Chris Whitty has saved thousands of lives – he should be revered, not molested

There’s a case for him having better security (though he doesn’t seem to want it) because the next encounter might be far less harmless

Sean O'Grady
Tuesday 29 June 2021 12:56
Comments

‘To me, it reveals a lot about the mindset of the anti-vaxxers’

Watching the video of Chris Whitty being accosted by a couple of what the prime minister calls “thugs” in the park was a bit disturbing.

The chief medical officer certainly looked unhappy at the unwanted attention. He is man who has saved thousands of lives, and who should be revered, or at least respected, rather than molested. Maybe they just recognised him off the telly as a sort of celebrity, and wanted selfies, as if he was Raheem Sterling or the winner of Love Island (whatever that is).

There’s a case for him having better security (though he doesn’t seem to want it) because the next encounter might be far less harmless. Indeed, there’s quite a few videos of Whitty being hounded and harassed. One piece of footage has some DJ from Lancashire following down a street in Oxford, badgering him with impertinent questions. Another has an ugly mob apparently outside his flat, chanting “murderer” and “traitor”. They’re not quite in the pitchfork and torchlight class, but menacing enough.

If you think, sincerely, that the chief medical officer is a murderer and traitor, then you’re entitled to your opinion; but you wonder what they think should be done with this supposed murderer and traitor.

To me, it reveals a lot about the mindset of the anti-vaxxers. Basically, they are so warped and self-righteous that they think they have a right to cause distress and harm to others, simply because they do not agree with them. Protest is one thing, and should be lawfully protected, even if it’s noisy and disruptive. Death threats are something else entirely, I would suggest.

What we’ve seen on the videos is bad enough, but it is the tip of a considerable iceberg – I’d have thought – of online abuse and death threats aimed at Whitty. He is a brave man, with such an unwanted high profile, to continue to do his work so conscientiously and state truths fearlessly.

Death threats are the common currency of these people. There is no doubt about it; some of them want people such as Whitty, or journalists such as Sarah Vine and Dan Hodges (and me) arraigned before a sort of Nuremberg trial, and, no doubt, publicly hanged.

They’re unhinged, perhaps all the more so because they have lost the argument, and the nation is getting vaccinated and we are all helping protect each others’ lives. We have much to thank Chris Whitty for, but maybe with a little less exuberance next time you see him out and about.

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