Herman Melville portrayed the cult of the safety-obsessed in 1856

“Man avoid man? and in danger‐​time, too.”

This Herman Melville story, “The Lightning Rod Man” predicted many of the 2020 Covid-19 overreactions.

“’For Heaven’s sake,’ he cried, with a strange mixture of alarm and intimidation—’for Heaven’s sake, get off the hearth! Know you not, that the heated air and soot are conductors;—to say nothing of those immense iron fire‐​dogs? Quit the spot—I conjure—I command you.’

“’Mr. Jupiter Tonans, I am not accustomed to be commanded in my own house.’ …

“[T]he Lightning‐​rod man still dwells in the land; still travels in storm‐​time, and drives a brave trade with the fears of man.”

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