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Byron Shire
July 7, 2022

Doctor, my brain hurts

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Photo Aslan Shand

The other day in a Mullumbimby street I was wearing a mask. This was not on account of Halloween, or because I had finally succumbed to my friends’ entreaties not to frighten the passers-by, it was because I had just left one shop and was on my way to another, both of which required their customers to observe the (then) current anti-covid measures.

‘Hey you! Take that mask off, it will give you pneumonia, you idiot.’ The speaker, or rather shouter, was red in the face and clearly annoyed with me, though I had no idea who he was. I asked him why he was so angry, but all he did was repeat his medical conviction, several times: ‘Idiots who wear masks get pneumonia’, and lurch away.

The joke was on him, because being over 65 I have had the pneumonia shot (although I suspect that would just have made him angrier), but this random encounter made me wonder how many other people have irrational attitudes towards public health issues.

Alternative facts

There have been big protests by anti-vaxxers in the news, but they represent a tiny minority of the population. Even in Byron Shire, I thought, although the national press delights in calling us the ‘anti-vax capital of the country’ the alternative-facts lobby is confined to the weirder corners of the community.

Therefore, as a public service and so you don’t have to, I have spent some time trawling through online comments on covid stories, reckoning that such comments form a ready-made vox populi resource.

I was also inspired by the delicious meme of a man in a stretcher asking a paramedic, ‘Are you taking me to hospital?’ and getting the reply, ‘No, mate. You need serious medical advice, so we’re taking you straight to the comments section.’

The anti-vax movement is a very broad church. The following summary reflects only the most common ideas, and not the utterly depraved ones appended to covid articles that might get their writers prosecuted under the government’s new, controversial and largely ineffective anti-trolling laws.

Some people quote the bible to justify opposition to vaccination. The Mark of the Beast is popular because it can mean anything, and the ‘fetal line’ issue (fetal cells used in testing, not production, of vaccines) is also one of the religious objections. There is nothing about abortion in the bible, but there are prohibitions on drinking blood, and these are pressed into service, much as old-school Jehovah’s Witnesses twist the references in Genesis and Leviticus to justify letting themselves die rather than have blood transfusions.

Others rely on the 5G conspiracy, ‘something something Bill Gates’, or that old chestnut ‘chemtrails’, which are one of the means used to spread covid;, so much more dramatic than having idiots breathe on you. Some people are ‘Sovereign Citizens’, who think of themselves as courageous freedom fighters in the jungle of the law. They don’t recognise any government, let alone allowing it to tell us what to do. On the other end of the scale there are those who get the vapours simply by reading a list of vaccine ingredients.

Political conspiracists think a capitalist/communist/lizard elite is softening us up for a global takeover, while others think covid is a plot by China and Anthony Fauci to destroy the economy. Some think it’s a hoax, others believe it’s just the flu, while others admit it’s real, but just don’t want to do anything about it because, well, reasons.

Some wouldn’t take the vaccine because it was ‘unapproved and experimental’, but now they won’t take it because they say the approval was rushed. There’s a crowd who think the vaccine is literally killing thousands of people in Australia, but the media won’t report it. This is a psychotic belief, and we know that because it is promoted by several members of the federal coalition.

Do your own research?

The phrase ‘do your own research’ appears less often than I expected, probably because it has been so widely ridiculed. Nevertheless, there are still some who reference the University of Facebook as their knowledge base, along with random anecdotes gleaned from the wellness industry and confidently presented as if they were extracts from scientific papers.

These folk say their immune systems don’t need the help of artificial vaccines because of all the (presumably natural) vitamins and supplements they take, including in some cases hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin. It is a well-known fact that podcasters on this topic have to spend five years studying medicine before they are allowed to broadcast.

There’s also a big cohort of vaccine critics who are motivated by the fact that ‘Big Pharma’ overcharges (hard to disagree on that one), and a smaller group who actually claim that hospitals make big money from killing covid patients.

To be honest, I have only skimmed the surface of this turgid pool; the depths are beyond the point of nausea.

Ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance is poison when it’s pushed forward so aggressively that it displaces knowledge. Orwell saw the future as one of increasing repression, a boot stamping on your face forever. Let’s not allow a future of increasing ignorance, a voice forever screaming nonsense in your face.

How do we oppose the slide into darkness when, for example, the prime minister himself believes in an absurd cosmology and is constantly purveying lies. Can we trust the government? We emphatically cannot trust this government, which is the worst in living memory.

But the habit of mistrust is corrosive to our collective wellbeing. Social life is not just the collision of equally valid opinions. There are tools for sorting truth from falsehood, the scientific method for one. The truth is out there, and we can value it or surrender to chaos.


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30 COMMENTS

  1. Great story and yes we are all tired of these antivax, conspiracy theory promoters. Please give us a break from your agro and in the face anger and stop promoting yourselves as victims- you made your choice to believe people like Kelly, Palmer, Rogan, Kennedy and the likes.

      • Yep ones who bullshit and lie and cherry pick facts. Obviously you did your “ research” listening to three hours of garbage at a time and he is not even funny.

        • I’m not a regular Rogan listener. I listen to the veteran vaccine developers having round table discussions.
          You didn’t understand what Dr Robert Malone was saying? He invented mRNA technology. He worked on the Ebola vaccine in Africa.
          Rogan isn’t trying to be funny. He doesn’t proclaim to know anything. He just interviews experts. That’s all his show is.
          Try Rogans interview with Dr. Peter McCullough. Dr McCullough is better at dumbing it down for uneducated people.

  2. ahh, the ole one-sided view point again from the Echo. We are right, they are all wrong, mad loonies.
    What a wonderful, balanced workplace it must be to propagate such division.

    Do you guys hold Moderna, Pfizer or AstraZenneca shares? Check your super, probably. Pays to disclose.

    Maybe you’re not aware that most Australians are catching on (after catching covid) and understand that for the majority of healthy folk under 65yrs of age, they can do without the experiment pricks just fine. Especially children.

    And maybe, just maybe, there may also be some hesitancy and mistrust in the drive to get jabbed, when friends and relatives hear or experience first hand, the nasty reactions from the pricks and the gaslighting from media and Govt on same.

    Just in case you have forgotten, still waiting on your investigative reporting as promised…

    “There is also a lack of reporting on vaccine injuries and deaths by the mainstream media. The Echo is aware of local cases, and will be investigating these in coming weeks.” Hans Lovejoy – Echo October 22, 2021

    • totally agree! to be honest the Echo has lost any credibility to represent the broad mindedness of what make this region special. Critical thinkers!! But then again the Echo comes in handy to light the fire on a cold night or if you have to line a cat litter tray. It used to be read cover to cover celebrating what makes this region different from say the ‘Franskton Standard’ But then again like everything it’s a captured paper. Vested interests! We can all see if clearly so stop the shitty reports on putting down people who are simply asking questions!!

    • Boy, a lot of hate from these people promoting themselves as caring and educated. Give us a break and remember you are part of the conspiracy theory not the rest of us.

      • So by “conspiracy theory” you are referring to the idea that governments and corporations can’t be trusted to look after our best interests and not lie about big life and death issues?
        You sure you read the Echo?
        Lots of theories from non-medical people trying to figure out why the establishment keep getting caught lying about this situation and reality not stacking up to what they predict.
        That’s natural, but yes, unhelpful.

  3. So is your name The Echo? Is that Mr. The Echo or would you prefer another pronoun?
    Is this an article or an opinion, or perhaps a letter?
    Just interesting to see how many of these “articles” are coming out now.

  4. An exceedingly well written article! My thanks to whoever wrote it – I’m seriously considering sending it to a couple of deluded anti-vaxer friends because I just can’t seem to get through to them. But maybe it would be a waste of time – they don’t actually want to know, being much more comfortable with their conspiracy theories.

    • The author of this opinion piece is David Lovejoy. It was the mistake of the person uploading the story that the name wasn’t displayed correctly in the first instance.

    • Sue, if you want to know what you sound like to them, goto AwakenWithJP on youtube.
      Once you understand were they are coming from you can figure out a way to approach them with your ideas.

    • Yeah, they like to read Doomsday Prepper sites like these ones…
      cdc.gov/eid/article/26/5/19-0994_article
      pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19216002/
      ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5779801/

    • Hi, nutter here !
      Well I must say David is not as silly as he often looks.
      Yes you’ve summed up nicely the dilemma , but I fear logic and well founded argument will have no effect, because these people are terrified and cannot act or think rationally. I think it is the same as the impossibility of some deluded, justifiably frightened, folks to comprehend what climate change means to their plans for greater opulence and increasing over-consumption to prove their over inflated self-worth.
      Logic is useless, I was always taught to humour them ,and just get on with the real world problems .
      Have you heard we are now embarking on WW III.
      Cheers, G”)

  5. This has given me renewed faith in the Echo’s search for truth. For science over superstition. For respect for the welfare of others in our community over narcissistic ‘sovereign citizenship’.

  6. “Rudra February 24, 2022 At 12:51 pm
    dump The Echo. ”
    I will drop my financial support as they are eroding what has been achieved for so long. It is a shame, I thought I was privileged to live in an area with such an awesome local newspaper.
    But articles like this are insulting to people that are seriously worried about the state of things. The people that cannot travel to see dieing relatives. The people losing their jobs due to the measures taken by govs because of a fabricated and inexistent threat. This is polarised. This feeds division. This is scratching hate speech. Why do you talk about all this nutcases as an example of government, corporations and big pharma dissent? You, David Lovejoy, are a massive ignorant or a plain demagogue.
    Shame on you, enemy of truth.

  7. As on e would say “they have come out to play!”..
    A very good article, well written and without malice..
    I too get a brain bleed..
    The hypocrisy I see is historical..why?..maybe people gravitate to those whom have the same grievance and thus the particular person feels welcome .
    It could be said that social physiologists could be employed for decades trying to work this shite out.
    I feel many a Phd will be contemplated in studying this particular facet that has developed in our society..”people whom hate mandates”..but still inadvertently through day to day lives abide by them without question.
    Will we get to the bottom of this?..it’s a long way down..
    What I do not understand..is this…
    It is mandated by federal /state government that people in motorised vehicles have to drive on the left hand side of the road in Australia…
    Yet these same demonstrators in mass will drive to and fro on the left hand side of the road…because it has been mandated..which in this case..is inshrined in law!
    The list goes on…
    Clothing to a formal wedding..try rolling up in a Hawaiian shirt and thongs!…try getting into a RSL club with thongs and a blue tee shirt on !
    Yet be known that some of these same persons will take themselves and their children visit regularly fast food outlets starting with a MC and a K to eat products on a regular basis where there is known health implications of diabetes, weight gain and serious health issues that will effect them and their children long after this pandemic has subsided.
    Then still they rally against immunisation and vaccines on the basis that what is not known in the ingredients…
    Well good luck try finding out what proportion of ingredients is in a Mc Nugget !
    Their hypocrisy is breath taking..

    • Go over to the Cato Institute and they will clear up your confusion.
      I drive on the left because otherwise I would get in the way of your right to use the road as well. Me not getting jabbed doesn’t get in the way of you getting jabbed.
      The RSL is a private club. They can exclude anyone they want because it doesn’t stop me starting a club for everyone else.
      You can exclude anyone you want from your wedding it’s private. You can even have an Hawaiian themed wedding. Your not stopping anyone else having a wedding of their own.
      If you are pointing to socialised health care, you are pointing at the “Tragedy of the commons”. That’s the argument against any public ownership of anything.
      Your ignorance of civics is breath taking. Listen to some Free Talk Live if reading is not your thing.

  8. All this piece does, as stated, is to give a sample of the myriad of theories that appear in response to Covid themed opinion and reporting – and some are screaming! David is holding up a mirror to sections of our community and they’re horrified!

    • Have you listened to yourselves? Do you know how many idiots on your side can’t even correctly repeat what the television tells them? They yelled at people who had a mask exemption for not wearing a mask.

  9. So your 23vPPV jab just got you maybe 1/3rd less chance of catching Pneumonia decreasing to zero before 24 months (ask your doctor)
    You keep getting told your mask isn’t to protect you. This is true. An N95 is not a Respirator. (ask your doctor)
    What happens if you have any first phase infection of any respiratory infection and you walk around with a face mask on. (ask your doctor)
    Why is a group of people you belittle and dehumanize becoming belligerent. (Ask a Jew)

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