A couple weeks ago, California Gov. Gavin Newsom put into effect a 10 p.m. curfew because, he said with a smile, it worked so well in Germany and Saudi Arabia at slowing the spread of the Covid. Just days earlier, he had banned non-essential travel. But gruesome Newsom didn’t stop there.
Dec. 11 at around midnight, the governor instituted three-week lockdown for nearly the entire state. Until Jan. 1 — or maybe longer — no one is allowed to leave their home, except for groceries, work, a medical appointment or skiing. Yes, skiing. I kid you not. You can’t make this stuff up.
Barber shops, restaurants, hair and nail salons, bars, wineries and movie theaters were forced to close. Food delivery and takeout services are allowed to continue, which is great for Uber and DoorDash. By court order, places of worship are allowed to convene but only for outdoor services. And retail stores are allowed to stay open with a maximum 20% capacity, which means long lines outdoors.
Keep in mind that, other than in coastal areas or the far south, December through March is quite cold in California, and in many places its even snowy. Pneumonia be damned, I guess.
Think Advisor: From Feb. 1 through March 28 of this year, 435,808 people died. About 1,150 were classified as having died of COVID-19, and 23,729 were classified as having died of the flu or pneumonia.
Confused local news anchors are pointing out the conflicting messages the governor is giving by imposing a travel ban and lockdown order and then allowing skiing, which requires travel, and retail shopping. After all, Grusom is the same governor who, last summer, told Californians that they have to keep their masks on while dining in restaurants. Masks could only be lifted slightly to take a bite of food or to sip a drink.
Read “The Branch Covidians: A Lengthy List of Hypocritical Politicos Who Practice Marie Antoinette Morality”
Of course, such mask orders and social distancing rules remain in effect. In fact, some cities have enacted ordinances to fine people $100 for refusing to wear a mask outside, but it’s unclear if police will be willing to enforce it. In Los Angeles, Mayor Garcetti has banned walking.
These repetitive, draconian and arbitrary actions to “slow the spread” of a rarely lethal virus have proved futile. Yet, they wash, rinse, repeat these instructions again and again. It’s like soldiers in boot camp who are told to do 20 push ups and clean the latrines with a toothbrush. There’s no obvious reason for such orders. The real purpose is to teach soldiers obedience and enforce compliance to people of a higher rank. Those who dare question orders are scorned and punished for insubordination — not just by people in power, but also by their peers, or troop — in this case, social media.
At noon on Dec. 11, an air-raid type of siren could be heard blasting from cell phones around my neighborhood. As I rushed to my phone to stop the ear-piercing noise, I half expected to see an alert that the United States was under attack. Another Pearl Harbor maybe? But no. Here’s the message:
State of CA: New public health stay at home order in your area. COVID-19 is spreading rapidly. Stay at home except for essential activity. Wear a mask. Keep your distance. Visit covid19.ca.gov.
“COVID-19 is spreading rapidly.” Indeed. Like the Blob. Like some zombie apocalypse. It’s coming for you!
About an hour later, and about every 15 minutes during the hours that followed, we could hear the sirens of emergency vehicles somewhere in the distance. Is the “invisible enemy” on a killing spree? Are people being rounded up and put into Covid jail for disobeying lockdown orders? Who knows. We’re not allowed to leave the house.
Living in California right now feels like being among a cast of characters in some sort of dark, dystopian, post-modern satire, such as Don DeLillo’s novel “White Noise.” DeLillo was brilliant at painting a picture of a modern society — self-important, preoccupied, apathetic — that suddenly experiences an extraordinary public health threat. If I’m remembering the novel correctly, DeLillo stopped just short of revealing the nature of the threat — if there ever really was one — and he didn’t describe its aftermath. He left that up to the reader to decide.
As the Covid-1984 scamdemic lockdowns drag on, I’m increasingly reminded of the 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment.
The Stanford Prison Experiment
In 1971, social psychologist Philip Zimbardo, who was also a professor emeritus at California’s Stanford University, used funding from the U.S. Office of Naval Research to conduct an experiment in which groups of college students became either prisoners or guards in a simulated prison environment. Zimbardo acted as the warden.
The stated intent of the study was to measure the effect of role-playing, labeling and social expectations on individual behavior.
Zimbardo decided to run the experiment during the university’s summer break, while the campus was relatively empty. His graduate students crudely converted the basement level of one of the school’s halls into a makeshift prison. Empty offices were turned into prison cells and outfitted with cots. Hallways were outfitted with hidden CCTV cameras. A closet was turned into a solitary confinement chamber.
The following slides, from Dr. Zimbardo himself, quickly and succinctly summarize the Stanford Prison Experiment. For those interested in this topic, there’s a fairly good movie by the same name that came out in 2015. It’s not difficult to find online.
Arguably, the Covid-1984 lockdowns are voluntary — in the interest of the “greater good.” The Stanford volunteers were also told their participation was essential in the prison research experiment, an experiment that was in the interest of the “greater good.”
Similarly, our lockdowns come suddenly, without warning, and no actual crime has been committed.
Obviously, like these students, we’re not in an actual prison, but we are indeed imprisoned. Will gruesome Newsom’s next step be ankle bracelets perhaps? The state has just launched a Covid tracking app that it’s encouraging everyone to install on their cell phone.
Of course, if you live in a mansion, then stay-at-home orders are like a vacation. For others, however, a university basement might be preferable to their home environment, especially for spouses and children who experience domestic abuse.
The masks we must wear are a constant reminder of our situation. People are also easier to abuse when they’re anonymous. For some people, the inability to get a haircut or other grooming services is a form of humiliation.
“When you tell people to be cruel, they’ll do it, if it’s for the greater good,” a Stanford Prison Experiment guard said in an interview, “especially if the person you’re inflicting it on is anonymous.”
In our situation, it’s like the federal government is the warden, providing guidance, and the guards are the state governors, who have been given free reign to manage the states as they see fit. There are “good” governors and abusive ones.
Student “prisoners” were often blindfolded to impose a sense of helplessness. We don’t need blindfolds because our threat is an invisible virus. To protect us from this invisible threat, we — in California — are given seemingly and increasingly arbitrary rules to follow. Restrictions on small businesses in particular have been quite arbitrary and punitive, with rules changing week by week as owners hop from one foot to the next trying to comply.
During our first wave of federal lockdowns, we, too, were quite compliant. The second federal lockdown created a little bit of pushback. When states, such as California, tried continuing the lockdowns, there were protests. Then we were told to wear masks.
How many people have been arrested and imprisoned for violating Covid restrictions? Has anyone been counting or done a study thus far?
Who, during our lockdowns, has been granted special privileges? “Essential workers,” “essential businesses,” the political class and their minions, and billionaires.
By giving prisoners a visiting day, Stanford experimenters further tormented their captives by reminding them what normal is, and enhanced their longing to escape their circumstances. Similarly, during the scamdemic tyranny, we’ve been afforded short breaks to experience almost-normal life. For a brief time, small businesses were allowed to open with expensive modifications. Patrons could dine indoors or go to a show or the gym. And then — suddenly — our almost normal life is ripped away yet again, and again, and again.
A guard involved in the experiment later commented that he came to the job every day asking himself, “How can we ramp up what we did yesterday?” He added, “I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it. I even got off on it a little bit.”
Another said, “I don’t see where it was really harmful. … I wanted to see how much abuse people would take – how much abuse they would let me give — and still people didn’t say anything.”
With each new lockdown in California comes new restrictions — evening though mortality rate of Covid-19 no longer meets the 3.4% threshold required to be classified as a pandemic.
Look at the way the news media and social media shames, torments and censors those who don’t comply with Covid restrictions.
Many people believe the same thing will happen with Covid. One day we’ll just essentially be told “this is not a real prison” and life can go back to normal now. And people will just say “okay” and go about their lives like nothing happened. I’m not so sure.
Has anyone in a position of authority — ANYONE — effectively argued the morality of keeping children out of school, locking people up in their homes and taking away their livelihood over a virus that’s treatable for 99.97% of the population?
“Don’t ever come between a man and his meal. Taking a man’s livelihood away from him is akin to killing him.” — David Chappelle
The two-week Stanford Prison Experiment was brought to a halt after just six days.
Plenty has been written and observed about the impact of lockdowns on prisoners. What made the Stanford experiment a little different was that it looked psychological transformation of those who were doing the imprisoning. It concluded that the sadistic treatment of prisoners by guards was due to three key things: prisoner anonymity, depersonalization and power.
Dr. Zimbardo later went on to write about his findings in a book called “The Lucifer Effect,” and his study was used to explain the sadistic treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib.
Have we, like the Stanford students, forgotten that we have free will? Going along to get along does nothing more than continually reinforce the power of authoritarians, who will become increasingly abusive.
The members of a small community in northern California joined together and decided to give the finger to gruesome Newsom. They’re keeping all of their businesses open, even indoor dining. They’ve vowed as a community to fight any infringements on their rights. So far, there has been no consequence.
So the question is this: How long will you continue to participate in the Covid Prison Experiment?