What does “bad” look like?

Published March 29, 2020

Here’s the short ver­sion of the sto­ry: I have a friend — let’s call her Jane — who lives in New York (the city). She told me about a friend of hers (“Sue”) who test­ed pos­i­tive for CoviD-19.

Apparently, despite the diag­no­sis, Sue did­n’t both­er to sep­a­rate her­self from her hus­band or teenage boys. “There’s noth­ing I can do.” Then Sue felt bet­ter, and decid­ed it was OK to go shop­ping. No, she did­n’t both­er to wear a mask.

Sue’s hus­band, shock­ing­ly, began to devel­op symp­toms. Still, they did­n’t quar­an­tine them­selves; Sue even sent her teenage boys out to the laun­dro­mat with­out any kind of pro­tec­tion for them­selves or others.

“She’s not a bad per­son,” Jane told me. “I think she’s just over­whelmed. It has­n’t sunk in.”

Not a bad per­son. Hm.

Granted, Sue isn’t evil on the scale of Hitler or Stalin or [insert evil per­son here], but let’s be real here: Yes, she is a bad per­son. She is putting oth­er peo­ple at risk for no oth­er rea­son than she does­n’t want to be mild­ly inconvenienced.

Maybe we’re so used to think­ing that a “bad per­son” has to be way on one side of the spec­trum to earn the title, but that’s just not true. Sue is an adult. She’s not an idiot. There’s no way she could not under­stand what’s going on. And yet she choos­es to treat every­one around her as insignif­i­cant objects whose lives mean nothing.

She does­n’t mean well but screwed up. She does­n’t have bad infor­ma­tion and thus made poor choic­es. No, she delib­er­ate­ly, know­ing­ly put peo­ple at risk just because she could­n’t care less about them.

Yeah, she’s a bad person.



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