Amy Roberts: Protesters’ new motto: ‘My body, my choice.’ Oh, that’s rich.
I have a dear friend who is British, and every time I speak with him, I feel like a peasant. It’s not because of what he says, but rather the way he says it. I’m not sure if an accent can be coiffed, but if it can, his is. It’s the most elaborately posh version of the Queen’s English I’ve ever heard. He could make a conversation about diarrhea sound uppity.
He frequently uses typical British phrases. He’s “knackered” or I’m “cheeky.” Often, he will “fancy a cuppa” or deem something “utterly rubbish.” It’s nothing you wouldn’t hear listening to a podcast narrated by Ricky Gervais. But there’s one phrase my friend drops particularly often that always makes me feel like we’re having afternoon tea at Buckingham Palace. “Oh, that’s rich,” he’ll often say as an expression of ironic amusement.
I have always wanted to casually drop “Oh, that’s rich” into a conversation, but the context has never been quite right. To use it correctly, you need to be referencing outrageously obvious hypocrisy of some sort, which can be difficult to find out in the open. Most people are at least marginally aware of their double standards. Otherwise they wouldn’t go to such great lengths to hide them from everyone else.
But with last weekend’s demonstrations in states across the country, including one in Salt Lake City, where about 1,000 people gathered to protest stay-at-home orders they believe to be unconstitutional, well, now I finally get to use the phrase. And with gusto. The crowd’s general message was this: The government has no right to make decisions about my health care. Many protesters even carried signs that read “My Body, My Choice.”
Oh, that’s rich.
While no official poll was taken to assess the political affiliation of those in attendance, judging by the number of those donning MAGA apparel and waving yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” flags, it’s a pretty fair bet most in the group subscribe to right-wing ideology. Which isn’t the issue. The issue lies in their suddenly very pro-choice belief the government should not have a say in the personal decisions they make about their health. Many have claimed it’s their body and therefore their right to decide what they do with it. This argument sounds oddly familiar. It’s almost like women have been screaming something similar for decades.
As for the very real possibility they could be a carrier and infect someone else who later dies from the disease, well, none of the protesters seemed too terribly concerned about that. In fact, many of the them seem to confuse a Google search with a medical degree, claiming they’ve “done the research” and only those with a weak immune system are likely to die. How very pro-life of them.
Even more ironic, many of these protesters are the type of people who have spent the better part of their lives stockpiling guns, ammunition, and canned foods preparing for doomsday. They have written manifestos and own an assortment of military grade tactical gear. Yet the survivalists who claimed they were ready for Armageddon are the same people who stormed state capitals because they want to go to the Olive Garden. This was supposed to be their moment to shine, and they were the first to crack. Indeed, that’s rich.
I’m aware there is no shortage of real, irreversible damage being done by keeping things locked down. For every new case of COVID-19 that is prevented by a quarantine, there’s a tangible cost on the other side: A job lost, an isolation suicide, an addict who will relapse. Right now, many of us are trying to figure out what is the least-worst option. I don’t know what it is, but I am pretty confident it is not spending 30 minutes on the Internet and deciding you’re basically an epidemiologist now.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.
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“Our community is fluid,” columnist Teri Orr writes. “Yet our actions are increasing rigid … and honestly — tired and stuck and unimaginative and nowhere near … .”