The case of Sarah Caisip is a lesson for us all.
In the world of Covid-19, it is now a criminal offence to attend your own father’s funeral – if attending requires you to break quarantines and border restrictions.
As someone who recently lost my own mother, I know precisely how crucial it is to be able to farewell such a loved one, and to seek solace and comfort in fellow grieving family members.
This poor, poor woman was not only unable to be with her father during those last, precious moments of his life – she was kept out of his funeral and away from her mother and sister like some unclean 14th century plague victim.
Reading about how this healthy young woman has been treated by the Queensland Government, and Annastacia Palaszczuk in particular, makes my blood boil.
These are moments you can never, ever get back.
Being able to sit by my mother’s bedside during her final hours; being present at her funeral with my family members; watching her body being buried and being comforted by my loved ones – these are not just vital experiences in processing grief, they are among the most fundamental human rights. They ought to be completely inviolable.
But here they are, being violated.
What’s worse, the justifications used to violate them are becoming increasingly and overwhelmingly questionable.
In the authoritarianism running rampant in places like Victoria and Queensland, in the skyrocketing rates of anxiety, depression and even suicide, in the lost livelihoods and multigenerational businesses facing ruin, one question I’m not hearing nearly often enough is “why?”
Why, exactly, are we allowing our basic rights and freedoms to be snatched away from us? Why are we destroying small and medium businesses and nuking our economies? Why are we condemning thousands to catastrophic mental health conditions?
Why are we lying down and taking it so easily? And why are we all behaving as though state-wide lockdowns are perfectly normal occurrences?
Apparently, we’re doing all this to stop the spread of a virus that, even according to the most dire estimates, has at minimum a 97 percent survival rate. A virus which needs, on average, two or three comorbidities to actually prove fatal to the vast majority of cases, according to new data from the American CDC.
Some of my dearest friends, particularly those in Victoria, are living a form of hell on earth right now, and they’re not alone – relationship breakdowns, work breakdowns, depression, loneliness and serious physical health decline are emerging all around us.
If you still believe we’re going the right way about dealing with this virus, you need to wake up.
“But people will die!” you might say. This is a pandemic – of course people are going to die. And we have a duty to do all we can to protect those most vulnerable, especially in our nursing homes and aged care facilities, many of which have been shockingly neglected throughout this situation.
But this does not mean punishing people for eating lunch alone on park benches, arresting pregnant women in their homes for Facebook posts or, indeed, preventing people from attending their loved ones’ funerals.
These are all scandalous violations of our most fundamental human rights.
Personally, I wouldn’t care if this virus had a 90 or even an 80 percent survival rate – our human rights should be inviolable no matter what.
We should all be free to assess the risks for ourselves and to act accordingly. If people are scared, let them stay home. If they want to go out to work, or to gather with friends, or attend a concert, let them.
I’ll add my voice to a prediction many others have made: 2020 will go down in history as the most unprecedented overreaction to a medical crisis humanity has ever faced. (Come back to me in 30 years if I’m wrong.)
If we don’t stop and take stock of what we’re sacrificing in our frenzy to defeat Covid-19, we’ll discover that our “cure” has, in fact, been worse than the disease.