The Lost Plot. Open Thread, 10/31

Can't make this up

I saw this sign today, in Manhattan, New York City, and I have been thinking about it all day.

It seems to encapsulate all the issues, in a nutshell. It simultaneously says “stand together”, and incorporates the language against discrimination into the polarization around vaccination.

I assume it is meant to object to vaccine mandates (it was a small eatery with a single table indoors and two outside) for indoor dining in New York which, in my experience, is haphazardly enforced, especially since the country has no tracking of vaccinations anyway. Some places let you wave a photo, some do not bother, some try to read the name on the photo and ask for an ID and see if it matches.

I think the role, scope and place for such mandates especially for adults is a reasonable discussion—if one could have a reasonable discussion. I have written lengthy pieces about the unvaccinated, trying to avoid approaching the problem from a one-dimensional caricaturing of what is essentially a heterogeneous group, but an effort trying to understand the dynamics that contribute to the current situation, including everything that’s broken, from our politics to our healthcare. (This topic was also discussed in a previous open thread). I can see different rules based on the risk involved to others—nursing homes, clearly, need different standards than ordinary workplaces, for example.

But once things get eaten up by the polarization machine, and as the epistemic fractures deepen and things get divvied up according to the us-against-them dynamics, reasonable seems become difficult to impossible. How to step away from that, or how to move forward in spite of that, to me, remains the biggest issue facing the world—ironic since, even with a pandemic, we are far, far from how terrible things could be in a material way. Our medicine is as advanced as it gets, and the world is wealthy.

It’s our dysfunctions, the social dynamics, the sociology of it all. Who knew, that this would be what a twenty-first century pandemic would turn on—almost more so than the virus itself. But here we are.