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Stop the COVID-19 'Death Porn'

D.C. Public Schools teachers lined up “body bags” outside school system offices to protest plans that could send them back to classrooms in the fall. (WAMU 88.5's Debbie Truong via AP)

It’s ghoulish. It’s nauseating. It’s totally unnecessary.

The left has been morbidly celebrating the deaths of anyone of prominence who questioned the efficacy of masks, lockdowns, vaccines, and other pandemic measures that conventional wisdom said were necessary — even good and moral.

In fact, the celebrating has gone beyond the bounds of propriety and has become a kind of “death porn,” says Spectator USA columnist Cockburn.

On Saturday, the Daytona Beach News-Journal noted the death of radio host Marc Bernier after a three-week battle with COVID. Bernier, the paper observed, was ‘an outspoken opponent of vaccinations’. The death of a local radio host might normally be a local story, but this one quickly went national. Many publications noted that Bernier was the third unvaccinated radio host to be stricken down in a single month, following fellow Floridian Dick Farrel and Tennessee veteran Phil Valentine.

How did the death of those rather obscure conservative radio hosts become national news stories?

Cockburn will concede that when a public figure stakes their life on a certain medical opinion and dies a preventable death as a result, the irony is enough to merit a news story. But he would be remiss if he didn’t observe that standards for this sort of thing seem a tad inconsistent. Losing weight is another entirely controllable way to reduce COVID risk, too, but the same publications that gloat over dead vaccine skeptics have published a Pravda’s worth of takes explaining that COVID-related fat shaming is not funny and not OK.

Yes, but at least by highlighting the death of a conservative who chose not to get vaccinated, they can rub the right’s nose in it. They can’t do that if they fat-shame some plus-sized model who weeps when people suggest she should shed a few pounds for her health.

It’s all about politics and the left’s righteousness about masks, vaccines, and other virus mitigation efforts have become as nauseating as any aspect of the pandemic.

The demand for COVID death porn is so great that, much like with hate crimes, demand outpaces supply. In July 2020, lurid tales told of vibrant young adults holding COVID parties, only to admit their error mere moments before they ghoulishly expired, ‘Masque of the Red Death’-style. In November, a South Dakota nurse tweeted of dying patients gasping that the virus was fake even as they were intubated. Both of those stories were, it turns out, fake, and Cockburn doesn’t feel much better about Alabama doctor Brytney Corbia, who sent a tingle down every CNN producer’s leg when she described staring down plague victims and telling them it was ‘too late’ to get a vaccine.

Will these stories convince any fence-sitters to get the vaccine? A few, maybe. But so far they’ve been far more effective at spreading hatred of the press.

Vice took the death-porn crown with this unconcealed gloat about the death of Robert David Steele, a former CIA agent, QAnon supporter, and COVID conspiracist. “QAnon Anti-Vaxxer Called COVID a Hoax Even as His ‘Lungs Stopped Functioning'” read the headline.

There’s something childish in all this “in your face, right-wingers.” Surely there’s a smidgeon of human compassion for these people and those they left behind. They may have been wrong about some things. They may have been misinformed. But no one deserves to die for being wrong or misinformed.

Otherwise, there wouldn’t be a left-wing nut left on the planet.