Covidiots, and their cure

Author’s Note: I wrote this on June 27, 2021, as Canada’s drive to get second doses of Covid-19 vaccines distributed was picking up steam. And first doses continued to roll out, but not quite as fast as hoped. While we have had uptake from much higher percentages than in most countries, there still remains a substantial group of folk reluctant to get vaccinated, for a whole raft of very odd reasons. 

by John Scott Cowan, Principal Emeritus, The RMC of Canada

Ideas make the world go ‘round,
But some ideas are not sound.
In days of yore it was hard work
To spread falsehoods to every jerk
Who can’t tell shit from carrot cake
And cannot tell when something’s fake.

It’s gotten simpler recently,
As access to the web is free,
So anyone can trumpet views
That they disguise as real news.

Fact-checking is a fading art,
Because, to check, before you start,
You need to know a bit about
The subject of the “fact” in doubt.

And getting facts from social media
Is vastly worse than Wikipedia;
Even that needs constant checking
To counter vandals’ tries at wrecking.

Thus, it comes as no surprise
That lots of folk are not that wise.
One cause is fads in education
That have paralyzed the nation.

Higher ed has moved its goal
Towards a mass job-training role;
“How to think” takes a back seat
To “How to get to easy street”.

Pushing training over thought
Is a decision very fraught
With consequences for good choices,
Drowned out by chaotic voices.

Nor have the twelve years from grade one
Fared better, with the things they’ve done;
Schools today have put their focus
On a very different locus –
The pace of learning counts for less;
The main concern’s avoiding stress.

Learning stuff has been subsumed,
And teachers’ thoughts are now consumed
By fears of recognizing merit,
Figuring that folks won’t wear it,
If their dummy kid can’t get
A prize as big as any, yet
He still can’t spell or count or think;
We’ll let him pass – just give a wink,
Because to slow him might cause harm
To self-esteem, that glorious charm
That dominates preoccupations
Of touchy-feely delegations.

They don’t care what kids don’t know
As long as they can feel the glow
Of fulsome praise for feeble tries –
Who cares if they can’t analyze?

Then into this maelstrom of fluff
A challenge comes that’s rather tough:
A nasty virus that can spread
From droplets coming from the head
Of anyone, who having caught
The virus, then still breathes a lot.

But, unlike plagues of bygone days,
We’ve had good luck in many ways,
With science marching to our aid
In record time, because we’ve made
Such great advances recently
In cellular biology.

The miracle of the vaccines
To push aside those awful scenes
Of hospitals in parking lots,
And mobile morgues in many spots,
Has certainly persuaded most
To get the shots, and they do boast
That they have done just what they must
To crush the plague into the dust.

But there are others who adhere
To nutty views or awful fear
Of plots bizarre, of tracking chips,
Or rumours, myths and backroom tips
That vaccines make your hair fall out,
Or make you thin, or make you stout.
Among them there are quite a few
Who hold onto the wacky view
That the pandemic is a hoax
Designed to scare us, by some folks
Who want control of all our wealth,
And plan to get it, using stealth.

It is a shame that these damned fools
Now flaunt those customary rules
That used to guide us when in doubt
On things we don’t know much about.

That older system worked much better:
Run your questions through a vetter
Who has real expertise,
And will not lie, or try to please
Some fat dyslexic idiot
Who would be king, but knows he’s not.

The real experts test their view,
Subjecting it to peer review,
‘Cause science is a funny beast –
It doesn’t matter in the least
How loud you shout a false conclusion;
In the end, you’ll still be losin’,
Because others check on you
With fancy tools that let them view
The real data, not polemic,
On how to halt the epidemic.

Anti-vaxxers need to know
That actors shouldn’t steal the show;
No special insight can they claim
By having entertainment fame.
They know about a camera angle,
Or a big, outrageous bangle,
But don’t take medical advice
From vapid folk who won’t think twice
About the costs the fans may bear,
Because the actors do not care.
They’ll ham up any sort of lie,
So they stay in the public eye.

There are some nervous nellies, too,
Who want to wait till me and you
Have had our vaccines for a year
And haven’t grown an extra ear.

They think their risk of a vaccine
Outweighs the benefits we’ve seen;
Innumerate as they may be,
We need to help them learn to see
That risk from vaccination pales
When Covid and its long-term tails
Are tallied up for their true cost
Of years of happy living lost.

Plus, doubters need to realize
The place where real duty lies;
Protect yourself and others too –
Your duty isn’t just to you.

Of course, there are a few who see
An issue about liberty
In their refusal to pitch in,
Because they’re certain it’s a sin
To try to pressure all of us
To get the shot and make no fuss.

They’re half-right, in one simple way,
As courts already had their say:
One can refuse a medication;
That is true across the nation.
But then comes the big surprise:
There is no right, in the court’s eyes,
To hold a job or go to school,
If you decide to shun a rule
Made properly, about a fix
That may be needed if you mix
With folks together and indoors,
So that disease transmission soars.

Indeed, we may need to replace
Those anti-vaxxers, who can’t face
The public, with some certainty
That they’ll not give the pox to thee.

No jab, no job! Oh, what to do?
They’ll have to think the matter through,
And at that point, most will record
A change of heart, and come on board.
No crazy US situation
Is likely to afflict our nation:
I think that most of them will come
To see the shot as not so rum.