Swine flu – the pandemic of fear
The latest terror of the earth.
Eight people die every single day on Britain’s roads – almost 3000 each year. They scarcely make the news. So far, reports conform that seven people have died in Mexico of pig flu (not the 20 or even the 120 which has been widely reported), and one baby in the US. Certainly, there are more confirmed cases (see the regularly-updated BBC terror inducer: as at 4.30pm on 29th April, there were 26 in Mexico, 91 in the US, 13 in Canada, 5 in the UK, 10 in Spain, 3 in Germany, 1 in Austria, 2 in Israel and 3 in New Zealand). But pig flu in these people is manifest as normal fly-like symptoms, and there is absolutely no inevitability of death: this is not bubonic plague.
Yet the World Health Organisation is talking the panic up. Director General Margaret Chan has urged all countries to activate their pandemic plans with ‘increased urgency’ because ‘it really is the whole of humanity that is under threat’.
One might have hoped the WHO could keep its head when all about are losing theirs.
The BBC has a helpful little diagram to make things comprensible to the mentally deficient. Very helpfully they explain: ‘Swine flu symptoms are similar to those produced by ordinary seasonal flu - fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, chills and fatigue’.
Really useful stuff, that. And in order to keep us all updated with this viral Armageddon, the state broadcaster asks: ‘Have you been affected by swine flu? You can send your experiences using the form below’.
Well, Cranmer has an experience: it is one of tedium with disproportionality and intolerance of state-induced fear.
The problem, as Cranmer has previously pointed out, is that we have been here before. Bird flu was supposed to have wiped out half the planet. Instead, a few thousand turkeys were slaughtered and Bernard Matthews had a lean Christmas. One gets the sense that the developed world simply cannot function without an element of fear and insecurity. And these profound threats to our existence and way of life – acid rain, the ‘Millennium Bug’, mad cow disease or variant CJD, global warming, Islamic terrorism, bird flu, credit crunch, pig flu, Gordon Brown’s departure – are cumulatively being used by governments to pass draconian laws and punitive taxes which really do threaten our way of life.
The rulers of the earth are intent on diminishing our liberty by keeping us shackled to fear. We are in chains to anti-scientific rumour, media distortion and sensationalism. The only pox we have to fear is panic; the only toxin terror. A few pictures of Mexican children going to school wearing surgical masks is designed to induce fear of people, fear of travel, fear of association. A kiss will pass the virus from husband to wife; a cough gives it to a neighbour; a sneeze to a stadium of people. Precaution is common sense. Good hygiene should be encouraged, for we are always waging war against mutating viruses. But there is more to fear from a confirmed pandemic of fear than a suspected pandemic of flu.
And before readers and communicants demand to know the religio-political dimension of this story, Cranmer would like to share that New Zealand's Roman Catholic bishops have issued hygiene recommendations for church services ‘in preparation for a swine flu pandemic’.
In preparation for? The sense of inevitability is depressing. Apparently, the bishops ‘are stopping parishioners receiving communion wafers on the tongue, communion wine from the chalice and from shaking hands at the sign of peace’.
Surely it would be safer and more responsible to encourage them not to attend church at all. Why not cancel Mass?
And this pandemic raises a further religio-political question:
What does a Jew or Muslim do if they get pig flu?