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Feb 2, 2022Liked by Meghan Boilard

To me it's important that these deaths and how these people acted be recorded for posterity. The segregationist political parties during the civil rights movement didn't die until it became embarrassing to be a neo-nazi, and it took the ugliness being nationally televised for that to happen. COVID is no different and these people who are shown on hermancainawards and other forums, should be shown in all of their miserable glory. It's not just about justice for the innocent people dying from covid (e.g. immunocompromised, people who died in the first wave, etc.) or due to to antivaxxers taking up medical resources (e.g. people who can't get needed surgeries, or people dying in ERs waiting for hospital beds for other non-covid stuff), it's about making sure that the record is set straight and that the people who participated in this atrocity are held to account in the historical record. The only way we move past this is for this to be universal learning moment, where the sheer idiocy and violence inflicted on our healthcare system is so obvious that it can't be denied, and that the culprits living and dead, can't hide from what they did.

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Dommo – I agree with you 100% that we have a responsibility to record the ugliness for all of the reasons that you mentioned, as exhausting as that is for the people that care about making lasting changes the most. As time goes on, I think the folly of people that think they’re capable taking on a force of nature like COVID will only become clearer. Presenting stories like Elizabeths as comprehensibly as possible is extremely valuable – not only on the surface level of knowing that she didn’t get the vaccine and likely died because of it, but because it spells out the disturbing details concerning the toll the virus actually takes on the body as well as provides some insight concerning how she may have been left susceptible to conspiracy in the first place. A big inspiration in putting this together was Milton Mayer’s 1955 book They Thought They were Free, and while I’m admittedly very prone to defaulting to frustration when reading many anti-vax accounts, I wanted to take on the spirit of that work and try to understand how and why both memorial platforms and the victims that now inhabit them got to this particular point.

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Feb 1, 2022Liked by Meghan Boilard

One part of the pull is the feeling there are myriad lessons to be found lurking just below the surface. As readers take it in and reflect, it's hard not to wonder if somehow we ourselves are making such egregious errors in some of our own thinking and choices. Part of being human is overcoming our own dysfunctional instincts and biases.

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There is a large part of the story you have left out, and that is the overwhelming hostility of anti-vaxxers towards every one else. In my locality, they stormed health board meetings, refusing to wear masks, accusing decent people of crazy conspiracy theories, threatening people, so that the health board meetings had to go to zoom for the members' safety. Ditto school board meetings, as the anti-maskers don't care much about the welfare of other peoples' kids. Look at the things the anti-vax people were posting. Know that many of us are dealing with this kind of vitriol regularly from hostile family members. Many of our families have been fractured by anti-vax family members who refuse to respect others' space and make wild accusations. This is a lot closer to home for many of us than the Exxon Valdez; it's in our homes. There are also the more recent calls for violence against hospital staff, as the antivax crowd accused hospitals of killing those covid victims who don't make it. We've lost scores of doctors and nurses due to the stress these people have caused. Personally, I drect my anger towards those who are spreading the misinformation. They know what they are doing and the fact that they are ruining peoples' lives just doesn't matter to them. I feel compassion as well as frustration towards the victims, I know and love people like them and it infuriates me that they are being manipulated for political points and likes. I think it's probably best to look at the stories without reading the comments. A lot of people are blowing off steam that has been building up for the past 5 years, and, frankly, it's understandable.

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Hey SoWeary – I want to clarify that I absolutely don’t condone the hostile behavior you’ve cited re: anti-vaxxers vs the rest of the world, and it’s undeniably a part of what fuels people’s anger. Disinformation has deeply damaged the relationships within my own family over the last decade, and your points about vitriol lurking within our own homes resonates. The Exxon Valdez has stuck with me not necessarily because I feel the scenario itself is a perfect parallel to COVID – rather, the constant flow of coverage that eventually breaks consumers down to total numbness is what’s sticking out as a similarity. That’s not to say that all efforts to report anti-vax ugliness (on both small and large scales) should be abandoned, or that you or anyone else should try to quell their frustration. As exhausting as it is, it’s important information to record. That said, I also think that it’s also worthwhile to dissect the less obvious reasons why people (myself included) might have such strong, visceral reactions to the misfortunes of strangers (barring those that are clearly intimidating and threatening the immediate safety of their communities).

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