#First do less harm and other commentary

#First do less harm and other commentary

June 19, 2020 | 4:50pm

Pandemic journal: First Do Less Harm

This “should be the harm reduction phase of the pandemic,” argues The Week’s Bonnie Kristian. Dining out, she “saw an older man with a disposable mask wrapped around his upper arm.” “They said I have to wear it,” he said. “They didn’t say where!” That’s “the attitude” of “a significant minority of Americans.” “Skepticism of coronavirus containment recommendations” has only risen since public-health experts decided “protesting police brutality is worth the risk of contagion.” Americans won’t remain locked down, so let’s focus on reducing harm. Allow religious communities to meet “in large sanctuaries instead of forcing them to conceal their gathering in far smaller and riskier private homes.” Rather than have “kids from multiple households crowd around the TV all summer, open the pool.” In sum, “recognize that there can be competing goods, and that doing the best we realistically can is better than doing nothing at all.”

From the right: Popularity Is Not Process

“Pollsters and media outlets” don’t “understand the difference between policy outcomes and constitutional process,” laments National Review’s David Harsanyi. Take Pew pollster Neil Ruiz touting his center’s survey “showing that Americans broadly support” Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals the day the Supreme Court ruled President Trump couldn’t immediately end the program. Harsanyi supports DACA’s goals to legalize “the children of illegal immigrants” — but he knows that “to become law, they need to…well, become law.” President Barack Obama passed DACA by executive order, undermining “the entire purpose of having a Congress.” Pollsters shouldn’t ask Americans’ opinions on the “legal status of illegal immigrants” — but rather if they believe presidents can “bypass Congress” to change law.

Libertarian: Cancel Culture’s New Low

The Washington Post has published “one of the worst newspaper articles of all time,” blasts Reason’s Robby Soave. At a 2018 Halloween party a Post cartoonist hosted, “a white woman painted her face black and wore a name tag that read ‘Hello, My Name is Megyn Kelly,’” referring to her defense of blackface. The partygoer “is not famous, she does not appear to hold any power, and is not seeking public office.” But “a pair of young, progressive women” offended by the costume wanted “revenge,” enlisting the paper “to help them identify and publicly humiliate” the woman, and the Post obliged with 3,000 words. This horrible piece made it to print because of “the rising dual trends of activist journalism and unforgiving progressivism,” and “everyone involved in its publication should be deeply ashamed.” Snaps Soave: “As far as cancel culture goes, this is a new and depressing low point.”

Culture desk: COVID Boosts Country

The music industry had been thriving, but “the pandemic changed all that,” reports Bloomberg’s Lucas Shaw. Concerts are canceled, and “listening has fallen by about 550 million streams a week.” “But two genres have been spared the COVID crunch: children’s music and country.” “Growth in kids’ music has subsided as more people return to work,” but “country has only accelerated”: Americans “have listened to an average of 11.1% more country since mid-March,” and streaming climbed nearly a quarter the last week of May. “Music executives and fans” have a few theories why: Some say it’s “comfort food at a time when people are craving any form of succor,” while others note “country music is a perfect complement to drinking,” a popular lockdown pastime. “The simplest explanation may be the most boring,” though: “Country fans,” who tend to be older, “are learning to stream.”

Media watch: A Worrying Moment for Democracy

At the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, retired newspaperman Tony Ridder is “aghast” that internal uproar over publishing an op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton forced James Bennet to “resign as editor of The New York Times’ opinion section.” Newspapers have long promoted “free speech” and “frank and honest debate” — the “grist for any democracy.” If newspapers “cease to be public forums,” “how on earth” will Americans “understand those who come from different backgrounds”? Washington politicians “wall themselves off” from members of the other party, and journalism “risks being sucked into the black hole of Washington’s partisanship,” Ridder bemoans. “Readers deserve better. Democracy demands it.”

— Compiled by The Post Editorial Board


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