07:57:04 am on
Tuesday 22 Sep 2020

Who Gets Sprung?
David Simmonds

The focus of the coronavirus pandemic is shifting towards springing people from the captivity they’ve been held in for the past eight or ten weeks. That’s a good thing, but the devil lies in the details. We’ve been told that coming out of the pandemic lockdown will be a series of gradual moves, so it’s quite possible that this will apply to freeing people from their home jail cells.

Who gets out?

Letting people from a low-risk area, such as Wellington County, before letting people from hot spots, such as Ottawa and Toronto, makes sense. It is, however, fraught with political downsides. County people would be wise not march up and down Picton Main Street. two metres apart, of course, celebrating and shouting “We’re out first and you’re not.”

The logical place to start a release programme is with a well-defined group, such as children. They have the shortest attention span, combined with the most energy. Yet, kids can’t make mature choices about their actions, so it would be short sighted not to release their parents at the same time, much as their parents would probably love to have another eight weeks alone recovering from the constant presence of their offspring.

Kids need to go to school. You would have to release their teachers, too. So, releasing kids first doesn’t seem like the perfect first step.

Well, maybe we should start at the other end and begin by freeing those over ninety, followed by those over eighty and so forth. This would prefer those who presumably have the shortest time left on this mortal coil. If it turned out to that the virus bites back when restrictions are lifted, the people who have already had a good at bat would be the hardest hit. That seems fair, although a little dubious, ethically.

Good behaviour as a standard of release.

Perhaps people should only be released from captivity as a reward for good behaviour during the confinement period. Of course, they would have to produce affidavits from their neighbours certifying that the no-more-than-five-people rule and the adhered to the two-metre rule have been, strictly. This involves a great deal of paperwork, which might go over well with civil servants working in Ottawa.

Maybe release should be a reward for the people who can correctly count the number of times Justin Trudeau has peered earnestly into the camera and stated, “We want Canadians to know that the government has your back.” That might prompt Andrew Scheer to stomp his feet and demand that a full House of Commons debate the issue and a Royal Commission, under his direction, since he needs a job, might be struck.

Maybe it would be less controversial if pet owners were the first out of the gate; the grounds would be that the animals are more desperate than their owners and need to find and fertilize more territory. Who would qualify as a pet? Just dogs, but what of cats or goldfish?

Perhaps there are more creative approaches to deciding who gets freed first that could also be employed to right certain historic wrongs. For instance, maybe we should first release all those long suffering people whose names begin with the last letter of the alphabet, How much grief have those Zylstras, Zubers and Zuckerman suffered; the Adams, Atkinsons and Appelbaums always get the first shot at whatever’s on offer?

What of releasing left-handed people that were forced in grade school to learn to write right handedly? Maybe now is time to make them a gesture of reconciliation. They do deserve a break.

Perhaps it’s best to try and neutralize the process for deciding who gets out of captivity first. Maybe there should be a lottery, with everyone having an equal chance of success. They could use the Ontario Lottery Corporation’s computer to randomly choose from 365 birthdates.

Maybe the government could combine the lottery approach with a set of criteria, picked by a computer using its artificial intelligence. For example, it might pick all persons aged between 38 and 45, as of 1 January 2020, that have since eaten perogies, listened to a Willie Nelson song and been to a Toronto Argonauts game. Mind you, nobody will admit attending an Argonauts game in that period. Maybe the artificial intelligence might need a little refine. There could be a major government grant in there somewhere. 

Consider my innovative ideas.

I had better leave the job of determining criteria for the reals from captivity to the experts. Nevertheless, I invite them to consider the innovative ideas proffered in this column. If the experts don’t care for these ideas, I have 673.5 more for them to consider.

Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose, not infrequently laced with savage humour. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Pete Hamill and Mike Barnacle; the late Jimmy Breslin and Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington, Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.

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