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[ NNSquad ] Stop the Ebola Witch-Hunt!

                          Stop the Ebola Witch-Hunt!


There's a wonderful old 1963 episode of the classic original 
"The Outer Limits" series called "The Sixth Finger."

It stars David McCallum as a man who is artificially and rapidly
evolved into the human of the far future, both in terms of physical
appearance and vastly enhanced intellect.

At one critical juncture, as he surveys the pitiful confusion of the
ordinary humans who want to destroy him for being different, he
proclaims, "Your ignorance makes me ill and angry."

But you don't have to be a super-intellect to feel both ill and angry
at the spectacle of the current Ebola witch-hunt, being largely
orchestrated by so-called radio and television "journalists" and
lowlife politicians, with masses of ordinary folks being whipped into
a frenzy of hate and prejudice as a predictable (and we may reasonably
assume, intentional) result.

The worst offenders are the usual sycophant suspects. Moronic
right-wing talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh, the FOX News clowns,
and the rest of the theocratic, anti-science, anti-health care, racist
boosters of the rich and haters of the poor. You can tune them in
anytime, ranting that Ebola is all a plot by Obama, that we should ban
anyone who has been in Africa, and that we're about to be destroyed by
an Ebola mutated into an airborne horror.

Sad to say, CNN -- once a great news organization -- now spinning out
of control into the pit of mediocrity under the reigns of Jeff Zucker,
has been a particular offender, going wall to wall for ratings with
breathless, panicked Ebola stories, only sidetracking into other items
if they're bloody enough or feature globe-trotting chefs or the new
retread of "Dirty Jobs." In fact, one of the few sane recent
commentaries I've seen on cable news lately about Ebola actually was
on FOX News -- proving once again the old adage about a stopped clock
not being incorrect quite all of the time.

And the Internet is now playing a major role as well. Blogs and other
social media are being used to spread completely false rumors about
Ebola outbreaks and deaths in the U.S., or attempting to capitalize on
fake Ebola cures. Facebook and Twitter are being used today to vilify
a doctor back from treating Ebola patients who has now tested positive
for the disease.

Naturally, these purposeful attempts at panicking the populace are
having nightmarish, sickly effects. One of those effects is to terrify
health care workers, who know all too well what the sorts of demands
now coming from talk show hosts, politicians, and panicked citizens
would mean in terms of making a horrible situation in Africa even

Attempts to ban persons who have traveled or transited from Africa
would decimate relief efforts, as would country-specific travel bans
in general. Demanding that every symptom-free health care worker who
has been trying to help Ebola patients be quarantined upon return is
not only unnecessary but would vastly undermine the willingness of
health care workers to volunteer for such efforts in the first place.
Meanwhile, where Ebola really is endemic -- in Africa -- it would
continue to spread in the horrendous living conditions and primitive
health care environment there -- putting ever more people in Africa at
genuine risk.

Now, get this through your thick skulls, you idiot Ebola panickers and
profiteers ...

The only people who get Ebola are ones who are in direct, close
contact with persons in the throws of major Ebola symptoms -- like
vomiting, horrible coughing, and other symptoms you wouldn't want to
be anywhere near even if all they represented was a case of the flu.

It is not an epidemic here. It is not going to be an epidemic here.

And speaking of the flu -- now that's something you should be worried
about! Thousands die every year from the flu here in the U.S., many
for lack of simple vaccinations (thank the anti-vaccine nutcases for
contributing to that). Unlike Ebola, the flu is airborne and easily

Oh yes -- and ironically, the same GOP fanatics so desperate to repeal
the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") that has provided millions with
insurance and preventative care against diseases such as the flu, are
the same hateful creatures who are out there now seemingly demanding
draconian restrictions against anyone who even utters the word "Ebola"
in public.

And just to be clear, this isn't just a GOP-orchestrated witch-hunt --
though they're the masters of the method. There are also Democratic
politicians who are playing the Ebola scare card for all it's worth.

Given the toxic political landscape, it's six of one and half a dozen
of another (and I don't mean "Outer Limits" fingers in this case) when
it comes to reigning in our politicians on this. Ebola is their
natural element for exploitation. You might as well try keep a bear
away from a beehive dripping with honey.

But there is one thing I believe we can do. As I noted earlier, social
media is being widely abused to spread Ebola panic and prejudice. When
you see this occur, I urge you to call out the perpetrators publicly
for what they are. Don't sit silently and let them get away with their
hateful garbage.

Yes, this means having a thick enough skin to deal with the inevitable
trolls, but this is a situation where we're talking about real lives
being ruined not only by Ebola itself, but by purposefully
orchestrated false stories and resulting panic, often using the Web as
its carrier.

Thankfully, the Internet is still one place where we individually and
collectively still have some real control.

Take care.

Lauren Weinstein (lauren@vortex.com): http://www.vortex.com/lauren 
 - Network Neutrality Squad: http://www.nnsquad.org 
 - PRIVACY Forum: http://www.vortex.com/privacy-info
Co-Founder: People For Internet Responsibility: http://www.pfir.org/pfir-info
Member: ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy
I am a consultant to Google -- I speak only for myself, not for them.
Lauren's Blog: http://lauren.vortex.com
Google+: http://google.com/+LaurenWeinstein 
Twitter: http://twitter.com/laurenweinstein
Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800 / Skype: vortex.com
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