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Poynted remarks

Our columnist vents on the Covidiot-shaming, statues and more. 

If I read one more Facebook post complaining about #Covidiots and people ‘flocking to beaches’…

I’ve had the argument online. You cannot tell from a sideways-on photograph just how crowded that park is. An overhead shot might give you a better view.

I arrived at my local park a couple of weeks ago thinking it looked packed, but was pleasantly surprised to find everyone there behaving themselves and keeping their distance. But if you took a photo by the park gates, you could be forgiven in thinking that people were just getting too close.

Why would people get too close? We’re British, we don’t do that! If there’s an empty seat on the bus, we’re not going to take the one that’s next to another passenger in the best of times, not just during a pandemic.

Who goes to the beach and sits a couple of feet away from the next person unless they’re a friend or relative? No-one does.

I noticed the perspective effect in photographs recently when I saw a picture of my daughter hoeing the small plot we have in a local community garden. The homes next to the gardens have an around 10-12 metre gap between their gardens (tiny ones, maybe 4 metres?) and the fence surrounding the community gardens. But the photo made it look as if the homes were a couple of feet behind the fence. The same might be true of some of the photos of beaches and parks. My point is, you just cannot tell how close people are from a photo. Nor can you tell if they’re from the same household or not.

Now I don’t want to appear dismissive of the dangers of Covid-19. And of course, people should be careful, self-isolate when necessary, take all reasonable precautions, and if they’re walking along two abreast, and have to pass someone going the opposite way, they should break into single file to make room (and all too often they don’t). People should not be using public transport for frivolous purposes (but I don’t believe many do) and certainly should not be driving around the country willy-nilly carrying an infectious disease and then lying about it. If there’s one recent example of lockdown-dodging that’s caused me to rant and rage that’s the one. Eye test my arse.

But it’s when I read complaints about people meeting up for a vigil or demo to protest yet another murder of a black man by US cops, and I read: ‘no can’t support that, they’re not socially distancing…’ as if that is really the only thing we should be concerned about, as if the people of colour at the demo somehow hadn’t realised that they should keep 2 metres away, as if they hadn’t realised that as people of colour they are more at risk from this virus! White privilege much? People are protesting despite Covid, not in disregard to it. Many protestors are wearing face masks. No-one at the beach does. Just saying.

The more recent demos have resulted in the pulling down of statues, most notably that of slave trader Colston in Bristol. This is something that locals have been campaigning on for some time, and it seems to take a very long time to do it through official channels.

For all those complaining about vandalism and thuggery – did you say the same when the Berlin Wall was pulled down (and not through official channels either) or the statue of Saddam Hussein? Yes, the law has been broken, but the same was true of the people who hid the family of Anne Frank, whilst whoever it was that reported on them was obeying the law. Sometimes the law is wrong.

It does seem that violence against inanimate objects is rated more important than violence against human beings. I would say against animals as well except that some people have appeared to be more concerned about the wellbeing of police horses and have next to nothing to say about the lynching of a black man by police.

Some are saying the tide is turning. I hope they are right and that it is turning in the right direction.