Loose tongues endanger lives

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Added: Wed, 05/19/2021 - 12:38pm
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Fred Ryan
Éditorialiste Invitée
Guest Editorialist

The two World Wars
gave us plenty of public messaging about "idle talk" which might reveal secrets to under-cover enemy agents. Every subject, from call-up notices to departure times - anything which might give our enemies an edge - was included. "Loose tongues endanger lives" was a common public message.
Today we find ourselves at war again, but with a more insidious enemy, Covid-19. Today's world war has battlefields in every town and city, in every nation. The old
message applies: idle talk, gossip and rumours, idle speculation, false news and the deliberate spreading of fear, confusion and over-confidence - these are real weapons. Chatter, across all media platforms and in most personal conversations, is as much an ally of the enemy as gossip about troop call-ups were in both World Wars.
Idle talk should be a target for everyone's concern - talk ranging from simple hopes and fears born from our frustrations with the lockdown, to
repetitions of malicious anti-vaccination messages and spreading fears about one vaccine or another. We've got to hit "pause" before repeating stories and second-hand reports we've heard.  We ought to be careful not to broadcast even true incidents whose publication only stimulates fear and over-reaction in others. 
This includes gossip about who "may" have contracted Covid-19 or about the "suspicion" of certain Covid-19 variants in our communities. Even naming names of those who may have been infected, or naming doctors or nurses who may have
said or "seen things" which the authorities do not acknowledge, these are harmful acts on our part.
Repeating rumours from doctors' offices, from the hospital or CLSCs, from the CISSSO, the government ... all of this remains rumour. Harmful rumour.
None of this talk - it's gossip, face it - is helpful to anyone. It’s not up to you and I to broadcast others' views about the science of vaccinations and vaccine types, about evaluating treatments or even understanding the reactions of health officials ... leave these specific and measurable questions to those authorities who are trained and up-to-date on the research covering these topics. Trust their expertise, not our vague suspicions. And if we do take it upon ourselves to distrust official sources, that lack of trust demands very strictly-identified and clear evidence. Suppositions and prejudices towards certain officials or certain public institutions is a personal matter.
Once broadcast, it becomes harmful obstructionism.
If the Nazis were at our borders we would all hunker down and pull together;
we would turn ourselves into that "united fist" which defeats invaders. Let's revive our communal strengths against today's common enemy.
That enemy is inside our gates, and is making terrible gains. Covid-19's effects may prove worse than anything the fascists achieved. Today's big struggle demands we work together, not divide each other up, especially with "innocent gossip". This talk is not innocent at all.