Slavery in fiction

Slavery exists. Whether you like it or not, it exists, and it has existed almost as long as civilization itself. Around the world, the practice has been, well, practiced for thousands of years. Even today, in the enlightened West, it’s not totally gone. The Thirteenth Amendment of the US Constitution, often cited as banning slavery, does no such thing—it only prohibits private ownership of slaves. The government can and does continue to enslave, specifically in the form of prison labor.

But, you may say, that’s completely different from what slave-owners in the South did before the Civil War! Yes, that’s true. Funny thing is, though, most examples of slavery throughout history are also nothing like that, so you can’t use it as the typical example. It’s just the most well-known, partly because of the general anti-Southern bias in modern media that makes all of us out to be racists who would love nothing more than to enslave all blacks, if only those pesky Feds would let us. (Fact: most of East Tennessee, where I’m from, voted against secession, and almost nobody here actually owned slaves. My great-great-grandfather very vocally freed the two he received as an inheritance from his uncle, because he considered slavery an affront to God, and a coal miner had no use for plantation slave labor besides.)

For fantasy, and the historical periods it tends to cover, slavery is a completely different institution. And “institution” is very often an apt description. Not only was slavery practiced, it was respected, regulated, and treated as nothing more than another part of society.

The practice

Before we go any further, let’s take a step back and define what we’re looking at. Slavery, as it has been practiced through the millennia, comes in a few different forms that the author should be careful to distinguish.

What we know from biased history texts is chattel slavery. In this form, the slaves are in all respects considered property, sometimes on the same level as livestock animals, but more often in a higher position commensurate with their status as human beings. They can be bought and sold, auctioned off, passed on as inheritance, and so on. The owner doesn’t always have free reign over their lives, however. In many cases, there are legal or social pressures restricting what a slave-owner may do with his property. (The forms of discipline attributed to antebellum Southerners—whipping, beating, the rack, and some more fanciful ideas—are the exception, not the rule.) Slaves in this system may even be taxed, the same as any other property.

Another form of slavery is indentured servitude. Here, the slavery is intended to be only temporary, and usually in exchange for something. For example, debtors in 18th-century England could submit to indenture for a period of time, such as five or seven years, effectively paying off their debt by letting themselves be owned for that time. Many such servants ended up in America, often in Georgia and the Carolinas, and the key thing to understand here is that they were white. They weren’t captured or sold into slavery, but sentenced to it, and they would be released from it when their time was up.

The third kind doesn’t really have a common name, but here I’ll refer to it as caste slavery. Some cultures consider certain people enslaved by birth. These castes are accorded fewer rights, barred from social and career advancement, and otherwise treated as lesser in some way. This is a kind of slavery that still exists everywhere: illegal immigrants are de facto caste slaves, as are Palestinians and Uyghurs, and the “vaccine passport” system is an attempt to create a caste distinction throughout the world.

Finally, “wage” slavery is another form that continues to exist today, and is even heralded as a good thing by some. Rather than a system of ownership, wage slavery exploits its subjects by forcing them to work to live at a below-subsistence level, by arranging for the cost of living to be higher than the average wage. Yes, wage slaves make money, but so did actual slaves in some cultures. The slavery aspect comes in when it becomes mathematically impossible to make enough money to bring oneself to financial independence.

In all forms of slavery, there is a method for gaining freedom. The more barbaric practices make that more difficult, often requiring an escape to a freer territory (the Underground Railroad) or outside aid. But this isn’t always the case. It’s perfectly possible to have a society where slavery is practiced within well-defined limits, where slaves always know that freedom is possible, and that it is something they can work towards. Indeed, some might even consider such a society better than ours.

Who is a slave?

This is a very important question for a society, and not necessarily one with an easy answer. Who is considered eligible to be enslaved? The Enlightenment gave us the ideal of universal rights, the belief that all men are created equal, that liberty is the natural state of man, but not everyone today accepts that premise. Before 1776, almost no one did.

Yet that doesn’t mean that a specific group or race could always be equated with slavery. Instead, the answer is culture-specific. The New World settled on black Africans as slaves for specific reasons. The African warlords took slaves in their constant raids on each other, then sold them to European traders for a relative pittance, so even shipping them across the Atlantic was cheaper than using local indigenous labor or undesirables from the homeland.

That brief description gives us one source of slaves: prisoners of war. And this was common throughout history. It’s still a tried and true method of gaining slaves among tribal societies today. Industrialized nations ran plenty of POW work camps in World War II, and those tales make for a good modern analogue to previous eras’ concepts of war slavery.

Prisoners in general provide us with another pool of potential slaves. We’re all familiar with the various prison work gangs, but they used to do a lot more than pick up litter on the side of the road; see the opening scenes of O Brother, Where Art Thou? as one example of the Depression-era version. Here, it’s assumed by government and society as a whole that the commission of a crime (and, one hopes, being found guilty in a fair trial) is justification for a regulated, public-owned sort of slavery. As most crimes don’t carry a life sentence, we expect this to be limited in time, so indentured servitude is by far the most common kind of prison-related slavery.

The worst kind, on the other hand, simply takes a minority of some sort and assumes they have so few rights that they can be enslaved at any point. Of course, this requires both an authoritarian mindset and a useful foil, so it’s not very common in Western democracies and republics. Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is a notable exception, while China’s enslavement of the Uyghurs in occupied East Turkestan illustrates the depths minority slavery can reach when the majority is complicit.

Religion also offers some potential justifications for slavery, and this comes from two directions. One is the obvious: infidels forfeit their rights simply by existing, so enslaving them is not only not a bad thing, but it’s God’s will. This view was common among Muslim countries all the way up to the 20th century, and was one excuse used in Spanish America. It does require scriptural support (the Old Testament and the Koran both provide that, in fact), but dedicated slavers can contort anything into standing behind them.

On the other hand, a tamer and more socially acceptable form of religious slavery can exist as a form of penance. In a sense, this is basically prisoner slavery but with extra steps. The added wrinkle here is that the penitent can submit himself to slavery. Monks could, for instance, require acolytes to offer themselves as servants for a period of initiation. Those who violate the precepts of the church could face a period of indenture on earth, or instead opt to face judgment in the hereafter. (In a fantasy setting, this might not be a simple choice!)

Work makes you free

While most of us think of slaves as forced to do whatever their owners wish, it’s not always that simple. Some cultures and societies reserve certain areas of work as the province of slaves. Typically, this is menial labor such as farming (in the American South), building (in ancient Egypt), or something of that sort. Domestic servants—maids, cooks, babysitters, and the like—were also often enslaved. Skilled craftsmen might employ slave labor for the unskilled jobs around their shops, as well, especially in lower-tech settings.

Those aren’t the only options, though. Literate slaves could be used as scribes in a society that predates printing. Others, especially women, could do the “grunt work” of spinning wool or working a loom. In all cases, the object is to free up the free citizens’ time by offloading the more repetitive or less creative labor on those who don’t have a choice.

That’s not to say slaves couldn’t earn respect. Many could, and many did. At court, for instance, slaves could rise high in the ranks simply by being attached to the elite. Often, nobles of high rank would have slaves they trusted as much as (or more than) their peers. Fantasy literature tends to overemphasize this kind of slavery, as it’s more palatable to the general reader, but it does have a basis in fact. Just remember that this is the minority, the same as the nobility is a vanishingly small minority of the free populace.

Slaves in some cultures thus earned a measure of trust and respect. They did their jobs well, proved their loyalty, and received higher positions as a result. This is directly at odds with the common picture of the beaten and bloody chattel slaves on Southern plantations, but that situation once again has a reason for existing as it did. In this case, it’s because the South was already a fairly “flat” social structure. Yes, you had a kind of aristocratic landowning class that stood above the tradesmen and shopkeepers, but there wasn’t a lot of mobility to begin with. Thus, there wouldn’t have been anywhere for slaves to climb to. And the labor they did on tobacco and cotton plantations was both menial and specialized—it didn’t really translate to anything else.

The dark side

There is one universal sort of slavery, however, something that transcends barriers of color and culture alike: the sex slave. This is also the one kind that not only still exists, but has tacit endorsement and even participation from politicians in power right now, as the Epstein and Maxwell cases proved.

Sex slaves could come from anywhere. They could fit into any of the groups listed above. Although the practice was very often officially banned, ways around the legal prohibitions abounded. Prisoners were—and still are—very often abused in this manner. Victims of kidnapping continue to be sold into sexual slavery by the thousands.

You’d have to be a very brave or very foolish author to even begin to delve into such waters. (Unless you’re writing a true crime piece, I guess.) Still, it’s worth remembering that any society practicing slavery is almost certain to have at least a black market for a very specific sort of merchandise. If nothing else, single or married men of sufficient means would purchase a domestic slave fully intending to use her (or him) as a bed-warmer instead.

In some cases, it becomes something of a semi-consensual relationship. The owner provides room and board, as well as some light work giving a sense of purpose, to someone who otherwise would have nothing at all, and he or she gives nothing more in return than sexual favors. Yes, that’s kind of a Stockholm Syndrome sort of love, but some people in such settings don’t have anything else to aspire to. After all, they’re slaves. They know where they stand in society.

The alternative of force happened more often than we’d care to admit, and it can get as dark as you dare. But even then, only the sadistic would physically torture their slaves. Remember, the whole point of a slave, especially in chattel systems, is that you own property. Just as you’re not going to set your house on fire because you hate the wallpaper, you’re not going to beat the help to the point where they can’t work. Say what you will about slave-owners, but most of them realized that was bad business.

In fantasy

The biggest problem with slavery as it’s handled in fiction today is that it…well, isn’t. Too many authors have decided that the practice is so horrible that it shouldn’t even exist in fantasy literature and gaming. Large publishing houses like Wizards of the Coast and Paizo have taken this limiting step, unfortunately, deeming the topic off-limits in their roleplaying games. Others instead use a caricature of Southern chattel slavery as a thinly veiled racist commentary against whites, which might actually be worse.

The right way to do it, on the other hand, is to think about it. Yes, you as an author can be completely against the very notion of slavery. I am. But the characters you create may have different outlooks. The practice of slavery has existed for thousands of years for a reason, and it only started going away because of a sea change in morality, the product of the Enlightenment. If your setting hasn’t had one of those, then you need to come up with some other reason why the abolitionists would come to power.

Instead of wholesale banning just because you don’t like it, think about how slavery would come to be in your created world, then work from there. Subjugated cultures and defeated peoples make a tantalizing pool of slaves, and that’s true whether they’re heathens or orcs or simply members of a different tribe. Unless there’s severe social pressure not to, having prisoners of war can very easily become using prisoners of war to finish building the wall. And when that wall’s done? Well, surely there’s something else for them to do. Eventually, the war’s over, but they’re still working the fields or hauling stone from the quarry, and they’ll stay because they’ve all but forgotten how to reintegrate into their home society.

If slaves are property, then a market will form. That’s just a fact of economics. It may not be as dehumanizing as we’re told the slave markets of the South were, but what form it takes will depend on the setting. And chattel suffers from the same problems as livestock in being cumbersome to transport and difficult to secure.

Under the harshest conditions, slave rebellions can occur. This is most common in chattel and POW situations, as both of these leave little in the way of positive outcomes. The fewer freedoms you have, the easier it becomes to foment rebellion by using the promise of freedom. This can make for some interesting stories, but bear in mind that the punishment for rebellion is very often death. In other words, rebel slaves have nothing to lose, and that is not an environment conducive to breeding white-hat heroes. Also remember that fugitives can’t always find sanctuary where they think: the Dred Scott decision in the years before the Civil War made escaping to the North a nonstarter, for example.

All in all, slavery is a deeper subject than most people think, and it bears more exploration in fantasy literature than it gets. Too often, we’re conditioned to see something monstrous and immediately look away, so we don’t really study the whys, the causes and effects that created what truly is, for better or worse, one of humanity’s most enduring practices.

But slavery did exist. It still exists, though more in the shadows today. There are very good reasons why so many of the greatest men and women of history owned slaves and thought nothing of it. It wasn’t because they were racist, or conservative, or supremacist. No, they were products of their society, of the time and place in which they lived. To many of them, slavery was natural, the way things were, and our insistence that no man be taken against his will and forced into servitude would seem hopelessly idealistic.

It’s that disconnect which offers fertile ground for the fantasy author. Rather than writing stories in settings where slavery has never existed, perhaps consider one where it is practiced, but it’s on its way out. Examine the potential changes that would cause in society. (For many Southerners, abolition was an economic issue first, not a moral or ethical one!) Or look at the post-emancipation generation, how they would struggle to fit into a society that, until very recently, considered them little more than animals. Imagine a society more like that of the Greeks, where slaves were taken in battle, then trained alongside free men, earning respect as they went.

There’s more to slavery than just beating people down. That’s not to say it’s a good practice, but it’s lasted all these millennia for a reason. Maybe, instead of trying to ignore it, we should learn why it continues to endure despite our best efforts at stopping it.


In December 2019, I was sick. Not deathly ill, but I certainly had more than a runny nose to deal with. For about a week, I tried letting it run its course, but it only got worse. Let me reiterate that I was never in any actual danger. I never had trouble breathing or suffered from heart problems or anything like that. It was just a bad illness, and I went to the ER because I was worried that I had the flu, which did kill my cousin a few years before.

My brother had the same thing at the same time, so we went together. He got called back first, and the doctor told me, “Your brother tested positive for the flu, and you live in the same house, so I won’t bother testing you. I’m going to treat you as if you had it.” We each got a prescription for Tamiflu, a recommendation for cough syrups that would alleviate the symptoms, and a stack of papers showing our diagnosis: Influenza A/Unknown Pathogen.

Well, it wasn’t the flu, as it turns out. What I had then was the Commie Cough, two months before it was officially released to torment the world. As we now know, the virus itself was let out of its lab as early as September of that year, during or slightly before the Military World Games, which were held in Wuhan. Since then, it has mutated, as viruses do, to become far less lethal and far more infectious. The latest strain (the “Omicron variant”), however, has more hallmarks of human genetic meddling, this time seemingly for the purpose of evading existing natural immunity such as mine.

That part worked, at least.

The last time I wore a mask for any reason was in the ER on that December night. At no point in 2020 or 2021 did I wear one. At no point did I submit to medical screening by a business or government as a condition of entry. In May 2020, I walked out of America’s Best when they demanded to check for a fever—an optometrist has no business asking for my temperature, nor does his cashier, who was the only person I needed to see that day. In November of that year, my brother and I were the only two people in the entire precinct who dared to breathe free while performing that most sacred of American traditions; as Hamilton County uses Dominion machines, I can’t tell you how our votes were counted, but I do know neither of us would ever vote against liberty.

Last year was better, because some people around here have started getting wise to the authoritarians’ game. Instead of being looked at as a pariah, I’m seen as the one who was right all along. A great feeling, but I wish I didn’t have to feel it. (My running joke in 2021 was that my “female” name would be Cassandra. Of course, that is a joke, because I know nothing short of magic can make me a woman, but I hope you get the reference.)

As I’ve said all along, I neither need nor want a “vaccine” based around rewriting my DNA for what is, in 99.9% of cases, nothing more than a mild case of the flu. Now, I can say that with even more confidence, because I have yet again survived what is supposed to be the worst plague of modern times.

The first month of 2022 showed that my natural immunity has waned to the point where I was susceptible again. This time around, the symptoms were almost exactly the same, just milder in every form. I didn’t spend 4 days alternating between fever and chills…just 1. I started feeling sick the Friday before last, January 28. By Tuesday, I was starting to feel better. By this weekend, I was left with nothing more than a nagging cough and a general sense of lethargy.

What’s different this time? I didn’t go to the hospital. I knew that was a waste of time. Early treatment for the Wuhan virus in “professional” settings is still essentially limited to “Lie down until you can’t breathe, then come back in so we can put you on a ventilator until you die.” I’m 30 years too young to get monoclonal antibodies, one of the few working treatments that were still allowed…until two weeks ago. A lifetime of heart problems doesn’t interest me, and even if it did, the vaccines’ staunchest supporters don’t claim they’ll heal you.

Instead, I took matters into my own hands. Following the Zelenko and I-MASK/I-MATH protocols, I spent the past nine days taking a collection of natural supplements designed to treat the symptoms, bolster the immune system, and fight the known dangers of the virus. Specifically, I added these to my daily regimen:

  • Zinc, 50-100 mg
  • Vitamin D3, 5,000-10,000 IU
  • Vitamin C, 1,000 mg
  • Quercetin: 1,200 mg
  • Nigella sativa seed oil: 500 mg

The last was not in my original plan. My boss sent me a bottle as a “get well soon” gift, and I added it to the list once it arrived. It’s on the FLCCC list as a substitute for ivermectin, which I didn’t think I could get, though the dose I took is way lower than what they recommend. (Seriously, at my weight, they want me to take 20x what I have listed here!)

Other than these, the only “medicine” I took was the occasional Tylenol or similar when I felt too much of a headache. It’s almost the opposite of what one of those dancing Tiktok nurses would tell you to do. And it probably had the opposite effect, too, because here I am, 10 days later, feeling just fine. I worked a full day with no ill effects besides the usual fuming at a senior developer who refuses to understand how CORS works—sorry, still annoyed about that one.

But I knew I was never really at risk to begin with. I’m relatively young, and my only comorbidity is obesity. The average virus-related death has 4, and is a man in his 70s. (My stepdad, who turned 70 last month, also had it. He took the same supplements I did, but added prednisone after a trip to the ER that showed potential pneumonia. He’s fine, too.)

This is not a world-destroying plague the likes of which haven’t been seen since the Black Death. The virus that has shut down the world is a run-of-the-mill flu that is easily treatable with OTC products and natural supplements. For those who don’t response to the supplements, we have safe and effective medicine (ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine, aided by azithromycin) to help you along, and monoclonal antibody treatment for those who absolutely need it.

Oh, wait. No, we technically don’t have those, because Regeneron has lost its FDA authorization, HCQ is banned in some states, and the Nobel Prize-winning ivermectin is derided as better suited for horses. Yes, that is how much those in power hate us, and how desperately they want us to take their vaccines: they would discourage or outright bar us from using treatments which are known to work. That we’re dealing with a fatality rate of under 0.15% even against those odds should show you just how much of a whimper the big, bad Wuhan Virus really is.

In 2019, I felt like I was ready to die because of the flu I thought I had. In 2022, I’d rather live to protect others’ right to get sick, get over it, and move on with life. Because that’s all we have to do. There’s nothing to be afraid of.

Die on your feet

Being a very smart kid in a very rural town, I got bullied a lot when I was younger. Pushed around, told to “move out of my seat”, and all those other wonderful things the supposedly tough boys did to assert dominance over those they considered inferior. Worse, of course, was the way I received the same treatment from adults, specifically teachers and school administrators. In every case, I understand now, the root cause was fear. The bully fears being ridiculed, so he ridicules in turn. Scared of the idea that someone will mock him for his limited intelligence, he does the same to those who have plenty to spare. The psychology just doesn’t change.

A bully is a bully. Even if that bully happens to be the leader of a Western nation.

Justin Trudeau is, to put it simply, no better than the men, women, and boys who bullied me as a child. His behaviors are the same, his actions merely on a different scale because of his influence. Above all, his thinking is the same. He expects to get his way, for the lowly nerds to do as he says and cower before him like they always have.

Bullying is all about control. It’s about proving that you have power over another. When that power is taken away, the bully realizes he’s left with nothing. His threats become hollow, and increasingly shrill, their rising violence matched only by their rising impotence.

The best way to put that fear into a bully is by not complying. Too often, our children today are taught that the only response to bullying is to “tell a teacher”. Many schools level harsher suspensions for self-defense than for the actual attack, as an attempt to further inculcate a sense of helplessness before shows of power. And we’re now seeing cases of students fighting back against the teachers bullying them, defying the unconscionable and increasingly illegal mask mandates; the teachers’ response in one California case was to barricade the students in a room and turn off the heat. Imprisonment and torture, in other words, for the crime of speaking truth to power.

Authority is treated as if it were bestowed by divine right, but that can only go so far. You can only push people so much before they finally reach a breaking point. I reached it on March 12, 2020, and I’m glad to see the wonderful people of Canada letting it be known that they have at last done the same.

Trudeau is nothing but a bully. Now that the people have stood up to him, he has nothing. His power derives, as in any liberal democracy, directly from the consent of the governed. Yes, he can command the police and the military of Canada while he remains in power. Using them against his own, however, would seal his fate. History is littered with the names of dictators, all of which we rightfully spit on today: Milosevic, Ceausescu, Allende, Pinochet. One more would be nothing.

But this doesn’t end in Ottawa, or in Coutts or Tofino. This only ends when the entire world is freed from these tyrants. When no human being anywhere on earth is threatened by the requirement to submit to a medical experiment in order to travel, keep a job, or buy food for his family. When no one is looked down upon for wanting to breathe clean air. When over seven billion human beings are free to live their lives as humans, making their own choices, exercising their own free will.

Canada has shown how to stand up to bullies. Kind, polite Canada, the Ned Flanders to America’s Homer Simpson, has displayed the courage needed to send their bullies into hiding. It’s past time the rest of us followed their example.

Sic semper tyrannis.

Never stop honking

You locked us in our homes for two years.
You let our loved ones die, then denied them the honor of a proper funeral.
You permanently scarred our children’s minds and bodies.
You destroyed our livelihoods.
You laughed as we descended into the depths of despair.
You silenced us when we tried to speak out about your lies and your schemes.

If you have to hear the trucks’ horns every day for the rest of your miserable lives, it will not count for a fraction of the pain and suffering you have inflicted upon us. The punishment must fit the crime, and your crimes are far worse.

Every trucker in Ottawa, in Amsterdam, in Prague, and soon to be in Washington is a hero the likes of which we in America have not seen since the Founding Fathers stood up to the largest and most powerful empire on the planet. Everyone who supports them supports not only freedom, but the most important right of all: to make ourselves heard. All those opposed are mere servants of the cruelest dictatorship this world has ever seen.

Trudeau must go. Biden must go. Merkel and Macron and anyone who has not only allowed this to happen, but encouraged it, must go. We deserve better leaders. We deserve liberty. Those who stand against that deserve all they will receive.

Sic semper tyrannis.

Electric boogaloo

I’m currently on the mend from a recurrence of the dreaded Commie Cough, this time the strain (possibly) designed to thwart existing natural immunity.

I don’t need a vaccine that changes my underlying genetic code. I don’t need a ventilator that doesn’t help. I don’t need a drug rushed to market that causes permanent damage to a third of the people who take it.

All I need to feel better is this:

It’s beautiful and brave, a true display of what the love of liberty is all about. What is happening in Canada right now is what needs to happen everywhere. Every country in the world needs to see the same show of unity against the tyranny that has controlled us for the past two years. End the mandates, end the masking, end the experiments, and end the Great Reset, or we will resist until you do.

Review: United States of Fear

Over the weekend, I was perusing a…well-known library site in search of inspiration or, failing that, simple distraction. Instead, I found United States of Fear, by Mark McDonald, M.D. And I’m glad I did.

This is a very short book, consisting of only four chapters and clocking in at (according to my reader app) a measly 178 pages. I’ve written that much in two weeks before, but that’s fiction. United States of Fear is very much nonfiction. It’s real, the real life we’re dealing with at this very moment.

Dr. McDonald is a psychiatrist working in Los Angeles. In itself, that wouldn’t be cause for celebration. “Nobody’s perfect,” I would say. What makes his perspective important is that he uses his practice and position to publicly call for a return to rationality, something sorely needed in the world today. As he bluntly puts it, America is in the grips of a mass delusional psychosis. This is very similar to Dr. Robert Malone’s diagnosis of mass formation psychosis; in both cases, the point is that most people in this country have fallen victim to a self-reinforcing, even contagious sort of fear.

We can’t blame that entirely on our elected leaders, so many of whom disregarded not only basic scientific facts and their oaths of office, but all common sense in their quest for medical tyranny. We can’t pin it all on mainstream media, which has displayed perverse pleasure in stoking the fears of its dwindling supply of viewers for two straight years. No, we all share in the blame.

The seeds were sown generations ago. As the author explains, the fear gripping our nation today has its roots in the Red Scare of the 1950s, the feminist movement of the 1970s, the political correctness craze of the 1990s, and this century’s obsession with terrorism. In every case, the dangers existed. Some Americans really were Soviet spies. Some men really were rapists and abusers. Some people really were harmed by callous use of language. And some people really were Islamic fundamentalists wanting to destroy the West. But not all of them, and not all the time.

So it is with the Wuhan virus. Dr. McDonald consistently uses that terminology, and I respect him for that. Call this thing what it is: a biological agent released from a lab in Wuhan, China. (In the short weeks since the book was published, we’ve discovered—confirmed, rather—that it was developed by the United States, but that wasn’t known at the time.) Words have power. Names have power. Refusing to use a name because it is taboo only gives that name power over you.

The virus itself, of course, has little power of its own. Yes, it is infectious, but no more than the seasonal flu we’ve all had at some point in our lives. The currently favored strain, dubbed “Omicron”, is even more contagious, and this follows the normal pattern for viruses: they mutate to become easier to spread, but lose their lethality in the process. “Omicron” case numbers bear this out, as the strain is more like a common cold, and the only people dying from it either already had something very wrong, or else they’ve suffered debilitating immunodeficiency effects from the experimental mRNA treatments we’ve all decided to call vaccines.

As the author explains, and as attentive researchers have known since March 2020, the Wuhan virus is essentially only deadly to those who are sick, morbidly obese, or elderly. The fear effects surrounding it, on the other hand, are well on their way to destroying an entire generation. Year-over-year IQ averages have dropped 20 points since 2020; this is more than a full standard deviation, meaning that the average child of 2021 would be in the bottom third of intelligence when compared to those only a year older. Social development is also being stunted, as these same children are having trouble forming friendships and interpersonal bonds simply because they aren’t allowed to. Even infants are suffering: lip-reading is an important part of acquiring speech, yet it’s impossible when everyone around you is wearing a mask. If all this weren’t bad enough, cases of depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts in children are skyrocketing (no surprise, as they’ve done the same in this middle-aged man) and too many parents are too afraid to do anything about it.

Dr. McDonald specializes in child psychiatry, so it’s no wonder he spends a lot of time on that topic. Really, though, it’s a symptom of a bigger problem, which he discusses at length. Most of the fear comes from women, specifically educated, left-leaning women in urban areas. In other words, the same ones who have grown up hearing about “toxic masculinity” and “systemic racism” and other such nonsense. They are socially conditioned to look at the world from the perspective of a victim, and what does a victim want above all? Safety. The Franklin quote never enters their minds, except as an object of derision.

Men, he is quick to add, haven’t done their share. We have let ourselves become passive and weak. Although my experience is tainted by the same sort of depression, I can vouch for this personally. I recognize how much of it comes from social expectations. I was raised in a conservative, Christian environment with firm gender roles. The man, I was always told, is the breadwinner, the protector, the paterfamilias. The woman bears children, takes care of them, and serves in general to nurture. Men are strong in body, women in heart, and that’s the way of things.

Modern progressivism and feminism have turned that on its head, denying that this millennia-old way of looking at the world has any merit whatsoever. To this side of the political spectrum, women are supposed to be independent fighters, the center of a household, and men are relegated to a role one step above that of a sperm donor. We lose control, we lack agency, and the very real biological processes underlying the “traditional” family are completely ignored. Not surprisingly, it is this same segment of the population that expresses the most dissatisfaction with marriage, the least desire to reproduce, and the strongest urge to control others’ lives.

That’s the author’s thesis: America has become paralyzed by fear mostly because it has subverted the traditional social order. And I wholeheartedly agree. It’s what I’ve spent the past two years trying to find a way to say. Maybe I don’t always live up to my own expectations—believe me, I’m well aware—but I understand why I have them. Too many people don’t “get” those perfectly natural urges they feel. And we fear what we don’t comprehend.

Before I close out, I will say that Dr. McDonald also doesn’t have a full grasp on the complexities of the situation on the ground. First, he recommends Telegram and Signal as virtual meeting-places because they are “largely secure” and “inaccessible to the NSA.” This is patently false, and it hides a very important point. Telegram is a censorious platform that has suspended users for posting certain information. Signal’s claims of encryption cannot be verified at the protocol level. Both should be considered suspect at best, compromised at worst, and neither is the friend to privacy that we need. Instead, it would be better to promote truly free platforms such as Matrix and the fediverse, as well as applications like Element which make end-to-end encryption simple and safe.

Second, the doctor repeats the mistaken assumption that everyone in America who needs therapy can get it. Some of us can’t. That’s especially true of in-person visits, which are vital for improvement. Most psychiatrists and therapists in rural areas have switched to virtual-only appointments, have adopted anti-health policies of mandatory masks or vaccines, or have an unwritten rule that every mental problem can be solved by just prescribing more SSRIs and amphetamines. The truly good practitioners—what few there are—are booked for months, and some of us need help now. I know. I’ve been there.

Almost no one has the complete picture of just how much the fabric of our society is fraying. I don’t claim to. I only know what I’ve seen and felt. The America I grew up in began dying over 20 years ago, when so many people decided to throw away essential liberty over the fear that a one-in-a-million event would repeat. But it limped along for nearly two decades. The killing blow was in 2020, and it could have been prevented.

I’ll admit that I was afraid of the Wuhan virus at first. But I learned about it, and I realized it was nothing to be afraid of. Anyone who took twenty seconds to check the Diamond Princess figures could say the same thing: this is a bad flu at worst. Instead, they surrendered to fear, and they forced all the rest of us to go along. They brought us into their delusion, whether we liked it or not, and they have imprisoned us inside it with no clear escape.

Every time you see a person wearing a mask outside, you’re seeing a victim of this fear. Whenever you watch a woman—it’s always a woman, and there’s a good reason for that—taking a Clorox or Lysol wipe to her groceries, you’re watching the result of mass delusional psychosis. Overprotective mothers not letting their children play, or even locking them in their rooms, are but a symptom of a greater disease. The Wuhan virus has two safe, effective treatments: ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine. Our social psychosis has no such easy cure. It will take a lot of work on everyone’s part. Men need to remember that they are men. Women need to be willing to let themselves be protected by those who have evolved to do exactly that. Parents must teach their children that safety is never assured.

“Fear is the mind-killer,” wrote Frank Herbert. A lot of minds have died these past two years, but maybe we can resurrect them.


Last year’s state law banning mask and vaccine mandates was a huge win for individual liberty in Tennessee. It put us on par with other free states like Florida and Texas, where people are allowed to live their lives without tyrannical interference and biosurveillance. Now, Waverly Crenshaw wants to take that away, regressing us to the dictatorships of California, et al.

Yes, you heard me right. Waverly Crenshaw, who swore an oath as a U.S. District Court judge to uphold the rights of Americans, wants to overturn one of the greatest victories for human rights in this state’s history and send us back to the dark ages of 2020.

This is a travesty in every sense. It is a blatant overreach by a federal government that anyone who believes in the founding principles of this nation must consider an enemy, indeed an invader. It is a violation of the 9th and 10th Amendments, which secure those rights not expressly defined in the Constitution, such as the right of informed consent stated in the Nuremberg Code. And it will kill Tennesseans, by encouraging the use of a deadly experimental treatment on our children and raising the risk of bacterial pneumonia and other potentially life-threatening conditions due to the constant use of masks that do nothing to protect against what everyone sane realizes is little more than a bad cold.

The justification is flimsy at best, a claim that this rejection of the death cult in Washington is somehow a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. How? In what way is the protection of Tennesseans hurting the disabled? By taking away requirements that they get a shot with a known risk of severe heart conditions, a shot that has already killed thousands of healthy children, teens, and young adults in America? By letting the deaf read lips again, instead of covering everyone’s mouths? By improving children’s mental health through letting them, I don’t know, interact?

As investigative reporters such as Alex Berenson have shown these past two years, the “deadly” virus is nothing to those who are under 50 and in relatively decent health. Even the rest of us can take cheap and safe medications to alleviate the worst symptoms. The only pandemic is stupidity, and it is running rampant in Nashville.

Tennessee has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, and that is a good thing. It should stay that way. We want to be like Florida, a model for the rest of the nation and the rest of the world. There’s a reason people are fleeing the totalitarian wastelands of California and New York to come here, and it’s not so an unelected bureaucrat can tell us we have to toe the line.

No, people like Waverly Crenshaw do not deserve positions of power, for they have shown that they abuse their power. They do even not deserve to be called Americans, as they have violated the most basic tenets of the American way. Voting will not solve this problem, because too many who hate our ideals cannot be held accountable through elections. We must find a different solution, one that will remove this kind of rot at its source.

The things we believe in

(Title is a song by Orden Ogan, a great band that doesn’t get nearly enough love even in metal circles.)

In another timeline, this was the day I proposed. No, really. A few months ago, when I was still riding the high of getting a job, I let myself believe that. I planned for it. Today would be the day I drove 100 miles to the home of my beloved, got down on one knee, and asked her to be mine forever.

In this timeline, things went a little differently. I haven’t talked to her in over a month, and the reason is quite simple: I don’t feel deserving. Of her, of a relationship, of happiness itself. I haven’t for a long time, but the past few weeks have made that feeling (or lack of feeling, I suppose) grow by leaps and bounds.

I don’t believe in myself. That’s just a fact. Not only do I not, but I can only question those who do. Why? What have I done that would give you the impression that I’m worthy of that? Why would you think I have an upside? Because I certainly don’t see one.

The question I’ve been reflecting on lately, then, is a natural extension. Since I don’t believe in my own abilities or worth, what do I believe in?

I’m not a religious man. I think I’ve stated that often enough. I grew up in a very evangelical family, and that experience turned me off organized religion, although I still subscribe to a kind of “cultural Christianity”, as it is known. Growing up as an inquisitive, rational thinker, I studied faiths of various sorts, looking for the inspiration so many have claimed to find. What I’ve determined is that the metaphysical is not something that can be studied. It can’t be explained by reason or scientific methods, only personal revelation. As I’ve never had any of those, I consider myself an agnostic in the literal sense of the word: one who does not know.

I also call myself a humanist (in that same literal sense) because I truly have faith in humanity as a whole, in progress and the ability for us to overcome obstacles set by the environment or our fellow human beings. The past two years have shaken that faith to its very core, as I have seen more than half the population of this country, including some of my closest friends and relatives, abandon the notion of cooperation and the Enlightenment ideals I hold dear, replacing them with divisive hatred and prejudice. I continue to believe that we can be better if we all work together toward the common goals of liberty, equality, and prosperity. I am fast becoming a believer in the idea that we unfortunately won’t get to that point without a lot of bloodshed.

I strongly believe that knowledge is power. Learning opens doors. Hiding information harms us all. My brother and I often argue over that tired old thought experiment: What if we discovered aliens? Should the discoverers keep that a secret? He says yes, that the potential for mass panic is too great. I counter by arguing that the knowledge itself is worth it, that the benefits of understanding that we are not alone in the universe outweigh any possible negatives. Ignorance, in my opinion, is not bliss. It is a prison.

I wholeheartedly believe in the necessity and indivisibility of the family. I come from a broken home, and I long ago vowed never to create one of my own. Today, even this has become political, as the very idea of the family unit is under attack, so I must side with the political movement that supports healthy families over single mothers with a string of divorces, or hormone replacements, or eugenic sterilization. If that makes you think of me a bad person, so be it. I admit that some of my allies on this issue hold views I find repugnant. Politics, after all, makes strange bedfellows.

The last point I want to make here is related, and it is, in a sense, the belief I hold most dear. While I don’t believe in any divine purpose to human life (see above for my reasoning), I absolutely believe that we are born with one natural purpose above all: reproduction. Our first goal, as per Darwinian evolution, is the survival of the species and our genetic lineage. If we do that, we are successful biological organisms. If we don’t, we’ve failed. It’s that simple.

Maybe it’s too reductionist, but it does have its advantages. Cries of overpopulation have no effect on me, because I know that this planet is nowhere near its carrying capacity, and progress can only increase that limit. I see through the transparent attempts at population control via the “climate crisis”, the “pandemic”, and other nonsensical notions. Anti-family propaganda merely makes the belief more entrenched.

Belief is nothing unless you act on it, unless you are willing to accept its consequences. Thus, I must accept the logical conclusions to which my beliefs lead. I will not sign an NDA or attempt to gain a security clearance, because I believe knowledge should be available to all, not hidden away for only the eyes of the supposed elite. I will not do contract work for a public school that teaches the harmful ideology of critical race theory. While I support the legality of abortion, I would not consent to it in the case of a woman I impregnated unless she was in mortal danger. I would not accept or pursue a no-fault divorce, especially if children were involved. Finally, if I ever reach the point of knowing with absolute certainty that I am no longer able to fulfill my most natural purpose of fathering a child, I will commit to take steps to ensure I am not a drain on humanity’s collective resources—if absolutely necessary, that would include preparing to end my life by whatever means are available.

The ultimate expression of one’s beliefs is the willingness to die in service of them. Martyrs, crusaders, war heroes, and ideologues the world over have done it for lesser causes. Maybe I’m not yet ready to go that far, but I have been thinking about it. I have been wondering what, if anything, is worth risking my life. Freedom, certainly. Knowledge, most likely. But what else? What else do I consider that valuable?

All that was

(Title is a song by Ayreon that is more than just amazing: it actually fits my mood perfectly.)

It’s hard to think, harder still to act. Lately, the pressure has just been growing and growing, and it doesn’t seem like there’s any end in sight. I’ve come to the conclusion that the end of my journey is looming in the distance, coming ever closer with each passing day.

On some of those days, I’d almost welcome it. That’s how bad things are getting for me.

This isn’t only about depression. It’s not merely a reaction to the violations of human rights I, like billions around the world, have suffered in the past year and a half. No, this is a combination, a culmination, an amalgamation of everything that has happened in my nearly 38 years of life.

We are the product of our experiences. In my case, I’m the product of a world that never cared to care, and that world has worn me down. It has eroded my spirit almost to nothing, washed away my hopes and dreams in a torrent of tears, and drowned all but the strongest emotions. I’m not angry at the world anymore, because it’s nearly impossible for me to feel anger at this point. Instead, there’s just a numbness, an emptiness where such feelings used to be. So it goes for joy, desire, and self-worth, as well. I feel as if I’m nothing, but only because everything that makes me, well, me has been taken away.

I wanted to make the world a better place. To leave it in better shape than I found it, as the saying goes. Over the past few decades, I’ve had innumerable ideas on how best to do that, but the last few years have seen them coalesce around a few pillars.

One is my writing, whether fiction, opinion, or fact. I’ve written over 60 completed stories and worked on 2 nonfiction books, including one that has reached a finished draft. I’d like to do more, because there are still a lot of ideas I’ve never had time to get around to writing. I just don’t feel I’ll ever have time. (Honestly, that would be the case if I knew I would live forever. Such is the life of a dreamer.)

Second on the list is, for lack of a better term, making. I mean this in the “maker culture” sense of creating, DIY, and so on. I have a 3D printer, for example, and a CNC router has been on my wishlist for a year or more. Making things interests me, and I’ve constantly looked for ways to use that interest as a positive force. That has taken me to a lot of different places, researching things like post-apocalyptic prepping or sustainable architecture. Not because I believe in the necessity of such things, but because they overlap with an interest. So they clearly have some purpose, right?

Closely related to this is the software angle. Specifically, I’m a big proponent of decentralization on the internet. I support the so-called Indie Web, the fediverse, and various retro-style applications and protocols such as Gemini. These are things that will help the world, if only they can gain traction. Resistance to censorship is vital today, as anyone who has ever dared to express an unpopular opinion on Facebook, Twitter, or Youtube can attest. Technologies like cryptocurrency are also sorely needed; that’s another road I wish I’d had time to explore.

All of it, however, comes back to one simple thing: freedom. I believe in freedom, in the inalienable human rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness expressed in the founding documents of our nation and the Enlightenment from whence they came. No one should control my life but me. That’s my firm opinion, and it’s the closest thing to dogma you’ll ever hear out of me. The vast majority of my depression, I’ve found, comes from the knowledge that I have essentially zero control over my life. And we have a term for people who have no control over their lives: we call them slaves.

Every single one of my goals, then, boils down to emancipation. Liberation for myself, liberation for others. Freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of religion. The power to speak one’s mind without fear of censorship, whether government or corporate. The ability to defend oneself, including defending ourselves from our elected officials, if necessary. Autonomy of body, mind, and spirit. Freedom of association, to choose those people we would prefer to align ourselves with.

Having no power over my own life, I cannot begin to tackle the larger issue of giving others that same power. I’ve tried. I do what I can, but it just isn’t enough. One man can’t take on a million.

In such dire straits, some turn to faith, but that’s another thing I can’t do. Faith is anathema to me, whether it’s a traditional religion or the new cult of scientism. I have to know. Or, if I can’t know, then I have to know that something is knowable. To do otherwise, in my opinion, is trading one set of chains for another.

No, I really don’t have an easy out. I’m caught, imprisoned, stuck in a place I can’t escape. And it’s my nature to be an escapist. Thus, every waking moment is painful. I can’t be who I am, who I want to be, who I was meant to be. That’s the kind of denial that hurts on every level, and it has taken from me until I now have nothing left to give. It seems that all I have left to hope for is to go out in a blaze of glory, with a bang instead of a whimper.

Defense mechanism

The pithy, meme-like definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, but expecting a different result. By that standard, I am completely, certifiably insane.

I do the same things, fall into the same patterns, again and again. My days all seem to blur into one, the only breaks in the monotony coming when disaster strikes, such as the death of my cousin in July. Everything in my life feels to me like a downward spiral, as if I’m swirling around a cosmic toilet bowl, and some part of me sees that analogy as all too accurate.

All that should be fairly obvious to anyone who has read some of my earlier posts on PPC. Nothing new, really, except that I think I’ve finally reached the point of acceptance. If the path to becoming a better man, to reaching the kind of life goals I want from myself, requires battling my own inner demons, an apathetic family, and a hostile world at every turn, then I have to stop and ask, “Is it even worth the cost?”

History lesson

World War I is now over a century in the past, but we still remember it today. Four years of bloodshed, devastation, and misery inflicted on the entirety of humanity for the trivialities of a fading noble class. Millions of lives lost, countless others left permanently damaged in body, mind, or spirit. The entire world left upside down.

Some people see their lives as metaphorical warfare, and I often wonder which wars they’re talking about. The movie kind, almost certainly, the stylized tales of individual heroism. They see themselves as protagonists, as the lone wolf fighting off waves of Nazis, Communists, Taliban, or whoever their preferred enemy might be. In their lives, the bullets fly, but they never find their mark. Wounds are patched up off-screen, and the mental trauma is swept under the rug.

Not so for me. I feel more like an infantryman of WWI: nameless, faceless, with little hope for survival. I’m stuck in a trench, never truly gaining ground except to give it right back. Monotony and drudgery are enemies as great as the ones sniping at me, and harder to defend against.

Even the best soldier gets worn down eventually. Even the strongest man cracks under the constant pressure. I was never the best, never the strongest, so I sometimes wonder how I’ve held on this long. And sometimes I wonder if I have, or if I’ve already been broken beyond repair.

I consider myself at war in more than the metaphorical sense, however. As I see it, this whole country—no, this whole world is at war. It’s mostly a cold war at this point, this battle of good versus evil, liberty versus tyranny. We see occasional flickering flames, such as the present rioting in Australia and ongoing protests in France, but most of the war is being waged in the hearts and minds of our fellow man. We’re just waiting for our Fort Sumter, our Lexington and Concord, our Pearl Harbor or Franz Ferdinand or Dien Bien Phu. The moment in which our enemy, in this case the enemy of all that is good and just in this world, finally makes that fatal mistake and turns a cold war into a shooting conflict.

Last stand

But being a soldier is hard work, remember. We in America have been in a constant state of war for twenty years running, but the last few have seen that war turned against the common people, and the past eighteen months have seen the good guys take loss after loss on the psychological battlefield.

Early research into what has, at various points in history, been called combat fatigue, shell shock, and post-traumatic stress disorder gave a good upper bound for the time a battle-ready soldier could expect to be deployed in active combat before suffering a mental breakdown. That time works out to around 280 days; curiously, about the same amount of time as a pregnancy.

We’ve been under siege for twice that, and the numbers show that we’re all starting to break at a frantic pace. Depression is skyrocketing. The same goes for anxiety. General feelings of malaise, despair, hopelessness, and similar negative emotions are so common that it’s getting almost impossible to find someone who isn’t seeing the worst in each passing day.

I have all of the above and more. I used to look at each day wondering what I could do, what I could make, and how I could make a difference. Now, though, I greet each morning with a sigh and a vain hope that it won’t get any worse. I can’t blame all of that on external factors, of course. Some of it comes from my own problems, problems that were exacerbated, not created, by current events.

Placing blame really misses the point. What’s more important is that I’m broken, I know I’m broken, and I accept that putting myself back together is beyond me. I’m a casualty of this war, make no mistake.

If I have to go down, let me go down swinging. That’s all I feel I can ask now. I doubt I’ll ever have children—another hope dashed in the past year and a half—so there aren’t a lot of reasons to keep fighting. What fight I have left, then, is in the defense of the ideals I hold most dear: liberty and justice for all, equal opportunity, the rights each of us has from birth. For the sake of those I love, I’ll fight in the name of those ideals as long as I can. Even if I can’t live in a world free from the evils of tyranny, maybe I can help make it so they can. It’s a small chance, but it’s all I’ve got, so I’ll keep on fighting for it until the bitter end.

I just can’t help but think that end is coming sooner than I ever expected.