"…I want to get out of the house already.
I want my freedom to live.
I want to go next door and play chess.
I want to go take some pictures."
— Howard Stern
What's stopping one of the loudest voices from the freedom to live? Who's keeping him from going next door and playing chess? And why can't he take pictures? I know things are not as great as they used to be there, but are cameras and photographs banned in New York City now also?
Those were my first thoughts when I read that quote from Howard Stern. I don't usually think about him, but I really did stop and think about Stern and what a predicament he must be in to not feel like he has any freedom. My next thoughts about him and that quote included more questions.
Covid restrictions are still pretty intense in some localities. But Stern is a rule breaker kind of guy. So why is he going along with the most tyrannical of rules? He's a headline grabbing sort of celebrity. So why hasn't he used his platform to help get rid of these really restrictive rules? Why doesn't Stern fight for what he wants — freedom to live — and kick the greedy government and its mandates to the curb? He's a cross-the-line sort of person. In fact, he's one of the most famous cross-the-line sorts of persons who ever existed!
But what you allow is what will continue.
Quarantine and the massive shutdowns that took place in early 2020 did a number on people. After reading the article that featured Stern’s quote above, I can only imagine they had a negative impact on Stern as well. The decision to shutter people and to limit daily human contact affected kids, adults, and even pets. Depression, suicide and addiction rates increased while availability of therapists and medical personnel, trained to address those conditions, decreased. Over time people raised their concerns about how difficult having to quarantine can be, including other celebrities.
Many people, both famous and not, want Covid to end so they can get some freedoms back. Some think freedom, and what they remember as 'normal life' will return after Covid 'runs its course'. Others insist that a vaccine is the only answer to make the madness stop. With how readily available they are, Stern brought vaccines up, too. He had this to say about people who are hesitant about getting experimental vaccines or who are decidedly against them (pardon the language):
"...people who refuse to get Covid vaccinated are 'imbeciles' who should 'go f*uck yourself."
I'm not surprised by his harsh language. It's part of his act. I was surprised about something else. If he had his way, in his America, he said that "…all hospitals would be closed to [the unvaccinated]. You're going to go home and die. That's what you get." His America mirrors what is actually happening in some parts of the country already.
If you don't, you won't get life-saving surgery.
If you don’t have proof of vaccination, you won’t get into some eateries. The ‘get it or else’ has even trickled down to the family courts. That demand, that vaccines be required everywhere, is one he seems to want to enforce 'in his America'.
"It's time for you to get it," Stern insists.
In my America, things would be different. I would promote freedom of vaccine choice. You want a vaccine? Get it. You don't want a vaccine? That would be up to you to say yes, please or to say no, thank you. It's a much simpler mindset and removes the added drama Howard Stern tends to serve to his listeners.
I haven't cared for much of what this radio and television personality has chosen to say over the years. I've never been a fan of the show or the theatrics he and his guests typically display either. A poster child for radio shock jock, Stern’s dialogue is too raunchy for my taste. Some of it is mean-spirited, too, so I've always steered clear of it. That recent headline that I saw late last week, though, pulled me in.
I wasn't thinking of him when I saw a different quote just a few days earlier in the week, "People who hurt others are, themselves, hurting. When you come across someone who is rude or mean-spirited, remember that they themselves are in a great deal of pain and you will feel compassion." I didn't immediately feel any sort of compassion for Stern when I saw that latest article about him. I felt sorry for him, however, and wondered what on earth could've happened to him to be so outspoken and rude toward unvaccinated individuals. Could he really be hurting like that quote suggests? Or could his hands - and therefore his mouth - just be tied to whichever corporation runs and funds his broadcasts, likely one that's promoting a 'vaccinate or else' mantra? Maybe it's part of his act and he's just being a big meanie who happens to get paid to ruffle feathers as he shocks the airwaves. I could reach out to him and ask why his message is so strongly worded, but I have more important things to do, like protecting the freedoms I do have where I live.
“Fuck their freedom.”
Mine. Yours. Ours.
He wants what we have.
Again, pardon the language in that last quote, but an element of jealousy exists in that statement. If Stern can’t have freedom, it sounds like he doesn’t want it for those of us who get out of the house, who go next door to play chess, and who still take pictures.
I snapped this message on a greeting card at the grocery store in early 2020 when life was really difficult.
I don't actually play chess, but I do take photos. I haven't stopped snapping all sorts of things I've seen, or things I’ve continued to do, since quarantine and lockdowns changed the world as we knew it. Even with and through these ‘Covid times’, I have some really cool photos of us living as we have always lived - without fear. Like others, I haven’t always encountered positive situations with all the changes, but I will always try to find some bit of joy in each and every day. If I didn’t find the joy, the pain, the struggles, and the very real suffering I do encounter would certainly eat away at me as it sounds like it’s doing to Stern.
If Howard ever wants to see those photos, especially the ones that bring me joy, I'd be more than happy to share them with him. As trying and crazy as life has been these past 2 years, being able to document life in photos usually puts a smile on my face. Maybe they'll put a smile on his face, too.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.