Hey, COVID protesters. Here’s a lesson in tyranny.

It has become an almost weekly event here in Alberta, and in other parts of the Mediocre White North, for a small group of malcontents to gather in protest of COVID-19 restrictions. 

Yep, this is tyranny, alright.

They carry crudely-made signs, and listen intently while someone rants into a bullhorn about the injustices inflicted upon the people. Invariably, someone carries a sign decrying the “tyranny” of mask laws, and how our freedoms are being eroded. 

OK, fine. Have your little rallies. Listen to some idiot with a bullhorn spewing bull … sorry, baloney. Believe me, I sympathize. I don’t want to wear a mask either, and I think panicky and confused governments from Ottawa right on down to the lowliest municipality have often gone overboard. (Remember playgrounds wrapped in police tape? A ban on playing tennis?) 

But when I see someone carrying a sign complaining of “tyranny”, I feel like grabbing them by the shoulders and giving them a good shake to see if I can maybe activate their dormant brain cells. 

Tyranny? Because you have to wear a mask when you go to Safeway? You are doing a disservice to the word, and to the people who truly live under tyranny. If you want really tyranny, covidiots, look outside your little anger bubble.

Look at China. The country that gave us COVID-19 (could we not have sent this gift back, labeled ‘return to sender’?)  is perhaps the most powerful – and certainly the most dangerous – country in the world. And the most tyrannical. 

Nearly 1.4 billion people live in a state that makes George Orwell’s 1984 look like Woodstock. Surveillance cameras are literally everywhere, even outside private homes. In 2018, there were an estimated 349 million surveillance cameras in the country. The country is ruled by one political party, and if you wanted to walk down the street carrying a sign decrying the “tyranny” of the regime (written in Chinese, of course), chances are you would swiftly disappear. That’s tyranny.

And how about the other international bogeyman, Russia? Russian president Vladimir Putin, who looks and acts like a real-life Bond villain, has been proclaimed president for life. The Russian parliament, which is clearly a disgrace to the name, has paved the way for Putin to be president until 2036. His most vocal critic, opposition leader Alexi Navalny, is in jail after courageously returning to the country after Russian agents tried to kill him. That’s tyranny.

Oh, and have you heard of a country called Myanmar, formerly known as Burma? After a military coup, protestors recently took to the streets despite being literally threatened by security forces with being shot in the back. The government delivered as promised, and opened fire last week, killing more than 100. That’s tyranny. 

Now, don’t you feel just a little silly complaining about tyranny now?

Clearly, mask laws are not an example of tyrannical laws. But is being ordered to wear a mask an infringement on our liberty? One protestor at a Calgary rally recently said we should be allowed to make our own choices about our bodies.

Well, sure. By the same token, you should be allowed to drive without a seatbelt; hey, it’s your face going through the windshield. But if you do get deathly ill from COVID – or are tossed from your vehicle – you’re going to a publicly-funded hospital, and taking up space meant for genuinely sick people. 

So, COVID protesters, if you get the disease that has hospitalized tens of thousands of Canadians and you end up in the hospital, please bring a credit card and pay for your stay. Better yet, bring your own ventilator. Fight the power!

By Maurice Tougas

Maurice Tougas is a lifelong Albertan, award-winning writer and reporter, and a former MLA for Edmonton-Meadowlark.

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