Category Archives: Culture

Air Force Academy Relaxes Social Distancing After Suicides

There are consequences to these decisions. Humans are social mammals. Most people don’t do well in isolation. That is why so many lefties consider solitary confinement to be a form of torture.

Coronavirus social distancing measures on the Colorado Springs Air Force Academy campus will be relaxed following the back-to-back deaths of two cadets in suspected suicides, officials said.

While all underclassmen are learning online, the senior class has remained on campus. The students were spread throughout dormitories and each was given their own room as part of quarantine measures.

One cadet tested positive for COVID-19 last week, the academy said.

Since those measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 were put into place weeks ago, two cadets have died within days of each other. The first death was reported Thursday and another on Saturday. USAFA said the deaths were not related to COVID-19 and investigators did not suspect foul play.

“These are deaths from despair,” Katrina Knight, the mother of a class of 2020 cadet, told FOX21 Colorado Springs. “Our hearts are grieving as a community because a couple of class members have already suffered the impacts to the furthest extent that they could.”

The senior class was kept on campus because “our Air and Space Forces have deemed us essential to their missions,” USAFA superintendent Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria said in an email sent Monday to students and later obtained by local news outlets.

Now, seniors will be allowed to venture off campus for food and hold on-campus events, according to the email. Silveria said that he met with the senior class and spoke with top Pentagon officials before changing the policy.

“We are working several morale events like golf or an outdoor movie that allow them to connect and keep them healthy,” the email said. “We continue to provide round the clock access to mental health services and support through this tragic loss.”

WalMart Sees Sales Surge for Tops, but Not Bottoms

There are a lot of teleworkers sitting in their underwear.

(CNN)With more and more people working from home, Walmart has picked up on an interesting trend: Tops have seen an increase in sales, while bottoms haven’t.

The reason? Teleworking.
That’s what Walmart’s executive vice president of corporate affairs Dan Bartlett told Yahoo Finance on Thursday. Later, a spokesman for the company told CNN the same thing.
As officials try to control the Covid-19 pandemic, millions of white collar workers — normally bound by dress codes and expectations in the office — are trading business trousers for sweat pants, and stiff blazers for that hoodie they would only ever allow their family, roommates or dog to see.

Prominent Epidemiologist Revises Death Estimates Sharply Down

Hopefully he’s right this time. If so, this is positive news.

Epidemiologist Neil Ferguson, who created the highly-cited Imperial College London coronavirus model, which has been cited by organizations like The New York Times and has been instrumental in governmental policy decision-making, offered a massive revision to his model on Wednesday.

Ferguson’s model projected 2.2 million dead people in the United States and 500,000 in the U.K. from COVID-19 if no action were taken to slow the virus and blunt its curve.

However, after just one day of ordered lockdowns in the U.K., Ferguson has changed his tune, revealing that far more people likely have the virus than his team figured. Now, the epidemiologist predicts, hospitals will be just fine taking on COVID-19 patients and estimates 20,000 or far fewer people will die from the virus itself or from its agitation of other ailments.

Ferguson thus dropped his prediction from 500,000 dead to 20,000.

Chicago Mayor Threatens Arrest for Being Outside

This is, by definition, a police state.

Lightfoot added that spending long periods of time outdoors, anywhere, is not allowed. And neither is going into closed spaces, like playgrounds.

“You cannot go on long bike rides. Playgrounds are shut down. You must abide by the order. Outside, is for a brief respite, not for 5Ks. I can’t emphasize enough that we abide the rules.”

[…]

“The public health order is not an advisory. It is a mandate. If you violate, it your are subject to a fine of $500. If you continue to violate it, you will be subject to arrest,” Beck said.

[…]

But Lightfoot reiterated that not following the stay at home order will bring serious consequences.

“At worst, we will take you into custody.”

A devastating cure: Weighing liberties, security in the age of coronavirus

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Go pick up a copy!

In the future, when we remember the liberties we once had and explain to our grandchildren why we surrendered them, some old man will slowly look down at his shoes and mutter, “We did it out of an abundance of caution.”

The global Coronavirus pandemic is a severe health concern that requires a response from our government. We need our government to aggressively work toward a vaccine and treatments, inform the public with the latest prevention methods, act to provide resources where needed, and provide the legal and regulatory safety net for the private sector to join in the fight. We do not need or want our government to arbitrarily suppress our civil rights, undermine the rule of law, and intentionally destroy our economy and our livelihoods.

It is breathtaking the speed at which our government leaders resorted to totalitarian extremes to combat the spread of a disease. The government ordered thousands and thousands of businesses to close indefinitely. This has forced millions of people out of work. Many of them do not have the financial cushion to get by without an income for weeks on end. Many small-business owners are losing their life’s work and their families’ entire net worth by order of the government.

With millions of people are struggling to get by, the inevitable wave of foreclosures and bankruptcies will follow. The government may try to halt this by decree or throw stimulus money at the problem, but the financial realities make the long-term impact of these decisions unavoidable.

Meanwhile, some governments are ordering people to remain home, forbidding people from assembling, and even closing churches. In California, people who are caught outside of their homes for nonessential reasons are subject to arrest, fines, and imprisonment for violating the order. At the same time, jury trials (a constitutionally protected right) are being postponed, elections are being delayed, prisoners are being released, and the government is ignoring private contracts — for example, the government ordering that landlords can’t evict people — in lieu of the judgment of politicians.

The impact is more than just financial or an inconvenience. The government restrictions have caused a massive shortage in donated blood for hospitals, crime is sure to rise, people are postponing necessary medical care for fear of leaving their homes, and an increase in depression, addiction, and suicide will result from mass unemployment and economic destruction.

Americans should be following the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control to maintain a physical distance from others, cover sneezes, avoid touching faces, wash hands, sanitize surfaces, and reduce unnecessary travel. But there is an abyss between free Americans taking steps to mitigate the spread of Coronavirus of their own free will and our government using police power to enforce those steps. In most cases, it is a single man — a governor — making these incredible decisions to upend our lives.

If the response to Coronavirus has taught us anything, it is that our government officials will strip us of our liberties at a moment’s notice on the justification that it is for our own good. Instead of relying on the collective wisdom of a billion individual decisions made by free people, our government officials instantly supplanted their own judgment for that of the people they were elected to represent. They immediately assumed that they know better and are not only empowered, but obligated, to micromanage our lives “out of an abundance of caution.” And then, when the inevitable negative effects are being felt, these same people will mortgage our grandchildren’s future too with another boondoggle trillion dollar stimulus.

This is a very old debate about the balance of government power between liberty and safety. The way in which so many Americans surrendered their liberty for the dubious promise of safety with little more than a shrug and a muffled bleat is testament to how far we have strayed from our roots. For all of the “don’t tread on me” stickers and “live free or die” machismo, too many Americans have become fat and docile.

Coronavirus will ravage the world and leave devastation in its wake, but we will find workable treatments and a vaccine. It will pass. The devastation to our economy and liberties will be far longer lasting.

States Move to Halt “Non-Essential” Abortions

It’s hard to argue with the logic.

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The governor and attorney general of Texas are moving to ban most abortions in the state during the coronavirus outbreak, declaring they don’t qualify as essential surgeries.

Attorney General Ken Paxton said Monday that the order issued over the weekend by Gov. Greg Abbott barred “any type of abortion that is not medically necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.”

Failure to comply with the order can result in penalties of up to $1,000 or 180 days of jail time, Paxton said.

“No one is exempt from the governor’s executive order on medically unnecessary surgeries and procedures, including abortion providers,” Paxton said. “Those who violate the governor’s order will be met with the full force of the law.”

[…]

“If abortion is a ‘choice’ then abortion is an elective procedure,” said Mark Harrington, president of the anti-abortion group Created Equal.

Not so Entertaining Entertainers

Ouch.

For evidence, turn to the instantly infamous clip of stars singing John Lennon’s “Imagine.” Or rather, don’t turn to it; you’ll be happier having not watched. The Wonder Woman actor Gal Gadot rang up a famous crew including Natalie Portman, Jamie Dornan, Sia, Pedro Pascal, Zoë Kravitz, Sarah Silverman, Leslie Odom Jr., Jimmy Fallon, Will Ferrell, Norah Jones, and Cara Delevingne to record clips of themselves singing lyrics about a world without war or possessions. Most of these people are not vocal talents; most of them very much enjoy that we live in a world of possessions. Literally and figuratively tone-deaf, edited with the finesse of a middle schooler making a vacation slideshow on 2002 software, this “Imagine” somehow made a global pandemic feel even more hopeless than it already does.

One thing to hope for in these dark times is that coronavirus #content will one day be forgotten as we resume our regularly scheduled programming. For now, Hollywood’s elite personas have isolated in spacious and well-stocked estates from which they are posting videos attempting to cheer up the masses. It’s interesting, if not always reassuring, to see these folks ply their crafts unmediated, without the screenwriters and film editors and cinematographers who typically help shape their images. Millions are tuning in. But often what they are finding is no more remarkable than whatever is happening in the viewer’s own living room.

Blood Shortage Could Kill

The cure is worse than the disease.

As the coronavirus outbreak spreads across the US, a dangerous blood shortage threatens to create another public health crisis – with one medical director warning: “This could kill our patients.”

Coronavirus control methods mandate social distancing that has ranged from banning in-person seating in restaurants to closing schools to issuing shelter-in-place orders. Many places where blood donation might take place – such as campuses and libraries – are presently shuttered.

The result has been a disaster for blood donation as the medical sector finds its blood supplies running out.

The American Red Cross said that as of 19 March, more than 5,000 of its blood drives were canceled across the US over coronavirus concerns – resulting in approximately 170,000 fewer donations. More than 80% of donated blood collected from the Red Cross is from drives at places closed for social distancing: workplaces, schools, and college campuses.

“This could lead to mortality,” said Dr Jennifer Andrews, director of the blood bank at Vanderbilt University medical center and pediatric hematologist. “This could kill our patients.”

Guide to Local Restaurant Services

Conley Media has put together a nice list of restaurants in the W.O.W. counties and the services they are offering. You can check out the whole list here.

RIP Kenny Rogers

 

Police State

Where are the “resisters” now? How quickly we give up our rights.

Donald Trump has declared New York State a major disaster area as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases skyrockets and New York City was declared the epicenter of the US outbreak by city Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The US military will now be called in, and the US Army Corps of Engineers have said they plans to take over hotels, sports arenas, college dorms and other buildings in a bid to bolster the number of available hospital rooms.

De Blasio had urged Trump to send in the military and its logistical support to hard-hit New York State, California and Seattle on Wednesday. On Friday de Blasio said: ‘We constitute 30 percent of the cases in the US and 70 per cent of the cases in New York State. Whether we like it or not, we are the epicenter.’

The president’s declaration comes as a hospital in the Bronx revealed it is running low on ventilators and a Queens doctor revealed that an elderly patient experiencing coronavirus symptoms died on the hospital ward floor.

[…]

Prior to Trump’s declaration, Cuomo issued a total ban on non-essential businesses and warned there would be strict fines for any businesses that do not comply Friday.

The ban – which will impact 19.5million people – is to go into effect on Sunday evening and is indefinite.

Work forces that are excluded are grocery stores, pharmacies, certain government workers, food deliveries and restaurants, internet service providers and news organizations.

Corono-Schools: Pandemic Response Varies by School District

It has been an interesting view into the preparedness, priorities, and competencies of various school districts in Wisconsin. Senator Duey Stroebel highlighted some:

As COVID-19 closes schools across Wisconsin, I wanted to highlight school districts in the 20th Senate District that are continuing to educate students using the valuable taxpayer resources that we have entrusted to them.  The 20th Senate District includes most of Ozaukee and Washington Counties as well as portions of Calumet, Fond du Lac, and Sheboygan Counties.

The Hartford J1, Holy Hill Area, Northern Ozaukee, Port Washington-Saukville, Plymouth, Random Lake, and Slinger School Districts have already started a virtual learning program for their students in reaction to the current environment.

I applaud their preparation to ensure our students have the resources they need to succeed.  I look forward to other districts joining their ranks to minimize the interruption to our children’s education.

I give a lot of credit, and cut a lot of slack, to school districts for how they are responding. There are a lot of hurdles. For example:

  • Districts can’t assume that all kids have access to a computer and decent internet access.
  • Delivering education via distance learning is vastly different than in person. The curriculum and planning were mostly built for in-person delivery and it is a monumental task to restructure them for distance learning. A few schools are doing this well. Some are just trying to do it the same way, which won’t be effective. Some are not doing anything at all.
  • For the lower grades, distance learning gets much more difficult. It relies heavily on individual support and instruction, which falls on parents – parents who have jobs.
  • If you don’t already have a technology infrastructure that is built for distance learning, you can’t build one overnight. This is easier than it once was with the availability of auto-scaling and elastic load balancing cloud platforms, but it still isn’t immediate.

There are a lot of hurdles. Some districts are jumping over them better than others.

Since they are my local school district, I have been following the West Bend School District and I have been… disappointed. Again, I cut them a lot of slack, but if we are to measure them against neighboring districts, they are coming up short. You will notice that they are noticeably absent from Stroebel’s press release.

While other districts are already up and running online, the West Bend School District is targeting sometime in the middle of next week to start – and it looks like that will involve mostly emailing worksheets:

We now anticipate distance learning beginning mid-next-week. Continue to check your email daily for updates on which day next week this programming will begin.

1. Our district provides a Chromebook to all students in grade 5-9 for use during the school year. Additionally, students in grades 10-12 have always had access to a Chromebook if they needed one. While our elementary age students have numerous electronic devices at their disposal in class, our practice has not been to send those devices home with students. We are currently evaluating the resources and feasibility of handing out devices to elementary students.

2. The distance learning for all grade levels will be provided electronically via email. If a printed copy of the materials are needed, please contact your building principal.

a. Students in grades K-4 will need to print out learning activities. Teachers will be able to support students remotely during this time.

Meanwhile, schools like Kettle Moraine Lutheran High School is already doing full distance learning with a full class schedule via Zoom. That’s probably the best I’ve seen. Slinger and Hartford are already doing distance learning, but it looks like they have not really shifted to a true distance learning methodology.

What the West Bend School Board is making sure is taken care of is paying staff. I expect that this is of particular importance with three board members up for reelection in a few weeks.

WEST BEND — With one board member quarantined after travel, the West Bend School District Board of Education met to discuss how teachers and other staff will be paid during the school closure, all while staying six feet apart from one another.

Board members met on Wednesday, March 18, to discuss employee compensation while schools are closed. They unanimously voted to pay employees their normal salary up to spring break on Monday, April 6.

If the school closure due to COVID-19 is to be extended, the board would reconvene and take

further action if the closure extends after Monday, April 13.

“We have had several employees wanting to know or are very concerned about whether they’re going to be paid during this shutdown or not,” said Superintendent Don Kirkegaard.

[…]

“Nobody spends money just to spend money. In this case, we’re spending money to take care of the people who dedicated in many times 10, 15, 20, 30 years of their life to us and we want to treat them the way we’d want to be treated as well,” said Kirkegaard.

Frankly, I’m a little torn on this. We want to ensure that the district is able to retain critical employees after this is over and that we are caring for our community. At the same time, taxpayers are also suffering and it is not unreasonable to expect our public employees to share the pain too. If they aren’t working, we shouldn’t be paying them. And we shouldn’t just make up work for them to have an excuse to pay them. I don’t see any reason to pay coaches, custodial, administrators, and good chunk of the classroom teachers and aides if they aren’t working full time. Yeah, it sucks, but it also sucks for the retail, restaurant, and other workers in town who are idle right now and have to pay that tax bill.

With the way budgeting works, the school district already has the money from the annual property tax, so there wouldn’t be an immediate tax savings. But they could save or reallocate the savings to reduce taxes in the next budget when the taxpayers will still be reeling from the economic impact of this. Or they could reallocate the money to purchase the technology and training needed to do distance learning correctly. It appears that the priority of the West Bend School Board, however, is to keep the district staff whole irrespective of what’s happening to the taxpayers.

We will have to watch the long term effects of this transition. Will distance learning stick for schools? It’s not right for everything, but if 20% of a district moves to distance learning, then we can redirect much of the spending on facilities to classroom instruction. And what does this do for appropriate teacher/student ratios? If kids are learning from home, will the taxpayers still need to provide free meals to them? If so, then can we admit that that is just normal welfare and not use our government school system as an alternate welfare delivery agency?

When all of this is over, we will all have to evaluate how our government institutions responded and render judgment. Some will deserve praise. Some will need a wholesale reform.

Essential Businesses

I guess we’re learning what people really thinking are “essential” businesses.

As hundreds of businesses in cities such as San Francisco and New York close due to the coronavirus outbreak, medical marijuana stores remain open as officials revise public health orders to include cannabis as an essential medicine.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed (D) this week announced changes to the city’s public health order that allowed only essential businesses such as grocery stores, banks and pharmacies to remain open while residents are required to stay at home, according to NPR.

Dispensaries and marijuana delivery services are now also deemed as critical businesses, according to city officials.

In the macro-sense, consider how we are letting our government decide which ones of us are allowed to work and which ones are not. Sell pot? You get to remain employed and work. Sell food? Nope. Get thyself to the unemployment line!

Closing Down Representative Government

I wondered if we would see something like this.

Georgia election officials postponed the state’s presidential primary election scheduled for March 24 due to concerns of over the coronavirus, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Saturday.

Election officials are moving the primary to May 19. Early voting for the primary will resume again shortly before the new voting date.

“Events are moving rapidly and my highest priority is protecting the health of our poll workers, their families, and the community at large,” Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger told the Journal-Constitution.

On Friday Louisiana became the first state to postpone their primary due to concerns over the virus, pushing their primary from April 4 primary to June 20.

One of my biggest worries about coronovirus is that it will be used to push out a bunch of really bad policies. Paid sick leave mandates, universal healthcare, closing schools, online voting, etc.

In the back of my mind, I started wondering if some in government might use this as an opportunity to shut out the pubic completely in some cases. They are already shutting down public hearings, large public gatherings, and government buildings. They are already dictating policy and law by executive fiat instead of a legislative process at the federal and state levels. Now they are postponing elections. Do they cancel them and just leave the incumbents in place? I know it seems like a stretch, but we are already allowing our government to do things that are unprecedented except in time of war. People act strange in a crisis and bad people will use that fear as an opportunity to get their way. Such things are not unprecedented in the history of the human experience.

Vast Majority of People Recover from Coronovirus Just Fine

Noted.

SEATTLE (AP) — Amid all the fears, quarantines and stockpiling of food, it has been easy to ignore the fact that more than 60,000 people have recovered from the coronavirus spreading around the globe.

The disease can cause varying degrees of illness and is especially troublesome for older adults and people with existing health problems, who are at risk of severe effects, including pneumonia. But for most of those affected, coronavirus creates only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, with the vast majority recovering from the virus.

According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe ailments may take three to six weeks to rebound. In mainland China, where the virus first exploded, more than 80,000 people have been diagnosed, but more than 58,000 already have recovered.

And remember that an unknown, but likely large, number of people have, or have had, Coronovirus and were never tested for it. Death rates are driven by the denominator and we don’t know what that is. All we can definitively say is that the denominator is much higher than we have actually counted.

WIAA Girls’ Basketball Tournament to Go On As Planned

Good. I’m glad to see that at least not everyone is overreacting.

ASHWAUBENON, Wis. (WBAY) — WIAA officials are keeping a close eye on the coronavirus as they get ready for the Girl’s State Basketball Tournament this weekend at the Resch Center.

About 30,000-40,000 people are expected to make their way into the tournament at some point during the three-day event.

Todd Clark, WIAA director of communications, said they are monitoring the situation, but as of right now, they don’t plan on changing anything about the tournament. Instead, they are going to remind people about the precautions they can take to stay healthy. PMI Entertainment told Action 2 News that the center has plenty of bathrooms that are well-stocked with soap.

‘We’re working on a PSA, a message within the facility on video boards as a friendly reminder to be courteous, as far as, doing the common things we talk about to help prevent the spread of contagious viruses,” said Clark.

Coronovirus is serious. We should take precautions and be vigilant about our hygiene and communal behavior. But we shouldn’t suspend daily life for months while it runs its course. Get out there and do what you need to do, folks, just don’t be stupid.

Workplace Weapon Bans Put People In Danger

Mark Belling nails it with his column.

Molson Coors bans weapons in the workplace. Most employers do the same, including my radio company. They generally announce these bans by plastering a silly sign on the door. I guess Ferrill wasn’t deterred by the sign.

The workplace weapons bans are counterproductive. They make all of us easy targets. The only way to have minimized Ferrill’s carnage was for somebody else with a gun to shoot him before he shot anybody else. Occasionally, armed security guards at a few workplaces may be around to do that. But the rest of us are reduced to begging for mercy.

[…]

Almost every mass shooting in America occurs at a “soft target” where the gunman knows nobody will be able to defend themselves or stop the slaughter while it’s still in progress. (Schools are a perfect example of this.) Until somebody figures how to stop people like Ferrill from going off the rails and slaughtering people he’s mad at, allowing a level playing field is the best approach.

We are allowed to carry weapons legally in Wisconsin in our cars, our homes, on the sidewalk and in a lot of parks. But most of us can’t carry them into work. Or the mall. Or a school. It’s not a coincidence that’s where the mass killings usually occur.

Companies Pull Back on Travel

Buy stock in teleconferencing and data infrastructure companies.

Amazon and other big companies are trying to keep their employees healthy by banning business trips, but they’ve dealt a gut punch to a travel industry already reeling from the virus outbreak.

The Seattle-based online retail giant has told its nearly 800,000 workers to postpone any non-essential travel within the United States or around the globe. Swiss food giant Nestle told its 291,000 employees worldwide to limit domestic business travel and halt international travel until March 15. French cosmetics maker L’Oréal, which employs 86,000 people, issued a similar ban until March 31.

Other companies, like Twitter, are telling their employees worldwide to work from home. Google gave that directive to its staff of 8,000 at its European headquarters in Dublin on Tuesday.

Major business gatherings, like the Geneva International Motor Show and the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, have also been canceled.

On Tuesday, Facebook confirmed it will no longer attend the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, which is scheduled to begin March 13. And the 189-nation International Monetary Fund and its sister lending organization, the World Bank, announced they will replace their regular spring meetings in Washington — scheduled for mid-April — with a “virtual format.”

I travel for work all the time. There are so many things you can catch that suck and are not the coronovirus that it doesn’t even make my top 10 worries about travel. But the positions of these companies are understandable. None of them wants to be sued when an employee dies from a virus outbreak because he/she “had to travel for work.”

Chinese General Dismissed by Disney

I thought that art was supposed to be brave and challenge orthodoxy?

In the 1998 animated original, based on the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, General Li Shang developed a bond with Mulan’s male warrior alter-ego Ping.

After her true identity was revealed, she and Li Shang have dinner together.

Given recent revelations in Hollywood, however, producer Jason Reed confirmed they were uncomfortable with the power dynamics in their relationship.

“I think particularly in the time of the #MeToo movement, having a commanding officer that is also the sexual love interest was very uncomfortable and we didn’t think it was appropriate,” Reed told Collider.

“We split Li Shang into two characters [for the remake]. One became Commander Tung, who serves as her surrogate father and mentor in the course of the movie. The other is Honghui who is [Mulan’s] equal in the squad.”

Reporting Child Abuse is a Tricky Business

This is really a minefield for parents.

The hospital’s guidance advised doctors to notify the Child Protection Program of even small bruises found on infants who are not yet “cruising,” or pulling themselves up on furniture. Such bruises, the guidance warned, are “sentinel” injuries that can signal possible child abuse. Knox helped to write the policy, basing it on “national guidelines and practice,” Russell said.

The Siebolds offered several innocent explanations for Leo’s bruises. Perhaps they came from Leo’s “Army crawling” over toys on the wooden floor of the family home — or from Leo’s struggle with Brenna Siebold and ER staff during the examination a day earlier. Knox and physician assistant Amanda Palm rejected those theories. The hospital reported the bruises to authorities as “unexplained.”

Mount Horeb Police officers Susan Zander and Jenn Schaaf interviewed the Siebolds at the hospital; one officer knew Brenna Siebold personally. They quickly discounted the allegations, writing in a one-paragraph police report that the bruises were “caused by medical staff.”

After a two-month investigation, the Dane County Department of Human Services also concluded there was no evidence of abuse.

Minor bruises could spark even more investigations under a bill introduced in 2019 by U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin. It would create a $10 million demonstration program on how to use “sentinel injuries” in children 7 months and younger, including minor bruises, to detect — and prevent — child abuse and fatalities.

Child abuse is terrible and everyone (almost) wants to see it discovered, reported, prosecuted, and prevented. This creates a huge incentive for people – especially medical professionals – to report even their smallest suspicions to law enforcement. And because child abuse is so horrendous, even the accusation can ruin the lives of parents and pull apart families.

The problem is that some kids get hurt is weird ways, some kids bruise easily, and some kids lie. Even if the authorities never prove that there was child abuse or actually conclude that there was no child abuse, the accusation will still linger. People will doubt. Employers will wonder. Family members will question. Nobody wants to be the person who did not report suspected child abuse if there actually is child abuse. And nobody wants to let their kids go to little Timmy’s house when his dad is an accused child abuser.

I don’t have any good answers. The amount of scrutiny for child abuse is appropriate given our collective concern for the welfare of children. But once that accusation is made, it can’t be retracted even if it is disproven. Be very careful before you accuse.