bookmark_borderNY Times criticized for not being biased enough against Rittenhouse

This article by the Daily Dot details the ridiculous reactions by people on the internet to a New York Times article profiling Kyle Rittenhouse. Essentially, people are outraged that the article is only slightly biased against Rittenhouse, as opposed to extremely biased against Rittenhouse. “Its tweet and the article have been resoundingly panned,” the Daily Dot article gloats, while falsely characterizing the riots during which Rittenhouse was attacked as “civil rights protests.” 

The reactions detailed in the article range from people canceling their NY Times subscriptions to calling the article “BS” to derisively putting the words “news” and “journalists” in quotation marks to suggesting that the paper change its name to the “New York Enquirer” to accusing the paper of “lionizing a predator.” 

“Kyle Rittenhouse was just a little boy playing cops & robbers when a whoopsie happened,” read one tweet.

“Kyle Rittenhouse breaks down his most iconic racist murders with the New York Times,” read another.

All of these sentiments are false, logically unsound, and offensive. The article about Rittenhouse is actually a news article by journalists; there is no reason to put those words in derisive quotation marks. It is not “BS” and does not “lionize a predator,” as it is not even biased towards Rittenhouse, let alone lionizing him, plus Rittenhouse is not a predator. 

To refer to Rittenhouse as “a little boy playing cops & robbers when a whoopsie happened” is moronic.

Additionally, Rittenhouse’s actions were neither murders, as he acted in self-defense, nor racist, as it was the people who attacked him who were rioting in support of a racist ideology.

What makes the reactions to the Rittenhouse article even more inappropriate is the fact that these same people have demonstrated no outrage whatsoever in response to actual bias from the New York Times. Over the past two years, the Times has demonstrated egregious bias, more times than one could possibly count, against Donald Trump, against people who oppose totalitarian Covid restrictions, against people who value history and heritage, against people who support the Second Amendment, against people who protested at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, and generally against anyone who holds dissenting, non-conventional, anti-establishment, or right-of-center political views. The fact that people are in an uproar and are canceling their subscriptions, not because of the Times’s repeated, blatant bias, but instead because the Times had the audacity to actually not be horrendously biased in one instance, is appalling and demonstrates the ridiculous amount of prejudice, intolerance, and lack of logic present in our society today.

bookmark_border“Covid politics walloping red America”

Yesterday I was perusing the newsstand at my local supermarket, and a headline on the front page of the New York Times caught my eye.

“Covid politics walloping red America,” it read. The article was about high rates of Covid cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in conservative-leaning states.

This headline is biased for a couple of reasons:

First of all, Covid politics are not walloping anyone… Covid is. It is clear from the article that by “Covid politics,” the Times means people’s decisions to refrain from protective measures such as vaccines, mask-wearing, and social distancing, or governments’ decisions to refrain from making these measures mandatory. Such measures do, to some extent, prevent people from catching the virus and/or getting sick. But that doesn’t mean that refraining from these things causes people to catch the virus and get sick. The virus itself causes this. Failing to prevent something does not equal causing it.

Second, it makes no more sense to characterize a lack of Covid restrictions as “Covid politics” than it does to characterize the enactment of restrictions as “Covid politics.” Several different definitions of “politics” are listed on Dicionary.com, but they pretty much all have to do with the science and art of government, or beliefs and opinions about government. Debates about which actions, if any, governments should take in response to the Covid pandemic are inherently a political topic. Some people hold political beliefs that emphasize safety and the common good; these people generally support the imposition of restrictions and mandates with the aim of combatting the pandemic. Other people hold political beliefs that emphasize individual rights and liberty; these people generally oppose restrictions and mandates because they believe that respecting rights and allowing people the maximum amount of freedom is more important than combatting the pandemic. So why is the Times equating the latter type of ideology with “politics” but not the former? Refraining from getting the Covid vaccine is not “politics” any more than getting the vaccine is politics. Respecting individual rights, and refraining from forcing people to get the vaccine, is not “politics” any more than forcing people to get the vaccine is politics. If anything, it is more appropriate to characterize the decision to impose restrictions and mandates as “politics,” because this is a decision that actively interferes with people’s lives, as opposed to simply leaving people alone. 

In short, this headline is just another example of the New York Times presuming that its belief in a powerful government that controls people’s lives and tramples on individual liberty for the sake of the common good is the only possible legitimate belief. The Times does not even appear to consider the possibility that people might genuinely hold alternative views. Anyone who thinks or acts differently from them, the Times assumes, is just playing politics.

bookmark_borderBiased NYT article about Covid in Sweden

The New York Times recently published an article criticizing Sweden’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic for not being authoritarian enough. Instead of ordering individuals to stay in their homes and businesses to close, Sweden chose a policy of educating its citizens about risks and allowing them to make their own decisions. Restaurants, bars, stores, gyms, and parks have remained open, and people have been free to go about their lives with few restrictions.

The article by Peter Goodman of the New York Times states: “Not only have thousands more people died than in neighboring countries that imposed lockdowns, but Sweden’s economy has fared little better.” The article criticizes “the assumption that governments must balance saving lives against the imperative to spare jobs, with the extra health risks of rolling back social distancing potentially justified by a resulting boost to prosperity. But Sweden’s grim result — more death and nearly equal economic damage — suggests that the supposed choice between lives and paychecks is a false one: A failure to impose social distancing can cost lives and jobs at the same time.”

The article quotes Jacob Kirkegaard of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, who says: “They literally gained nothing. It’s a self-inflicted wound, and they have no economic gains.”

This viewpoint completely ignores the importance of liberty and individual rights. The main problem with lockdowns and other restrictions on people’s movement and activity is not that they hurt the economy (although that is a big downside); it is that they violate people’s rights. People have a fundamental right to move about freely and to decide for themselves how they wish to balance safety with quality of life. It is morally wrong for the government to order people to stay in their homes and to ban activities because it believes they are too dangerous for people to be allowed to do. So contrary to Kirkegaard’s claims, Sweden did indeed gain something: approximately four months of its citizens living in freedom, with their fundamental rights being respected! Unlike other countries, Sweden refrained from trampling on the rights of its people. That is not nothing.

The tradeoff that governments face when deciding how best to respond to a pandemic is not between safety and economic prosperity. Nor is it, as Goodman’s article suggests, a no-brainer of protecting both safety and the economy as opposed to doing nothing and allowing both to suffer. It is a question of whether or not to sacrifice individual liberty for the common good. And the answer to this question should always be, NO! Individual liberty is not simply a consideration to be balanced against other considerations, such as safety, health, or the economy. Respecting individual liberty is a requirement. As soon as one begins speaking of balancing individual liberty with something else, individual liberty has lost. Rights are absolute, and respecting them is mandatory, regardless of the effects on health, safety, and the economy.

Another claim made in the article is that the virus itself, not restrictive government policies imposed in response to it, is the cause of economic damage. Goodman points out that even in countries such as Sweden that have not forcibly shut businesses down, many people have been voluntarily avoiding businesses because of concerns about catching the virus. He cites a study by the University of Copenhagen which found that people over 70 in Sweden reduced their spending more than they did in Denmark, indicating that they considered shopping to be more risky without government-imposed social distancing measures in place.

But that is exactly what is supposed to happen. People have the right to make their own decisions about which risks, if any, they are willing to take with regards to the virus. This means that people who are comfortable going to stores and restaurants should be free to do so, while people who are not comfortable should be free to stay home. If the fact that the government is not trampling on everyone’s rights makes some people feel less safe, and therefore causes them to decide to stay home, then so be it! People’s decisions to curtail their activities may have the same economic result as forcible shutdowns, but the fact that one of these things is voluntary and the other is not, makes all the moral difference in the world.

By not violating the rights of its citizens, Sweden has done the right thing. The results of this policy, whether measured in lives lost or economic damage, are irrelevant. If a policy violates individual rights – as the lockdowns and stay-at-home orders implemented by most countries do – then it is morally wrong, regardless of how many lives are saved. By assuming that the result of a policy is the only thing that matters, the New York Times article is ignoring the most important thing in the world: individual rights.