The mandatory quarantines in New York and New Jersey are an insane overreaction

Tired, apparently, of all the goddamned evidenced-based pussy-footing coming from people who understand science and public health, the Two Big Guys made their kick-butt pronouncement: They are throwing those weenie volunteers into the 21-day slammer, no ifs or ands or buts. Goddammit.

With this they are further tarring the poor schmuck who is fighting off a life-threatening infection: Dr. Craig Spencer. Remember him? Remember 55 percent death rates from Ebola? Yet Spencer’s current predicament has taken a distant back seat to the pressing worries of 8 million people who are at zero risk but appear to want to feel threatened. It is an odd inversion—dumping on a guy who is sick and at real risk for death and maybe a little heroic (after all, he chose to go to Guinea to help the dying, chaotic masses) and focusing instead on his “selfish disregard for the public” as he traipsed across the subway system to access the cultured and well-turned-out parallel world of Brooklyn and its contents.

I don’t know Spencer, but my only beef with him is that he opted to go bowling—meaning he either likes bowling, which is inconceivable, or he “likes” bowling, i.e., he is edging along the gentle ironies of the early-30s New York life, bowling and macaroni and too-skinny pants, passions that start out in passionate jest yet become anchored and beloved, the supercilious eyebrow shake lost in the shuffle as comfort turns out to be, well, comfortable. No matter what one thinks of him personally, though, clearly he is a victim here and not a villain.