Largely confined to their homes and worried about the spread of the coronavirus and its risks to their own health or that of loved ones, a segment of the United States has turned informant, calling the police, public health authorities and the employers of people they believe are violating social-distancing decrees or stay-at-home orders.
Across the country, these complaints have led to shutdowns of dog groomers and massage establishments as well as citations and police scoldings to restaurant and bar owners whose patrons are lingering too close to one another. . . .
Some people are resorting to anonymous acts of public shaming. The tone is nasty at times.
In Manhattan’s East Village, profanity-laden posters have been tacked to telephone poles chastising people for not wearing face masks. In Long Beach, Wash., a popular weekend getaway for Seattleites that had been closed, a flyer left on car windshields said, “Your vacation is not worth our lives.” On Twitter, the hashtag #FloridaMorons was used to shame citizens by posting photos of crowded beaches after they recently reopened.
In Wisconsin, after a local TV news outlet published a story saying that Dr. Murdock had been suspended, people cheered in messages on a private Facebook group backing stay-at-home orders
KSDK, a local NBC affiliate, reported in late April that a man named Jared Totsch received a copy of these tipsters’ records and shared them on Facebook. When a KDSK reporter reached out to him to point to him that these tipsters are now worried about retaliation, Totsch responded that was partly the point.
“I’d call it poetic justice, instant Karma, a dose of their own medicine,” he responded. “What goes around, comes around. They are now experiencing the same pain that they themselves helped to inflict on those they filed complaints against.”
A friend on Facebook comments: “We are in unchartered terrritory in dealing with this pandemic — but that’s precisely why we need epistemic humility not technocratic certitude. This is the time to listen to many different points of views not shout them down by going into one’s high dudgeon.”