May 7, 2021


In the film The Shawshank Redemption, an elderly character named Brooks gets released after 50 years in prison. Instead of celebrating his release, however, he is tentative — and shortly after experiencing the freedom of the outside world, he hangs himself.

“These walls are funny,” Morgan Freeman’s character Red explains to his fellow prisoners as they process the news. “First you hate them, then you get used to them. Enough time passes, you get so you depend on them. That’s ‘institutionalized.’”

As the vaccine has brought the promise of liberation from a year of masks, lockdowns, canceled travel plans, and forgone family visits, there is a contingent of Americans who are simply not prepared to move on. They have somehow gotten used to the restrictions and are wary of returning to their pre-COVID-19 lives. In short, they’ve become “institutionalized.”

Related: Is it time to reopen everything? “But at some point, whether now or in two weeks or in a month, we all arrive at the place [Kyle] Smith is. We’ll have given everyone a meaningful chance to get vaccinated. If they haven’t taken that chance, that’s their choice. Society can’t cater to the willingly unvaccinated forever.” However, “Mark my words, within the next few months the therapy industry is going to start rolling out ‘re-entry counselors’ to help those nervous but well-heeled lefties feel comfortable going out to eat again.”

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