So the Super Bowl happened last night. Tom Brady (who I thought had retired years ago; it turns out I was mistaking him for Peyton Manning) and the team he throws for apparently dominated the other team. Good for them.
Of course, the chattering classes can’t allow people to have a good time In The Middle Of A Pandemic (pbui). So today’s Twitterverse is chock full of reports of “maskless” celebrations and predictions of a spike in covid cases two weeks hence.
Forbes came out with the rusty trusty ol’ “maskless football fans” thing. The Daily Mail did the same thing, evidently not learning the lesson from the last time they made dire predictions about maskless football fans.
USA Today tells us that officials are “concerned” about the “maskless” revelry and connect it to variant infections, of which Florida has had an outsized number compared to other states.
It’s interesting, though, comparing Florida with other states. Florida has been completely reopened with no restrictions on movement, gatherings, or attire since September when Governor DeSantis held a virtual roundtable with several scientists. By all accounts, they should be digging mass graves by now, especially considering the age of the state’s population. Instead, Florida is right there in the middle of the statistical pack measuring both per capita infections and deaths attributed to covid-19.
Still. Maybe this time the chattering class ghouls will get the epidemic correlation they wished for and didn’t get the last time the great unwashed gathered without donning the blessed vestment. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe this epidemic is completely unlike every other respiratory viral epidemic, and it’s not following a predictable seasonal trend.
In either case, I really don’t think it matters to the Manufacturers of Culture. If they get their hoped-for outcome and there is a spike in cases in Florida, they can post hoc ergo propter hoc this into the narrative. But if the trend holds and there is no spike, no sweat off their backs. The “maskless football fans” meme doesn’t actually have anything to do with a virus.
The purpose of meme warfare isn’t about science or social order or even life and death. Whether the low-level journalists and tweeters know it or not, the purpose of the war they’ve chosen to join is to make the mask the uniform of #TeamScience against the bare face of #TeamIdiot. It’s just shirts versus skins, really.
“Follow the rules,” says #TeamScience. “Do you want this pandemic to last forever?” asks #TeamScience, having forgotten everything they learned about viruses and immunity in freshman biology.
The Manufacturers of Culture aren’t interested in who lives and who dies or whether their followers understand the very basics of actual science. They only care that #TeamScience and #TeamIdiot are worked up into a frothy irrational outrage about one side’s demands and the other side’s refusal to Follow The Rules™ and Just Wear The Damn Mask™.
Whether or not people are wearing masks really isn’t news. Actual spikes in cases, hospitalizations, deaths? Sure. That’s news. It might even be newsworthy to report a correlative “superspreader” event that could plausibly have led to a spike. But what people are wearing just because they’re not wearing the right uniform? Totally irrelevant. The constant reporting of “maskless” faces serves to spread the #TeamScience vs. #TeamIdiot meme and nothing more.
Politicizing everything and splitting the culture into vying teams (all the while calling for “Unity! Unity!” of course) serves the purposes of the Manufacturers of Culture, not the society they rule.