More Covidiot Schadenfreude

Stop me if you've heard this one . . .

Hunter Pepper, 19, speaks at a Decatur, Ala., city council meeting. (City of Decatur/YouTube)
Hunter Pepper, 19, speaks at a Decatur, Ala., city council meeting. (City of Decatur/YouTube)

WaPo (“Alabama councilman, 19, sick with covid after opposing mask mandate: ‘Terrible not to be able to breathe’“):

A teenage city council member in Decatur, Ala., who voted in April to end his city’s mask mandate, landed in the hospital with the coronavirus Wednesday night after developing pneumonia and struggling to breathe.

“I am still shallow in breathing but my oxygen remains okay for now!” 19-year-old Hunter Pepper, who in August 2020 became the youngest person ever elected to the Decatur City Council, said on Facebook Thursday. “Confirming last night after a ‘CT-Scan’ I am now shown to have ‘Covid Pneumonia’ which is absolutely terrible.”

Pepper said he and his family began worrying after he developed symptoms, including difficulty breathing. He tested positive for the virus on Wednesday morning.

“Everything In me wants to tell myself it is something different but every way I look it’s ‘Covid this, Covid that’ and it has terrified me and my family,” Pepper wrote on Wednesday. “The media continues to report on Covid-19 and explains ‘Death’ each time they do. That is honestly terrifying to me but I have faith in the lord.”

The 2020 high school graduate has supported a hands-off approach to addressing the pandemic. In April, when the city council voted to end a local mask mandate, Pepper said “wearing a mask should be my choice,” WAAY-TV reported. Still, Pepper vowed to comply with private business owners’ requirements on face coverings.

This summer, he criticized Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) after she chided people who have refused the coronavirusvaccine amid a sharp spike in new cases. Ivey said “unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks” were to blame for the rise in cases, adding that those who were not getting the shots “are letting us down.”

Pepper replied on Facebook, saying getting vaccinated should be “your choice.”

“I will NEVER, push something on you or tell you that you must do something or [you’re] not a great member of society … because I don’t agree with it,” he wrote. “I’m here for the people, not just the ones who are vaccinated.”

And last month, Pepper shared guidance from the Alabama attorney general that barred government entities — including school districts — from requiring vaccines or asking people to show proof of immunization. “Read it folks,” Pepper wrote.

It is not clear whether he himself was immunized. Pepper told The Washington Post in an emailed statement that his views on mask mandates have not changed, but he does support people choosing to wear face coverings and getting vaccinated.

“I will do as I can to encourage folks to wear a mask as well as get vaccinated because I can say it is terrible,” he told The Post. “This virus is NOT, Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or Independent. It is its very own thing that is destroying our country but people still bring [politics] into it when they should not.”


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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Mikey says:

    More Covidiot Schadenfreude

    Here’s all you could ever want:

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    “I will NEVER, push something on you or tell you that you must do something or [you’re] not a great member of society … because I don’t agree with it,” he wrote. “I’m here for the people, not just the ones who are vaccinated.”

    Because everyone has the right to play Covid Russian Roulette with other people’s lives.

  3. JohnMcC says:

    Had a college-age roomie once who was an out-and-out Objectivist. Sounded like this fellow: Very smart in the world of ideas and other people’s writings. Very stupid in the actual world of objects and powers.

    That would have been, like, 1965. Some ways of being stupid just don’t change.

  4. DaveD says:

    Since moving down here this makes a ton of sense that this is in Decatur. Also not for nothing this should poke a hole in the antivaxxers argument that being young is a prophylactic. But he will probably live and clearly has health insurance my guess through his parents thanks to Obama care. So it’ll be business as usual. Most of the people I know down here that aren’t vaccinated are more lazy than ideological. But it is refreshing to see a lot of old veterans and just old southerners chide people in their 40s and 50s for not being vaccinated, because usually whenever I try to impress upon people I know to get jabbed I’m dismissed as a liberal yankee.

  5. HarvardLaw92 says:

    My schaden is over-freuded …

    You break it, you bought it *shrug*

  6. Joe says:

    It is not clear whether he himself was immunized.

    There is zero chance that he is vaccinated in this situation and has not mentioned it.

  7. Kathy says:

    Was it also his choice to win a Darwin award at such a young age?

  8. Kathy says:

    The other day I think @Teve mentioned covidiot customers that go ballistic after asking why the staff are wearing masks, unless the answer is some version of “stupid company policy.”

    Here’s the version I’d use, which also expresses my feelings about covidiots in general: “Stupid company policy, sir. Unlike you, we’re not allowed to treat your life as utterly worthless.”

  9. Scott F. says:

    I don’t know if the Germans have an equally useful word for “righteous anger” because I’m past the “malicious joy” at this point. If this kid knew better than the epidemiologists when he used the influence as an elected official to push anti-masking/anti-vaxxing, then he should rely solely on his judgement with his treatment now. Finite medical resources shouldn’t be expended on this guy. Already overburdened health care workers shouldn’t have to help save him.

  10. Barry says:

    If he’s really sick, then the base odds are 19:1 or higher that he’s unvaccinated. Being a low-level[1] COVID supporter, he’s undoubtedly unvaxxed.

    [1] The higher-level ones, like Fox guys are vaxxed; they don’t want to end up as a sacrifice themselves.

  11. Barry says:

    @Barry: I’ll be honest and say that I hope he dies.

  12. Mister Bluster says:

    Anti-Mask Florida Official Dies of COVID—and Takes GOP Software Secrets With Him
    Just a day after testing positive for COVID-19, a Florida Republican official who battled against mask mandates, attacked the vaccine, and railed at CDC officials has died in Tampa.
    “Gregg’s software converted data from our Quickbooks software to supply the information needed by the FEC,” it states. “Unfortunately, Gregg passed away suddenly from Covid-19 on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. Gregg did not share the software and instructions with our officers. We will have to enter the August data manually, and according to the information we have received from our FEC analyst, Scott Bennett, we may likely have to re-enter the data from our first 7 months of 2021.

  13. Mikey says:

    @Scott F.:

    I don’t know if the Germans have an equally useful word for “righteous anger”

    Not really. You could say “gerechter Zorn.” Self-righteous anger or indignation is “Empörung” but most Americans wouldn’t pronounce it properly because it contains an umlaut.

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Barry: I don’t. I did some pretty stupid stuff when I was 19 too, and somehow or other survived it. Not sure I’m any the smarter for it..

  15. Barry says:

    @Mister Bluster: and the crowd rejoiced!

  16. Gustopher says:

    I don’t really want to fat shame anyone, especially when I am a bit plump myself, but the dude clearly has some pre-existing conditions that could affect his outcome with covid.

    Stupid-shaming though, that’s fine. Especially when he should realize that he has some pre-existing conditions.

  17. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: He’s not obese; he’s big boned. The bones in his neck and abdomen being particularly large.

  18. senyordave says:

    Normally I would expect some of these anti-vaxxers who get Covid and do survive to have a come to Jesus moment, where they realize how ridiculous they have been and encourage others to get the vaccine. Does not seem to happen, man seem more sure than ever that they are correct. It is a shame that some of these ant-vaxxers might end up costing someone else their life because of limited resources. Of course that has been a predictable outcome of their behavior from the start. No matter how bad they are, these people pale in comparison to DeSantis, Abbot, etc. There is a special place in hell for the governors who are directly responsible for the deaths of thousands.

  19. liberal capitalist says:

    Stop me stop me stop me… Stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before…

    Documented in detail schadenfreude. Those who want to “Do their own research” should start here.

    Because if 1800+ people a day are dying of COVID-19, then these are the stories of the adamantly not-vaxed folk that make up that black parade.

  20. Kylopod says:

    @senyordave: From an article about an Israeli anti-vaxxer who died of Covid (shouldn’t there be a specific term for this phenomenon by now?) and whose supporters claim he was murdered by the government:

    In anthropology, the term “cognitive dissonance” describes a situation in which a group’s convictions clash with reality. The concept was first investigated by Leon Festinger, an American social psychologist who in the 1950s observed the followers of a cult leader who had prophesied that the world would come to an end on a specific date, but, of course, were wrong.

    In his research, Festiger showed that for the most part, people maintain their belief even after it is disproven by reality. In the case of the cult, after the world continued to exist, some of the less fervent believers dropped out, but a hard-core group of followers refused to acknowledge the truth, maintained their beliefs and even attracted new members.

  21. John430 says:

    In the interest of full transparency…this “right-wing” Republican also has a life sciences background and suggests the following to those refusing vaccination under the flag of “liberty'” Lets pick a date certain, say November 1st. Then, if you are not vaccinated and come down with Covid any day after that date, your medical insurance will NOT cover any and all Covid-related costs, up to and including hospitalization. Fair enough?