could have advocated for her in the hospital, but I certainly couldn't do much besides call the nurse every three hours and get insufficient updates as her condition crashed.

Jacen, I am so, so sorry.
posted by gauche at 11:12 AM on September 22, 2021 [41 favorites]


Asserting your own right to play Russian Roulette is one thing. Deciding that also entitles you to spray bullets round a roomful of strangers is quite another

Goes further than that - to get an HCA you need a social media trail of spreading lies about covid. Whether they're doing it because they are stupid or because they are evil, saying that people can't remark on their acts and the irony of their deaths, or saying that people can only discuss those events in a specific fashion seems silly at best and downright aiding the spread of misinformation at worst.
posted by dazed_one at 11:15 AM on September 22, 2021 [4 favorites]


The problem is anyone with a huge public microphone. The problem is not someone who posts 16 memes to a Facebook page.

This is a really interesting question for the modern era.

Obviously demagogues and in general people who would abuse power continue to exist. One need look no further than Trump for an example of that.

But what about QAnon? There was never anything but a small spark at the center of that. The megaphone was tiny but the amplification effect of all those people forwarding memes led to a large movement that has ongoing tragic consequences.

I think in the past it was enough to squelch the huge public microphone, but it is no longer sufficient. We need to also look to the viral and how we might limit that.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:16 AM on September 22, 2021 [8 favorites]


My greatest condolences on your loss, Jacen.

I think there is too little attention being paid to how the actions of anti-vaxxers have made life shittier, in varying amounts, for basically everyone. So many people have missed out on what should be fundamental human experiences—comforting a dying loved one, being present for a child being born, even just stopping by and cheering up someone who's sick and having a bad day—and these small emptinesses add up and make everyone poorer, make life just that much shittier, in ways that are hard to count and sum up.

For years I've watched the right wing propaganda machine repeatedly double down on their up-is-down world view, sure that it couldn't keep going forever because their lies would eventually have to reckon with reality, only to be proven wrong. Instead of a reckoning we got Trump and reality-denying on levels I couldn't have believed in 2015. So for me at least, the HCA provides a bit of psychological relief by demonstrating that reality is still reality.

Yes, this. I'd be searching for the words to describe how the HCAs are somehow coldly comforting, and I think this is why; it shows the limit of reality-denial.

The Trumpublicans basically lied to themselves and got away with it—on the strength of their own propaganda they torpedoed Hillary, got Trump elected, allowed him to take over the Republican party apparatus, stack the USSC, dodge impeachment twice, etc. etc., right up to the high-water mark of Jan 6 when they tried to get him a second term via a coup. It has been profoundly disturbing to watch how well denial and screamed propaganda, no matter how obviously false, worked in manifesting reality within the American political system.

But the virus, unlike the talking heads on the news, or the lickspittle members of Congress who bowed to Trump, or any of his various and sundry state-level enablers and wanna-bes, doesn't give a shit what you think, even if you believe it really, really hard and really, really loud.

Watching that reality distortion field collapse on itself in the face of cold, hard fact is a reminder that they haven't actually won, and there is still an objective reality out there which is not affected by propaganda.

Punching someone who died because of a bad information diet, in general, feels like punching down.

I don't know that we should let most of these folks off the hook as merely the result of a "poor information diet". Lots of these people seem at least reasonably intelligent, and they're all certainly adults. They get to vote on issues that affect the lives of other people. They are taking actions that adversely affect others.

This sounds a little too much like the lame excuses people sometimes make for their shitty friends/relatives/whatevers: "oh, they're a really nice guy, they just have crappy politics". TBH, I used to be fairly accepting of that excuse. But one thing that I've learned good and hard since 2016 is that if you're a person with shitty politics, you're probably a kinda shitty person, full stop. There's no prying those two things apart once the "shitty politics" starts affecting the real world and the lives of others.

A lot of the HCA "winners" make it pretty damn clear that they're not just anti-vax, but racist, homophobic, transphobic, misogynist, "traditionalist" (that's what fascists call themselves these days), white supremacist shitlords. I'm having a really hard time coming up with crocodile tears for their suicide-by-idiocy. I feel for the emptiness in the lives of their families, but that's about as far as I can go.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:16 AM on September 22, 2021 [85 favorites]


So everyone in my office has been looking at the HCA subreddit for the past couple of weeks. I think most of us feel guilty about it, but we're still looking at it. And I think it's a reflection of the rage and powerlessness that we all feel. It's hard to even explain what it's like to be a public employee in a red state right now. It's not just that I am not allowed to protect myself from COVID, or that I'm constantly being lectured to about the need to protect the feelings and sensibilities of the unmasked, unvaccinated people who are sitting across my desk and breathing their germs into my face. It's that I don't think the average voter in this state cares if I die. I think they would be amused if I died. I think that, at heart, they believe that they are special, superior people with special superior immune systems, and COVID will only kill weak and pathetic people. It's arrogance, white supremacy, and a belief in the superiority of rural/small-town Christian culture. And it's really fucking sad that they're deluded, and some of them will actually die. But it's also enraging, because I assume that at some point one of them will give me COVID, and I hope it's not a variant that is capable of doing serious damage even though I'm vaccinated.

I don't want these people to die. I want them to get vaccinated. I want them to wear masks when they meet with me. I want them to vote for candidates who believe in public health. But I can't make them do any of those things, and I can rage against the arrogance and ignorance of people who are white-supremacing themselves right into unnecessarily early graves. And that doesn't make up for the powerlessness, but it's better than nothing.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 11:17 AM on September 22, 2021 [49 favorites]


Jacen — I literally can’t imagine what that must have been like. My heart goes out to you and everyone else involved.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:17 AM on September 22, 2021 [1 favorite]


The Slate piece has echoes of grievance politics of the kind we've seen all too frequently get used to defend all kinds of communities that have popped up under Trump, white supremacist and neo-Nazi ones, but especially those of the antivax disinformation variety, which the HCA subreddit focuses on.

I'm happy that virtually everyone sees through that writing as the steaming pile of concern trolling bullshit that it is. Mainly, beyond her concern trolling, I come away from it wanting to know what connections the writer has to communities that spread anti-vax disinformation.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:24 AM on September 22, 2021 [10 favorites]


The HCAs are a form of shaming. And where legislation fails to or will not prevent people harming others, groups sometimes resort to different techniques.
posted by dazed_one at 11:26 AM on September 22, 2021 [10 favorites]


And like old shity mostly white people in general they're taking resources from people who are responsible. Washington, a state with a responsible covid policy, is seeing an influx of patients from Idaho, a state whose covid policy was "let 'er rip!" Tennessee is reserving monoclonal antibodies for the unvaccinated. They will consume every resource and opening created by the responsible actions of others. They will exploit all of our better angels for their own gain. They are not just misinformed, they are toxic parasites on society and the sooner we treat them that way the sooner we can get through this.
posted by Ferreous at 11:28 AM on September 22, 2021 [28 favorites]


Tennessee is reserving monoclonal antibodies for the unvaccinated.

Not quite.
Tennessee, which is following the guidance of the National Institutes of Health, appears to be the first state to recommend limiting monoclonal antibody treatment to Covid-19 patients who are unvaccinated or vaccinated but immunocompromised.

(As an immoncompromised person eligible for prophylactic monoclonal antibody treatment in my state, I've been following this.)
posted by FencingGal at 11:37 AM on September 22, 2021 [10 favorites]


In regards to the moral stresses on medical workers , this old Doonesbury feels relevant, in a 'history doesn't repeat, but it rhymes" way.
posted by Mutant Lobsters from Riverhead at 11:39 AM on September 22, 2021 [5 favorites]


t fencinggal, that's good to hear. The story I read didn't make clear the exception for immunocompromised.
posted by Ferreous at 11:42 AM on September 22, 2021 [3 favorites]


I view the voluntarily unvaccinated (with the gentle reminder that there are many _involuntary_ unvaxxed out there) in much the same light that I view the late Ashli Babbitt.

Series of grossly stupid decisions: check.
Based on serial misinformation: check.
Leading to a very bad ending: check.
Passing on the same misinformation to others: check.
Actively endangering the lives of others: check.
Dumber than a Kansas City stump: check.

Is it completely their own fault? ...No.

Should those who set them on this path be at least metaphorically driven into the sea? ...Oh, hell yes.
posted by delfin at 11:46 AM on September 22, 2021 [3 favorites]


fencinggal, that's good to hear. The story I read didn't make clear the exception for immunocompromised.

It's still a shitty policy. You can have serious medical conditions and not be technically considered immunocompromised. So your overall point about general shittiness stands.
posted by FencingGal at 11:47 AM on September 22, 2021 [5 favorites]


Updating my post way, way up this thread: My home Covid test (Abbott) gave a negative result, which is a relief. And my cold symptoms have not gotten worse. I actually feel pretty good right now, but for me, a cold gets worse at night and in the morning. I called my boss (today is one of my days off) and told him the situation, and we agreed I need to stay home tomorrow (at least) because I can't be coughing and sneezing and sniffling around customers and co workers. This makes sense, but it also means I have no pay for tomorrow, or I have to use a sick day—for minor cold symptoms. And this is a sort of mini-busy season for us, and means the crew will be shorthanded. I actually love my (low pay) job and I'm in great standing there, so I am fortunate in some ways.

I have zero sympathy for these "award winners" and I hope the subreddit continues to grow and expose these horrible people who helped us remain in and extend this constant state of paranoia and emergency. I feel terrible for those who cannot get vaccinated for medical reasons. I mostly feel despair.
posted by SoberHighland at 11:48 AM on September 22, 2021 [12 favorites]



Tennessee, which is following the guidance of the National Institutes of Health, appears to be the first state to recommend limiting monoclonal antibody treatment to Covid-19 patients who are unvaccinated or vaccinated but immunocompromised.


How is this helping? If I somehow end up in a Tennessee hospital with a breakthrough case, should I lie and claim to be unvaccinated?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:54 AM on September 22, 2021 [4 favorites]


I think there is too little attention being paid to how the actions of anti-vaxxers have made life shittier, in varying amounts, for basically everyone. So many people have missed out on what should be fundamental human experiences—comforting a dying loved one, being present for a child being born, even just stopping by and cheering up someone who's sick and having a bad day—and these small emptinesses add up and make everyone poorer, make life just that much shittier, in ways that are hard to count and sum up.

Someone waaaaay upthread described the HCA subreddit as a "howling screaming void where our compassion once stood" and my immediate response was, are you fucking kidding me? After almost two years of this shit, I am a howling screaming void where a ME once stood. My friends and relatives are howling screaming voids of their former selves. No fucking shit we aren't topped up with a bunch of compassion juice. The joy and goodness of our lives have been drained right the fuck out and these shitbirds did it, and they did it on purpose. They don't get to beat us senseless and expect us to be sympathetic when they start getting remorseful about it.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 11:55 AM on September 22, 2021 [104 favorites]


*IF* they ever start getting remorseful about it, in the first place.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 11:55 AM on September 22, 2021 [22 favorites]


I have been a sub to /r/HermanCaneAward for a long time now. I don't think I'm the only one who has gone from a sense of schadenfreude to an understanding that its true purpose is as a non-violent protest against the toxic social media culture that is killing people.

We must bear witness to the scale of this tragedy; to stand up to the turning point USAs, OANs and others who used lies and fear to cause so many deaths. Perhaps if we get enough visibility we can get their consumers to turn against them. If not at least we have recorded the hand and the name in the halls of remembrance.
posted by interogative mood at 12:01 PM on September 22, 2021 [43 favorites]


My own award winner du jour is a cow orker of my wife's, who let her boss know on Friday that she'd tested positive. This meant that my wife and I immediately ran out to get swabbed that afternoon, my wife testing negative, my own results still being processed but very likely also negative. But that meant quarantining ourselves over the weekend until we got a formal "negative" result, which meant missing out on my wife's birthday weekend upstate.

Said cow orker, according to certain other cow orkers, "was happy about getting COVID because she'd wanted to get it for a while now." Reason why, unspecified, but the sentiment was corroborated by two people.

Said cow orker _is_ vaccinated... but works in a doctor's office, albeit in a non-patient-facing capacity.

Said cow orker will not want to face my wife when she gets back.
posted by delfin at 12:04 PM on September 22, 2021 [11 favorites]


(My other award winners in waiting are my mom and her husband. Both in their 70s, both hardcore Trumpers, both avoiding that "EXPERIMENTAL" vaccine as if it, not the disease it fights, was the plague. Both are suffering from a variety of other health concerns; her husband has one lung left due to lung cancer treatment. He's "got a bottle of hydroxychloroquine, just in case!"

I'm waiting for the phone call. I will not be surprised by it, nor remorseful when it arrives.)
posted by delfin at 12:07 PM on September 22, 2021 [5 favorites]


For the millionth time, HCA is not that tool, because they specifically prohibit the behavior you describe.

O, they prohibit it! O, thank goodness. Everyone on the internet will surely obey this forum’s stated policies.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:11 PM on September 22, 2021 [1 favorite]


Going to Maine: just don't read the subreddit. Problem solved!
posted by SoberHighland at 12:14 PM on September 22, 2021 [11 favorites]


Like, I just feel insulted to have it implied that a fig leaf of a forum rule will prevent bad actors from going through screenshots that have been minimally de-anonymized.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:14 PM on September 22, 2021


Saying that a percentage is classed as "overweight or obese" by BMI seems pretty useless to me, because you have to be quite lean indeed to not be called overweight by BMI. So if 65% of a group is "overweight or obese"....which one? How overweight? No doubt there is a better breakdown in published literature, or, I'd like to think so.
posted by thelonius at 12:18 PM on September 22, 2021 [5 favorites]


Like, I just feel insulted to have it implied that a fig leaf of a forum rule will prevent bad actors from going through screenshots that have been minimally de-anonymized.

Minimally de-anonymized facebook posts that the award winners posted publicly, of their own accord. If someone wants to take the time to find these people, it's not like they're having to dig through secret documents, or hack into some network. It's racist, homophobic, anti-science, fuck your feelings bullshit being put up in the public square, and signed.

That HCA actually hides their identities is a courtesy for which they should be lauded.
posted by nushustu at 12:18 PM on September 22, 2021 [28 favorites]


>> O, they prohibit it! O, thank goodness. Everyone on the internet will surely obey this forum’s stated policies.
>Going to Maine: just don't read the subreddit. Problem solved!

Or better yet keep reading this very thread to the message where I point out that they don’t just prohibit it, but take significant effort to anonymize the winners.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:20 PM on September 22, 2021 [8 favorites]


Just noting that the subreddit has a flair for post about getting vaccinated; "🎉 IPA (Immunized to Prevent Award)🎉"

There are quite a few today.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:25 PM on September 22, 2021 [22 favorites]


Saying that a percentage is classed as "overweight or obese" by BMI seems pretty useless to me, because you have to be quite lean indeed to not be called overweight by BMI. So if 65% of a group is "overweight or obese"....which one? How overweight? No doubt there is a better breakdown in published literature, or, I'd like to think so.

An article read that I will not dig up at the moment because I am already crying a lot today pointed out that the percentage of Covid BMI obese cases is only a percentage point higher that the overall AMERICAN BMI obese percentages. So maybe not a useful statistic.
posted by Silvery Fish at 12:29 PM on September 22, 2021 [7 favorites]


I just feel insulted to have it implied that a fig leaf of a forum rule will prevent bad actors from going through screenshots that have been minimally de-anonymized.

How do you feel about bad actors spreading medical misinformation which is prolonging a global pandemic?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:30 PM on September 22, 2021 [40 favorites]


Something I noticed these last few weeks that's somewhat heartening: a media emphasis on anti-vaxxer deaths as a consequence of "misinformation," rather than the dead's own fault. 'Misinformation killed her': Bride-to-be who hesitated to get vaccinated dies of Covid (NBC News)
Couple Died from COVID Two Days Apart After Misinformation Led Them to Distrust Vaccine (Newsweek)
Daughter Blames Tucker Carlson’s Misinformation for Unvaxxed Dad’s Death (Daily Beast)
Idaho Nurse Who Fell into Vaccine 'Misinformation' Dies of COVID, Leaving Behind 10-Year-Old Twins (People Mag)
[Related story, in the very mainstream USA Today: COVID, vaccine misinformation spread by hundreds of websites, analysis finds]

There's an unvaccinated-survivor-turned-advocate trend, too: COVID-19 ALMOST KILLED ME; don't let misinformation kill you (YouTube)
People who once rejected the vaccine or simply waited too long are now grappling with the consequences, often in raw, public ways (NYT; Baltimore Sun reprint)
Unvaccinated COVID-19 survivor now pleads for people to get vaccinated (YouTube)
COVID conspiracy theories 'about killed me,' survivor says (Jonesboro Sun)

People double down on their beliefs when directly challenged, and if formerly like-minded grieving families and patients identifying the initial basis for those beliefs as propaganda helps them shift their thinking... it would help the rest of us, too. An answer in a recent AskMe question looking for pro-vaccination vids featuring the formerly vaccine-hesitant linked to harrowing footage shot in a COVID-19 ICU in Washington State. That video, and similar testimonials, could be run on a loop on TV screens in medical waiting rooms. (The usual TV setting near me is the Fox News channel. It's distinctly counterproductive to short- and long-term good health.)
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:32 PM on September 22, 2021 [18 favorites]


There are quite a few today.

Not to detract at all from this, which is genuinely great, BUT: Is it weird how upsetting I find the "neener neener we got the GOOD vaccine not the SHITTY one" gloating on any given vaccine post? Like...1) I don't recall being given a choice in the matter and 2) It creates the false sense that people who got other vaccines aren't protected.

And I mean that's not even a theoretical possibility -- My mother had a prolonged panic attack back when Pfizer was getting all the good press and she had to get Moderna because that's what her doctor's office had. She almost didn't get vaccinated at all as a result. Now that she has Moderna and Moderna is getting the good press, she has panic attacks because her kids got Pfizer.

I hesitate to even say this because it sounds like "picking on my own side" but like, can people just be fucking cool about anything for like, AH second.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 12:32 PM on September 22, 2021 [19 favorites]


Like GET THE SHOT, ANY SHOT, THEY AREN'T WIZARDING HOUSES FOR SHIT'S SAKE THEY DON'T SAY ANYTHING ABOUT YOU AS A PERSON THIS IS NOT AN INSTAGRAM QUIZ
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 12:33 PM on September 22, 2021 [55 favorites]


And I think it's a reflection of the rage and powerlessness that we all feel

I have to admit I get very frustrated seeing these odious memes on Facebook and knowing that the poster has passed the point that they are even listening to other people. It is a tremendous and tremendously guilty pleasure to see their voices silenced, even in this terrible way.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:43 PM on September 22, 2021 [3 favorites]


This is going to be our generation's Vietnam Memorial, isn't it. 🤦‍♂️
posted by pwnguin at 12:44 PM on September 22, 2021


The Vietnam Memorial has full names. The temporary installation on the National Mall right now just has 630,000 flags, which is tens of thousands short of the actual number of deaths.
posted by fedward at 12:50 PM on September 22, 2021 [4 favorites]


HCA is great. It's mean, but it's great.

Sure, paranoid conspiracy theory anti-vax people hate it but they can't get more anti-vax, can they?

"Risk-reward" anti-vax people, who think that COVID is hard to get and easy to survive unless you're very old or very fat, and who worry about unknown long-term side effects ("my body my choice" memes), get some vivid evidence about how unvaxed non-old non-morbidly obese people are dying miserably.

The right-wing memes that precede the death screenshots are putting the Republican establishment (and that includes Trump by now), vaxed to (wo)man of course, on notice that they need to lead their followers better and this is not a have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too political situation.
posted by MattD at 12:56 PM on September 22, 2021 [3 favorites]


What bliss will fill the ransomed souls, when they in glory dwell,
To see the sinner as he rolls in quenchless flames of hell.


-- Isaac Watts

I don't like how I feel, but I feel it, just as these people once felt the same towards me.
posted by Countess Elena at 12:59 PM on September 22, 2021 [6 favorites]


Speaking only for myself here: the reason I've read HCA now and again is (admittedly) partly schadenfreude, but mostly because this is one of the few places I've seen in the past twenty years where terrible people who do terrible things are actually suffering any consequences for their actions. The GOP and its base have built a cottage industry around doing the most maliciously evil shit they can concoct, mostly in service of building a white ethno-state where their hegemony will never be threatened. More importantly, they've been shoring up their ability to continue doing evil shit without suffering any consequences for it, as a kind of a strategic initiative to allow future generations of the GOP to keep on doing their thing. For the most part, they've been wildly successful. Law enforcement continues to murder Black and Brown people with impunity. Trump will never so much as have his knuckles rapped with a ruler. Your idiot Trump-ist uncle will continue to ruin Thanksgiving, because calling him out for his anti-immigrant screeds will be treated as a larger breach of protocol than the screed itself.

But here, finally, we have a handful of seriously terrible privileged white people who are being hoisted by their own petard, and they're so totally caught off guard by facing consequences for their own malice and stupidity that they haven't even bothered locking down their Facebook pages like the rest of us did years ago. No one has intentionally targeted them; their undoing is completely by their own hand. Do I wish death by COVID on anyone? Of course not. Do I recognize black humor and irony when I see it, and wish that more people would be held accountable for their own actions? Damn straight I do.
posted by Mayor West at 1:00 PM on September 22, 2021 [91 favorites]


tens of thousands short of the actual number of deaths

More like hundreds of thousands more, since that's just the cases reported as COVID-caused. The CDC has estimated that the likely death toll could be somewhere between 800k to a million, largely due to reporting errors both intentional and not. On top of that, there's also the deaths due to care rationing for unrelated illness or injury prevented by overloaded health care facilities.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 1:01 PM on September 22, 2021 [11 favorites]


Saying you don’t want to be somewhere you have chosen to go to because you want to “gawk at a very preventable car wreck” is a weird kind of hypocrisy.

The statement being made is "we do not want to have to be angry with these useless assholes making our lives worse, and we do not want to have to deal with our anger at these useless assholes making our lives worse... but we do." The statement is that they are upset with the cause of the subreddit's existence, not that the subreddit exists. That is perfectly logical.
posted by mightygodking at 1:05 PM on September 22, 2021 [6 favorites]


Darwin Award winners take themselves out of the game. Herman Cain Award winners take us all out.
posted by es_de_bah at 1:05 PM on September 22, 2021 [15 favorites]


How do you feel about bad actors spreading medical misinformation which is prolonging a global pandemic?

Not good, but also not insulted.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:08 PM on September 22, 2021


Anti-vaxxers elicit the same response in me as drunk drivers: I just hope they don't take anybody else with them.
posted by signal at 1:11 PM on September 22, 2021 [9 favorites]


Not good, but also not insulted.

My uncle is a practicing dentist. He is over 60 years old. He lives in Florida. He has had access to the vaccine for a very long time now and hasn't gotten it.

He has in this time:
- continued to see patients and give medical advice
- continued his habit of traveling for at minimum one week out of every month
- visited my grandmother in her care facility, around other care providers and old folks
- spent prolonged same-room time with my (vaccinated thank goodness) parents, multiple times, over many months
- got covid, and got very but not hospital sick
- continued to see patients
- continued to travel
- influenced my stupid brother to also resist the vaccine, masks, the health and safety of other people...

So that's great for you but I'm fucking insulted. I'm insulted both by these groups of people in the abstract and by individuals of these people in the specific. I will continue to feel personally insulted, daily, until every single one of them admits that they are wrong and stops spreading the both literal and metaphorical poison.

And oh yes, I have room for holding this anger and insult in my life, ever since I spent my last fuck to try to change hearts sometime around November 2016. Turns out my rage pit is bottomless. Please do not worry for me ✌️ Worry instead for the people they hurt and continue to hurt daily with their bad choices and actions.
posted by phunniemee at 1:23 PM on September 22, 2021 [76 favorites]


But they do...

We had a neighbor, nasty person, very old, who we haven't seen in about 9 years. Had health/mobility issues, with a constant stream of home care givers.

For quite a while, the only care giver we have seen parked her truck outside the house. Had a "Loren Culp for Governor" bumper sticker on her car, (Culp was the Republican candidate for Washington, LOL). He's a piece of work.

Anyway, our neighbor contracted COVID and died. Wonder how much anit-vaxx whispers the caregiver gave to our neighbor, before killing her.
posted by Windopaene at 1:24 PM on September 22, 2021 [9 favorites]


Not good, but also not insulted.

People insulted by this were not going to change their minds on vaccination, masking, or anything else they were asked patiently to do in the middle of a global pandemic killing millions of people. The disinformation industry continues chugging along.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 1:25 PM on September 22, 2021 [3 favorites]


I'm not a fan of drunk drivers but they don't usually post endless memes about how chugging a six pack and careening around in their truck makes them a badass lion among all the wimpy sober-driving sheep and also M.A.D.D. is secretly funded by a Jewish cabal
posted by theodolite at 1:25 PM on September 22, 2021 [111 favorites]


There are lessons to be learned from reading the posts on the HCA. Obviously, getting the jab is the primary one. However, it becomes clear after a while that if a person has a young family that depends on them for support, they really should have life insurance and disability insurance. There are stories there of children who have lost their parents, including one today about 8 children now without a mom, and their dad is injured and can't work. It is all so sad, and so preventable.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 1:28 PM on September 22, 2021 [7 favorites]


Which crowd was it that wore the "Fuck your feelings" t-shirts again? (And those were some of the nicer examples.)

But please, let's have more talk about decorum. This subreddit witnesses how nature points out the folly of man in a way spoken of previously only by Blue Oyster Cult.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 1:28 PM on September 22, 2021 [44 favorites]


Sure, paranoid conspiracy theory anti-vax people hate it ...

I'm not an anti-vaxxer, and I don't suppose that I'm a paranoid conspiracy theorist, but I find the gloating over unvaccinated people's deaths, and the way unvaccinated people are spoken of in general, to be extremely disgusting. And the gloaters can say that they're only celebrating the misfortune of the willfully unvaccinated, but many of them aren't actually observing that distinction. And, yes, anti-vaxxers are causing a lot of harm to a lot of people, but let's be honest: this isn't the entire motivation behind the shaming of "anti-vaxxers."
posted by cinchona at 1:29 PM on September 22, 2021 [4 favorites]


It was really gut-wrenching to go from the optimism of "no masks for the vaccinated" and case numbers dropping to the anti-vaxx sentiment taking over and the big summer wave. At first it was infuriating that so many would march towards unnecessary suffering, but now it's just sad. The stories in HCA replay those feelings for me, but nearly all sad.

It looks like US case rate has peaked, but deaths haven't yet... we're back over 2000 dead a day on average. Maybe another Vietnam Memorial's worth before Haloween. I think that's what the HCA poster meant by "WE DON'T WANT TO FUCKING BE HERE."
posted by netowl at 1:30 PM on September 22, 2021 [8 favorites]


The GOP and its base have built a cottage industry around doing the most maliciously evil shit they can concoct

It's hard not to remember that these are the same people who cheered on the prior administration's refusal early on to organize the provision of PPEs to the states or to tap the federal reserve on the basis that COVID was a blue-state problem and would only hurt Democrats politically. These people literally left those of us in New York to die.

This is exactly why I can't spend too much time on a subreddit like that--focusing on such thoughts undermines my mildest aspirations to universal compassion (not empathy, which is something else entirely). I feel like a fair amount of the chiding about not being sympathetic enough comes from people who don't feel and haven't felt seriously threatened by the disease, a kind of noblesse oblige. No. These guys were happy to root on the leader they elected taking active steps to bring about my death (remember how some state governors basically had to smuggle PPE in to prevent the feds from grabbing it?). I don't want them to die, but I'm not forgetting.
posted by praemunire at 1:32 PM on September 22, 2021 [45 favorites]


but I find the gloating over unvaccinated people's deaths, and the way unvaccinated people are spoken of in general, to be extremely disgusting.

pearls were clutched, dear reader

gloating? I see a lot of anger. Isn't anger and a sense of powerlessness reasons they keep trotting out for why we should give a few fucks for why people embrace white supremacy and toxic conspiracy behaviours? because I'm angry and I don't know what to do about how this shit situation has impacted my sister's health. Just yesterday my friend reports two people, unvaccinated, in hospital. One with severe complications, the other won't make it. Maybe some anger there, also sadness.

I think you are projecting a little, tbh
posted by elkevelvet at 1:35 PM on September 22, 2021 [40 favorites]


I don’t see how we put the genie of weaponized misinformation back in the bottle. It will never happen. If these posts convinced a few people who aren’t sure because of how bad society had been for decades, I think that’s a good thing.
posted by glaucon at 1:37 PM on September 22, 2021


> How do you feel about bad actors spreading medical misinformation which is prolonging a global pandemic?

Not good, but also not insulted.


I invite you to ponder why it is the people in HCA who are making you feel insulted.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:40 PM on September 22, 2021 [15 favorites]


So sorry for your loss, Jacen, it's all so horrible.
posted by Rash at 1:44 PM on September 22, 2021 [2 favorites]


I'm not a fan of drunk drivers but they don't usually post endless memes about how chugging a six pack and careening around in their truck makes them a badass lion among all the wimpy sober-driving sheep and also M.A.D.D. is secretly funded by a Jewish cabal

True enough. When I was a drunk driver, I was in heavy denial about my problem, and so were a lot of the other people that I met in mandatory drug/alcohol group counseling, but we didn't blame our blood-alcohol readings on the Illuminati.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:45 PM on September 22, 2021 [16 favorites]


Where I am the people who are vocally anti-vax are also vocally anti-mask, anti-lockdown, and anti-mandatory quarantine for travelers (they want to go somewhere for vacation after all) and because they're mostly angry white people they get listened to so even when we have lockdowns and quarantine they're just half-measures that don't even do the job properly and have just prolonged the misery for all of us. It is 100% our leadership's fault for listening to these people instead of say locking them in their homes or forcibly vaccinating them but seeing how our leaders are all insulated from failure where does our frustration with the whole situation go? Snarking on the maliciously ignorant isn't the best thing to do but it isn't the worst thing either and HCA will be a valuable resource for people to look at in the future to see just how strongly people will cling to their ideology in spite of all the evidence around them.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:49 PM on September 22, 2021 [13 favorites]


I feel like a fair amount of the chiding about not being sympathetic enough comes from people who don't feel and haven't felt seriously threatened by the disease, a kind of noblesse oblige.

This is true, but I actually have noticed this about many of the most passionate antivaxxer-shamers as well. They work comfortably and safely from home, are in strapping good health (due largely to a combination of genetic luck and their socioeconomic privilege), don't belong to any of the demographics that have been, and are being, most affected by the pandemic, and have suffered nothing more than inconvenience for the whole of "Covid time." And they're just stunned that anyone might not immediately "trust science" or "trust medicine."
posted by cinchona at 1:50 PM on September 22, 2021 [9 favorites]


There are stories there of children who have lost their parents, including one today about 8 children now without a mom, and their dad is injured and can't work. It is all so sad, and so preventable.

And those children are unlikely to grow up with warm feelings towards those of us who expressed schadenfreude, an antipathy which will probably spread outward to left-of-center politics in general. I remember the myth of hippies spitting on vets, which underlay a lot of working-class resentment.
posted by Countess Elena at 1:51 PM on September 22, 2021 [2 favorites]


Are they going to grow up with an antipathy towards the entire right-wing machine that lied to their dead parent and did its best to keep them in harm's way? That sounds like the better target of their antipathy than some randos on that notable hotbed of left-of-cener politics reddit. You don't need to make excuses for these people, they're good enough at doing it by themselves.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:57 PM on September 22, 2021 [16 favorites]


Metafilter: Turns out my rage pit is bottomless.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 1:57 PM on September 22, 2021 [21 favorites]


Like, I just feel insulted to have it implied that a fig leaf of a forum rule will prevent bad actors from going through screenshots that have been minimally de-anonymized.

I feel insulted that you think the rules are just a fig leaf to a bunch of people who spent the last 18 months wearing masks, socially distancing, and getting vaccinated -- we follow rules. Now you want to try to high road us with concerns about hypothetical bad actors.

You seem more worried about theoretical bad actors instead of the verifiable bad actors that win Herman Cane Awards. The HCA winners wore their childish defiance as a badge of honor. HCA winners spent the last 18 bullying and bashing those of us who have done our part to stop the spread and end this pandemic. They hurled insults, invective; even threatening doctors, scientists and nurses. They spread lies and falsehoods and dug in even as the evidence mounted of how wrong they were.

Then when these winners got sick, they asked us to be their prayer warriors, demanded priority for ECMO, ventilators, monoclonal anti-bodies and every possible treatment regardless of how much it cost or if it was a long shot, or even totally unproven. When they die they expect the rest of us to contribute to their go fund me page to provide for their families and settle their debts. Many of them were still bullying and shit posting right up to their last breath. These were the bad actors.
posted by interogative mood at 2:00 PM on September 22, 2021 [69 favorites]


I think I get where you're coming from, Maine. There's been a refrain I've been repeating to myself over the past two years: "I don't want to find myself rooting for the disease." I don't think HCA is rooting for the disease, but it can certainly feel that way. We all have different ways of dealing with this. I don't think HCA is for me, but I don't think it's a wrong way, either. We're all tired and frustrated. And we all want less suffering. And we all want less death.
posted by phooky at 2:02 PM on September 22, 2021 [14 favorites]


because I'm angry and I don't know what to do about how this shit situation has impacted my sister's health.

I'm sorry your sister isn't doing well. I hope that things get better for her, and for you. I know that many of the people
condemning antivaxxers have been personally harmed by antivaxxers. But one thing that bothers me about the shaming of sick antivaxxers, is that it provides an opening for "they did it to themselves" being further used as a weapon against sick or disabled people who aren't antivaxxers who contracted Covid.
posted by cinchona at 2:09 PM on September 22, 2021 [2 favorites]


it provides an opening for "they did it to themselves" being further used as a weapon against sick or disabled people who aren't antivaxxers who contracted Covid

No one is doing that either here or on the HCA subreddit. Please stop with this nonsense.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 2:12 PM on September 22, 2021 [55 favorites]


And they're just stunned that anyone might not immediately "trust science" or "trust medicine."

More than 6 billion vaccine doses have been given worldwide, with 387 million of those doses administered in the US. (Bloomberg News, yesterday). When will it stop being considered "immediately," so that these folks might come around? I had the pleasure of receiving three doses before FDA approval, as vaccine-eligible fellow Americans [and AGAIN, not lumping marginalized groups, the non-vaccine-eligible due to allergic reaction, and so forth, people in with the vehemently anti-vaccination/anti-mask/anti-science majority discussed in the FPP] essentially went, oh, hard pass, as I'm extremely comfortable letting other, lesser people be guinea pigs. And I'll loudly advise others to do the same.
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:15 PM on September 22, 2021 [23 favorites]


But one thing that bothers me about the shaming of sick antivaxxers, is that it provides an opening for "they did it to themselves" being further used as a weapon against sick or disabled people who aren't antivaxxers who contracted Covid.

First you have to create an incline between a subreddit that posts about vocal antivaxxers and antivaxxers in general. Then extend it to people who aren't antivax at all. Then grease the slope.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:16 PM on September 22, 2021 [15 favorites]


I'm extremely comfortable letting other, lesser people be guinea pigs

It's another part of the larger disinformation campaign. The same antivaxxers who claim the vaccine is untested or unapproved happily demand monoclonal antibodies, which also currently fall under the same EUA as vaccines once did.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 2:22 PM on September 22, 2021 [14 favorites]


I was a loud voice in my circles reminding folks that not everyone has had positive experiences with the medical establishment and that not everyone has good reason to trust the government (which p.s., during the prior administration was not a hard message to send or receive) but it has been, again, nearly two years of this shit. People who had legitimate reason for caution have now seen a whole goddamn bunch of people get the shots and be OK. Long term. Both from the shot, and the disease the shot helps prevent/minimize.

Someone who can still believe in September 2021 that there is a grand conspiracy to harm/sterilize/mind-control the vaccinated is not having a valid skeptical reaction of a marginalized person to a hostile institution, they are steeped in psychotic conspiracy and need to be brought out of it.

I'm sorry, but "no I will never trust anything enough to do this essential public health task" is not acceptable. It isn't. My heart goes out to people who are genuinely afraid of this but I have done a lot of shit in my life that made me genuinely afraid, and probably so have they. Time to add a new thing to the pile, kids.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 2:23 PM on September 22, 2021 [54 favorites]


it provides an opening for "they did it to themselves" being further used as a weapon against sick or disabled people who aren't antivaxxers who contracted Covid

My cousin's friend once blamed an immunocompromised person for getting sick and his testicles swole up so bad his fiancee dumped him.
posted by phunniemee at 2:25 PM on September 22, 2021 [51 favorites]


Maybe it's time to drop the "but it could provide an opening..." line of thinking all across MetaFilter. It's better to communicate what the facts and reality of a situation are, instead of giving those operating out of ignorance or bad faith a veto over our speaking the truth.
posted by PhineasGage at 2:34 PM on September 22, 2021 [51 favorites]


Yep, letting the chuds define the narrative for the last 18 months has gotten us a plague of chuds on top of an actual plague.
posted by Ferreous at 2:40 PM on September 22, 2021 [16 favorites]


I think there is too little attention being paid to how the actions of anti-vaxxers have made life shittier, in varying amounts, for basically everyone.

I really want to know how Oprah Fucking Winfrey came away from all of this with clean hands.
posted by JoeZydeco at 2:41 PM on September 22, 2021 [13 favorites]


METAFILTER: we didn't blame our blood-alcohol readings on the Illuminati.
posted by philip-random at 3:04 PM on September 22, 2021 [16 favorites]


I will wildly speculate that there might be some under-40 Reddit folks who see some of the not-elderly deaths on the Herman Cain Awards and are inspired to get a vaccine if they had been putting it off.

This is not wild speculation at all - I mean, yeah, it's The Intarwebs & Reddit, so who knows how 110% true it all is, but there's generally been an upswing in the last few weeks of "IPA Award" (Immunized to Prevent) posts of folks posting pics of recent immunization cards.
posted by soundguy99 at 3:07 PM on September 22, 2021 [10 favorites]


it provides an opening for "they did it to themselves" being further used as a weapon against sick or disabled people who aren't antivaxxers who contracted Covid

Even if this was true, you're still focusing your concern on the wrong people. The people who way "they did it to themselves" aren't the problem. The problem is the people WHO DID IT TO THEMSELVES.

It's like getting upset with someone who punches a nazi, because punching is wrong. Except it's not, when it's a nazi.
posted by nushustu at 3:09 PM on September 22, 2021 [18 favorites]


Don't forget that less than a year ago, there was a lot more distrust about the vaccines: Newsom says California will review FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines before releasing them to public (October 2020). When they rolled out the priority groups for the vaccine, a small part of me was like "oh good, I'm not the first".

Skepticism is normal and expected - but HCA isn't about that. It's about the people who went out of their way to proclaim how the vaccine is a global conspiracy to depopulate the planet, how all the vaccinated will die in two months six months two years, how they're smarter than all the rest of us.
posted by meowzilla at 3:11 PM on September 22, 2021 [7 favorites]


Oprah Fucking Winfrey

Now, that's a name I've not heard in...

seriously, since like March, when Oprah Winfrey 'Felt Like Superwoman' After Getting COVID Vaccine: 'Grateful Beyond Description'.
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:12 PM on September 22, 2021 [5 favorites]


Oprah got her vaccine in March, which was before I or any member of my family was able to get one.

I saw a tweet that said "if the vaccine was dangerous, they would have given it to poor people first, not the politicians and billionaires."

That's truth.
posted by nushustu at 3:23 PM on September 22, 2021 [41 favorites]


Just give it a few years and we can gloat over the famine and heath deaths of right-wing climate change deniers caused by climate change.

One the one hand, these people are victims of a confederation between conservatives and capital to radicalize as many people as possible against the common good; on the other hand, these people lacked the critical thinking and basic human empathy to prevent this outcome.
posted by kzin602 at 3:29 PM on September 22, 2021 [3 favorites]


Yes, but Winfrey's not just rich, she's a 67-year-old Californian? Which made put her in at least phase 1B of the immunization rollout in this state, which was March. I posted in response to JoeZydeco's 'hands clean' remark, as I thought Winfrey was pro-COVID-19 vaccination early.
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:32 PM on September 22, 2021 [7 favorites]


I assume they were referring to Oprah giving Jenny McCarthy a platform to spread her anti-vax views.
posted by soelo at 3:40 PM on September 22, 2021 [18 favorites]


Yeah Oprah’s record on public health and healthcare shit generally is….bad.
posted by lazaruslong at 3:46 PM on September 22, 2021 [12 favorites]


I've posted this before, but I thought some Metafilter readers might appreciate the PBS NewsHour's weekly video celebrations of average Americans who died from COVID-19 (written transcripts included on the site).

World War II Army Tuba Player, 103; Teacher, 34; Supply Chain Manager, 54; Sheriff's Deputy, 51; Special Education Teacher, 46.

Teacher, 34; Respiratory Therapist, 43; Marvel Comic Book Writer, 68; Nurse, 63; P.E. Teacher, 49.

Dozens more memorials can be found here.
posted by JDC8 at 3:54 PM on September 22, 2021 [9 favorites]


Thanks, guys, I now understand the reference to The Oprah Winfrey Show (1986-2011) and its anti-vaxxer platforming in the aughts; by 2017, the magazine arm of the media empire was trending some pro-vaccination, but it's a cold comfort. In March, I thought it was great an older Black woman and a celebrity with considerable influence was praising the coronavirus vaccine.
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:55 PM on September 22, 2021 [6 favorites]


I really want to know how Oprah Fucking Winfrey came away from all of this with clean hands.

Oprah's vaccine redemption happened in September 2019, before Covid was a thing. She was suffering from serious complications to pneumonia and went on Ellen to tell everyone to get all their vaccines so they didn't end up like her.

That doesn't excuse her Jenny McCarthy years, but I think it's why she hasn't had her feet held to the fire here. She's been pro-Covid vaccine from the beginning.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:00 PM on September 22, 2021 [12 favorites]


She still seems pro-healing crystal. I don't know. Woo is everywhere, and crystals don't hurt anyone, I guess. At least she isn't currently platforming antivaxxers and their apologists, whose activities throughout the pandemic have literally helped kill millions of people.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 4:08 PM on September 22, 2021 [1 favorite]


But ample evidence exists that Vietnam didn’t contain the pandemic because its people are slender. The country relied on the kinds of interventions that aren’t very profitable to outside businesses: proactive governmental action, robust contact tracing, strategic testing, and free food and housing for those who need to quarantine.

A friend of mine originally from Las Vegas has been living in Vietnam for the past couple of years as an English teacher and reading his posts over the past year and a half is like a look into an alternate reality in which fighting public health threats is treated as seriously as fighting terrorism.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:27 PM on September 22, 2021 [39 favorites]


Hi, I would like to subscribe to that reality pls.
posted by BlueBlueElectricBlue at 5:00 PM on September 22, 2021 [13 favorites]


One thing that struck me from seeing about a dozen of these posts in the last month is how uniform the calls for prayers are once the person gets sick and dies. I guess it's the most Christian social media space I'm exposed to anymore, so while not surprising I find it striking.
Every time I see something like that, I immediately think of that old joke and imagine God responding “What do you mean I let you down? I sent you masks and three vaccines!” — given the age and demographics, I’d bet most of them heard the original version many times. Even having watched things unravel I’m still a bit impressed by how quickly they turned into the “you can’t make me!” party.
posted by adamsc at 5:05 PM on September 22, 2021 [21 favorites]


The subreddit is not for me, because it would put me in a space that isn't healthy for me. While I can observe the irony of dying a preventable death to own the libs, each one of those deaths is a tragedy to somebody. But I think the author of the Slate piece is onto something when she points out that the aggregated cautionary tales might have a persuasive effect that actual persuasion does not. The virus is unrelenting. The unnecessary deaths are also unrelenting. Perhaps having somebody beat that drum will maybe help somebody, somewhere, avoid becoming another stupid, ironic statistic. Nothing else is working.
posted by fedward at 5:15 PM on September 22, 2021 [3 favorites]


Wow, this is repugnant.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 5:24 PM on September 22, 2021 [3 favorites]


Wow, this is repugnant.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 20:24 on September 22 [+] [!]


I wasn't going to comment in this thread, but I can't resist noting such an appropriate username.
posted by betweenthebars at 5:29 PM on September 22, 2021 [12 favorites]


I'm not a fan of drunk drivers but they don't usually post endless memes about how chugging a six pack and careening around in their truck makes them a badass lion among all the wimpy sober-driving sheep and also M.A.D.D. is secretly funded by a Jewish cabal

Weeeeeell... I remember when the DUI laws were toughened up significantly, in part due to the efforts of MADD, in the 80s and into the 90s. You absolutely heard various chuckleheads say stuff like "I can drive better after 4 beers than most people can sober!" and "I'm good at driving drunk, been doing it for years!" There was a fair bit of name-calling in the direction of MADD, too: that they were prohibitionists, Communists, "feminazis", etc., all the usual stuff.

The chucklehead brigade was on the wrong side of history that time, too, just as they normally are.
posted by Kadin2048 at 5:52 PM on September 22, 2021 [16 favorites]


Yeah, it's sort of sobering to think about how the whole anti-drunk driving and pro-seatbelts campaigns would have gone had social media been around at the time. I remember people arguing against both, but at least their every thought wasn't amplified ten-fold and broadcastable to many others with a click.
posted by mollweide at 5:57 PM on September 22, 2021 [25 favorites]


From the subreddit today: Now I Have Covid

I am an RN. I work in Florida. When COVID first hit my department was shut down and we were all moved to staff various other departments. It was a very, very tense and stressful time. We didn't know from one minute to the next what to expect. After about two months my department opened back up. We wore N95s all day long. Some of our patients were COVID positive. Only one nurse got sick. I got vaccinated as soon as I possible could; my first dose was near the end of December 2020, my second in January 2021.

I was still afraid to exhale, to relax, but things started to seem like they were getting better. The Christmas surge came and went. We were told that we could switch our N95s for surgical masks. The light at the end of the tunnel seemed to be shining. One of my co-workers dove down the Q rabbit hole, but for the most part we all got vaccinated, maintained caution.

Then the latest surge hit. My hospital was overrun. The ICUs filled up, we made a make shift COVID ward in what had formally been essentially a hallway. At least one person died in the ED waiting to be seen. Eighty patients were intubated or on ECMO. We started seeing more and more COVID positive patients. My fully vaccinated neighbor down the street got it. He was sick for about 5 days. Three co-workers have had it. I started to wonder every day on my way into work if today was going to be the day I got COVID. Yesterday I started having a sore throat. This morning I tested positive. My insides burn. I'm angry and scared.

The Slate article makes the members of this sub sound like we are dark evil people, but the nasty cruel things that I have had said to my face and that these people say on their Facebook posts have no logic or compassion in them.

All the memes I see about not making COVID political seem to be coming from people who are hellbent on making it political. I don't understand DeSantis at all. One out of nearly every 400 Floridians has died of COVID. One out of every 125 people in the WORLD who have been reported as dying of COVID is from Florida.

Thanks for listening.

posted by AlSweigart at 6:01 PM on September 22, 2021 [62 favorites]


Every time I see something like that, I immediately think of that old joke and imagine God responding “What do you mean I let you down? I sent you masks and three vaccines!”

"Wow, I can't believe how high the conspiracy goes!"
posted by lazaruslong at 6:02 PM on September 22, 2021 [42 favorites]


I guess it maybe shouldn't be astonishing, but the Venn diagram overlap of braying anti-vaxx science-haters, overt racism, and calls for Christian prayers to deliver people from the virus is as perfect a circle as I've ever seen. I guess it should make sense, given the Evangelical / Trump / anti-science cultural overlap, but as somebody who doesn't travel in religious circles, it's the most I've seen the word "prayer"... ever in one evening, and my dad was a Protestant minister.
posted by Shepherd at 6:11 PM on September 22, 2021 [15 favorites]


"Wow, I can't believe how high the conspiracy goes!"

"Let's see 'His' birth certificate."
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:30 PM on September 22, 2021 [9 favorites]


For me, it feels like telling these people to do anything (or stop doing anything) just does no good. This is a list of people who fucked around and found out. The hard way. The permanent way. Oh, noes, I've got it, I'm dying, it's too late! And we're all standing here saying, "WE TRIED TO TELL YOU. BUT YOU REFUSED TO LISTEN." Now you learned the hard way.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:52 PM on September 22, 2021 [6 favorites]


I’m so deeply ashamed of how satisfying reading this sub is. I find it calming and centering. I’ve been so filled with anger and hate… it’s been bad since Trump’s election, but it’s been blind, bottomless fury for at least a year now. It doesn’t feel good. I talk to my therapist about this and he pretty much just tells me he feels the same and it’s an understandable response. I’ve acted out on Metafilter, I’ve acted out on Facebook. It’s ugly.

I don’t know. Maybe the HCA subreddit validates some of that ugliness.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:20 PM on September 22, 2021 [16 favorites]


Shepherd: "I guess it should make sense, given the Evangelical / Trump / anti-science cultural overlap, but as somebody who doesn't travel in religious circles, it's the most I've seen the word "prayer"... ever in one evening, and my dad was a Protestant minister."

They seem to treat prayer as a sort of customer service request form.
posted by octothorpe at 4:30 AM on September 23, 2021 [27 favorites]


They seem to treat prayer as a sort of customer service request form.

this is why so many still venerate the Virgin Karen
posted by thelonius at 5:34 AM on September 23, 2021 [9 favorites]


Something that I learned from the sub-reddit is that because this wave of the pandemic in the U.S. is concentrated among people with anti-vaccination views, healthcare workers are experiencing higher rates of conflict with patients and their families than in previous waves. Here's a comment from an "ICU nurse in the south":
For every one patient who is reasonable there are 10 that aren’t. During the first round of the pandemic I would say those numbers were opposite but now it’s only the deniers getting sick enough to see me. It almost feels like an assault.
Here's an interview in the Idaho Statesman with Kenneth Krell, an ICU doctor:
“I think we all have some commonality that the public [is no longer] our allies,” Krell told the newspaper. “But, in instances that are surprising, patients sometimes have some real hostility. They say they couldn’t have COVID, that this is all a lie, even as we’re getting ready to intubate them.”
(By "the public" I presume he means "the section of the public who are ending up in the ICU with COVID" and not "the Idaho public in general" — you have to give him the benefit of the doubt since he has been working 36-hour shifts.)
posted by cyanistes at 5:52 AM on September 23, 2021 [18 favorites]


healthcare workers are experiencing higher rates of conflict with patients and their families than in previous waves.

A recent survey showed that two-thirds of critical care nurses have considered quitting because of the pandemic.

Honestly, we don't deserve these people. I know some are quitting, but I'm astonished that they aren't just walking off the job in droves.
posted by FencingGal at 6:00 AM on September 23, 2021 [23 favorites]


People join the caring professions because they care, and those who do are willing to make sacrifices. Which is what makes them a soft touch as a centre for profit extraction as well.
posted by acb at 6:17 AM on September 23, 2021 [8 favorites]


Said cow orker, according to certain other cow orkers, "was happy about getting COVID because she'd wanted to get it for a while now." Reason why, unspecified, but the sentiment was corroborated by two people.

Someone in my office expressed wanting to get COVID a month or so ago. "I just want to get it, go to the hospital, get a break, and be done with it."

Or, you know, you could get vaccinated. You fucking dummy.

(Shit like this in my life is why vaccination for under-12s cannot possibly come soon enough. Please. Just please.)
posted by uncleozzy at 6:30 AM on September 23, 2021 [10 favorites]


It's not schadenfreude I feel. It's a gentle reassurance that of all our skills as human beings paying attention to our surroundings and reacting appropriately is one of the most important skills we have. This reassurance doesn't make me happy. It makes me sad; folks have given up their evolutionary birthright intelligence for whatever reason and the environment has culled them out.

Except it isn't exactly that. It's them using another part of humanity's evolutionary heritage -- that the tribe has to stick together. They believe that right-wing politicians and media are telling them the truth when they say that Covid is basically a Commie plot, because appealing to fear and prejudices are how one signals membership in the tribe.

The commenter upthread who noted that once you get past a few mid-marked conservative radio hosts, the people politicizing the virus don't seem to be at risk -- Herman Cain was a rare exception -- has a great point. The issue here is that rank-and-file conservatives are being lied to by cynical opportunists who want to make the pandemic worse to enhance their own political power and hurt the Democrats'. It's those people, who make a cynical, monstrous choice, who are unforgivable, and we must not forget.
posted by Gelatin at 6:33 AM on September 23, 2021 [18 favorites]


I shouldn't have dropped the Oprah bomb without clarifying.

I really don't care what her position is regarding COVID vaccinations although the fact she got it way before everyone else could is new information to me and, while infuriating, doesn't surprise me in the least.

It was a confirmation of Kadin2048's statement that anti-vaxxers have made life shittier for everyone, and it goes back way before COVID began. And Oprah was a huge can of kerosene on that campfire. And McCarthy was just the tip of the trash pile.

Being a parent in America today means you've been dealing anti-vaxxers since the day your kid was born. And it sucks hard. Newborns are fucking getting measles again! And I really blame Oprah for a massive part of it, even more so because she's never apologized or backed down from her damage.
posted by JoeZydeco at 6:45 AM on September 23, 2021 [21 favorites]


Yes, but Winfrey's not just rich, she's a 67-year-old Californian? Which made put her in at least phase 1B of the immunization rollout in this state, which was March.....
posted by Iris Gambol

posted by tiny frying pan at 6:58 AM on September 23, 2021 [2 favorites]


that two-thirds of critical care nurses have considered quitting

I personally know of at least one unit of transitional care nurses (the people who take care of patients who are moving from ICU to long term care) who found that corporate had been lying to them about hiring additional aides and nursing staff, claiming that there were no applications to fix a long term short staffing program when in fact there were. Upon discovering this, the entire nursing senior staff walked off the job and quit en masse.

There is anger rumbling here--and hospital management that insists patients not know about conflicts, that nurses grit their teeth and smile and pretend everything is fine even though nothing is fine exacerbates it. The hospital administrative attitude in the US that patients are customers and that they must experience a customer care level of satisfaction turns even more toxic when patients and their families can become this abusive.

Even for care providers who don't treat patients who are currently infectious, unvaccinated patients require significantly more effort to treat in order to maintain COVID protection then vaccinated ones, which often means layers of personal protective gear that make labor more uncomfortable for nurses performing physical tasks in limited time with limited breaks.

Think about what that means: imagine doing your routine care, physically turning bodies and checking vital signs and lifting heavy things. Now imagine doing that while wearing a suit of impermeable plastic to help prevent infectious exposure, and changing that plastic suit over and over to maintain cleanliness. Imagine knowing intimately that you are doing that extra work in more uncomfortable gear because someone refuses to get a shot that you know, again intimately because you are neck deep in their medical history, will not interact in any particularly unusual way with their body; will in fact keep them safer.

Imagine that person, who you are doing extra labor to accommodate with no compensation or acknowledgement, then becoming abusive to you because they see you as a representative of liars who are pretending that a life killing disease, a disease whose effects you are elbow deep in, is real for no apparent reason.

this is happening over and over and over again, and people break under the strain. the corporatization of medicine is becoming more and more and more toxic right alongside all the other strains we live under.
posted by sciatrix at 7:02 AM on September 23, 2021 [51 favorites]


"I just want to get it, go to the hospital, get a break, and be done with it."

Honestly, there's a part of me that has felt this way - that felt that even dying might be better than the stress and dread and anger - but I have a friend who will probably be disabled for the rest of her life because she got COVID and she's still suffering the effects over a year later. She can't work and she's constantly dealing with doctors who don't take her seriously, don't believe her, think she's just having trouble breathing because of her weight.

That's the thing that gets me. However much I'd like to just be done with it... that's not in the menu of options.
posted by Jeanne at 7:06 AM on September 23, 2021 [12 favorites]


By "the public" I presume he means "the section of the public who are ending up in the ICU with COVID" and not "the Idaho public in general"

I dunno why you'd presume that. In a place where "the public" is overwhelmingly hostile to public health, they are not the allies of the medical community whether or not they're currently spitting on doctors in an ICU.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 7:06 AM on September 23, 2021 [4 favorites]


"I just want to get it, go to the hospital, get a break, and be done with it."

Honestly, there's a part of me that has felt this way - that felt that even dying might be better than the stress and dread and anger


Yeah, agree. I am vaccinated and all and understand there's a risk of long covid regardless etc. but I have a lot of sympathy for someone who feels like the only way out of their hellish day-to-day is to contract a lethal illness. In the beforetimes I sometimes fantasized about getting a terminal diagnosis just so I'd have an excuse to quit my job and stop wasting my life on the kind of stupid unpleasant bullshit you have to do if you have to keep drawing breath. This doesn't seem that different.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 7:11 AM on September 23, 2021 [11 favorites]


Thank you for the correction, tiny frying pan.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:13 AM on September 23, 2021


I have a lot of sympathy for someone who feels like the only way out of their hellish day-to-day is to contract a lethal illness

To be clear (although I agree with this sentiment, generally-speaking, and also personally, when shit gets dark), the guy in question is a dyed-in-the-wool bootlicker who nonetheless styles himself an iconoclast. He's not fed up with COVID restrictions (because they largely don't apply to him, because he is an asshole) or with having to wear PPE at work or in public (because he doesn't). He's fed up with having to think about maybe getting COVID (because he is unvaccinated).
posted by uncleozzy at 7:15 AM on September 23, 2021 [3 favorites]


On the power of images, wrt COVID-19: James Heathers, The Invisible Plague (Medium.com).

"And yes, I think there is a better contender for the worst mistake. And it is that there was no concerted effort to let us see COVID. Every newspaper article, Twitter thread, anecdote, from some poor benighted attending or RN who will need counselling from now until they’re mercifully old enough to forget everything else as well starts: I wish you could see what I see. It will contain a harrowing depiction of what an ICU at 100% capacity looks like, feels like, how it makes you act. But — for obvious reasons — no photos, no video. And while the reality is presented, it is abstract....[As for the Herman Cain Awards,] I do not have the same read as the author, but the facts are true. So are the bodies, that none of these Herman Cain Award winners never saw."
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:52 AM on September 23, 2021 [13 favorites]




Mod note: Couple comments deleted. Don't troll here; don't argue for compassion by being insulting; and in general please don't introduce extra edgy awfulness into this topic in any direction, because it is sure not needed; in general people have been doing okay with this so please let's try to maintain that.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:08 AM on September 23, 2021 [4 favorites]


Sometimes loving people means holding them to account. Or telling them a hard truth. Or telling them a hard truth in a hard way, because it’s the only way they might listen. You can’t reach everyone, but you may reach a few. A kindness, really.

And yes, many of the anti-vaxx crowd have said and done worse. I am angry, and tired, and afraid of their mean-spirited politics, and frustrated because Will this pandemic never end? We were so close (not to an actual end, ok, but at least controlling it.)

I also feel sorry for them, and even more angry at the people (politicians, right-wing media) who set them on fire. My anti-vaxx older brother tried to convince my younger brother not to get the vaccine, then told him he was sad to hear he’d gotten it because now he would die in a few years.

It’s so hard to engage with crazy - and harder still if it comes with force (with power) - so the media backs away, appeases, reframes to suit them.

I haven’t read every post, but as a general thing I’m going to say I have no problem with this subreddit.
posted by anshuman at 9:21 AM on September 23, 2021 [10 favorites]


And while the pain and sentiment is real, it's also important to remember the paradox of tolerance. If one community's goal is the destruction of another, the latter cannot tolerate the presence of the former. There is a higher order of compassion necessary beyond interpersonal. Your right to swing your fist (or not wear a mask) ends at my nose. And if you keep swinging despite that, expect to be asked, told, and then forced, to stop.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:23 AM on September 23, 2021 [41 favorites]


@Monkeytoes: Agreed. They say the Vietnam War began to end when they started showing it on the 6:00 news. For years there was a media ban on showing dead soldiers returning in coffins. More broadly still, we don’t see prison conditions (including slavery), or how farm animals are treated, etc., etc. People won’t believe (or even think about) what they can’t see.
posted by anshuman at 9:31 AM on September 23, 2021 [8 favorites]


A few months ago, I saw two different anti-vax/anti-mask/anti-lockdown/etc... people in two different venues (one was a TV news interview type of thing, the other was a FB posting & comment thread) express a common sentiment. Regarding how they would feel if their... errr... casual approach to the pandemic ended up with them carrying the Covid virus around in public and infecting other people, they both more or less said "well, they probably should have been more careful."

This is, of course, only two data points and I don't know how widely held this sentiment is among these groups. But after seeing it expressed out loud like that, I became much less interested in learning more about the psychology of anti-vaxers & anti-maskers. Too depressing.
posted by mhum at 9:46 AM on September 23, 2021 [7 favorites]


One out of nearly every 400 Floridians has died of COVID. One out of every 125 people in the WORLD who have been reported as dying of COVID is from Florida.

I checked the math on this and I think the numbers are closer to 1/375 Floridians is dead of covid and 1/85 world covid deaths is a Floridian. Obviously it worsens by the day but can someone who still has a crumb of functioning brain power confirm this?
posted by phunniemee at 9:50 AM on September 23, 2021


Contemptuous and righteous tribalism is an ouroboros that will eat us all.

Yet more bothsides-ism for a conflict in which 99.99% of the violence is from one side.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 9:54 AM on September 23, 2021 [50 favorites]


Pointing and laughing, or saying "fuck around and find out" won't do anything to strengthen the abominable divide between your two tribes.

Here's what "my" tribe is offering to the other "tribe." And none of us are in tribes anyway, but I digress. We are offering improvements to our education system, we are offering action on climate change, we are offering strengthening of the social safety net, we are offering free vaccines (free!?!) to any and all who come for them, we are offering masks so that you can protect yourselves and others as we move through this hellscape together. The HCA winners are not merely going their quiet tribe way and just looking at their toes and dying. HCA winners are not part of a "tribe" that tolerates the existence of my "tribe" (which I do not have because I'm part of several circles of society from my family to my neighborhood to my city, state...and damn planet). They offer "fuck your feelings," confederate flags, meltdowns over other people's sexual preference and freedom, the literal drinking of poisons, and voting against every progressive policy that could make their and our miserable little lives any better.

The HCA existence doesn't cause anything. I know some people are pointing out that it could be having positive impacts in some way but I don't really think so. It's great that a handful of people started reading it and then went, "Oh crap...why am I not vaccinated?" and went and got the shot. That's a literal drop in the bucket. I think it is both a symptom of where we are at and is serving as an outlet for a howling void of frustration that literally has nowhere to go. (And where does that go if there is no outlet? It's rarely good.) I guess I've been in too many environments where gallows humor is not just allowed but recognized for the release valve it is. Some people will always freak out about gallows humor. I'm sorry if it distresses you. I have a hard time thinking that gallows humor makes things worse. I guess if you view us as all part of one cosmic organism, it feels mission critical to stomp this stuff out. But somewhere in every organism shit is happening.
posted by amanda at 10:04 AM on September 23, 2021 [61 favorites]


I understand it's hard but I urge people in here who think that these people archived on r/HCA deserved their fate to try to remember that each one of them has a family and friends that will desperately grieve their passing. No amount of "you made your bed, now lay in it" will change that.

And that is precisely why the people who read HCA confine themselves to that subreddit, and do not go to those family and friends' facebook posts and mock them.

Let me use myself as an example. When I broke my knee, my roommate was suddenly and unexpectedly thrust into the role of being a home health care aide, by necessity - I needed someone who could help me get in and out of bed, or to bring me food and coffee (I couldn't walk and carry things when I first had the break because both my hands were tied up with my crutches), or to do a host of things, and he was the only other person in the house with me so that fell on him.

No doubt this was a pain in the absolute ass for him. So I would not be surprised if he picked a couple of friends and asked them "listen, can you be someone I can complain to about how much this sucks when I feel like I need to do that?"

Would he have been wrong to complain to me about this? Hell yes - I was coping with the broken knee, and it's not like I broke my knee on purpose. But would he have been wrong to complain to those people who in turn kept that from me? No - because the guy was dealing with a lot of stress and he had to discharge and process that stress somewhere to keep himself together. If he didn't have that safe outlet, there would be the danger that one day he'd snap when I asked if he could help bring me dinner and end up dumping it in my lap or something.

This subreddit is the equivalent of "listen, let's deal with the stress here in this space away from the anti-vaxxers and their families, so nobody snaps and pickets their funeral."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:22 AM on September 23, 2021 [28 favorites]


I'm also gonna recuse myself from this thread

probably for the best. even the stories about this Jesus guy include how he flipped the tables of the money-changers in the temple.. anger can be released in all kinds of ways, and if there was a story that didn't make it into our cultural memory, where someone's like "hey chill Jesus, these folks are just like you and me and they're just trying to provide for their families" well, that's okay too.
posted by elkevelvet at 10:25 AM on September 23, 2021 [3 favorites]


> It's great that a handful of people started reading it and then went, "Oh crap...why am I not vaccinated?" and went and got the shot. That's a literal drop in the bucket.

No individual rain drop ever considers itself responsible for the flood. Every little bit adds up.
posted by davelog at 10:40 AM on September 23, 2021 [18 favorites]


Open violence is already happening, almost entirely in the form of anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers attacking people attempting to enforce public health regulations or even merely abiding by them
posted by theodolite at 10:49 AM on September 23, 2021 [39 favorites]


I know it's difficult to remember that these people - who you might find reprehensible past the point of comprehension - have the same fears, joys, victories and defeats that you do. Contemptuous and righteous tribalism is an ouroboros that will eat us all.

Why is there always the assumption that we don't know these people? I grew up around these people. I'm related to these people. I moved away from these people for good and sufficient reasons.

It feels good to be right, but sometimes it’s better to win.

Have you been asleep for the last six months? Incentive after incentive, ignored. Patient encouragement, mocked. Now the ICUs are flooded. An inability to take these people seriously and at their word is its own form of deep ignorance of them.
posted by praemunire at 10:51 AM on September 23, 2021 [59 favorites]


Nobody whose family member died and was crassly memorialized on the cancerous landscape of social media is ever going to vote for a left wing candidate, ever.

Meanwhile elsewhere, someone reads the memorialised posts and reconsiders their decision to not get vaccinated. In some cases, this will be the difference between life and death for them. I think that's more important than someone being slightly less unlikely to vote for a Democrat.
posted by acb at 10:56 AM on September 23, 2021 [5 favorites]


I understand it's hard but I urge people in here who think that these people archived on r/HCA deserved their fate to try to remember that each one of them has a family and friends that will desperately grieve their passing.

These two feelings are not mutually exclusive. I feel for the families of these people, for the empty places that will be left in their lives, for the anguish they may feel for not being able to convince the deceased to get vaccinated, and the sadness at having a family member throw their lives away so casually.

But I don't think the anger is misplaced, either. The comparison to drunk driving is apt. In both cases, although the biggest risk is to yourself, there's also the real danger of taking other people out with you. And sometimes, when an unrepentant drunk driver meets that final oak tree or bridge abutment, all you can say is "well, at least they didn't take anyone else out with them." Some people are just determined to make their biggest contribution to life as a warning to others not to follow them.

Pointing and laughing, or saying "fuck around and find out" won't do anything to strengthen the abominable divide between your two tribes.

This is not a "two tribes" situation. This is a "death cult" situation. When we talk about something like Aum Shinrikyo, we don't frame the discussion as "two tribes". The Trumpublicans are basically in the same territory at this point. Insofar as there is an abominable divide between them and the rest of humanity, it's on them to come back to us; we're not going to go halfway into la-la land to meet them.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:56 AM on September 23, 2021 [48 favorites]


Pointing and laughing, or saying "fuck around and find out" won't do anything to strengthen the abominable divide between your two tribes.

This kind of thing always strikes me as the kind of self-deluding victim blaming that people like to pull when they're frightened of a bully's power and cruelty and would prefer to assume that they won't be targeted if they just pretend that it's mutual combat. It's not! Guess what: you're in one of the two tribes if you're not an active fascist. You're actually in the tribe whom they're fine with killing.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 11:06 AM on September 23, 2021 [26 favorites]


Hang on, that Washington Post headline upthread is incredibly misleading. It's not "the unvaccinated" in general:

Barriers to getting the shot and information about the vaccines have hindered the “unvaccinated but willing,” who account for approximately 10 percent of the American population, according to a report last month by the Department of Health and Human Services. Unlike those who have declined vaccines, some vocally, because of their politics or ideology, a quieter share — about 44% of unvaccinated people — say they would get vaccinated but are on the fence for certain reasons. Some, like Orosco-Arellano, lack transportation or other means, while others wish to wait and see or don’t know coronavirus vaccines are free.

The already-hand-wavy percentages are even less reliable when one considers the repeated goalpost-moving of the majority of the eligible-but-not-vaccinated. Foot-draggers were going to get the shot after FDA approval; when that happened a month ago, suddenly that approval was a politically-motivated, profit-driven rush job, so they still didn't trust the vaccine, the science, or the authorities. This article has a handful of compassionate anecdotes of vaccine hesitancy (as marginalized groups have borne greater risk throughout the pandemic), with heroic healthcare workers doing mobile clinics (again), volunteering (again), and going above and beyond (againagainagain) in their outreach efforts. WaPo: "The reasons people have not yet gotten their shot vary widely, making it difficult to find a one-size-fits-all approach." Except Republicans and White Evangelical Christians are the mainstays of "vaccine hesitancy," and the credit for their refusal goes to misinformation, disinformation, and sectarianism. (Dogmatism, too.)

It's not a mystery that so many of us are fresh outta fucks dealing with that particular, particularly obdurate population: they're effectively on a batter, maim, and murder spree.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:10 AM on September 23, 2021 [21 favorites]


It really strikes me that the same tone used for trying to listen and come together with anti-maskers is the same tone used for trying to listen and come together with other groups slinging hate. It didn't work then, it isn't working now, and frequently those people are the same people.

I'm at the point of hoping the death toll skews heavily enough that maybe we can vote out anyone in power that actively tries to continue Covid's bloody swath. Nothing else seems to be working.
posted by skittlekicks at 11:12 AM on September 23, 2021 [16 favorites]


We have here a difference in temperament. I shouldn’t be attacked for attempting my own form of—perhaps radical—tolerance.

Mate, you can have your own tolerance. People are upset by things like this:


It’s going to be a profoundly unpopular viewpoint here, but abandoning empathy here and now at this point is an abdication of a fundamental duty to humanity independent of your feelings on the matter.

I mean you're saying that I am performing "an abdication of a fundamental duty to humanity" which, if I gave a shit (I don't), would be a pretty damning and ironically intolerant perspective towards people who are reacting differently to you.


people are giving up on one another because it’s easy, emotionally gratifying, and reinforces their correct assumptions.


Also insulting


Or don’t, and justify your surrender to base human emotion and simple instructive fables curated to tell you only one story. Your call. It’s sad, all across the spectrum, both for the poor idiots that went astray and the arrogant people gawking.


Also insulting


Watching people die—a predetermined outcome based on prior actions, aided and abetted by the hilarious excuse we call leadership in this country—only widens divisions.

I'll be sure to remember that if I end up watching a loved one die over this which is a very real possibility! Thanks
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 11:14 AM on September 23, 2021 [38 favorites]


the same fears, joys, victories and defeats that you do

Clearly they don't, since they apparently can't experience those emotions when it comes to anyone outside the very small circle of their concern. The thing that I find most despair-inducing about this whole thing (and about conservatism in general, frankly) is the lack of moral imagination (bordering on lack of object permanence, tbh) that enables a person (even a person who may be very kind and generous to their families, their immediate neighbors, their fellow church congregants, etc.!) to be so deeply, viciously selfish and cruel when it comes to the rest of us.
posted by naoko at 11:16 AM on September 23, 2021 [37 favorites]


Kill 'em with kindness was terrible advice for the mean girls in middle school, too.

And now the stage is bigger, we have tried personal freedoms and acceptance of others' viewpoints and tolerance.

We are literally letting them kill themselves (and others) with our kindness.
posted by phunniemee at 11:19 AM on September 23, 2021 [30 favorites]


I’d also argue, as a permanently disabled person, that your friend would in fact be wrong to demonstrate resentment to anyone about having to help you out.

I am also a permanently disabled person, and the nature of my disabilities is such that sometimes my friends, families, and loved ones are disappointed or frustrated by things that happen because of them. If the problem is something shitty that is out of my (and their) control, I would always rather that my friends get to complain about the crappiness of the situation and have their feelings validated somewhere where I am not. Grappling with their disappointment and the fears it inspires in me is terrifying and I can't bear that weight--but they are human, and they get to be disappointed and sad about things that do or don't happen, and they sometimes need space to process those feelings. Where should they go?

I have watched a lot of caregivers struggle because they need support, but they need it less directly than the person they are taking care of, so they feel they are not entitled to support. And certainly saying "Hey, you are dying of cancer, but you're taking so much from me, can you stop it?" is a one-way ticket to making the person in the middle feel like shit. But if the caregiver can instead turn to someone distanced from the situation to share and process their feelings, the caregiver can take time to rest and receive support for themself in turn. This is how we avoid caregiver burnout. We give people who are trying to help space, validation, and time to replenish. It is important sometimes to express and honor feelings that are not positive, and to give space to watch and grapple with horrors in the making.

No one is making you read this subreddit or making you engage with this specific way that people are engaging with these feelings. What is bothering you this much about the fact that it exists? You keep coming back to try to convince the thread at large that the subreddit is a bad idea because it bothers you to know--what, that people who are capable of compassion are choosing to sit in judgement of the dead and dying? Or that other people might create an impediment to an imagined endgame of endless understanding compassion that subsumes conflict?

I argue as loudly and fiercely as anyone here about the value of picking your targets, but it seems to me that this group is being very careful about the targets it picks--and the mourning, furious watching of death it engages in. Death after death after death. Each one watched, examined in the ways it is similar to the last and yet unique, watched and weighed in fury and despair, as far from people who need unqualified positives as possible.
posted by sciatrix at 11:25 AM on September 23, 2021 [56 favorites]


Nobody whose family member died and was crassly memorialized on the cancerous landscape of social media is ever going to vote for a left wing candidate, ever.

This assumes these folks are related solely to others who vote the way they vote. Most of my progressive friends have, in fact, several family members who might find themselves memorialized here and not a single one of them is gonna turn Republican over that fact.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 11:45 AM on September 23, 2021 [15 favorites]


Why isn't another way to scream or blame someone needed? You're projecting so much stuff onto this conversation, Ephelump Jockey.
posted by sagc at 11:45 AM on September 23, 2021 [16 favorites]


That's a lot of confidence you're putting on your assessment of what other people need.
posted by sciatrix at 11:50 AM on September 23, 2021 [32 favorites]


It doesn’t offer anything that can’t be gained by human connection in the real world,

Even if that were true, I can't really have human connection in the real world save for a select few people at a select few times because anti-vaxxers are pretty much constantly trying to kill a loved one, who gets his immune system in a bottle and can't be meaningfully vaxxed.

Like, I think for some reason you think you "get" what's going on because you know a lot of anti-vaxxers but you really don't get it from the perspective of the people whom they are constantly and incessantly victimizing.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 11:52 AM on September 23, 2021 [22 favorites]


Most of my progressive friends have, in fact, several family members who might find themselves memorialized here and not a single one of them is gonna turn Republican over that fact.

I have a couple of relatives who will almost surely end up here if they should die of COVID, they're so loud and obnoxious about it. (One of them finally got vaxxed but is now working off his energies going to public meetings to complain about Drag Queen Story Hour at the library.)
posted by praemunire at 11:52 AM on September 23, 2021 [5 favorites]


The fact that so many folks are eager to go to bat for something that can be easily replaced by human companionship, a funeral, a grieving process unmediated by a screen

LOL what?????? If we're being responsible public health actors we literally cannot do any of those things right now!!! It isn't "easily replaced"!
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 11:52 AM on September 23, 2021 [23 favorites]


It doesn’t offer anything that can’t be gained by human connection in the real world

The internet is the real world. Barlow was wrong.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:54 AM on September 23, 2021 [2 favorites]


Mod note: A few comments deleted. Please avoid turning the conversation into a discussion and, as mentioned before don't argue for compassion by being insulting.
posted by loup (staff) at 11:55 AM on September 23, 2021 [2 favorites]


I think it’s naive to believe that the subreddit helps more than it hurts.

I think it's naive to believe one subreddit is meant to help everyone? All subreddits have a target audience, and the HCA one (I hate the name, btw) is intended for a specific group of traumatized people. Some people in this very thread took pains to articulate how it's helping them.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:56 AM on September 23, 2021 [13 favorites]


> it permits a hostile sense of superiority, a cruel contempt, and an unchecked hatred for [anti-vaxxers] to exist, quietly, loudly, in any way at all.

Good.

> We don’t need this to cope.

305,000 people disagree.

Sometimes bad things happen to bad people, and we're allowed to feel good about it.
posted by AlSweigart at 11:57 AM on September 23, 2021 [14 favorites]


As ever, giant swathes of the left are more satisfied with moral grandstanding than winning an electoral victory and taking power from chuds and simpering centrists that care more about their portfolios than their constituents.

What horseshit, every lefty and progressive I know voted for Biden in order to win an electoral victory and take power from chuds despite exactly zero of them supporting him in the primary. I voted for Ralph Nader in 1996 because Clinton didn't pass universal health care and signed the draft back into law. That was moral grandstanding. Modern lefties sent money to Stacy Abrams to get Democrats elected in Georgia. That's winning an electoral victory.

As far as r/HCA goes it's like my father used to say, "if you can't be a good example to others at least you can serve as a horrible warning."
posted by ActingTheGoat at 12:00 PM on September 23, 2021 [38 favorites]


What if the situation was reversed?

What if there was a plague that had, say, cut a swath through Black Lives Matter protestors? Or Biden voters in blue states?

Do you think right wingers would be tut-tutting and pious clutching their pearls and whimpering that the poor liberal lambs had been so misinformed and all we really needed was understanding and all the mockery in the world would never bring us back together?

Or would there be, say, someone gleefully reading off the toll of the dead while playing "Another One Bites The Dust" as backing music the way one of the dead pastors did during the height of the AIDS pandemic?

Because these aren't people that we disagree with over, I don't know, bond interest rates or a gas tax increase to fund highway repairs.

These are people that happily and gleefully fantasize about killing me and mine and yours as well. That's what all the guns are for. That's what all the military gear is for. They want the race war. They want the collapse of society so they can kill us all. They're not even shy about saying so. You just don't want to believe it or dismiss it as rhetoric even when right wing mass shootings aren't even news.

Outside of that, they have killed hundreds of thousands of people. All of them had families and hopes and dreams and funerals too. And now they're dead. Because of the people winning Herman Cain Awards.

This isn't even a Trolley Problem-level experiment. At this point it is "go to basically any pharmacy, get a free shot, feel like crap for a weekend, get another one a few weeks later and feel like crap for a weekend again and you're done." Or possibly kill lots of people, including people you love.

The data is out there. It's been two years since the first trials started. At some point, you are responsible for your own actions, especially if a huge chunk of your ethos is being The Party of Personal Responsibility.

These are people who would happily and gleefully kill me because I want such horrible things as universal health care and tax increases that wouldn't even affect them.

And you want me to feel bad for them.

Amazing.

Remind me again how "when they go low, we go high" worked in 2016? How did holding the moral high ground help over the last 4 years?
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 12:19 PM on September 23, 2021 [84 favorites]


That’s my problem with it. It represents a lot of things, most of which are not good, and some of which are outright destructive. And it furthers some already brewing, or perhaps boiling tension.

The HCAs represent a bunch of very tired, weary people saying "I fucking told you so" with a heaving sigh that could be a laugh, or might be a sob.
posted by dazed_one at 12:28 PM on September 23, 2021 [20 favorites]


It's just sort of amusing to me that people are sitting around in, like, Oakland and Canada and other places that are pretty insulated from this bullshit, and they're chiding me for having insufficient human contact with COVID deniers. I wish I could have insufficient human contact with them. I literally cannot avoid their physical presence in my physical space. I am not permitted to ask them to wear a mask when they spend a half an hour with their face a foot away from mine. Has it occurred to you that maybe you're the one whose perspective is skewed by having a lack of contact with people who mock public health precautions?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 12:32 PM on September 23, 2021 [53 favorites]


I know it's difficult to remember that these people - who you might find reprehensible past the point of comprehension - have the same fears, joys, victories and defeats that you do.

No.

I do not fear immigrants.
I take no joy in owning anyone, literally or metaphaphorically,
I do not get joy in seeing women lose bodily autonomy.
I do not consider marriage rights a defeat of our values.
posted by archimago at 12:39 PM on September 23, 2021 [42 favorites]


It's just sort of amusing to me that people are sitting around in, like, Oakland and Canada and other places

this is a strange generalization.. "pretty insulated" like, not quite as bad as Florida? give me a break, man.. also, leave entire cities and countries out of it, I don't even know what you're saying here
posted by elkevelvet at 12:50 PM on September 23, 2021


I believe ArbitraryAndCapricious is suggesting, based on the rest of their comment, that they are in a place that does not have worker protections against people who are not vaccinated. I can't speak to all of Canada, but in my hometown province of Manitoba, for example, they have strict mandates on who can enter a public place at this point, without being vaccinated. So many employees now are protected from the unvaccinated. The Bay area also has some pretty strict regulations.
posted by nanook at 1:03 PM on September 23, 2021 [2 favorites]




This was pointed out up further in the post but as a record of a certain population of deaths, this sub is amazing. If you want to study why the organism has this disease, you can find a number of common markers among these people. Keep in mind, this is a self-selecting group that wanted people to hear them, see them, recognize them. For every one of these deaths, there are likely four more who didn’t need the public recognition or were just wrong place at the wrong time. And countless children and spouses who are affected. If we want to examine the symptoms we see: medical mistrust, tribal signaling, racism, religion (do a search for Covid+“prayer warriors” on Facebook if you want to see how evangelicals are incredibly highly represented), and other depressing things. I would love to see us have an equitable, fair and free healthcare system. Arguably, if we could have had that, really had that, many of these deaths would have been preventable. Anyway, on and on. This sub helps make these patterns clear. What we can and should do about them…I mean, I think we are doing things about them. But we have to do those things in the face of an armed, hysterical, braying minority of folks who will fight us every step of the way. And so we will.
posted by amanda at 1:28 PM on September 23, 2021 [19 favorites]


It’s always tough to balance compassion with judging people.

Ironically we’re seeing this twice in this thread, once with people balancing their compassion for families with a sense of righteous vengeance towards the award winners, and again with some posters to this thread who urge compassion for the award winners while judging other posters who they find lacking.

Compassion for all living things is a tough row to hoe. I’ve found I just have to live with the contradictions.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:46 PM on September 23, 2021 [7 favorites]


I for one am glad the sub-reddit exists. Not because of the tone of the content or how it is either helping or hurting the people interacting with it, but because it is an intensely rich repository of data, of a specific moment in time. A moment of great upheaval all across the globe, and pinpointing how one large, vocal minority of the United States of America reacted to it. As long as this sub-reddit gets archived in some ways, future historians will be able to dig through the information it contains to springboard into whole thesises of what the ever-loving FUCK was wrong with our society (however many years ago).

Social media is a scourge. But it's a scourge with fantastic record-keeping abilities. Never put something on the internet you wouldn't want your grandchildren (or great-grandchildren) to read about in 6th grade.
posted by sharp pointy objects at 2:02 PM on September 23, 2021 [20 favorites]


I don't Facebook, so I find the memes interesting. E.g., there's one about nurses that has a trans flag for no apparent reason.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:03 PM on September 23, 2021 [1 favorite]


I've got a finite supply of compassion and I'm spending it on the people who are trapped in hell because of the actions of garbage people with zero care wrt spreading a deadly disease. Maybe others have an unlimited well, but mine's pretty fucking limited these days.
posted by Ferreous at 2:05 PM on September 23, 2021 [8 favorites]


Agree with amanda, as a dataset or historical record, whew, it's a humdinger.

Something that recurs in these sorts of conversations is the call for compassion/empathy/understanding towards folks like the HCAwardees, but... they don't want compassion, empathy, or understanding from me. It's less than worthless to them. In fact, they're looking for an excuse to trample on everyone else "not of their tribe" at every turn. If anything, they use my displays of compassion and empathy as on-roads to violence.

I forget where, but I read something a long time ago about how hate isn't the opposite of love; apathy is. At this point, I don't hate HCAwardees, though they would relish in my hatred, and though I think it is deserved for the devastation they caused. I am apathetic. On some level, I think the subreddit is apathetic too. Its existence seems to say, to each individual awardee, "even after all of your publicly-vomited bile, death came for you in the expected manner, and now you're not here any more." It's a memorial that doesn't glorify or demean the dead, at least no more than the dead demeaned themselves in life.

If I personally had to write all of their obituaries, I would say, In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. In the end, there was COVID, there was an absence of vaccine, there was a very loud person; now there is no person.

...anyway, I think the thing to take away from this thread, at least for me, is that humans are, as ever, vast in their complexity and viewpoints. I don't think there's a wrong emotional reaction to this, because there are no wrong emotional reactions, other than condemnation of others' reactions. Apathy is fine. They're gone, they left a toxic hole in the world. We write it down, we look, we're not really sure why. We are all so very tired.
posted by snerson at 2:07 PM on September 23, 2021 [33 favorites]


I'm just tired. I'm tired of being anxious. I'm tired of wondering if and when my vaccination safety lessens. I'm tired of wonder if some new variant is going to rise up. I'm tired of running an internal calendar of sickness whenever I step out of my house. I'm tired of my house. I'm tired of doing my best to stay safe.

And every time I look through HCA, I'm tired of the waste too.
posted by drewbage1847 at 2:40 PM on September 23, 2021 [3 favorites]


This discussion reminds me of a recent NYT essay by Tressie McMillan Cottom, titled The Limits of My Empathy for Covid Deniers (Wayback)

In it, she describes this recent flood of "stories about Covid deniers dying in hospitals" and says:
"I am at a point where headlines about ill and dying Covid deniers do not pull at my empathy strings the way I want them to."
Without empathy, how can we sustain healthy communities?
She then goes on to discuss this with a friend who is a psychotherapist and clinical social worker.
While there are no easy answers, the questions themselves are worth consideration.
posted by cheshyre at 2:54 PM on September 23, 2021 [5 favorites]


Last week I saw a tweet that resonated with me, to my core: I’m really glad that we’re having public conversations about the horrific toll of COVID mismanagement on ICU nurses, but let’s not forget that less flashy areas of healthcare are also affected. I work in home care and we are so F#CKED.

In honor of this insight, and in honor of the Herman Cain Awards, let's talk for a minute about the sheer number of health care workers out there.

As I've mentioned here before, I'm an RN who is as insulated from the day-to-day realities of covid floors as you can be. I work from home now, for fuck's sake, and I'll never stop waking up every morning and thinking about how privileged that makes me. But one thing I do, day in day out, is review hospital records, and I'll never forget reading the daily reports from our last person who died before widespread vaccine availability. She was having a flare-up of chronic conditions that made it difficult for her to manage basic activities at home, and her primary doctor, my colleague, feared that she would get covid in the hospital if she had to be admitted for an acute exacerbation. He made the decision to send her out for a period of rehab in a nursing home where he could keep a close watch on her medications and mobility. Her symptoms improved enough for her to manage at home, but she was exposed to covid at the facility. I can't even imagine how that decision weighs on him. I am sure that all the other direct clinical staff I work with have heartbreaking pandemic stories of their own.

But let's look outward from me for a moment. In my day-to-day work life, I interact mostly with a tier of people who are closer to covid ground zero than I am but still not ICU-provider close: hospital RN case managers and social workers, admissions liasions at nursing homes. All of them are flailing right now. One of my hospitals, in particular, is so short on case managers that I have to follow up every day to see who's following my patients because they get shifted around so much to cover for shortages. When I finally do reach people on the phone, they sound like death. One of my favorite case managers told me, unprompted, that she wants to retire and just pick up occasional hours as a greeter at Wegman's, and that she would actively discourage young people from going into nursing.

So even administrative-type staff are burnt out. That's already bad. Now think of all of the kinds of people who aren't nurses or doctors who also work directly on hospital and nursing homes floors or in homes with covid patients: physical therapists, occupational therapists, dietitians, speech therapists, medical techs, CNAs, janitors, cooks, dietary aides, clerks. Think of all of these people, across all the hospitals and nursing homes and other medical programs there are in the US, how many people have spent the past year and a half exposed to constant trauma.

Now, if you look the HCA subreddit for even a few minutes, you'll see that it is blindingly, overwhelmingly white. Recall that many HCA award winners and their ilk live in communities that are gerrymandered and voter-suppressed all to hell, specifically so people who look like them can continue to be as loud as they want and gleefully oppress anyone who doesn't share their beliefs. Think of how these people are almost certainly not representative of the political views of their states, and possibly not even representative of their communities.

Now think of the size of that giant mass of healthcare workers.

This is why the Herman Cain Awards exist. This country is just teeming with traumatized health care workers and their families, to say nothing of other kinds of essential workers and theirs. We outnumber the Great White Death Cult so much. We have so many other people, in our immediate social circles and not, that we can extend our empathy to before we reach out to people who are trying to kill us.
posted by I am a Sock, I am an Island at 3:36 PM on September 23, 2021 [72 favorites]


Contemptuous and righteous tribalism is an ouroboros that will eat us all.

i mean, i guess, but whenever i think about an ouroboros, it's really just the mouth eating the tail. the tail isn't doing shit; it is, in fact, kinda sorta trying to get away from the whole situation. it's the mouth that's just a stupid fucking idiot trying to go after the tail without realizing that it'll eventually eat itself.
posted by i used to be someone else at 3:46 PM on September 23, 2021 [45 favorites]


That's true, but now thanks to /r/HCA, the mouth is on the other foot.
posted by The Tensor at 5:41 PM on September 23, 2021 [2 favorites]


My grandfather believed COVID 19 was a hoax, refused vaccination, and it killed him. Given a platform, I'm sure he could have been a contender for an HCA. No amount of empathy, compassion, or familial bond stopped him from a lifetime of ranting about how everyone with political beliefs to the left of his should be killed -- myself included. No amount of compassion could have convinced him that COVID 19 was real or dangerous.

My mother was the most compassionate, empathetic, and forgiving person I've ever known. On the one hand, I've always admired her for it. Often, I wish I could be more like her. On the other hand, she was very good at befriending abusive people, and a childhood of being encouraged to understand and empathize with the bullies and abusers adds a bit of a tint to the call for boundless empathy. We've just gone through four years of mainstream media coddling and empathizing with the "economic anxieties" of Trump voters, and we've come out the other side with many of the same people fully onboard with spreading death and disease to everyone.

I feel sorry for my grandfather. I feel sorry for everyone so thoroughly conned as to give their lives for it. It makes me deeply sad. I'm sure we all wish their ignorance, indignance, vengefulness, and/or misunderstanding wasn't deadly to themselves and others, but, unfortunately, it is.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 5:52 PM on September 23, 2021 [42 favorites]


Upthread, wellifyouinsist wrote that they found the HCA "soothing" because it affirmed the reality of cause-and-effect that most of us know to be true. I find the HCA more than soothing. Reading HCA makes me hopeful. Not hopeful that more middle-aged, goateed, bigoted Republican men will die, but hopeful that more and more proof will continue to pour forth that finally disproves their twisted, upside-down view of reality and validates the worldview that the rest of us share.

Here's an example: it wasn't until I started browsing HCA that I saw the meme quoting Dr. Fauci, from early in Trump's presidency, that Trump is likely to face a pandemic. If -- and that's a big if -- Fauci ever said anything like that, any rational person would understand it as a mere prognostication, based on Fauci's experience with other recent SARS outbreaks and his concern about America's public health infrastructure's ability to handle such a crisis. But the meme, instead, pushes the totally opposite view of COVID as a "plandemic," a manufactured emergency whose only purpose was to discredit Trump. Only one of those views about Fauci can be true. And HCA reminds us -- soothes us, gives us hope -- that the Trumpists' view is the wrong one.
posted by hhc5 at 6:21 PM on September 23, 2021 [13 favorites]


Big Mulp - Exactly this. What I’ve seen in my own family (constant appeasement of the most difficult people) informs the larger picture for me: I’ve stopped believing in compassion without accountability as either a moral or practical response. It may work in the short term (every incident either too big or too small to address), but in the long run it’s how you make monsters. In the words of Pema Chodron:

“The third near enemy of compassion is idiot compassion. This is when we avoid conflict and protect our good image by being kind when we should definitely say “no.” Compassion doesn’t only imply trying to be good. When we find ourselves in an aggressive relationship, we need to set clear boundaries. The kindest thing we can do for everyone concerned is to know when to say “enough.” Many people use Buddhist ideals to justify self-debasement. In the name of not shutting our heart we let people walk all over us. It is said that in order not to break our vow of compassion we have to learn when to stop aggression and draw the line. There are times when the only way to bring down barriers is to set boundaries.”
posted by anshuman at 6:37 PM on September 23, 2021 [38 favorites]


Oprah got her vaccine in March, which was before I or any member of my family was able to get one.
I saw a tweet that said "if the vaccine was dangerous, they would have given it to poor people first, not the politicians and billionaires."
That's truth.


The podcast The Gargle had an anecdote about an anti-Semite talking themselves into getting the vaccine based on Israels vaccination rates.

I'm so full of rage and I don't care that saying "We told you so you fucking asshole" not in front of their families is gauche or whatever.
posted by Uncle at 8:00 PM on September 23, 2021 [3 favorites]


Oh, I don’t care if you say it in front of my family.
posted by gauche at 8:08 PM on September 23, 2021 [22 favorites]


Weird how the Prayer Warriors can't seem to make things better for the HCA recipients...
posted by Windopaene at 8:21 PM on September 23, 2021 [3 favorites]


I have a lot of sympathy for someone who feels like the only way out of their hellish day-to-day is to contract a lethal illness.

I wish I was dead every single day so I could get out of doing customer service at my job. Every single day, because death is the only way I can get out of this job without having to figure out another way to support myself and stay alive. And I am utterly stumped on that score because all jobs are customer service and angry people and other jobs are even worse than mine are about it. But even I don't wish to get Covid.

Remind me again how "when they go low, we go high" worked in 2016? How did holding the moral high ground help over the last 4 years?

I hate to diss MIchelle Obama, but she was utterly, utterly wrong on that score. It sounded great and just did not work at all against those people.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:01 PM on September 23, 2021 [10 favorites]


Remind me again how "when they go low, we go high" worked in 2016? How did holding the moral high ground help over the last 4 years?

Well we still have a country that has ideals for starters. Both sides could easily go to town delegitimizing the government at every turn instead — we wouldn’t be the first empire to fall that way.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:28 PM on September 23, 2021 [1 favorite]


Well we still have a country that has ideals for starters. Both sides could easily go to town delegitimizing the government at every turn instead

This is the most stunning example of Bothsidesism that I could imagine.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:58 PM on September 23, 2021 [27 favorites]


I had my annual flu shot today. Just a regular flu shot, but I approached it with the same seriousness as if it were for COVID. I am terribly aware of the strain on our healthcare providers. I don't wish to add to their concern. I will keep masking up and isolating as long as it takes.
posted by SPrintF at 11:23 PM on September 23, 2021 [3 favorites]


>Well we still have a country that has ideals for starters. Both sides
>could easily go to town delegitimizing the government at every turn instead

This is the most stunning example of Bothsidesism that I could imagine.


Together there is nothing we cannot achieve.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:58 AM on September 24, 2021


Well we still have a country that has ideals for starters.

The hell we do. This country doesn’t have any fucking ideals. It’s a bunch of people trying to grab at money, and some of them are white supremacist shitstains who would rather die than admit that their imaginary idea of “the libs” might be correct about basic medical science.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:03 AM on September 24, 2021 [16 favorites]


Together there is nothing we cannot achieve.

Apart from use science that we've had for over 130 years to avoid dying from being unable to breath, while denying what's killing them is Covid, apparently.

The 'other side' has no interest in working together. No interest in allowing anyone that's not them to survive or thrive. It's very clear from HCA award winners posts *prior* to catching Covid, they will not shed one tear for those they don't like dying; they were quite happy indeed in the first stages of the global pandemic, because it was primarily affecting dense urban areas on the east coast of the US, not them, 'safe' in the rural south.

Well, their attempt to kill those they didn't like backfired, and gave themselves a slow and painful death instead. Hoist with their own petard, pretty literally.

Coming together with people who are actively trying to kill you - and also commit insurrection and try to end democracy to seize power and enslave women - might be your bag, but it definitely ain't mine.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 3:10 AM on September 24, 2021 [17 favorites]


After 680k dead Americans and counting, and millions more around the world, it is amazing that anyone can be deliberately glib about bothsiding this shit.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 3:36 AM on September 24, 2021 [11 favorites]


What always amazes me about the calls to Empathy With The Other Side is that there seems to be little empathy with this side.

Their side is full of people actively causing direct harm to their communities: "We need to reach out to them, being angry won't convince them of anything, we need to come together as a team, they're all just lost sad misled sheep."

Our side is full of people actively being fucking angry at their side: "Frankly, how dare you be mad at them, we need to be the bigger persons, talking about anger and grief in a public forum is disgusting, even the concept of sides is divisive."

I don't have a conclusion for this comment that isn't just me swearing a lot. I just wish some of these bothsiders would take a moment to try to understand our side for once.
posted by XtinaS at 3:46 AM on September 24, 2021 [25 favorites]


Well we still have a country that has ideals for starters.

lol what
posted by dazed_one at 3:55 AM on September 24, 2021 [7 favorites]


I am a Sock, I am an Island, I, like you, wake up every day knowing that I have the privilege of WFH. I work on the admin side of curriculum for a school network in NYC. I am fortunate that I do not have to be in a school building but twice a month at most. The toll this pandemic is taking on my profession is daunting. We are losing teachers every week for "mental health" reasons. Most of my job now is not developing and writing curriculum but helping the schools figure out how to navigate the constantly shifting classrooms and students who have to quarantine/miss instruction. DeBlasio has said no remote learning this year, so we have to go on a case by case basis and still provide learning for one or 10 kids that have to quarantine. We can't use outside subs any more because we can't have unknown people in our buildings (and there are MANY people who previously made a decent living as daily subs in NYC schools). So teachers call out sick and their teams have to rally and cover for them, which creates an every increasingly stressed system. I work harder and longer hours now than before the pandemic, and none of it is enjoyable, which was not the case two years ago. Our principals do nothing but monitor vaccine status and covid status, making daily adjustments, sending ripple effects everywhere. It's unsustainable like this. At least last year we were given the remote option and were able to plan around that. Now -- every day is a new adventure. We can barely talk about teaching and learning because everything right now is about the literal health of staff and students -- physical and mental -- with no end in sight because a large swath of people in this country -- people who actually know better and are conning the rest -- are actively trying to keep this pandemic alive to amass their troves and continue to consolidate power. Everywhere I look, it's just people fighting over the scraps -- the scraps of health care, the scraps of education, the scraps of our relationships that have been decimated by all kinds of losses brought about by this pandemic and our collective reaction to it. it's all. Just. Scraps. And I am so very bone tired of it all. I have empathy for the kids we serve, the kindergarteners contracting covid through no fault of their own. I have empathy for the servers at restaurants and the bus drivers and the nurses and the rest of is fighting over the scraps. I have nothing bu numb observation for the HCA recipients and their ilk.

And in the end, they all just want us fighting over the scraps. Billionaires are in a space race while our country burns.
posted by archimago at 4:32 AM on September 24, 2021 [28 favorites]


lol what

To quote Groucho Marx, “and if you don't like 'em, I have others”
posted by acb at 5:15 AM on September 24, 2021 [2 favorites]


That's true, but now thanks to /r/HCA, the mouth is on the other foot.

snakes don't have feet
posted by i used to be someone else at 7:11 AM on September 24, 2021 [2 favorites]


snakes don't have feet

not anymore they don't
posted by XtinaS at 7:23 AM on September 24, 2021 [5 favorites]


I hate to diss MIchelle Obama, but she was utterly, utterly wrong on that score. It sounded great and just did not work at all against those people.

Innuendo Studios has a good video on why this was such a failure, and why "taking the high road" doesn't work.

What always amazes me about the calls to Empathy With The Other Side is that there seems to be little empathy with this side.

I've talked about the "redemption narrative" in past threads, and how seductive it is. It's worth remembering that the idea of redemption has been a theme in culture for all of history - redemption is a core theme of the Epic of Gilgamesh, after all. And it's a great positive story that makes us feel good when someone turns from their harmful acts and repents. Finally, the whole reason that redemption is so encoded in culture is that it is - within reason - a very healthy belief for society. Societies need a way for former malefactors to come in from the cold.

The problem is when we start to idealize redemption, and lose sight of how it actually works. First off, redemption is ultimately a process that has to be started by the person involved choosing to change - there's a reason that we use the phrase "come to Jesus moment", because it acknowledges the need for the individual to actively seek redemption. Second, redemption is built on two aspects - contrition (open acknowledgement of one's misdeeds) and making amends for those misdeeds. Too often, these are what get short circuted when people get caught up in the redemption narrative, as people want to get to the big happy win without putting in the work.

Which leads to the final point - for a society, the point of redemption is for someone who has caused harm to show that they will no longer do so. This is the part where people caught up in the "redemption narrative" tend to fall flat on their faces - because they allow the work of proving a renunciation from harming others to fall to the wayside, it's not surprising that those harmed often reject such empty attempts at redemption. Sadly, the response to that tends to be diminishment of the voices of victims, because the "redemption narrative" is seductive in promising a feel-good story. So sadly victims are often told to be quiet with their reasonable complaints, while people are pushed as having been redeemed without having put the actual work in.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:36 AM on September 24, 2021 [35 favorites]


If we can revive a conversation topic from 2017, when is it ok to punch a Nazi?

There are two kinds of people in this world I think:

People who believe it's always ok to punch a Nazi
and
People who believe it's not ok to punch Nazis

I know what kind of person I am, and I guess I'm just the asshole for being continually shocked and disappointed that there are so many people who are just perfectly happy to let Nazis go around un punched. We were having this exact same conversation here 4 years ago except instead of hateful, wilful idiots who go around performatively coughing on retail workers it was Richard Spencer. And 4 years ago the don't punch Nazis metafilter contingent was hand wringing about my goodness if we say it's ok to punch Richard Spencer isn't this a slippery slope just wait when Nazis start punching us back and it's like oh my god have you looked out a window lately, they're already doing that.

I refuse to play the morality game with people who have no morals.
posted by phunniemee at 7:56 AM on September 24, 2021 [49 favorites]


And in the end, they all just want us fighting over the scraps. Billionaires are in a space race while our country burns.

It's all gonna be Elysium if we don't change trajectory.
posted by LooseFilter at 7:59 AM on September 24, 2021


snakes don't have feet

not anymore they don't


snakes are just head, tail, and lots of neck.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:12 AM on September 24, 2021 [1 favorite]




As an immunocompromised person, I've spent a lot of the last year and a half alone in my apartment watching people scream about how I and others like me should die so they can get haircuts, how it was fine if when the world reopened we weren't included, how this is largely what's happened - because I'm so prone to catching respiratory viruses, I don't go to crowded indoor areas. I'm fully vaccinated and getting ready to get my third shot because I'm in the group that needs one, and the thing that's making me put it off is the amount of time I'm likely to have to take off work for it - the first shot knocked me out for three days, and the second for over a week.

In this context, where these people have made clear that my life has no value to them, that my death is desirable because then they can "go back to normal", a normal that my queer disabled ass is not and has never been included in, I appreciate HCA: it's a small comfort, but I appreciate having outlived the people who have so casually and gleefully called for my death.
posted by bile and syntax at 9:07 AM on September 24, 2021 [53 favorites]


Yesterday the subreddit had an AMA (Ask Me Anything) with a Funeral Director/Embalmer, which is pretty interesting. E.g.:
East-Risk4165:
do any families demand that covid is never mentioned, removed from death certificate, etc?

ItsMummyTime:
It's funny because they used to. We file the death certificates, but the doctor decides what the cause of death is. At first a lot of families would scream that we needed to take Covid off as the cause of death. We would refer them back to the doctor, who would sometimes comply.

Later it was announced that FEMA would compensate the families of Covid-19 deaths to help cover funeral expenses if they didn't have life/burial insurance. Suddenly these people were coming back and demanding we change it back so they could file for compensation. I think a lot of doctors just did it, because they were too busy to keep dealing with the screaming phone calls.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:37 AM on September 24, 2021 [27 favorites]


In Canada, these folks are out protesting outside of hospitals, making people seeking, you know, vital health care run a stressful gauntlet. I am not going to "tolerate" my way into a hostage situation.
posted by praemunire at 9:39 AM on September 24, 2021 [18 favorites]


Someone up above listed cases of violence by anti-maskers. There are so many more incidences of harassment and intimidation that don't actually rise to the level of physical violence, like the anti-masking group that targeted a wig shop that caters to cancer patients in Mesa, Arizona. Meanwhile, I'm fully vaccinated but have to be careful because I'm the primary caregiver for a stroke patient who has become agoraphobic and there are no options for getting him the vaccine yet. I'm not going to seek out the HCA sub but every time I run across that sort of story I'm going to mutter something insulting under my breath.
posted by LindsayIrene at 9:44 AM on September 24, 2021 [2 favorites]


anti-mask violence is spreading, too.

in idar-oberstein in rheinland-pfalz (western germany, west of frankfurt am main, near luxembourg) a 20-year-old clerk was murdered by an 49-year-old anti-masker just a few days ago.

but of course there are very fine people on both sides because on the other hand we have r/hca
posted by i used to be someone else at 9:56 AM on September 24, 2021 [22 favorites]


I've been sitting with this thread and trying to figure out why I find it hard to have empathy for anti-vaxers, including some people that I know and love.

Ultimately, what I think it comes down to is that they are proud of their own cowardice. They think the rest of us are suckers for getting the shot and they are heroes for resisting getting it. And it is hard to have empathy for people who are morally inverted in this way.

They are right that these shots were developed very quickly and that we simply do not have long-term data on their effects and side-effects. They are right that, during the emergency authorization period, they had not underwent the regular approval process.

I have never been comfortable with the "trust the science" slogan that a lot of people tend to like. It is, ironically, unscientific. Science is not a process of establishing trustworthiness; it is a process of verifying and discarding what cannot be verified. As a person who is relatively untrained in science, I am in the position of having to trust the process, but in my view that trust should be held tentatively at best. The Tuskeegee Experiment is younger than my grandfather. In living memory, nine out of ten doctors recommended Lucky Strikes.

Medical professionals dismiss, deny, and devalue the lived experiences of disabled people, women, people of color, and queer people every single day in America. Medicine is a profession with noble ideals and a good deal of courage and sacrifice, but it is made up of the same crooked timber as everything else. I know people who would be dead if they had listened to their doctors, when those doctors were not listening to them.

This is just to say that there is a cogent point to be made in support of vaccine hesitancy. It is a complex point and I don't find that many vax-hesitant people are making it with the consideration that it is due. But I think it is a point that is lost in the whole "TRUST SCIENCE - GET THE SHOT!" "LIVE FREE OF FEAR - SAY NO TO THE SHOT!" shouting match that this discourse seems to have devolved into.

I did not get the shot because I am convinced it is safe. The vast, vast majority of people who got the shot, myself included, do not even know how to examine the data supporting the determination that the shot is safe. And that data cannot, at this moment, show the long-term effects. Scientists can make inferences as to those long-term effects, and it is my understanding that those inferences are that it is safe, but I, like most of the people who got the shot, am not qualified to examine the data supporting those inferences in a meaningful way.

We got the shot anyway. We took the risk. Literally we took the risk into our bodies. We took on the risk that science was mistaken or lying to us, that the public health apparatus did not withstand the political and economic pressure to re-open. And while we did it, to some extent, for ourselves, we also did it for each other and for our neighbors and friends. We put a very new vaccine that did not undergo the regular testing procedure into our bodies so that we would not be a part of a chain of infection that killed a medically complex child, or a disabled person, or an elderly person.

We are the ones in the prisoner's dilemma who did NOT defect. They are the defectors. They are the cowards for who would not undertake this risk to help their neighbor. If it's a small risk, as I tend to suspect it is, then their cowardice is great. If it's a big risk, as they tend to think it is, then the heroism of those who have taken the vaccine is great. But they are so upside-down that they think they are heroes and we are cowards. They are like a recent President who could not understand why a person would be enough of a sucker to go and fight and risk death to liberate Europe from the Nazis. It's hard not to have contempt for this. It's really hard to summon empathy.

(NOTE: there are people whose medical history supports the conclusion that exposure to the vaccine would be harmful or even fatal to them. This is not about that. I emphatically do not think that those people are cowards if they do not get the vaccine.)
posted by gauche at 10:25 AM on September 24, 2021 [21 favorites]


Enough with this "we don't know for sure the long term effects." It's an anti-vaxx talking point and not necessary to even worry about.

3 Things to Know About the Long Term Effects of Covid Vaccines

CDC Link
posted by tiny frying pan at 10:32 AM on September 24, 2021 [20 favorites]


But they are so upside-down that they think they are heroes and we are cowards.

I have heard for 19 months from someone who carries no fewer than three guns with him every day for self defense that he refuses to "live in fear" and therefore will not wear a mask, will not stop going to crowded events, nor protect himself and others by getting a vaccine.
posted by phunniemee at 10:36 AM on September 24, 2021 [24 favorites]


LindsayIrene, I'm running into a similar issue with a family member, and we're talking with their doctor about a two-pill anti-anxiety med prescription: a test dose, and a second tablet to help get them out of the house for the vaccine shot.
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:39 AM on September 24, 2021 [2 favorites]


Enough with this "we don't know for sure the long term effects." It's an anti-vaxx talking point and not necessary to even worry about.

The antivax griefers are attacking from a lot of angles, but one of them is spreading the idea that the vaccine is literally a time bomb, and everyone who has taken it will be dead in (2, 4, 5, 10, choose your own adventure) years and won't we all be sorry then.

I don't think, unfortunately, it's something that can be countered with, for example, the link you shared about how quickly vaccines (and especially mRNA vaccines) are eliminated from the system. Because people who believe it (willfully or just ignorantly) misunderstand what mRNA vaccines do (e.g., the belief that they're permanently altering your genes) and the breadth of possible effects.
posted by uncleozzy at 10:43 AM on September 24, 2021 [2 favorites]


I wasn't countering the antivaxxers. I was providing rebuttal on a claim made here by someone who did get vaccinated. Please, don't repeat this nonsense. We DO know about the long term side effects of vaccines. They provide protection from covid. That's it.
posted by tiny frying pan at 10:47 AM on September 24, 2021 [5 favorites]


Oh yeah, sorry, to be clear I was just piggybacking. I understood your intent and agree. Don't give air to it.
posted by uncleozzy at 10:48 AM on September 24, 2021


The science behind this vaccine has been in development for more than 10 years now, long before Covid 19. It's irresponsible to say that it hasn't been studied. Did it happen faster than normal? Sure, but that is because we are in a global emergency so much of the red tape was removed that normally stalls these processes from moving more quickly. As noted above, the actual chemistry of the vaccine leaves your body quickly, by design.
posted by archimago at 10:52 AM on September 24, 2021 [14 favorites]


tiny frying pan, the point that I am making is that I, like the vast majority of vaccinates and non-vaccinates, am not even equipped to evaluate the safety claims in a scientifically rigorous manner. I'm not making those safety claims one way or another.
posted by gauche at 10:54 AM on September 24, 2021 [1 favorite]


And that data cannot, at this moment, show the long-term effects

It's a ridiculous thing to say, and harmful. I stand by that.
posted by tiny frying pan at 11:04 AM on September 24, 2021


And that data cannot, at this moment, show the long-term effects

The This Is Fine dog, only saying “we don't know enough about the long-term effects of fire extinguisher foam”.
posted by acb at 11:06 AM on September 24, 2021 [13 favorites]


Look, I am not in a place where I can not respond with facts to inaccurate covid claims at this point in the pandemic. That's all there is to it for me. No offense intended.
posted by tiny frying pan at 11:17 AM on September 24, 2021 [1 favorite]


We do not need 2 year data to know it is safe. That is the point. You can read up on this yourself.
posted by tiny frying pan at 11:18 AM on September 24, 2021 [1 favorite]


We have long-term data because a few weeks after vaccination data is all that is needed to know that they are safe.
posted by tiny frying pan at 11:22 AM on September 24, 2021 [2 favorites]


Faith deals in certainty, science deals in uncertainty.

If you are 100% down to the core of your being certain about something, that isn’t science talking.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:27 AM on September 24, 2021 [2 favorites]


Well I'm not Science no that's true!
posted by tiny frying pan at 11:32 AM on September 24, 2021


Dr. Fauci answered, “If you look at the history of vaccines, you know that virtually all long-term adverse effects of a vaccine occur between 15 and 30 days after you get the dose – 45 days at the most. When you get a vaccine allowed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), such as with the emergency use authorization, you have to wait 60 days from the time half the people in the trials got their last dose and observe safety before it can be used on the public. If almost all of the long-term adverse effects occur within 45 days, you’ve gone beyond that if you wait 60 days, so the chances of there being long-term effects are vanishingly small.”
source
posted by XtinaS at 11:34 AM on September 24, 2021 [23 favorites]


It is true that we don't have multi-decade data on a vaccine that was only invented a year and a half ago. However, please note that we do have multi-decade data on alcohol, tobacco, gasoline, and firearms, and yet we continue to sell all of those things to irresponsible, fragile human beings. I am content to accept the short-term findings of the FDA and CDC, and if any problems crop up thirty years down the line, I will deal with them then.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:34 AM on September 24, 2021 [9 favorites]


We know enough about how vaccines work to know that there is absolutely no reason to believe there could be a long term effect from the vaccine. Like, if Kraft changed the cheese powder recipe in their mac and cheese, we would technically not know the long term health impacts of that right away either. But to claim or imply that either thing is worth worrying about is inherently misleading.
posted by snofoam at 11:40 AM on September 24, 2021 [9 favorites]


Ok now I'm laughing that I'm purposefully causing obfuscation by sharing facts! Up is down these days, I know. If I didn't laugh I'd cry.
posted by tiny frying pan at 11:41 AM on September 24, 2021 [8 favorites]


Anyone who tells you it does, or that it doesn't matter, is purposefully obfuscating the matter at hand.

From the excerpt I posted a few minutes ago:

If almost all of the long-term adverse effects occur within 45 days, you’ve gone beyond that if you wait 60 days, so the chances of there being long-term effects are vanishingly small.

Are you, in fact, stating that Dr. Fauci is purposefully obfuscating the matter at hand?
posted by XtinaS at 11:43 AM on September 24, 2021 [3 favorites]


r/HCA is a subreddit about the short-term effects of COVID-19
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:48 AM on September 24, 2021 [21 favorites]


So you’re just asking questions?
posted by lazaruslong at 11:56 AM on September 24, 2021 [20 favorites]


No. We differ on the meaning of "long-term." I'm using the one that scientists in this field use.
posted by tiny frying pan at 11:57 AM on September 24, 2021 [1 favorite]


Americans who didn't work in healthcare were given that advice, because of executive-level fuckery w/r/t to medical supplies -- we're a nation of f-u-got-mining hoarders and professional medical workers would have gone begging sooner than they did.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:58 AM on September 24, 2021 [11 favorites]


From the CDC's "Myths and Facts about COVID-19 Vaccines":
Is the mRNA vaccine considered a vaccine?

Yes. mRNA vaccines, such as Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, work differently than other types of vaccines, but they still trigger an immune response inside your body. This type of vaccine is new, but research and development on it has been under way for decades.
There's a handy-dandy link to further information about the safety of the vaccines, but there's also their official FAQ:
Are COVID-19 vaccines safe even though the vaccines were developed rapidly?

While COVID-19 vaccines were developed rapidly, all steps were taken to make sure they are safe and effective:
  • Approach to Development – Scientists have been working for many years to develop vaccines against viruses like the one that causes COVID-19. This knowledge helped speed up the initial development of the current COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Clinical Trials – All vaccines in the United States must go through three phases of clinical trials to make sure they are safe and effective. During the development of COVID-19 vaccines, phases overlapped to speed up the process, but all phases were completed.
  • Authorization or Approval – Before vaccines are available to people, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) assesses the findings from clinical trials. FDA determined that three COVID-19 vaccines met FDA’s safety and effectiveness standards and granted those vaccines Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs)external icon. This allowed the vaccines to be quickly distributed to control the pandemic.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 12:00 PM on September 24, 2021 [4 favorites]


If anyone cares to read what I'm saying, I'm not linking long-term data and safety. I believe the vaccines are safe. I know that long-term data does not exist. We can all agree on that, surely?

Technically, there is no empirical data longer than whenever the first people were vaccinated. The part that is ignorant and problematic is the inherent implication that this is of any concern whatsoever. There is no known or theorized mechanism by which the vaccine could have a long term effect. Science is not just making up blind, ignorant conjecture. There are an infinite number of things we technically do not know. We have not surveyed the oceans enough to be sure there is not a godzilla-like monster somewhere biding its time before destroying coastal cities. We don't know if the sun will turn purple tomorrow or if somehow strawberries will suddenly taste like lemons and vice versa. Wondering about the long-term effects of the covid vaccines is comparable to these other great unknowns. It is damaging, unscientific and inherently misleading to wonder about it without also wondering aloud if you are a sasquatch who simply sees yourself as a normal person in the mirror.
posted by snofoam at 12:04 PM on September 24, 2021 [37 favorites]


Please don't call me crazy, but eating an egg could give me superpowers two years from now. We simply do not know. It is a scientific fact.
posted by snofoam at 12:21 PM on September 24, 2021 [17 favorites]


in keeping with very round metaphors thrown around in this thread, we've gone from an ouroboros to an ellipsoid firing squad
posted by i used to be someone else at 12:23 PM on September 24, 2021 [7 favorites]


It is completely crazy to me that anyone would call a simple statement of fact unscientific.

Flu vaccines change twice a year!
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 12:27 PM on September 24, 2021 [2 favorites]


Certainly you can see how this breeds the kind of distrust that you're all so angry about in this thread?

Certainly you CAN'T see how taking up all the attention by demanding that we humor you on your tiny corner of "sure maybe vaccines have never had adverse effects outside a 60 day window before but this one's brand new so maybe it might and no one's disproven that so DEBATE ME"... is perhaps a bad idea for this thread. Especially and most specifically this thread.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 12:42 PM on September 24, 2021 [15 favorites]


If I buy a tray of grocery-store sushi and put it in my fridge, and then eat it four hours later, I don't have to worry about long-term effects it might have on my fridge. It isn't there any more. Insisting "well we just don't know!" only muddies the waters in an entirely unhelpful way.
posted by rifflesby at 12:46 PM on September 24, 2021 [11 favorites]


I know that long-term data does not exist.

This is only true in the sense that you want it to be true, not in the sense that anyone working with vaccines understands it to be.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 12:59 PM on September 24, 2021 [4 favorites]


Implying that it is in any way significant that multi-year data on vaccines does not exist is a form of covid misinformation and doesn't belong here.

If that's not what you are implying, then you've made a bunch of comments literally arguing nothing and I don't think that is helpful to anyone, either.
posted by snofoam at 1:00 PM on September 24, 2021 [11 favorites]


The choice is not [vaccine with possible side effects] vs. [no vaccine and therefore no side effects].

The choice is [vaccine with possible side effects] vs. [infection by covid which has well-documented and fairly frequent side effects, including death, hospitalization, and long covid].

Whatever side effects the vaccines might have, 1) we haven't seen them yet, and 2) they're very obviously not in the same ballpark of severity as covid infection.
posted by Spathe Cadet at 1:32 PM on September 24, 2021 [10 favorites]


Perhaps people are emotional from a year and a half of watching people die, worrying that they or their loved ones might be next, and watching multiple levels of government cock up the global response. Maybe you're trying to have a 2025 conversation in 2021.
posted by Spathe Cadet at 1:44 PM on September 24, 2021 [9 favorites]


I just wish that calling for compassion above ideology was in any way acceptable here.

This idea that compassion requires endorsing and enabling and justifying other people's harmful behaviors is...quite mistaken. Compassion doesn't require a woman to stay with an abusive partner, even if he threatens to kill himself if she leaves, nor does it require her friends to explain to her that it's understandable that he acts that way. Compassion doesn't require a parent to give a child money to feed a drug addiction, even if the alternative is the child selling themselves on the street. Compassion doesn't mean standing by as drunk frat boys wreck the community fridge for fun, even if they had lousy upbringings with parents who didn't love them.
posted by praemunire at 1:46 PM on September 24, 2021 [27 favorites]


The slightest whiff of anything less than "I believe the wilfully unvaccinated deserve to die" just sends people into a frenzy.
you've committed the cardinal sin of current day metafilter: Please avoid turning the conversation into a discussion
it's pretty bleak but kinda refreshing that the current direction of the site has been made explicit. there is a slight tension with the mission statement, though: This website exists to [...] foster discussion among its members.
posted by Beware of the leopard at 2:00 PM on September 24, 2021 [5 favorites]


Twitter geniuses: No! Don't make fun of anti-vax people! They are simple rural folx with anxiety who need love!

anti vax people irl: Prayer warriors it's time to Nuke China and execute every doctor in America ,going to feed this urinal puck to my infant now

posted by Countess Elena at 2:00 PM on September 24, 2021 [20 favorites]


And yet we have to remember that compassion is a part of us. We don't need to stay awake over the fate of yellowjackets who built a nest by the back door, but it's a terrible sign if we enjoy their suffering.
posted by Countess Elena at 2:03 PM on September 24, 2021 [1 favorite]


Reading these is such a glimpse into a different world for me. What amazes me is how consistent they are; the memes, calls for "prayer warriors" and exclamations that "Covid is no joke" are all the same throughout. The oversharing of personal medical information and other people's information is kind of shocking too. Who posts details of their vital signs to Facebook and with their privacy settings all turned off or how would the Reddit folks be able to copy-and-paste them?
posted by octothorpe at 2:11 PM on September 24, 2021 [1 favorite]


Based on the discussion here, I was not prepared for the sheer weight of fatshaming, gravedancing, classist contempt for other humans displayed in the comments in r/HCA.

The reporting in the original posts is definitely valuable, but the comments are something else altogether.
posted by lumpy at 2:26 PM on September 24, 2021 [2 favorites]


This was mentioned above, in passing, but HCA also gives Redemption Awards for antivax shitposters who see the error of their ways.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:34 PM on September 24, 2021 [1 favorite]


but I'd just like to reiterate my initial point that I think it's sad and disappointing behaviour to celebrate the deaths of other people.

I'm gonna ignore all.. the other stuff, but you've fundamentally misunderstood the hermancainawards subreddit. It is *not* celebrating the deaths of the award winners. It's not about joy in their deaths, or pleasure in their families loss or a bad 'un getting their just deserts. (waves to up-thread)

It's recording adults (negative) public statements on social media about vaccines, masks, medical science and scientists, their downplaying of covid as a threat, their antangonistic attitudes towards the vaccinated and mask wearers; mostly in the form of memes. Their subsequent hospitalisation with Covid, and the course of the disease, followed by their death, and their families posting about their loss.

Those who have a death-bed conversion, or survive and switch to promoting getting vaccinated to avoid what happened to them get a Redemption award instead.

Comments can vary, but are mostly struggling to understand how they managed to survive as long as they did with such a poor grasp on reality and the many ways it can kill you if you're not paying attention. Anger at the harm they caused, and people like them to continue to cause. And many, many comments by medical personnel and related fields, explaining how the course of this pandemic has changed post-vaccine, and now that HCA winners and people like them make up the vast majority of patients - often in extremely negative terms. There's also a lot of blunt factual posts about the many and horrible ways in which the human body fails before death because of Covid. Black humour aplenty to try and deal with the horror show. People trying to work out how to get through to their own relatives so they don't become a HCA winner.

But celebration? No, that's reserved for the posts where people take themselves out of the running for a HCA by getting vaccinated instead.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 2:40 PM on September 24, 2021 [18 favorites]


What science has given us on the vaccine is that the reward to risk ratio is extremely high. This topic is otherwise purely based in culture and politics. Vaccine hesitancy itself (going back decades) is a product of our culture, not based on research or new findings.

I went through maybe the top 50 posts on the sub the other night; I had a mix of empathy for some, and was genuinely happy about some of them dying. It gave me an intense sense of dread that fits with this era: a decaying empire that can no longer extract enough tribute to paper over its internal problems, an exhausted culture, and this time, a dying planet. Modern right wing propaganda looks like the final harvest of a poisoned, salted, burned out wheat field. For people locked into it, there is no path back out, only a terminal escalation of anger and violence.
posted by MillMan at 2:44 PM on September 24, 2021 [6 favorites]


But celebration?

Oh come now, perhaps everyone is simply using the uncommon but no less valid definition of celebrate: to hold up for public notice. Like that time in middle school when my mom told me I looked like a slut, and then only later when pressed explained that she had been using the 15th century definition of slut to describe my appearance as slovenly.

Choosing extremely specific definitions of words to cast someone in a bad light is definitely something that reasonable folks do in good spirit all the time.
posted by phunniemee at 2:49 PM on September 24, 2021 [8 favorites]


I just wish that calling for compassion above ideology was in any way acceptable here.

It's weird that you're frustrated with the people on this site. Perhaps the people on this site are suffering, and deserve your compassion? I don't understand how you can think everyone here so terrible for not being more empathetic. The people who frequent this site are some of the most empathetic, compassionate, caring people I've ever come across on the internet. Contrast this with the people who are the subjects of HCA: these people want a lot of us, maybe ALL of us, dead.

I'll say it again: you sitting in judgement of everyone here rings extremely hollow, when I consider the actions and behaviors of the people for whom you feel so much compassion.
posted by nushustu at 2:51 PM on September 24, 2021 [29 favorites]


https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/vigilante-treatments-anti-vaccine-groups-push-people-leave-icus-rcna2233

Repeating this from Glegrinof the Pig-Man.

Vaccine/COVID denialists are staying out of hospitals, which at least might take some of the weight off over-worked staff. However, some of them are demonstrating outside hospitals or attacking staff, both of which are horrible.

Speaking just for myself, I've been pretty much staying out of talking about how horrible anti-vaxxers are. I keep thinking that I'd be unlikely to take advice from people who hate me. This isn't compassion, I think, just pragmatism.

I grant that I don't have adequate tools for this situation.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 4:10 PM on September 24, 2021 [1 favorite]


Ephelump J, you don't know me and I don't know you. I've read this whole entire thread over a couple of days. And I recognize you from some of your past questions. I do hope it's not goodbye. We are all ... *gestures out the window* this whole time in the world is ... well, we're all kind of miserable and hurt and resentful and mean right now. But your presence here overall is valuable. I respect you for saying your piece. And I respect the peace you said. I'm not weighing in on my own feelings about ... all of it! ... because I don't think I can tl;dr them and because I tend to agree with kind of everybody in this thread. All of it, somehow.
posted by Occula at 4:10 PM on September 24, 2021 [1 favorite]



Maybe, just maybe, we aspire to the hard thing,


public self-stroking isn't an especially hard thing to do. the pleasurable shivers it may or may not give to its devotees and practitioners are no guide to follow. how good you feel about yourself is not a good guide to how well you're behaving, just generally. as I'm sure you would agree, if it were other people who were the subject of such roundabout censure. as indeed you already have agreed, when it was.
posted by queenofbithynia at 4:22 PM on September 24, 2021 [16 favorites]


And yet, at the merest suggestion that perhaps we ought to rethink the existence of this sub, that perhaps it enables blood thirst, I get attacked, directly no less, for it.

No. You walked into this thread playing the moral scold, arguing that the problem is that people who have been worn down and abused by people who would happily see them die (as has been pointed out with the numerous articles posted about how people have been attacked and killed over this) aren't showing sufficient compassion to their abusers. Unsurprisingly, a lot of people took umbrage to being scolded about the idea that the reason their abusers are abusing them is because they show insufficient compassion to them.

It is an act of cruelty to tell a victim that they are obligated to show compassion for their abuser, in my opinion. Beyond that, what message does it send to those victims when we prioritize their abusers over them out of a misguided notion that if we were somehow nicer to them, they would stop abusing us?
posted by NoxAeternum at 4:41 PM on September 24, 2021 [39 favorites]


For my own part, I found out this morning that my wife's second test was COVID-positive, which means that the second test that I received today will likely also be positive. Her cow orker who brought it into the office has already apologized for that; I have gently advised my wife to hold her tongue for now and keep herself from responding yet.

We are both two-dose vaccinated, because, well, duh. I am hoping that our getting COVID will serve as a constructive example for my in-laws, who are vaccinated but have slacked off majorly in their protective habits, and to my niece on that side, who remains unvaccinated for reasons best known only to herself. We will be taking this day-by-day, presuming that our vaccinations will spare us the worst of it, playing it smart and safe.

But I am burning inside over how unnecessary this is. How much suffering, how many deaths, how many hospitalizations, how much pain has been caused and multiplied by people who think Facebook memes and Alex Jones are sources of truth but the CDC and doctors and the media are filthy liars, who dismiss COVID as a plandemic or a hoax or a scheme to rob TFG of his rightful second term or the work of SOROS and INTERNATIONAL COMMUNISM. How many people not only believe utter bullshit but happily believe only utter bullshit.

People only believe things are real when those things personally affect them, or people to whom they are close. The world is painted pink and has a Somebody Else's Problem field projected over it most of the time. And if this subreddit makes one single person see their own denials reflected in it, makes one person see a walking, talking CHUD reduced to a slab of inert meat solely because they refused to take COVID seriously, and makes them rethink their "Jesus and Trump will protect me" stance in the slightest?

Good.
posted by delfin at 4:58 PM on September 24, 2021 [39 favorites]


Best of luck delfin.

Couldn't agree more
posted by Windopaene at 5:01 PM on September 24, 2021 [1 favorite]


And yet, at the merest suggestion that perhaps we ought to rethink the existence of this sub, that perhaps it enables blood thirst, I get attacked, directly no less, for it.

I had a longer response to this but... no. Just no. You don't get say shit like this after the turds you've been laying throughout this thread.
posted by dazed_one at 5:17 PM on September 24, 2021 [12 favorites]


Ephelump, during the times in our lives where the tide of public opinion is seemingly united in thinking we’re an asshole, we’re almost always going to grow more as a person by considering that the braying masses might just be correct in this specific moment than by trying to reason them into changing their minds.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 5:46 PM on September 24, 2021 [3 favorites]


My main takeaway from this page is that small-town America's version of Christianity is a fucking death cult.

How many people not only believe utter bullshit but happily believe only utter bullshit.

Like I said.
posted by tzikeh at 7:55 PM on September 24, 2021 [9 favorites]


small-town America's version of Christianity is a fucking death cult

I honestly could not number the artists who have been screaming this very point into the wind, apparently baffled by most of the world's apparent indifference to the growing danger of it, for as long as I've been aware of art.

There are a lot of them.

The HCA subreddit, to my way of thinking, is curation as art and firmly in this tradition.
posted by flabdablet at 9:02 PM on September 24, 2021 [16 favorites]


This week /r/HermanCaneAward is starting to see people declaring that they’ve gotten their first or second shop to remove themselves from consideration. It seems like a lot of these red state folks actually have been convinced because they can see themselves in the people who died. They see the lies they tell themselves and decide they want a different outcome.
posted by interogative mood at 9:26 PM on September 24, 2021 [15 favorites]


Mod note: Just checking this thread out after a couple of days off, and whew. I've deleted all your (remaining) comments, Cpt. The Mango, and given you a temp ban. You don't have a history of trolling on Mefi, and maybe you didn't intend to here, or maybe you didn't intend to at first, then decided eh what the fuck, i might as well troll. Or maybe you really did intend to from the start. It doesn't matter, because it all adds up the same shitty way, and reading over your comments and seeing you whiplashing from one oppositional position to another, however silly, I can't even imagine what else was in your mind. For everyone else, please reclaim this thread for Good by having a thoughtful, non-ridiculous conversation and *discussion* (I'm sure loup meant to type something else ... maybe "debate," or "disaster," or "debacle," I don't know and it doesn't matter, they were spending an awful lot of time trying to clean up crap in here and I thank them for that, and understand how a typo could easily happen in that moment). Sorry that the thread is now not going to make a whole lot of sense in some places with the many Cpt. The Mango deletions, but it wasn't really making a whole lot of sense anyway. Take a breath everyone, and be as smart about discussing this as I know you can be.
posted by taz (staff) at 1:05 AM on September 25, 2021 [29 favorites]


while, yeah, parts of the sub are exactly as advertised & real icky to look at, the one-sentence description knocking around the media is not representative of the whole picture

as someone who's been insulated from the medical realities of COVID that health care workers see every day, this is the only place I've seen them fully laid out in a layperson-friendly format

these horribly morbidly compelling little stories like trainwreck Pringles where someone goes from living their life as a full human being -- newly married! just had a baby! taking selfies with their rescue dog! -- to the "aw crap I am getting sick" moment we're all familiar with, to hospitalized & scared as hell, to no longer able to post for themselves

which is when the family takes over & describes the minutiae of the biological statistics their world has been reduced to: what are their oxygen levels, are they producing urine, do they need to be manually flipped over, can they survive without a tube, is there electrical activity in their brain

one of these stories by itself is a punch in the gut & there are probably hundreds by now, along with first-hand testimonials from ICU nurses & funeral directors; I'm not surprised people are posting that the sub has inspired them to get vaccinated themselves &/or convince their family members to get vaccinated

also, this is a whole topic by itself that I kinda already wrote a novel about in another thread, but there's a ton of anger & complicated emotions from a big group of people who feel like they have been behaving pro-socially during the pandemic & other people have been willfully sabotaging their efforts

it's not just that the other members of your group slacked off and left you to do the group project by yourself, it's that they actively took turns shitting in your baking soda volcano & now you have to retake the entire class

anyway I wish the media was as eager to consider this group & our emotions as they were to consider the "economic anxiety" of every Trump voter who ever undertipped the server in a diner in Ohio
posted by taquito sunrise at 7:22 PM on September 25, 2021 [34 favorites]


Idaho morgues are running out of space for bodies as covid-19 deaths mount

Statewide, hospitalizations have shot upward since early summer, leading officials to authorize rationing of medical care for the first time in Idaho’s history. Intensive care unit admissions are at their highest level, exceeding the worst of the winter wave, data from the health department shows.

Unvaccinated patients account for the vast majority of the state’s latest deaths, which have risen sharply since the beginning of September, according to tracking by The Washington Post. Idaho’s rolling average for daily deaths peaked at 23 this month — a high number for the sparsely populated state, where just 41 hospitals have emergency rooms, according to the Idaho Hospital Association. The state is logging 68 new daily cases per 100,000 residents, the sixth-most in the country, The Post’s analysis shows.


Idaho patients are coming into neighboring states and overrunning our medical systems. Not only does Idaho just not care how much damage their people are doing to us and everyone else, they revel in it. I wish we had leaders with the courage to say No to them.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 1:26 AM on September 26, 2021 [5 favorites]


I believe most people are motivated by the idea that they're doing the right thing--even the people in r/HermanCainAward--and each person's definition of "right" comes from a complex interaction of culture and environment and genetics and experience and chance.

I believe genuine sociopathic cruelty, perpetrated for no other reason than for the joy of causing others to suffer, is rare.

I believe that good people can do breathtakingly awful things when they think those things are right.

Because of all that, I believe the vast majority of people, even the people in r/HermanCainAward, are still deserving of kindness and empathy.

But after a year and a half of being a nurse in a hospital during a pandemic... Well. Someone else is going to have to give it to them.
posted by jesourie at 1:09 PM on September 26, 2021 [28 favorites]


Innuendo Studios has a good video

Those are really great, NoxAeternum - thanks.
posted by Rash at 5:11 PM on September 26, 2021


Is there an opposite subreddit, by any chance? Something like r/VaxxedAndHappy?

I am taking nothing for granted yet regarding our household's health; I am still waiting on my own second-test results. But so far, I am encouraged by what I'm seeing from my positive-but-Moderna-ed wife; no fever, no congested cough, a few days of sinus issues that have faded, her sense of smell is improving, and she is looking and sounding better by the day with nothing stronger than Mucinex-D and Advil.

Which is not terribly unusual for breakthrough cases, from what I have read. But if we are charting the negative cases on /HCA, I wonder if there is a similar haven for the positive ones. "I got COVID, but I was vaccinated beforehand, and I'm doing all right."

Not that those would convince the horsepaste heroes, naturally. But they ought to go somewhere.
posted by delfin at 6:28 PM on September 26, 2021


I was trying to describe the overall feeling of browsing /r/HermanCainAwards to a friend yesterday, and out of nowhere I said "It's basically Spoon River Anthology, but all shitheads."

Which... that works for me.
posted by Shepherd at 4:41 AM on September 27, 2021 [13 favorites]


For anyone uncomfortable with the anecdotal, individual focus of the subreddit and this discussion, David Leonhardt's NY Times newsletter today has the latest big picture news, data, and charts about the conservative world's vaccine refusal and its implications: "Red Covid."
posted by PhineasGage at 5:15 AM on September 27, 2021 [4 favorites]


From that NY Times story PhineasGage linked to:
Some left-leaning communities — like many suburbs of New York, San Francisco and Washington, as well as much of New England — have such high vaccination rates that even the unvaccinated are partly protected by the low number of cases. Conservative communities, on the other hand, have been walloped by the highly contagious Delta variant. (You can find data for hundreds of counties here.)

Since Delta began circulating widely in the U.S., Covid has exacted a horrific death toll on red America: In counties where Donald Trump received at least 70 percent of the vote, the virus has killed about 47 out of every 100,000 people since the end of June, according to Charles Gaba, a health care analyst. In counties where Trump won less than 32 percent of the vote, the number is about 10 out of 100,000.

And the gap will probably keep growing
posted by octothorpe at 5:35 AM on September 27, 2021 [11 favorites]




It's sad and terrifying to see a protest like that, 60 years after the Greensboro Woolworth's lunch counter sit-in.
posted by PhineasGage at 8:28 AM on September 27, 2021


These are obviously people who deserve our sympathy, empathy and support.

come and see the economic anxiety of the rural white poor inherent in the system
help, help, they're being repressed
posted by phunniemee at 9:57 AM on September 27, 2021 [19 favorites]


Doctor who has lost more than 100 patients to COVID says some deny virus from their death beds: ‘I don’t believe you’

Trunsky’s post detailing his interactions with eight COVID patients and their relatives highlights the resistance and mistreatment some health care workers across the U.S. face while caring for patients who have put off or declined getting vaccinated. Trunsky estimates that nine out of every 10 COVID patients he treats are unvaccinated.

His post — a plea for people to get vaccinated — also reveals the physical and emotional toll the pandemic has had on health care workers, who have been on the front lines for over a year and a half. Roughly 3 out of 10 have considered leaving the profession, according to a Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll, and about 6 in 10 say stress from the pandemic has harmed their mental health.

Some doctors are refusing to treat unvaccinated patients. Last month, an Alabama physician posed beside a sign announcing he would not treat any unvaccinated patients as of Oct. 1. Earlier this month, a Florida doctor sent a letter to her patients informing them that she would not be treating any unvaccinated patients in person after Sept. 15.

posted by They sucked his brains out! at 3:36 PM on September 27, 2021 [1 favorite]


And the sub has declared today, no profile pictures, all posts must be fully redacted, etc. So, that's the end of that. Anti-vaxx wins again!
posted by Windopaene at 5:34 PM on September 27, 2021 [4 favorites]


Not the sub itself -- it appears to have been imposed on them by Reddit admins. Who of course have failed to be concerned about antivax disinformation everywhere, et al.
posted by tavella at 6:09 PM on September 27, 2021 [5 favorites]


It was often trivially easy to find the recently-deceased people featured in HCA posts, and I did find a couple of them on Facebook and see really awful comments on their pages implying (or flat out saying) that they were responsible for their own deaths. The mods definitely needed to do something to prevent brigading, and I suspect the alternative was to shut the whole thing down.

I don't think I'm a particularly virtuous person, and I'm as angry as the next red-state liberal dealing with rampant COVID denial, but I truly hope I never become the kind of person who will gloat on the Facebook page of someone who has just died terribly.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:22 PM on September 27, 2021 [4 favorites]






Me: As I have demonstrated in the Metafilter thread, I am appropriately conflicted and tormented about the Republican susceptibility to COVID, and I would never mock an individual person who is suffering for their refusal to get the vaccine.

Also me: what's that you say, Ben fucking Garrison
posted by Countess Elena at 8:07 AM on September 28, 2021 [6 favorites]


Glegrinof: that thread is fucking infuriating. That poor man.

The other night, I had a brief panic that I would need to go to the ER, and the dread of going there in COVID times, not being seen or getting what I needed or maybe getting sick if I did -- well, thank God I didn't have to go. But any day, any ordinary accident could do for any one of us in the hard-hit states because of these people, and indeed it does, every day.
posted by Countess Elena at 8:19 AM on September 28, 2021 [4 favorites]


When I got Covid in 2020 and spent weeks in the hospital, it was harrowing. But it was nothing compared to what my family is dealing with now—also as a result of Covid.

This is a Covid horror story in which no one actually gets Covid, and it could still happen to anyone


I am not a medical ethicist, but from the outside it is making me increasingly uncomfortable with how we are effectively prioritizing care for (almost exclusively unvaccinated) covid patients, while reducing the care available for everyone else (like someone having a cardiac event, or someone like the author's father). Long term, I hope there is a look at how those needs should be balanced and apportioned. But I also recognize that it's easy to say this as someone who isn't having to make those terrible decisions about who gets care and who doesn't; I really feel for the doctors and nurses (and all the other supporting medical staff) who are having to do so day after day with no let up and very little support.

We had a death in my family this year, and while the nurses especially were phenomenal, that most of the hospital's resources were being devoted to covid definitely meant a reduced level of care from what it should have been. I have a lot of anger towards the anti-vaxers and anti-precautions people who have pushed us into this situation. It didn't need to be this terrible.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:23 AM on September 28, 2021 [11 favorites]


I am not a medical ethicist, but from the outside it is making me increasingly uncomfortable with how we are effectively prioritizing care for (almost exclusively unvaccinated) covid patients, while reducing the care available for everyone else (like someone having a cardiac event, or someone like the author's father).

I don't really understand the details of how triage works, but this bothers me as well. I can see where someone having trouble breathing because of COVID would be prioritized over someone with a broken leg, but in that horrifying thread, we have someone else who seems to be in danger of imminent death from pnemonia - just not from COVID - and that person's needs aren't met because of unvaccinated COVID patients. I realize that the medical teams making these decisions are overwhelmed and exhausted, so I am absolutely not blaming them. But I am really having trouble understanding how these COVID patients who didn't get vaccinated seem to have priority over everyone else.

I don't agree with the idea that everyone not getting vaccinated is a selfish asshole who wants us all to die. Someone I love dearly is genuinely afraid of getting the vaccine, and I fear for her (she is not posting anti-vaxx memes and observes all other precautions). But I don't understand why unvaccinated COVID patients seem to automatically be at the front of the line for medical care. The author of this New York Times essay, "When Medical Ethics Collide with Basic Fairness," says "I know it’s the right thing for hospitals to do. But no matter how ethical it might be, it will never feel fair." But why is it the right thing to do?
posted by FencingGal at 8:38 AM on September 28, 2021 [5 favorites]


how we are effectively prioritizing care for (almost exclusively unvaccinated) covid patients, while reducing the care available for everyone else (like someone having a cardiac event, or someone like the author's father).

"There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect" is, tragically, a very extensible bit of core definition. 'The law' isn't just jurisprudence, but all the systems around it, including healthcare management both of finite resources--and the deeper systemic structures that feed into the exact nature of the bounds of not why but the how of those resources being finite in the first place.
posted by Drastic at 8:40 AM on September 28, 2021 [4 favorites]


Threadreader link for that Twitter true-life horror story Glegrinof the Pig-Man posted. JFC.
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:14 AM on September 28, 2021


Just guessing: they already had Covid patients on all of the equipment and once they're on, are they going to tell the loved ones, "We're removing this lifesaving equipment to give to another patient and let your dad die, even though he got there first on the equipment?"
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:42 AM on September 28, 2021 [3 favorites]


I truly don't think it's a good idea to ration medical care based on whether people could have prevented their illness. I understand the impulse, but it's ultimately a terrible precedent that would hurt people who were socially vulnerable in ways that most people featured on the HCA subreddit don't seem to be.

Having said that, Summer Brennan's twitter thread scares the shit out of me. It's horrible for her family, and it's terrifying for anyone who lives in a COVID hot-spot or has friends or family-members who do.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 12:02 PM on September 28, 2021 [2 favorites]


I truly don't think it's a good idea to ration medical care based on whether people could have prevented their illness.

I absolutely agree with this, but care is being rationed now, and what I don't understand is COVID patients being given precedence over everyone else, including people like the man in the thread, who was clearly in a life-threatening situation.
posted by FencingGal at 12:08 PM on September 28, 2021 [3 favorites]


No disrespect meant, but whether or not someone personally thinks rationing is a good or bad idea, it is already happening now precisely because of unvaccinated Covid patients overwhelming healthcare systems. People who got vaccinated and do not have Covid also cannot get the care they need, as a result.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 12:08 PM on September 28, 2021 [12 favorites]


I truly don't think it's a good idea to ration medical care based on whether people could have prevented their illness. I understand the impulse, but it's ultimately a terrible precedent that would hurt people who were socially vulnerable in ways that most people featured on the HCA subreddit don't seem to be.

I get it but also "we can't make rules because bad people will make rules" is pretty much a functionally libertarian mindset that evinces a really cynical attitude that is not warranted when it comes to much of the medical community. We should take advantage of having a professionalized, relatively uncorrupt medical system by regulating care rationing carefully and thoughtfully, with an eye towards the ethics involved, rather than assuming that it can't be done and letting the system collapse.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 1:06 PM on September 28, 2021 [5 favorites]


Like I'm fat and know people who have worries about getting organ transplants due to anodyne drug use (another care rationing system that is already in place). I get the worry. But also people are dying now; the nearest ICU to me (in a wealthy liberal area) is fucking full, presumably in part with patients from the surrounding states. It's a complete disaster.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 1:11 PM on September 28, 2021


Just guessing: they already had Covid patients on all of the equipment

No. They were so busy monitoring those emergencies, when the journalist's fully-vaccinated father, a non-Covid patient, developed pneumonia, it went undiagnosed. After he collapsed on the floor of his hospital room, he wasn't discovered for six hours. "When they found him he was blue and had an oxygen level of 50. He did not have Covid. He was taken to the ER and put on a ventilator, but they had to put him in *a storage room* because there physically not enough space due to all the unvaccinated Covid cases." His levels improved. He came off the vent a day later and seemed to be doing well, only:

"It was later explained to me that this hospital decided to *re-intubate my father* due to a lack of hospital resources. They couldn't manage. He could not see a cardiologist or a pulmonologist, they were all busy. They could not run the needed tests. So they kept him on the vent. In normal circumstances, they simply would have transferred my dad to a larger hospital. There were several close by. It would have been routine. But due to Covid, it was impossible—so impossible, they thought, that they didn't even tell me he needed to be transferred."

Then the story gets WORSE. This man was initially in the hospital because of a fall at home; he'd hurt his leg, but was in good health otherwise. He's now been intubated 3x, and needed a tracheostomy to prepare for "for long-term weaning from the ventilator." The fall in his home was in August, and he's still in the hospital, now in the ICU. "The doctors and nurses say that a full recovery and getting off the trache is possible, but will be hard. They also say that none of this would have happened if it were not for the fact that so many people remain unvaccinated against Covid. Even in NM, with a decent vaccination rate, the system is overrun." I have trouble believing the full-recovery part, but that second part seems spot-on.
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:11 PM on September 28, 2021 [4 favorites]


We are way past the deciding IF we are going to ration care. When places activate their crisis plans. Initiate universal DNR orders, etc that’s beyond simple rationing. Rationing care was when they had to stop elective surgeries.
posted by interogative mood at 4:07 PM on September 28, 2021 [4 favorites]


On triage. Scroll down for specific systems now in practice.
posted by anshuman at 7:12 PM on September 28, 2021 [2 favorites]


Biden got his third dose yesterday, and urged others to get vaccinated.

But convincing the unvaccinated, and targeting their reasons for hesitation or refusal, is not an easy task. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told Yahoo Finance the agency is hard at work to identify the issues."We can't characterize all people who haven't gotten the vaccine as the same. [...] Survey studies have shown that people have different reasons for not yet getting vaccinated. And we have to address those people one at a time for the reasons that they have," Walensky said. - Unvaccinated Americans are not all the same: CDC Director, Yahoo Finance, Sept. 28, 2021

More than 70 million eligible Americans remain unvaccinated (ABC), and they need to be addressed one at a time.
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:09 PM on September 28, 2021 [1 favorite]


I keep thinking how differently this would have gone down with strong competent leadership at the jump. If Trump had gone out there with a strong message of "wear a mask for your country and you can buy a special MAGA mask at xyz.com" - he could have stemmed the initial waves, looked like a wartime president, made a ton of $$ and probably cruised to re-election.

(Of course he didnt' because of the stock market, looking weak and his team's assertion that it would hurt Dem strongholds more)
posted by drewbage1847 at 10:17 PM on September 28, 2021 [3 favorites]


I wonder about that, too, but I also wonder if so many hardcore Trumpists were so far gone at that point that it wouldn't have made much of a difference.
posted by mollweide at 4:06 AM on September 29, 2021 [1 favorite]


On triage. Scroll down for specific systems now in practice.

Thanks, but I don't really see how this explains the situation with COVID, aside from the idea of imminent danger of death. The impression I get is that patients with COVID are being treated differently than patients without COVID - I don't think a COVID patient would have been lying on the floor for six hours because no one was checking on that person. And the triage rules in the Wikipedia article seem to be dealing with disasters like explosions and accidents - not infectious diseases.

When COVID first started, my oncologist came up with a possible alternative plan for my treatment in case they had to close the chemotherapy clinics - that seems obvious - people going there aren't in danger of imminent death. But what happens with people sick enough to be in the ICU who are not COVID patients? If the ICUs are full of patients dying with COVID, then when they do die, do other COVID patients automatically get the beds?

My impressions might be completely wrong, and if someone in the medical field wants to tell me that, I'd be happy to hear it.
posted by FencingGal at 6:13 AM on September 29, 2021


But what happens with people sick enough to be in the ICU who are not COVID patients? If the ICUs are full of patients dying with COVID, then when they do die, do other COVID patients automatically get the beds?

I think part of the answer, sometimes, is that rooms are set aside for covid patients because

A) There can be more than one patient in a room. Ideally, especially if they're not intubated, you obviously don't want a non-covid patient in a room with a covid patient. So if a patient dies in a room with another covid patient, that bed would go to a covid patient just to avoid exposing the non-covid-infected person to the virus. If everyone in the room is intubated, it matters less, but hten you have to think "what are we doing to do if/when this person comes off intubation" or if they die (and there are a million covid patients awaiting an ICU bed) we won't be able to put an untintubated covid patient in here.

B) There are also negative pressure isolation rooms in any ICU. Not nearly enough for all the covid patients now obviously, but the room exist. Should one of them become vacant, it does seem to make sense to give it to an unintubated covid patient.

Source: I am not a health care professional of any sort, but I have recently had the opportunity to get a quasi-inside-view into how ICUs operate in times of covid.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:16 AM on September 29, 2021 [1 favorite]


I keep thinking how differently this would have gone down with strong competent leadership at the jump. If Trump had gone out there with a strong message of "wear a mask for your country and you can buy a special MAGA mask at xyz.com" - he could have stemmed the initial waves, looked like a wartime president, made a ton of $$ and probably cruised to re-election.

I keep thinking about what would be going down if Repubs had won re-election. Because I was shocked as hell that vaccines actually were real. I didn’t believe that they were being developed. I thought “operation warp speed” was just more boondoggle word salad. And I had no faith that any science hadn’t been meddled with in a previously unfathomable way just the way everything that happened over the previous four years had also been unfathomable. So grateful to be wrong on that last part.
posted by amanda at 11:51 AM on September 29, 2021


I thought “operation warp speed” was just more boondoggle word salad

It was. Only two of the 6 companies that took funds under have gotten through FDA emergency authorization -- Johnson and Johnson and Moderna. Pfizer never took any Warp Speed funding. J&J, Moderna and AstraZeneca repurposed work they'd already done and had vaccine candidates in their labs as early as January/February 2020 and only used the money to boost their manufacturing capabilities. We paid for them to scale up manufacturing and we pay by the dose they produce -- boondoggle.

AstraZeneca has been approved for use outside the US. 3 other companies who got close to $3.5 billion dollars have yet to deliver and may never deliver a vaccine. Merck (who only took $38 million) has already terminated their efforts. GlaxoSmithKline has gone back to rework their vaccine because it didn't provide sufficient immune response; they expect to have an update on their efforts by the end of this year. Novovax has just sought WHO Emergency Approval, and may not go for FDA authorization until later this year, if ever.
posted by interogative mood at 12:50 PM on September 29, 2021 [4 favorites]


Care rationing plans have been present since before the ICUs got overwhelmed the first time. Disability advocates across the country have been pushing back on the plans, because so many of them stated that people with severe disabilities would be first to not get care even if they are otherwise young and healthy - because abled people think that having an intellectual or developmental disability means that a person can't possibly have a good quality of life.
posted by bile and syntax at 1:17 PM on September 29, 2021 [7 favorites]


I truly don't think it's a good idea to ration medical care based on whether people could have prevented their illness.
I absolutely agree with this, but care is being rationed now, and what I don't understand is COVID patients being given precedence over everyone else, including people like the man in the thread, who was clearly in a life-threatening situation.


I can't speak to US hospitals, but I did get an unfortunately close look at what it's like for non-covid patients in England when my wife ended up in hospital a few weeks back (she's doing much better now). At least in the UK, adult vaccination has been (mostly) successful, so while case numbers are surging, hospital admissions and deaths aren't going up at anything like the same rate like previous surges.

The basic problem is that Covid is incredibly infectious. Flu has a R0 of about 2; i.e. each person with it will infect two others, on average. Delta hasn't been around long enough, plus vaccines, to nail it down precisely, but it's somewhere around 8, signficantly higher than the original strain; it's not quite as high as chickenpox (R0 of 9-12), but it's not far behind. It's also significantly more lethal than most common infectious diseases (e.g. 10 to 15 times more so than flu). Having additional health complications also raises your risk of a bad outcome.

So unless you want to risk infecting and killing people admitted to hospital for other reasons, they basically have to become two hospitals. One for Covid patients, and one for everything else. We have reliable testing to separate patients, but once done so you can't then share rooms, equipment or staff between the two groups at the same time; and staff in covid areas need a lot more time-consuming infection control measures. When covid cases are low, this is just about manageable. If it's a specific surge in a small area, you can distribute cases to other hospitals, deploy emergency measures (cancel elective patients, delay non-urgent care, staff work more overtime etc etc). When it's a lot of cases everywhere, there just aren't enough trained staff or other resources to serve everyone at the level they need; and staff are human, and get exhausted, stretched too thin, and make mistakes; and add on the moral and emotional injury of how they are being treated by people who don't even believe they have covid, and knowing that so, so many of the deaths they're dealing with were preventable.

Covid has a well-practised care pathway now. Once quickly diagnosed via testing, there are treatments that can ease progression; if they don't work, it's oxygen; if that doesn't work, then it's intubation. For the unvaccinated, that does not have a high success rate, and there are last-ditch efforts like ECMO. And covid doesn't kill you quick - once you're admitted, it can take literally weeks for you to eventually die as your body slowly collapses and ever more invasive measure are taken to try and keep you alive.

For everything else, the challenge is diagnosis; there are so many illnesses with similar symptoms, and we lack definitive tests for many. Often, it's basically finding what fits with the known history, symptoms, bloodwork etc, and starting with treating the most likely cause, and seeing what happens.

If you're thought to have something that is less risky to life, then you're going to be lower priority for treatment. You're not competing directly with covid patients; they're off in a different ward with different staff with a well-trod treatment plan already laid out. You're competing for the staff time, space and resources the hospital has left for non-covid patients. With a relatively minor injury presentaton (such as a fall injury), instead of being monitored by a full roster of staff on a proper ward, you're in a closet being checked once every few hours by someone who has a far higher than normal case load, and is utterly demoralised and exhausted after 18 months of crisis with no rest. When something unexpected happens, the specialist doctors that could diagnose the cause aren't available because they're dealing with all the covid patients., so treatment that might have helped if given quickly may not be decided on until hours or even days later.

So they get sicker and need even more care, or even die when they didn't need to. Because most hospitals are basically having to try and treat far more patients than they have resources for. And that applies to covid patients too; in the UK, in our last pre-vaccine surge, covid ICU beds went from the normal minimum of one ICU nurse per patient (more usually 2), to each nurse having two or three patients each. I can't imagine the same sort of decisions haven't been forced on overwhelmed US hospitals.

But the solutions aren't pretty. You could just close the hospital to more patients; send them to the next county, or even state that has some spare capacity, until they too run out. That's already happening. You can leave patients in ambulances for many hours, until someone dies and frees up a bed. Already happening. You substantially degrade everyone's care, including covid patients, in order to try and squeeze more patients in with your limited staff and space. Already happening.
Or you start turning away patients in desperate need away?

Do you send them home at the door to the hospital? "Sorry, no more covid patients this week. I realise you can't breathe, and you might be saved with treatment, but eh, you deserved it".
Or at intubation? "Sorry, most patients that reach this point don't make it even with further treatment. Here's some dewormer tablets and you can go home and die there".

The scary thing is - if hospital admissions keep growing, that sort of decision is not far away now in parts of the US, or worse - is already happening quietly.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 2:55 PM on September 29, 2021 [13 favorites]


One answer last year was, "you discharge them too early." In 2020, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan required nursing homes to admit COVID-19 patients to their vulnerable populations, often without adequate testing [DOJ link; other states had this policy, too.] From March 25 to May 11, New York Hospitals Sent 6,300 Recovering COVID Patients to Nursing Homes (NBC, 2020 headlines). In early 2021, an investigation found More than 9,000 recovering coronavirus patients in New York state were released from hospitals into nursing homes early in the pandemic (The Associated Press, Feb. 2021)
posted by Iris Gambol at 5:34 PM on September 29, 2021 [1 favorite]


because abled people think that having an intellectual or developmental disability means that a person can't possibly have a good quality of life

There was a Twitter thread about disabled people buying engagement rings, so that if they need medical help, those attending to them would judge them to be valued by someone and not dispensable.
posted by acb at 7:34 AM on September 30, 2021 [5 favorites]


I noticed a new article from NBC News on this subreddit.
posted by tiny frying pan at 1:52 PM on October 3, 2021


Holy shit that article is hot garbage. Jesus.
posted by lazaruslong at 2:14 PM on October 3, 2021 [4 favorites]


Yes, it's very "shame on you" in tone.
posted by tiny frying pan at 2:24 PM on October 3, 2021 [2 favorites]


Lotsa projection for a psychotherapist ngl
posted by CPAnarchist at 2:53 PM on October 3, 2021 [4 favorites]


it is good and cool that, in that article, anti-vaxxers are characterized as misinformed and frightened, and therefore need to be shown respect, while the posters to the subreddit are characterized as scared and powerless, and therefore need to show respect to the anti-vaxxers
posted by logicpunk at 8:38 PM on October 3, 2021 [14 favorites]


I am completely at a loss to understand how presumably thoughtful people can look at the howl of rage and despair and horror that the HCA subreddit so manifestly is and see only "revelling in schadenfreude". That's pretty sick.
posted by flabdablet at 11:06 PM on October 3, 2021 [5 favorites]


A few more:

What is Reddit’s Herman Cain Award?

On Reddit, users are mocking unvaccinated people who've died of COVID-19. An ethicist says it's 'cruel' but 'not surprising.'

It's not that weird to feel schadenfreude when COVID-deniers get COVID, psychologists say

I'm not trying to make any kind of point, only interested in how media decides to cover this. Particularly the insistence that this subreddit can only be about sadistic pleasure at other's misfortune.
posted by tiny frying pan at 6:06 AM on October 4, 2021 [1 favorite]


The ethicist quoted in the second link above:
Director of the Center for Clinical Medical Ethics at Columbia, Lydia Dugdale, said that while it's "not surprising that people would delight on the misfortune of others," the practice goes against medical ethics.
Link
I'm not sure why "medical ethics" apply to people who aren't doctors or healthcare workers. We didn't swear an oath or join the profession, so it's not clear why the opinion of a medical ethicist is even relevant to the subreddit, to the extent that the posters there aren't doctors etc.
posted by wuwei at 6:53 AM on October 4, 2021 [8 favorites]


I'm not trying to make any kind of point, only interested in how media decides to cover this. Particularly the insistence that this subreddit can only be about sadistic pleasure at other's misfortune.

Our cultural ethics are heavily influenced by things like the redemption narrative, which results in the idea that people should quietly take abuse out of a "greater good" narrative in order to enable the potential personal development of their abusers (regardless of whether said development is occurring.)

Not surprisingly, a lot of people are seeing this as a shit deal these days. If your ethics is more focused on how victims respond to their abusers and less on how abusers can stop being abusive, then you have shit ethics and need to rethink your ethical priors.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:29 AM on October 4, 2021 [6 favorites]


Our cultural ethics are heavily influenced by things like the redemption narrative, which results in the idea that people should quietly take abuse out of a "greater good" narrative in order to enable the potential personal development of their abusers (regardless of whether said development is occurring.)
But apparently not the people who end up as subjects of the HermanCaineAward?
It seems to me like such cultural ethics are limited to liberals and liberal adjacent spaces, because certainly the people abusing the hell out of nurses and doctors because they can't get their ivermectin and think vaccines cause communism aren't aren't quietly taking what they view as abuse.

On the other hand, there is a majority in the US that has gotten vaccinated, is wearing masks, is trying to mitigate the pandemic, and we're all a bit sick of anti-vax, ivermectin chugging psychos trying to impose their will on the rest of us and filing up emergency rooms.

Really, the more I think about the outsized reaction to the HermanCaineAward subreddit from liberal media gatekeepers, the more I see their reaction as a function of keeping radical change from the left at bay, by managing popular anger. What I mean is that the type of person that makes it through the filter of liberal establishment media (Slate, NYT, WaPo, BBC) is the type who consistently looks at the powerful fucking people over and says "well they're bad, but basically the system is good and here's 1000 words to explain why this really bad thing can be fixed by people being nicer to each other/voting Blue/Congress doing shit." That's what liberals do, that's their job, it's to channel anger into acceptable channels where it won't fundamentally challenge the capitalist order. Oh you are protesting global warming and are angry that capitlalist pigs are making the earth uninhabitable for humans? Well the answer is to vote for these Democrats who will then tell you that you will have to wait 10 years for Medicare 4 All and hey this Green New Deal, it's just not going to happen. Oh you're angry that the right wing is running rampant through the military and police force, tried to overthrow the government, and is engaged in a campaign of low intensity terrorism aimed at health care and public health workers? Well keep voting Blue, for the folks that couldn't even coordinate mask production, and are engaged yet again in villain rotation over the debt ceiling and federal budget as we yet again risk an economy melting default and yet again are fucking around with infrastructure even though the water is rising and the guy in the White House ran on "build back better," while coddling these horse dewormer chugging jerks. Musn't get angry at the anti-vaxx jerks who threaten our survival, because who knows where that anger might go!
posted by wuwei at 7:50 AM on October 4, 2021 [2 favorites]


FWIW, I definitely think that the HermanCainAward Twitter feed was doing it better than the HCA subreddit, although the latter seems to get a lot more updates / "award" posts. For some reason the Twitter feed hasn't had any real updates since 19 September.

the more I think about the outsized reaction to the HermanCaineAward subreddit from liberal media gatekeepers, the more I see their reaction as a function of keeping radical change from the left at bay, by managing popular anger.

I think that's part of it, but I also think some of the anti-HCA stuff is driven by well-meaning socially liberal people who just fundamentally don't get that the Trumpy anti-vax crowd cannot be won over through polite discourse and empathy. They're basically a black hole for empathy; a tarpit to entrap and suffocate the better angels of our nature.

But it's a tarpit that some people just can't seem to help themselves from jumping into, because they have been conditioned to, and deeply believe, that with enough empathy and kind words you can win anyone over, and that everyone deserves "nice". At least that's how it seems from the outside; I am trying not to strawman uncharitably, since that's never something I've believed. (I believe that quite a lot of people deserve a swift kick in the proverbial nuts.)

This doesn't bother me—to each their own—except when such people decide to get judgey about everyone else not sharing their methods. Then it gets really tiring, really fast.

If you want to try and empathize with anti-vaxxers en masse, great. I cannot, and am not really interested in trying. I can perhaps empathize with anti-vax individuals on a 1:1 basis (and in fact I am required to do so professionally at times)... but as a group? With apologies to Mencken, these are people who know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:28 AM on October 4, 2021 [10 favorites]


This doesn't bother me—to each their own—except when such people decide to get judgey about everyone else not sharing their methods. Then it gets really tiring, really fast.

This is what annoys me. I don't criticize anyone for attempting to sway people with empathy and gentle words, that may work on some people. But I really doubt it is going to work on the sort of people who get HCA awards, since to be posted there you have to have been shitposting anti-vaxx and covid denial. Maybe watching other people get the shit mocked out of them will work on some of them. And either way, it's an entirely moral option.
posted by tavella at 11:52 AM on October 4, 2021 [5 favorites]


I think that's part of it, but I also think some of the anti-HCA stuff is driven by well-meaning socially liberal people who just fundamentally don't get that the Trumpy anti-vax crowd cannot be won over through polite discourse and empathy.

I stopped seeing this sort as well meaning a long time ago, for the reason laid out by MLK in his "negative peace" quote - they seek the absence of tension, and not the presence of justice. Polite discourse and empathy are well and good, but sometimes justice demands more.
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:25 PM on October 4, 2021 [9 favorites]


because they have been conditioned to, and deeply believe, that with enough empathy and kind words you can win anyone over, and that everyone deserves "nice".

I mean, there's been no shortage of comments in the various MF threads and op-eds and Medium essays and think pieces in various media and etc etc etc about how various and sundry psychologists & psychiatrists and studies and personal experiences have all provided evidence that being openly hostile & mocking people's beliefs just causes them to dig in harder, and how the only route to changing people's minds is to gently and kindly and calmly engage with them on a highly personal empathetic level.

And I'm like, that's great and all, but it doesn't scale. Tucker Carlson can spend 20 minutes blathering about Great Replacement openly racist bullshit and get millions of people cranked up about it. You can't push back against that solely by having all the liberals in America have thrice-weekly hour-long personal gentle conversations with their Great-Aunt Edna, asking, "And how does that make you feel? What do you think Jesus really meant by "love thy neighbor"? Don't you remember how nice that gardener from Guatemala was?"

We're gonna be literally on fire underwater before that personal approach moves the fucking needle.

Not like I have any answers myself, but the phrase is "carrot and stick", not "carrot or stick."
posted by soundguy99 at 3:59 PM on October 4, 2021 [14 favorites]


But it's a tarpit that some people just can't seem to help themselves from jumping into, because they have been conditioned to, and deeply believe, that with enough empathy and kind words you can win anyone over, and that everyone deserves "nice".
Right, this tracks with my comment regarding liberal media gatekeepers. That is, the liberal media gatekeeper help create and maintain a system of power that conditions the people of whom you write, into folks who believe that "with enough empthy and kind words you can win anyone over." Ideological maintenance is a key function of prestige media, and for those in large sections of humanities based professions like law, politics, civil service, and journalism, following the trends set by prestige liberal media is very important in keeping their jobs.
posted by wuwei at 5:04 PM on October 4, 2021 [3 favorites]


I stopped seeing this sort as well meaning a long time ago, for the reason laid out by MLK in his "negative peace" quote - they seek the absence of tension, and not the presence of justice. Polite discourse and empathy are well and good, but sometimes justice demands more.

There is no way MLK would have approved of HCA.

This is a dismal thread. People don't need to be particularly empathetic to rabid anti vaxers, just, human dignity should be inviolable and mocking people's deaths on Reddit is an affront to that for me in a big way. And it's difficult to take this community seriously when that's not the mainstream, consensus position.
posted by alphanerd at 11:35 PM on October 4, 2021


There is no way MLK would have approved of HCA.

Perhaps, but given that he famously said "a riot is the language of the unheard", I'd think he'd at least understand why it exists.

People don't need to be particularly empathetic to rabid anti vaxers, just, human dignity should be inviolable and mocking people's deaths on Reddit is an affront to that for me in a big way.

So, are you also seeing how antivaxers are treating healthcare professionals as an affront to human dignity, as they are basically grinding them into the dirt through their willful disinformation. Or is that just being treated as how they operate? I'm a little tired of expectations of proper behavior only being held to one side while the other is allowed to abuse people at will. And that is the heart of the issue - antivvaxxers are, through their behavior and unwillingness to take others into account, abusing those around them. As I said before, it's an act of cruelty to demand that the abused show empathy to their abusers out of some misguided notion of ethics.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:38 AM on October 5, 2021 [10 favorites]


Sometimes I think the "nice and empathetic" language on the left is counterproductive when trying to reach certain members of the other side. Sure, it's how we want to be approached personally. But just look at these people talk among themselves. Go to a conservative subreddit or FB group or Telegram channel and just observe. It's often quite harsh and direct. They not only talk that way among themselves, but they also respect comedians, politicians, and pundits who take a similar approach. "They tell it like it is! Fuck your feelings!" For many of them, it's all about power & status. Who's the cuck and who's the chad.

Maybe a sustained harsh & mocking approach will yield dividends that the slow patient reasoning will not. HCA is an interesting experiment in that direction. It's essentially speaking to them in their own language. Telling them over and over again that they're absolute betas.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 1:43 AM on October 5, 2021 [5 favorites]


There is no way MLK would have approved of HCA.

how do you know this?
posted by i used to be someone else at 5:16 AM on October 5, 2021 [8 favorites]


There is no way MLK would have approved of HCA.

...I find it interesting how some of our most notable leaders from the past are so often reduced into dumbed-down tropes, which people use to cover their own perspectives in an effort to give them credibility.

For instance - over on Twitter I noticed one person saying something about the vaccine mandates, and that person happened to have a picture of Teddy Roosevelt as his avatar. Another person responded to criticize him for his views while using that avatar - "because Teddy would have been busting up the monopolies, not worrying about this stuff."

....And I then pointed out in response that when he was just a Senator, Teddy Roosevelt advocated withdrawing from the Spanish-American War solely because there was a yellow fever outbreak, and he valued the health of the troops. Moreover, Teddy Roosevelt pushed through two major health regulations during his presidency. So, arguably, Teddy cared so much about public health, he would have probably gone even further than Biden did and instituted a NATIONAL vaccine mandate.

Neither of these gentlemen I spoke with on Twitter bothered to track down Teddy Roosevelt's opinions on things before claiming him as an ad hoc supporter. And therefore both looked a bit silly as a result.

I trust my point is made in terms of speculating what MLK would have thought of this subreddit.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:41 AM on October 5, 2021 [7 favorites]


And, of course, they murdered MLK.
posted by amanda at 7:31 AM on October 5, 2021


MLK, angrily denouncing the horrors of American health care all the way back in 1966:
“We are concerned about the constant use of federal funds to support this most notorious expression of segregation. Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and the most inhuman because it often results in physical death.

“I see no alternative to direct action and creative nonviolence to raise the conscience of the nation.”
King was largely talking about segregation here, but as with his anger at "white moderates" in Letters from Birmingham Jail, it's a good example of how the whitewashed version of MLK that gets taught to most people is a piss-poor representation of a man who, above all, wanted people to get angry enough to fight injustice throughout their lives.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 7:34 AM on October 5, 2021 [3 favorites]


Neither of these gentlemen I spoke with on Twitter bothered to track down Teddy Roosevelt's opinions on things before claiming him as an ad hoc supporter. And therefore both looked a bit silly as a result.

Do they, though? They do to us, to people who are thoughtful enough to accept historical arguments that may be contrary to appearances. But does that matter?

There's the election maxim: "if you're explaining, you're losing." GOP politicians and their self-appointed henchmen put over nonsense all the time, either because they are too ignorant to know better, because they are liars, or because, like Trump, they don't care about the truth. They care about a truth-shaped thing that feels good to hold. Does what's-his-fuck out in Q world look a damn thing like JFK Jr.?
posted by Countess Elena at 7:36 AM on October 5, 2021 [1 favorite]


with enough empathy and kind words you can win anyone over.

Love to see the sub-reddit listing those won-over former members of the Trumpy anti-vax crowd.
posted by Rash at 11:54 AM on October 5, 2021 [1 favorite]


Love to see the sub-reddit listing those won-over former members of the Trumpy anti-vax crowd.

Same subreddit: the Redemption Award.

Seems that love & empathy don't work as well as actually getting COVID. Sadly, it's often given posthumously.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:32 PM on October 5, 2021 [3 favorites]


Washington Post: What do all these stories of vaccine denial deaths do to our sense of empathy? Features the family of someone who was featured on SorryAntivaxxer and how they are upset about it--but the daughter still won't get vaccinated. Also features Herman Cain's daughter being told about the award website and claiming not to know about it, but it doesn't affect her family. And people citing the HCA site as specifically why they got vaccinated--at least 64 people.

“it needs to feel like the sufferer has done something harmful and that they deserve it,” Valdesolo says. “People who are vaccinated interpret the vaccine as something you do not only for yourself but to protect others, and not taking it actively harms other people. And when you’ve got an out-group member who is harming other people, perhaps people in your own group, now you’re prone to think, ‘Okay, this person deserves it.’ ”
And finally, “the third is the ability to have behaved otherwise or perceived the agency here. And it seems like the person who hasn’t taken the vaccine could have easily done so. They had the ability to choose otherwise. And any time we think someone’s got that, then we feel like they’re more responsible for their bad choice.”

posted by jenfullmoon at 5:49 PM on October 7, 2021 [2 favorites]


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