It’s not cool to want someone to die

We are now 7 months into a global pandemic. And a certain political leader has come down with the infection. There’s been a lot of sentiment online of joy/excitement/anticipation over this:

screenshot of twitter searching for "is he dead yet" and displaying the excitement people have of this sentiment. Someone claims to be excited like a kid in a candy store.

And I understand the sense of, “Karmic Justice” in what has been a really stressful year. I personally felt a little excited about the news. But I want to say: It’s not cool to wish or desire the death of someone. No matter how narcissistic or horrible you think someone is:

No. One. Deserves. Death. Threats.

Even twitter has taken action to prevent this.

I have this other blog post on free speech if you’d like to read more on how social media companies are implementing their own censorship rules.

Spanish Flu – Analogy

The 1918 Spanish flu, despite its name is said to have started in Kansas as a version of the swine flu. It went to Europe before it evolved and became even deadlier. It’s only called the Spanish flu because Spain was fairly neutral during world war I and was one of the few countries openly reporting about the pandemic. None of the warring countries wanted to let the other know they were struggling with a killer pandemic.

The Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, the deadliest in history, infected an estimated 500 million people worldwide—about one-third of the planet’s population—and killed an estimated 20 million to 50 million victims, including some 675,000 Americans.

Some states responded differently and introduced fines for not wearing a face mask. Philadelphia had one of the worst outbreaks, by March 1919, over 15,000 citizens of Philadelphia had lost their lives.

Citizens in San Francisco were fined $5—a significant sum at the time—if they were caught in public without masks and charged with disturbing the peace.

The President came down with the Flu

The president of the United States, Woodrow Wilson was in the process of negotiating a peace deal between the prime minister of France, Georges Clémenceau and the League of Nations (kinda like a pre UN) which they wanted to send to the Enemy; Germany. Wilson wanted to give Germany a break, Clémenceau wanted tough measures. Wilson wouldn’t budge for months until he came down with the flu in April of 1919, afterwards he caved and those implications may have put in motion the creation of the Nazi party which resented having to pay the high World War I levies and wanted to return Germany to their former glory.

Listen to this podcast by RadioLab if you want more of this history.

The President downplayed the flu

Sound familiar? Wilson never publicly acknowledged the flu. In the US (and most of the world) there was never a clear response from leadership with how to deal with the Spanish flu and millions of people died because of it. Just like in the US today there was never a clear message from leadership in how to respond to today’s pandemic and this has contributed significantly to the huge amount of deaths in the US (despite being one of the wealthiest countries with some of the best health care in the world and was potentially the best prepared for a pandemic):

I have some hope

It’s utterly awful that anyone has gotten infected from this pandemic and it’s even worse when people have died. I hope people don’t suffer in vein because of this. When leaders come down with this I hope it highlights how serious this pandemic actually is. No one is invincible. I hope the many mask averse wearing characters out there take heed and see this as the serious threat it is.

Stay safe, wash your hands, wear a mask, practice social distancing and I hope we can all get through this alive.

Here’s an Australian History version of the Spanish Flu:

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