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On Swine Flu

September 6, 2009

I’ll try to keep this one brief.

Swine flu.

Hmmm . . . the swine flu.  So very scary.  A terrible, devastating disease.  There’s going to be a “pandemic” this Winter.  Many Americans will be infected.  Some will even DIE.  And where did it come from?  Why, Mexico, of course.  The Mexicans have brought a deadly disease across our borders!!!!

I hope you can catch the overwhelming stench of bullshit that comes from every statement in the above paragraph.  There are so many reasons that all this hoopla (the fact that it’s still going on just makes me want to punch strangers in the face) drives me crazy.  Why it makes me mad.

We’ll start with reason number one: the thinly-veiled racism that underlies all of it.  Am I the only person that sees through the awful convenience of getting to make a big deal of a “disease” that has been “spread” to the U.S. from Mexico?  It works perfectly in line with the desire to keep “them” out of “our” country – nothing like fear of disease to increase suspicion.  It also runs conveniently with racist stereotypes about hygiene and “dirtiness.”  “The threat comes from south of the U.S. border . . .” Kill me now.

The media jumps on it because they can talk ish about Mexico (and, by extension, Mexicans), even using racist terms, without being overtly racist.  Anybody who currently enjoys talking about how “they” bring disease can oh-so-happily deflect accusations of racism by citing the news, and “facts,” and even . . . “science.”  It’s this beautiful metaphor for racists to hide behind, and it just disgusts me how many folks who seemed perfectly non-prejudiced have so gleefully jumped on this bandwagon.

Whoo! I’m getting heated.  So let’s move on to reason number two: it’s just more ridiculous fear-mongering.  Let’s look into the words and numbers, words first.

“Pandemic.”  Sounds huge and dangerous and scary, right?  And the WHO (World Health Organization) is using that word, so that’s a big deal, right?

Wrong.  “Pandemic” just means an “epidemic spread over a wide geographical area.”  So it just means that swine flu is part of an epidemic in more than one country (doesn’t even have to be more than one country to be a “pandemic,” either).  But wait – we’re still using the word “epidemic,” which has to be scary and big and dangerous, right?

Wrong again.  “Epidemic” means “a disease or anything resembling a disease; attacking or affecting many individuals in a community or a population.”  So swine flu is something resembling a disease, and it’s affecting more than one person in a community.  Hmm . . . Really?  That’s all an “epidemic” really is?

So all the implied scariness and hugeness of a “pandemic” just means that there’s something resembling a disease that’s affecting more than one person in two countries or more?  Seriously!?

Yup.  Just one more “scientific” word completely blown out of proportion.  Sure, it could mean something big.  But it usually means nothing special at all.  Every single year there’s a pandemic of normal flus.  We just don’t think about it because it’s so damn common.

But wait – that’s the trick, right?  A normal flu pandemic is no big deal because it’s common and not deadly, but the swine flu is much worse, right?

Sorry – nope.  The swine flu kills one in a thousand.  That’s a 0.1% mortality rate.  And guess who that’s killing?  Really old people and babies.  The malnutritioned.  The same people that die from the common cold all the freaking time.  Adjust for that fact, and the chance of dying from swine flu for a healthy person – once you already have it – is probably about one in a million.  Win that lottery, die of swine flu.  And that’s not even adjusting for the fact that you’re pretty unlikely to even be exposed to swine flu in the first place, which would put you at like one in a hundred million . . .

And, just so you know, the common flu kills between 30,000 and 50,000 people every year.  And it’s still news when we hear about individuals dying of swine flu.

Get it?  Do you see why this is all so frustrating and irritating to me?  We jump on this “pandemic,” so we can be racists, without the guilt, and then we fall back on terrible science and misleading “facts” to cover our asses.  I’m done with it.

And now that I’ve set you all straight, y’all better be done with it, too.

Or else I’ll sick my pig on you . . .

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One comment

  1. It is so nice to not be the only one who sees this stuff and screams BS! The first thing I thought when their were cases, was- so it is like the regular flu but has only killed a few people? I also think that the discrepancy between access to health care, healthy food and housing is also an important issue in all things regarding health.

    I thought it was a convenient way of approaching shutting down the border while making it seem a national necessity around a random flu rather than about the country’s ongoing political motives to control the US population and the wider world by any means. Especially considering colonizers brought devastating diseases throughout and i haven’t seen any publicity on banning folks from England…etc…



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