One of the most unfortunate parts of the pandemic is the celebrities who have done their own research. Dave Hughes is merely the tip of the iceberg.
Enough has been written, Tweeted and shouted into the abyss over the past couple of years from those of us who BELIEVE IT WHEN SCIENTISTS SPEAK, when those who apparently don’t start spouting their ill-informed gobshyte into the wilds of social media.
Last year, among the many well-heeled mouth breathers who weren’t on Sky News or wrote for the Herald Sun, Shane Warne was a particularly noxious weed for whom bloviation on the ins and outs of effective health crisis management seemed to be the order of the day. Warne, a superbly skilled spin bowler, but somehow epidemiology and transmissible diseases would not be the kind of thing I’d expect him to be entirely on top of. Oddly enough.
So too for Rebecca Judd, who is a) married to Chis Judd, a world-class former Australian rules footballer, and b) a television presenter who has made herself famous for trotting around overpriced inner Melbourne cafes, wherein she speaks to the owners about their cronuts ‘n’ junk and pretends to eat. A qualified speech pathologist she is (look it up, it’s true), but an expert on infectious diseases, she ain’t. Never mind that she lives with her husband Chris and their kiddies in a massive, spacious mansion worth several million dollars in one of the leafier, greener, nicer parts of Melbourne, but since she’s never once apparently had to go without anything, onto Instagram she popped, spruiking some hair product and wearing a ‘Free Melbourne’ t-shirt, the likes of which had previously worn by Sky News’ Peta Credlin. Mrs. Judd also had referred to Premier Andrews as ‘Dictator Dan’, paragon of understatement that it is.
Today’s latest installation of ‘people who really ought to stay in their lanes’ is apparent comedian Dave Hughes, trending on Twitter for reasons that are as ridiculous as they are predictable. The two-week-long lockdown the city has recently endured has been just a joy for every and all citizens of it, but thankfully most of us understand that short-term pain is for the long-term gain. Gyms shall remain closed, per the medical advice. That closing places where people expel sweat, spit, your gamut of bodily fluids is perhaps not the best local to have open during an outbreak. I know this because despite my education, I’m not educated enough in virology to dispute the findings and directives of the Chief Health Officer.
Dave Hughes, on the other hand?
“If @VictorianCHO is confident Covid outbreak has been contained why not open up Victoria properly again right now? Hard to fathom interim rules depress many and confuse everyone,” he opined on Twitter.
Then a stream of what one might presume was a host of made-up ‘facts’ about multiple gym owners facing certain economic doom because they were forced to stay closed WITHOUT REASON.
Then, having had more than a handful of people point out that one of the past outbreaks had several dozen cases linked to a gym, Hughes puts out a mea-culpa of sorts, festooned with as much snark as one might expect from a nine-year-old being forced to apologise for stealing another kid’s Snickers at recess.
CORRECTION. Was told by gym owner friend that there have been no recorded Covid transmissions in commercial gyms in Australia. That was incorrect. There was definitely some recorded cases at a commercial gym at Avalon in NSW in December. SORRY. #factsmatter
— Dave Hughes (@DHughesy) June 10, 2021
I’m not one to hold radio comics to the same standards as politicians or journalists, but given the scope and depth of his audience, it behooves the man to take some measure of caution in how he’s spreading what happens to be misinformation. Undermining the efforts of the non-partisan health authorities do nothing to ease the collective stress people find themselves under during lockdowns.
No, we don’t like it. Business owners don’t like it much either. Any number of them have been elevated to the status of martyrs by the likes of Leigh Sales on the 7.30 Report, in degrees to which one must conclude there’s something more to it than just apparent fairness and balance.
The thing with Hughes is, that in a previous and now deleted exchange, it was pointed out that the whole gym thing might be something he could look into.
“You reckon all the people who liked this tweet bothered to investigate further?” the comic asked, un-comically. “Not cool. All right for you mate, having a bit of fun on Twitter, but many gym operators are losing their livelihoods.”
Chiming in on the virtues of fact-checking on the tail of being factually wrong. So, kids, while gym junkies wait patiently to get back to pumping iron, Dave Hughes sits in the echo chamber of cyberspace unintentionally pumping irony.
I can’t wait for all of this to be over. One, I can go somewhere warm, overseas, on a beach, and drink cocktails with little umbrellas in them. And, two, I can once again return to the happy place of not knowing who Dave Hughes is.