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Pondering Philosophy from a Seat of Lies

Is there any limit to the falsehoods and bad faith we'll tolerate?

By Hobbes  |  January 6, 2021

Your humble correspondent was able to escape the local mask Gestapo to enjoy a brief sojourn in America - which is to say, Texas.  It's a long way, though, and time was short, which required a trip through the seventh circle of hell known as air travel.

Now, in certain ways, it was actually more pleasant than it might have been a few years ago.  There is something to be said for the peace and quiet of cowed crowds nervously shuffling under the watchful eye of uniformed guardians.  As the saying goes, freedom is messy, though I didn't expect to miss the sheer anarchy of LaGuardia anytime this side of the Pearly Gates.

The usual mayhem and conflict was largely absent.  The airline staff, too, seemed to bend over backwards to be pleasant and helpful.  No doubt they were having just as miserable time as the rest of the face-diaper-wearing throng, but they're paid to act cheerful, and, doubtless considering the countless thousands of their laid-off brethren, act they did with a will.

And rightly so!  Consider this announcement straight out of the pages of 1984: "It is very important for you to remain seated until your boarding numbers are called, to limit crowding and maintain social distancing."

Now, if this was one of the eternal Voice from Above recordings endemic to airports, it could safely be ignored.  But no: a live human being with a functioning brain was forced to spout this transparent nonsense.

First - very important?  Seriously?  We are about to be crammed into a metal tube for an hour where the air circulation systems ensure that each and every one of us will inhale the exhaust from every other person in the plane, and yet for these five minutes, it's very important for us to be sitting down rather than standing up in line?  What possible difference could it make?

From logic to sheer absurdity: there weren't nearly enough seats for everyone waiting to board what would be a 100% full flight.  If we wanted to obey, we physically could not - and that was true even if a third of the seats hadn't been roped off in worship of the same false god of social distancing.

All this was not ten feet from the face of the apparatchik with the mic.  Say what you will of trolley dolleys, they are several notches above dumb blondes; it's inconceivable that she was unaware of the fatuous rot pouring from her lips.  What must that do to one's psyche?

Indeed, it's been written by survivors of Communist hellholes that forcing people to say things they knew to be lies was the express goal of the regime: it breaks down people's resistance and makes it difficult for them to keep hold of the truth even if they know what it is.  Sure enough, I was roundly shushed at my expression of disbelief and contempt.

Aboard was much the same: reminders that masks were required for the entire flight.  Not optional!  Only to be removed when actively eating and drinking - and no, you specifically could not eat and drink slowly to maximize the time of literally breathing the free air.  Please, please comply - nobody wants to be the mask police!

Well, no doubt that was true, on that particular plane at least.  Most actual police don't want to be Robocop either - they'd much prefer to be Officer Friendly patting small children on the head as he walks his beat in Mayberry, where nothing more dangerous than a cat up a tree ever happens.  Sure, there are a few thrill-seeking Rambos with badges, but for most ordinary people, they'd rather everyone else just do as they'r etold without having to force them.

Indeed, we were reminded that we'd agreed to don the face diapers when we checked in - "Please keep your word!"

At what point does "your word" become null and void by being under duress?  What does it really mean to check the "I Agree" box when buying a ticket?

Well, we could choose to fly on a different carrier - except they all have more or less the same rules.  No competition here!

We could choose to take a week and drive.  Heck, we could charter a private jet as do our betters.  But if the obvious, practical choices are impeded, is there any free choice at all?

Thus we return to the great question of 2020: What is the obligation of a law-abiding citizen when his rulers have taken leave of their senses, are clearly operating in bad faith, routinely break their own rules without a qualm, and have conned the majority of sheeple to go along?

We hear reports of intermittent mask protests and flash mobs.  We also hear of psychopaths assaulting refuseniks.

Most people have decided that freedom to breathe is not worth a night in jail - a night that could easily become far longer given various proposals to let health departments lock up people suspected of being sick and treat them indefinitely and without recourse, regardless of their irrelevant personal convictions.

Thus we quietly march onward, into a world that is neither 1984 nor Brave New World, but something in between.  Perhaps the shushers were right, just as they would have been in 1938 hearing a neighbor speaking ill of Hitler or Stalin.  Shut up and obey - or else!

Welcome to America!  Wouldn't our forefathers be proud?