An Absurd Coronavirus Narrative

Some of the narratives surrounding Coronavirus are absurd. COVID-19 is a real threat, and many of the measures we are taking to slow the spread are necessary, but that does not rule out the fact that many arguments people are using to keep people in place are illogical. The tweet below, featuring a video by Governor Cuomo of New York, is a perfect example, and Cuomo is not the only one arguing this way. Take a minute to watch the video, and then we will look at how the logic falls apart.

Cuomo was asked about people who want to work because they are running out of money. His answer is, “economic hardship doesn’t equal death.” In essence, he is saying if you go back to work, you will kill other people, yourself, or both, and nothing is worse than death. He then ended the clip by saying, “You want to go back to work? Take a job as an essential worker?”

Here is the problem in reasoning

Premise 1: Nothing is worse than death, and going to work kills people.

Premise 2: Going back to work as an essential worker is okay.

The problem: If going to work kills people, then essential workers are killing people, and if nothing is worse than death, essential workers should not be going to work.

Cuomo has two options here. First, he can admit that he overstated the first premise, or he can acknowledge that essential workers are killing people, and he is okay with that. He could even justify it by agreeing that some things are worse than death. If he goes with the second option, he would need to admit that he is willing to have some of the people under his jurisdiction die to keep places like liquor stores and marijuana dispensaries open.

Since it is clear that essential workers are not killing people by doing their jobs, it is evident that the first premise is an overstatement. Once we understand this, the manipulation becomes obvious.

Here is what Cuomo is saying to you. “You cannot go back to work unless it is a job the government approves of, then you can work all you want. You will not kill people working approved jobs. The government will continue to decide which jobs are approved, which ones are not, and do not even think about worshiping together in small, socially distanced, groups.”

I realize there is significant danger involved with this pandemic. Still, if we are safely able to go to the grocery store with hundreds of other people by taking extensive precautions, such as masks and cleaning products, there are a thousands of other things we could do safely as well.

Let me end with this final thought because many people seem to think that since the pandemic is so bad, it is suitable for our politicians to violate the constitution and a person’s right to work and their freedom of religion. There is no situation where governmental authorities have the right to suspend the constitution because doing so would nullify the very thing that grants them power in the first place.

Do your part to combat coronavirus, and be on guard to make sure no one is attempting to undermine your liberties with absurd arguments.

-D. Eaton