Log — I just don’t know about this freedom shit

It looks basically like we’re getting a grip on the Itaewon outbreak. Cases seem to be decreasing. The thing has been traced pretty well, through clubs, karaoke bars, into a prison, academies, and a smattering of other places. The detection is a bit scary when it happens but it’s preferable to the option. Knowing is a good thing. Death tells the tale.

And, so far, we’ve managed to keep the deaths down.

Such a morbid way of putting it – like, we’ve kept death down but that also means we’ve kept life up. People have been able to live a bit longer, spend time making memories, loving each other, and petting their dogs. Listening to music, dancing, and singing a little while longer. We’ve delayed death but that means we’ve created more life. That’s worth a lot of sacrifice.

I happened to see some thread where a person laid out some of the measures taken in South Korea. It was an okay round-up. The amusing thing was the replies. All these Americans acting like we were living in some sort of prison camp over here and that these measures were only accepted because of some sort of mythical Asian docility towards authority — some weird perversion of the whole racist ‘they just don’t value life like we do’ trope. Just don’t care about freedom like we do, you see. Never-mind that tomorrow is the anniversary of the May 18th Democratic Uprising, when a lot of regular people died fighting to be free in South Korea, instead let me refer you to a Chuck Norris movie.

It’s absurd. Responsibility is annoying, yes, but it’s not a prison camp. And as for Americans being shocked at things like temperature checks, well, I was pretty shocked the first time I had to jump a fence just to play a game of catch with a friend because locking up parks and giving up on the idea of any public space is apparently a better way to deal with homelessness and preserve freedom than taxing billionaires and building affordable housing. I was pretty shocked the first time I had to buy a can of coke through bullet proof glass. I was pretty shocked the first time had to show ID (my passport) and pass through a metal detector in order to get into a bar. I was pretty shocked to see the grocery store I worked at evolve into a prison with armed guards, metal guard rails, a variety of items locked up, and crates stacked against fire escapes to prevent shop-lifting, while the video we had to watch about what to do in the event of a mass-shooter instructed us to escape through those blocked off exits — or to fight the shooter, at which point me and a dude from the deli just broke out laughing. And I was pretty shocked the first time I had to lay on my bedroom floor because gunfire had broken out and I was pretty shocked that time I woke up to find police prowling through my backyard with guns out after they’d threatened my wife at my front door with a hand on a pistol and a dog. But I was not so shocked, when quite a while later, I heard on the news that this same police department, while pulling this same sort of occupational force shit, had shot and killed an unarmed black man who was just getting some air in his backyard, and nothing happened to any of them. That shit stopped being shocking. I’d gone numb with rage.

But introduce a thermometer and a sense of collective responsibility and, well, all of a sudden we get to hear a lecture about “freedom.” Fucking freedom. Anyone who ever quotes an American on freedom should have to live in the fucking place.

We also get to hear shit like — this sort of mass action on matters of health is unprecedented cannot be taken without destroying liberty. People say things like ‘but _____ kills this many people and nothing has ever been done so why this now? Hmmmm?” I want to be kind. I want to be understanding. But, honestly? That sort of thinking is just pig ignorant horseshit.

Actions on health –measures to prevent the spread of disease– are taken all the time. Was I ever allowed to spit in your food or to shrug off hand-washing? To store your meat, undated and unwatched, on the hot floor out back? To view sanitizing the cutting room as an option? When a product was recalled behind an outbreak at a plant, was I just allowed to leave that meat on the shelves? Or did I have to stay late? At the best of times, didn’t I have to lug a lot of fucking boxes of meat around, date them, organize them, rotate and dispose of them in a timely fashion, in order to protect the health of the public? Was my liberty to ignore the risks –even when ignoring them would have made my life a hell of a lot easier– more important than your freedom to not have to worry about your food fucking you up? Was this some act of oppression? Or was it just a basic fucking duty to the people around me?

So you get a peek behind the curtain.

Health based measures are often taken, they’re always taken, and, frankly, more of them should be taken because many of them are not near enough and never were. These measures are always someone’s unpleasant duty. You think I enjoyed a face full of vaporized meat and some steaming chemical that ate through the leather of my boots to protect your health? You think I was paid enough to give a shit or staffed well enough to do everything I should have? It’s a farce how these duties, the responsibilities for them, and the consequences of them are distributed. It’s sad that the virus has made some of these duties your duties and has made you aware of some consequences. I’m crying for your freedom. Like, just fucking crying. Or would be but I’ve seen it before.

Like the time our refrigerators broke, and I had to curtain them to try to get things back to the right temperature in the right amount of time or to throw out walls of meat. The customers lost their goddamn minds. I tried to explain — tell me what you want and I’ll pull it from the back for you — just please do not break through the curtains for the next few minutes while we try to stabilize the temperature. Not an easy task and a lot of extra work and I had to recruit a co-worker to guard the curtained meat walls just to keep people from tearing through the fucking curtains in some blind panic but we managed to pull it off. But a lot of people do not like to see health measures. They do not like these things to get in the way of their good time. It shatters some illusion. It’s like they snap out of some browsing, channel surfing mode and realize that they exist in the world. Shock. And they freak the fuck out.

Mark my words, these motherfuckers screaming about their freedom now, will be the first motherfuckers demanding that a worker who sniffles gets fired to protect their health.

Problem with that freedom shit is, number one, it kind of takes for granted the existence of some perfectly liberated human being that can just do whatever they want without consequence or could, if only they weren’t so restricted by the authorities, reality, and just plain fucking respect for their fellow human beings. That liberated personality shit is just pure fantasy and what’s worse, it’s the fantasy of b-movie Marquis De Sade. But the other thing about this freedom shit is you can peg that freedom flag to anything. It makes every single issue an issue of ‘freedom.’ You want to keep a bear in your house? Well, instead of just being patently idiotic, just attach that freedom flag to the bear. Now it’s a furry mascot for your fantasy. The bear is dangerous to you and to your neighbors? Well, that just makes you even more free for having one. What a brave and free thinker you are! Freedom is usually just an complete abdication of decency and sense. The dumber it is, the more free it is.

Freedom can make everything into an issue of could instead of should.

And I’m not totally against freedom. I’m just skeptical about it. Most the time, far as I can see, freedom means someone else pays, and the person freed by that payment never has to see the cost. The billionaires get to be individuals. The rest of us? Undifferentiated and invisible labor. Attentive but unobtrusive. Like most things, freedom is a bit of a balancing act. Should we obtrude, we become visible, and the whole contraption collapses.

The great sin is making this labor that freedom depends on visible — making visible the worldwide blood subsidy granted to American billionaires by everyone on the planet. And this is what this reopening thing is about. Some people don’t want this shit to be seen. Some don’t even want to see it, let alone be asked to participate in it. (They have people for that – people to die on behalf of their haircuts.) Better to stick their heads in the sand.

There’s reasons. A big one is that free-market ideology takes as a basic fact that freedom can solve everything and anything. (Q: How many libertarians does it take to screw in a light-bulb? A: None, the free market will do it.) When a problem happens that the free market and freedom cannot solve, the solution is to pretend that the problem doesn’t exist –call it a hoax– or act like the solution is an unfathomable and unprecedented threat to freedom.

You do not, however, see this same concern for freedom with military dictators, propped up by corporations, set up shoe-making factories with slave labor. You don’t hear these people talk about prison labor or mass incarceration. But introduce a thermometer and some hand-washing? Ask them to wear a mask? Tell them they can’t go out tonight? Inform them that we need a sense of collective responsibility and an apparatus to make that sense into real actionable shit? All of a sudden we get to hear about freedom.

Like, I just don’t know.

So much of this shit has the potential to be abused. That much is true. It’s going to be some hard shit and it’s going to be hard to do it right and even then, parts of it will be done wrong. But the option is not and cannot be letting other people die for your fucking freedom.

So, like I don’t know. I’m just going to scrub the floor

and later today, I’m going to head out and try to donate some blood. Seems that we’re running a little low as we try to clear the surgeries.

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