The swine! The flu!

root - Posted on 01 January 2000

by Thorton Kimes

Part One

Conspiracy theories and Swine Flu were on our minds at POOR Magazine when the S.F. first popped up on the radar. Still are. The state of hellthcare in Amerikka, folks buying cheaper medicine from Canada (the Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex ranting and raving about not being able to afford to do research and development to save us from doom and gloom if that was allowed), and a whole host of other problems that hurt poor people the most—the truth is that Capitalism is the only conspiracy theory you need.

The word “conspiracy” or “conspire” comes from Latin, a phrase meaning “to breathe together”. Whether or not we are on the same page about Swine Flu or anything else, we’re breathing together all the time, like it or not.

Swine Flu and other nasty surprises we’ve had over the past few decades can be explained only a few ways and all of them mean we’re in trouble. Disease is one of Nature’s best population control weapons, the Black Death did a very good job of that in Europe and the Spanish Flu killed millions in North America and lives in the institutional memory and nightmares of the medical world.

The biggest thing that freaks out the medical folks is diseases lurking in rain forests being destroyed to create more farms, diseases hitchhiking on container ships or sent ‘round the world by the underground trade in exotic animals—even stuff long dormant in the snow and ice of the fast-melting poles, stuff we have no natural defenses against or drugs to use to combat them.

Those are reasonable fears. Other people have fears that are either “conspiracy theories” or reality, and there are historical precedents backing them as real. The U.S. government experiment on Black Americans from 1932 to 1972, the Tuskegee Experiment in Macon, GA, involved 400 men infected with syphilis who were never told they had it. Even after Penicillin was invented the researchers wanted to keep studying those men.

Old-school (and supposedly outlawed) chemical warfare agents like Mustard Gas, used in the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980’s, killed thousands of fighters and left more crippled for whatever remained of their lives. Agent Orange worked better than the post-9/11 Anthrax attacks, destroying plant life, hurting and killing many Vietnamese and doing the same to many American soldiers on the ground.

Israel used White Phosphorus bombs in the late 2008 invasion of Gaza. White Phosphorus burns flesh, to the bone if you can’t remove it, and it burns under water too—which means you can’t wash it off the usual way. My own mother, normally a skeptical person, freaked out about the Anthrax attacks. Three hundred million people in this country and she feared a bio-weapon that ultimately was more pain in the posterior than true lethal threat.

Native Americans suffered forced sterilizations, and they weren’t the only ones. U.S. soldiers were exposed to radiation from nuclear bomb tests, and “Downwinders”, families living near the desert south-west test facilities have been suffering radiation damage and cancers, including Breast Cancer, ever since. Terry Tempest Williams, a Utah-based Mormon naturalist-writer, wrote REFUGE: AN UNNATURAL HISTORY OF FAMILY AND PLACE after watching some of her beloved local natural terrain (the Great Salt Lake) go through some devastating fluctuations—and losing her mother to Downwinder Breast Cancer.

If you haven’t read her book, please do. Gay America may have very good reason to hate the Mormon Church, but Williams is an amazing writer who brings her Mormon upbringing and family, and the tragedy they suffered from a government conspiracy, into very clear focus.

Part 2

Countries like Egypt destroyed pigs, but Mexico, Swine Flu Ground Zero, fell on its sword and cancelled all public activities in the midst of the Cinco de Mayo celebrations, hurting countless small businesspeople and the folks who worked for them. Poor Mexicans heard the same message all Mexicans got about proper use of water and washing hands—and had little or no access to water but plenty of access to Fear.

China quarantined Mexicans traveling there, which gave Mexico’s president, Felipe Calderone, a great excuse to complain about “discrimination” against Mexicans when he was the Discriminator In Chief. Live by the sword, hey—look both ways before falling on it, someone will be all too willing to “help”.

In Amerikkka we either don’t freak out enough or do it too much. Who benefits from the FEAR propaganda? The PhIC at least. A new way for an old disease to mess with you? New profits to be made from drugs already developed for something else? Yum. Yum!

The truth is that Swine Flu hasn’t yet become the deadly killer we’ve been told it is. Regular flu kills 30,000+ Amerikkkans a year and we don’t freak out about that! We barely even know it, the news media whispered about it a little bit and then shut up about it. I’ve noticed the whispers in this second round of FEARmongering, but the whispered truth just gets lost in the hard sell of we-must-all-be-vaccinated-or-we’re-all-gonna-die stuff going around.

At least one spokesperson I heard during Round One said something about not knowing “everything” about Swine Flu. You get caught with your pants down, fact-finding is job one, but what exactly do we need to know?

The October 23rd, 2009 ABC national news’ medical expert indirectly concluded that Swine Flu may have made Flu season a 24/7 365 days-a-year thing in Amerikkka and possibly elsewhere. Until the behavior of the Medical Industrial Complex, and/or the virus, changes again, we probably must adjust to this new reality.

Acting rationally about it is tough when the Fearmongers are out for blood. Your blood. Your heart and mind. I agree with the coughing/sneezing into an arm instead of cupped hand concept, but now the Etiquette Monger/Fear Monger Complex wants to encourage folks to change fundamentals of behavior like shaking hands!

Shaking hands is a very primal thing, like up-close-and-personal unarmed or close quarters combat with knives and swords; shaking hands is a greeting that proves both hand shakers are unarmed and trustworthy. Wasting a lot of time surfing the net (I’m good at that…) has done a fair amount of damage to face-to-face interpersonal connections people need to forge and reforge often for basic emotional mental health.

The Reagan “Just Say No To Drugs” campgain led some children to turn their parents in to the Police, I wonder what will come of a campaign to kill hand shaking if we truly are entering the era of 24/7 365 days a year Flu, etc.

Part 3

Simon Sez: kids get sick, keep ‘em at home, but keep the schools open. School districts acted and looked like fools during Round One, and high school students in Mill Valley (Marin County), CA, made them look dumberer by publically stating and acting on their intent to hang out together during their unexpected school break. Nothing bad happened.

Schools are being closed again, mostly because 20-25% of students got sick. One student in Northern CA said half her 15-student math class was sick at home. Math has always been my Kryptonite at Algebra and above, but if I had a 1 teacher-to-7-students ratio I’d be dancing the Macarena. If I was a parent I’d be marveling that any school could have a math class with only 15 students in it to start with!

If lack of students equals lack of money from the state or federal government, I’d like to see a special Swine Flu bonus paid to schools that stay open even if many students and some of their teachers are at home. Close the school? Are ya’ll nuts?

Prisons in CA and other places went on lock-down, and still are, the Swine Flu the perfect rationalization for being mean to prisoners. The PIC doesn’t need a new reason for that, AIDS hasn’t locked-down prisons, the PIC doesn’t mind making life and death very frustrating and painful for HIV-positive/AIDS-suffering prisoners. (Poor) Families of prisoners, already burdened by separation and the extreme difficulty of often long distances they must travel for any visits they can manage, are hurt the most.

More isolation. The news media matter-of-factly reports prison overcrowding in CA and the CA governor’s antics over it, and the the Swine Flu decisions, but doesn’t lift a finger to act like that means more than another reason to spread fear or read more words off a teleprompter.

Part 4

There is one valuable thing I’ve learned in the past 20 years: the first 24 hours of a block-buster “breaking news” story is when the confusion and outright lies come fast and thick, hit hard and take hold of our minds like those songs we sometimes can’t get out of our heads for a whole day. Waiting a few days usually leads to greater clarity about what actually happened or is happening.

I’ve mentioned real conspiracies. Many people fear mercury and other additives put into drugs and other necessities of our lives over the past century, substances that the chemical industry, the agricultural industry, and the PhIC suspected or knew could and did contribute to major health problems if they didn’t directly cause them. We need to pay more attention to that, and, supposedly, the government is watching to ensure that the Swine Flu vaccine is safe.

We all know numbers can be made to dance on the head of a pin with the angels. Can we play the music they dance to?

One very interesting thing about recent corporate news media coverage of Swine Flu and the you-may-bave-won-a-flu-shot sweepstakes: one or two skeptical doctors who told their clientele they didn’t need shots got tv face time. Then they vanished. Nothing to see here folks, just go home.

Remember the Peanuts comic strip? Charlie Brown didn’t often get good advice when The Doctor Was In, and he never got to kick the football.

The PhIC has its fingers in many medical pies, including the creation of vaccines for Flu Flu, Swine Flu, et al. The government uses an old, slow method to create vaccine doses, when there is a newer, faster way to do it. The PhIC seems happy to move almost as slowly, allowing the government to promise there will be enough to go around and then –whoops! There isn’t enough. The Fear Mongers strike again.

There is reason for fear. I’m not a parent with a child in the crosshairs. There is reason for pissed-offness too. Who wins when we allow fear to rule us? Haven’t we been through this with 9/11, color coded alerts, fear of a Muslim planet? Red Alert! Red Alert! Klingons!


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