As we sanitize, scrub and self-isolate, we also look for ways to stave off panic.
Laughter helps, but pandemics aren’t very funny. Still, COVID-19 is providing occasional glimmers of humor—admittedly bleak, but we’ll take whatever we can get.
As worried and uncertain as many of us feel right now, things could be worse. For instance, we could be among the hundreds, possibly thousands, of blockheads who have turned to televangelist Jim Bakker for a miracle cure.
While humans with IQs higher than their pet hamster's are taking sensible steps to protect against the coronavirus, we could be stuck explaining to our mortified families why we blew $80 on a random bottle of slop called "Silver Solution."
Last month, Bakker assured his viewers that slathering on Silver Solution essentially will inoculate them against the fast-spreading virus—and possibly even “kill it” within a span of 12 hours.
It's a preposterous pitch, and you probably can't imagine anyone you know actually falling for it.
Hoarding rolls of Charmin? Bizarre, but forgivable. At least you're spending money on a product that does what it promises.
Ordering colloidal silver, a debunked and unsafe supplement, from a known scam artist? Not forgivable. You might as well roll up your hard-earned cash and put it next to the toilet.
To refresh everyone's memory, Jim Bakker is a TV preacher who went to prison in the late '80s after being convicted of wire fraud, mail fraud and conspiracy.
He and his wife, Tammy Faye, known for her fake crying and cement-mixer makeup, hosted a popular show called The PTL Club, a folksy criminal enterprise that targeted devout Christians.
The Bakkers daily begged the faithful for donations, and people sent in millions. Jim and Tammy got rich. They even built their own Christianity-based theme park, something Jesus himself never thought of.
But the holy high life fell apart for the Bakkers when it was revealed that Jim paid hush money to a church secretary who said he and another PTL minister had drugged and raped her. Authorities then began digging into the Bakkers' finances, and guess what?
He got sentenced to 45 years. It was reduced on appeal, and he was paroled in 1994 after less than five years behind bars (his attorney: Alan "I'll Represent Absolutely Anybody Famous, No Matter How Slimy" Dershowitz).
Tammy Faye died, but Jim rebounded splendidly with a new ministry, a new TV program, a new wife and, now, a new scam for ripping off his followers.
None of that's surprising. What is amazing is that any adult still sends money to this thieving troll.
Yes, the coronavirus is scary. So is the government's stumbling response. There's much to be learned about the disease, but be certain of this: Jim Bakker isn't qualified to send you a test kit, much a less a cure.
The feds have ordered him told him to stop peddling colloidal silver, and he's also being sued by the attorney general in Missouri, where his TV show is based.
The kindest thing to be said about those who've bought Silver Solution is that perhaps they're too panicky and gullible. The harshest but most obvious observation is that they're stupid way beyond the common parameters of stupidity.
This happens in major crises. We see it every hurricane season in Florida. Panic makes intelligent people do things that don't make sense. Panic makes less intelligent people do things that can actually kill them.
It's a shame Charles Darwin isn't around to weigh in on this phenomenon. Bakker isn't the only one selling fake coronavirus treatments, and his viewers aren't the only suckers buying them.
One choice actually dumber than believing Bakker is believing Alex Jones. He’s the InfoWars host who got kicked off Facebook and other social media for repeatedly saying that the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre was a hoax.
Last week, on what's left of his radio show, Jones began pushing "Superblue Fluoride-Free Toothpaste," supposedly infused with "nanosilver."
Nano-brained listeners were excited to hear Jones reveal that nanosilver is a documented slayer of all viruses in the "SARS-corona family," and is used by the Pentagon. However, as you might have guessed, Jones is full of nano-bull.
Whoever buys his worthless toothpaste can store it on the same shelf with all their worthless bottles of Silver Solution. And while we'd like to be sympathetic, we also need the laugh.
If only somebody would invent a toilet paper that cures COVID-19.
Carl Hiaasen is a columnist for the Miami Herald. Readers may write to him at: The Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Miami, Fla., 33172.
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