The defining moment in the “rules for thee but not for me” ethos of the ruling class during the COVID-19 pandemic may have come when Neil Ferguson, the epidemiologist behind Britain’s lockdown policy, met with his married girlfriend in defiance of the restrictions he promoted. Eager to threaten the common people with penalties if they failed to socially distance, he saw no reason to inconvenience himself the same way—although at least he conceded that propriety required him to resign his government post when the trysts were discovered in May.
“He has peculiarly breached his own guidelines, and for an intelligent man I find that very hard to believe,” marveled Sir Iain Duncan Smith, a prominent member of the ruling Conservative Party. “It risks undermining the Government’s lockdown message.”
Well, yes. But like all too many officials, Ferguson obviously never thought he’d be caught violating rules that he’d never intended be applied to himself. As we’ve since learned, Ferguson’s above-the-law attitude is common among those who feel entitled to write regulations and impose penalties on others for violating them.
One can argue to death the science behind the risk factors of Penn’s decision. He and Dorsey could both be negative for Covid-19, they are outdoors, etc. But there are no ifs, ands, or buts to his mask tweet or his ranting interviews on CNN. He makes no exceptions, so why should we? States like California have travel advisories in place, warning people to skip out on jetting around for the holidays, and mask mandates can be found all over the US. When was the last time you walked shirtless on a beach without a mask in Hawaii?
The Covid-19 pandemic has put a cruel, yet honest light on celebrity culture in the US. From interviews about the pandemic with Stephen King to Penn, this light has revealed an ugly obsession with the idea of celebrity, as well as the need for many to connect celebrity status with intelligence and perspective, especially on the left.
And this celebrity cult goes far beyond the star of ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High’ as this obsession with public figures has also infected politics, and it’s only been worsened during Covid.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo can’t tell New Yorkers enough about how their behavior has helped spread Covid-19 in his state. While he’s been running this shame campaign, however, Cuomo has traveled out of state and been seen without a mask.