Social media was consumed on Saturday by the anti-lockdown protests, or as they are known hereabouts, the Walking Soon to Be Dead. Allegedly organised by far right organisations, the protests attracted people who are convinced that the virus is a hoax, that it’s all being caused by 5G, and assorted climate change deniers and Brextremists. Jeremy Corbyn’s brother Piers was amongst those arrested in London. Piers doesn’t believe in anthropogenic climate change, supports a no-deal Brexit, and believes just about every conspiracy theory that’s going. Which just goes to prove that Piers Morgan isn’t the most embarrassing end of the Piers show.
Although it wasn’t the protests themselves which caught people’s attention, or even Piers Corbyn. The break out star of the day – if you can call someone a breakout star when they end up in handcuffs that is – was the guy in Hyde Park who got arrested after protesting the lockdown while carrying a homemade placard which appeared to read I AM A FREE I AM NOT MAN A NUMBER. This wasn’t just a shit bit of haiku on a stick, or a protest led by Yoda, it was because he’d not bothered to work out his font size, spacing, and the size of his piece of cardboard properly. This is possibly a metaphor about not thinking things through first before you commit. So exactly like the British Government then. Boris Johnson is going to take it as the new British Government slogan for dealing with the coronavirus crisis as it’s less confusing than the one they adopted last week.
Now I’m not sure about you, but if you’re defeated by a simple piece of cardboard and haven’t quite sussed how to use a ruler, it may perhaps be wise to concede that epidemiology is not going to be your strong suit either. He just picked up a sharpie and didn’t look back, or forward for that matter. Exactly like Donald Trump. The irony is that his Twitter handle is probably something like @randomname72091919336. Anyway, his day ended pretty badly because he got arrested, so now he’s not free and he’s also a number. If he’d asked Priti Patel she’d have told him his number is three hundred thousand and thirty four, nine hundred and seventy four thousand.
It’s easy to laugh at stupid in far away places, but we have our own home grown version of it itoo. Meanwhile in Scotland, we had our very own incarnation of stupid at the demonstration against the lockdown held on Glasgow Green. Well, I say demonstration. It was three guys complaining that they can’t get out the house even though they look like the kind of people who never get out the house anyway. One of them was quite insistent that Scotland listen to his message that Irn Bru is a cure for the virus, which is a bit of a leap from its traditional role as a hangover cure. His belief that the Bru could cure coronvirus is perhaps because he knew that the recipe for the Bru contains trace amounts of quinine, which as well as a flavouring agent is also an anti-malaria medicine. So it’s medicine really, and not just skoosh.
According to an online compendium of medicines, quinine is no longer recommended as a treatment for malaria as there are modern drugs with fewer side effects, however the recommended dosage for treating malaria is 600 mg three times a day for seven days. When used as a drink flavouring, quinine is restricted to a maximum dosage of 100 mg per litre, which means that if you wanted to use Irn Bru as a treatment for malaria you’d have to drink at least 18 cans of bru every eight hours for seven days, a total of 378 cans in a week. It might help your malaria, but it would probably leave you with diabetes, a very dodgy bladder, and quite possibly a distinctly orange tinge.
But Irn Bru still wouldn’t do much to help you surive Covid-19. The anti-malaria drug that Donald Trump was touting as a possible cure for the virus was chloroquine, a totally different drug. It would be a bit like getting into some random stranger’s car and demanding to be taken somewhere because it’s a vehicle with four wheels and a steering wheel just like a taxi. In any event, studies have shown that chloroquine doesn’t work as a treatment for Covid-19. Patients who were given it were more likely to die than patients who weren’t treated with it.
Many of the protesters were like those who stood outside Capitol buildings in state capitols in the USA recently, protesting about their own right to have a tattoo, a haircut, or live their lives as they see fit, but without considering for a second the impact that their behaviour might have on other people. Sure fine, knock yourself out if you have no fear of the virus and you insist on going about your life as normal. But if you get infected you’ll only infect other people – and you’ll infect them before you start to show symptoms. Those people might have compromised immune systems or be members of high risk groups. You have the right to risk your own life, but not to put other people at risk. It’s a bit like the hoary old example from undergraduate philosophy classes. You have the right to free speech, but you don’t have the right to scream FIRE! at the top of your voice in a crowded cinema if there’s no fire.
The tragedy for all of us however is that the protesters who took to the streets in anger at a government which is lying to us and treating us like children were in fact quite right to be angry. It’s just that the anger of the lockdown protesters was misplaced. We should all be angry at a British Government whose arrogance and complacency has led to the UK having the highest death toll in Europe. We should all be angry at a British Government whose lack of interest preparing for this pandemic has led the UK to the worst of both worlds, having a high death toll, a virus which is widespread in the community, and a lockdown which may have to last in some form for weeks or months longer. We should all be angry at a Government which abandoned testing, tracing, and isolation and which is now way behind. The British Government is lying, mendacious, and treats us all like children. We are just numbers as far as it is concerned. And once this crisis has passed, the weight of our numbers is going to change Scotland for the better.
And finally, because we could all do with some cheering up during these difficult times…
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