All posts by Jordan Kummer

Defend Their Platform: SLB for April 2021

Lots of activity, in not much time. Let us begin.

1.) State’s Fights.
Because it’s where all the activity is, let’s highlight the veto fight.
HB 1217
Passed House 24FEB
Passed Senate 08MAR
Vetoed “for style and form” 29MAR
Veto override failed that day.

This one is pretty close to dead. According to a story in the Grand Rapids Herald, there isn’t much “appetite” to take up the bill again in the Senate. South Dakota’s Republican Governor, Kristi Noem, did release two executive orders on the subject, but neither of them have much teeth behind them.

But the odds of this bill passing any time this year have crashed.

Also, despite the fact that it’s doomed to fail, let’s talk about a newcomer to the SLB. Please welcome:
HB 972
Introduced 05APR

The bill is, as mentioned, doomed to a veto by the Governor, but it is worth bringing up.

Here’s where everything else stands:


ARIZONA: Senate Bill 1637
IOWA: HF 184, HF 334
KENTUCKY: HB 471, SB 106
MINESSOTA: SF 96, HF 352, HF 350
SOUTH CAROLINA: H3477, H4153, S0531
TEXAS: HB 1458

GEORGIA: HB 276, HB 372, SB 266 (Sine Die. The Session is over)
UTAH: HB 302 (Session over)

In Motion:
House Bill 391:
Passed House 18MAR
Read in Senate 01APR

SB 208
Passed Senate 17MAR
Introduced in the House 19MAR

HB 112
Bouncing between the chambers. Currently in the Senate as of 01APR.

HB 1298
Passed House 11FEB
Amended version pasted Senate 29MAR
Currently in Committee between the two chambers.

2.) Congress Equality Act.
According to the Library of Congress’ official database, the House version of the Equality Act has been motionless since it passed in February, and the Senate version has only been introduced.

3.) Final thoughts.
Nobody ever said that this was going to move fast.
Nobody ever said that this was going to be easy.

We’ve seen a remarkable backlash in South Dakota (which, admittedly, proved to be quite successful) against these bills. The outrage pressure mirrors that which Georgia is seeing in regards to the election integrity bill.

Much like in Georgia, the controversy is predicated purely in politics, not in the substance of the bills. (Governor Kemp, to his immense credit, has been on a media tour countering what he calls “disinformation.”) Kemp, however does not seem keen to bow to any sort of pressure.

South Dakota, however, is a case study in how the opposition will respond, and where they will apply pressure in order to kill bans on men participating in women’s sports.

The science is clear, as are the consequences.
It’s the pressure that will be the real issue.
It is, truthfully, the only tactic the opposition has in fight to defend their platform.

Defend Their Platform: State Legislative Brief [March 2021]

A core part of Midnight Iron’s coverage of the debate over transgender women participating in women’s sport will be the State Legislative Brief. Using the work of Save Women’s Sports as a baseline, we will run though every known bill in the various State legislatures, and close with a quick word on the Federal Equality Act.

The first episode of the SLB will be a state-by-state rundown of current bills. Future episodes will organize the bills into categories; specifically which states have moved forward, which ones haven’t, and which states’ bills are dead for the session. All bills will contain hyperlinks to the State Legislature’s official database, because we believe in primary sources around here.

With that, let us begin. This is the State Legislative Brief for March 2021.

1.) State’s Fights. First off, a check on state-level bills, with help from Save Women’s Sports.

House Bill 391

This one appears to have moved to the full House after a favorable vote from the Education committee.

Senate Bill 1637 Motionless. Introduced 01FEB.

Senate Joint Resolution 16 Moving everywhere. Withdrawn from a committee to be amended, and the ammended version is currently with the Senate’s Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs. (In case you’re wondering, it’s because the Resolution involves any athletic teams sponsored by a public school.)

Senate Bill 354: Referred to Education Committee. Both this and SJR16 deal with barring transgender women (which is to say, biological men) from participating in women’s sport. But between the two, this one seems to include private schools as well. (Section 2: “”School” includes a private educational institution whose interscholastic, intercollegiate, intramural, or club athletic teams or sports compete against a public school.”)

Senate Bill 324: Referred to the Joint Committee on Judiciary. This bill provides civil immunity for any athletic organization that require a person to compete in on a team that “matches the gender identity on his or her birth certificate.” In other words, it is not a full ban on anything, but it says that an organization that decides not to allow men in the women’s division (or vice versa) cannot be sued for it.

House Bill 276: Currently in the Education Committee. This bill appears to be a ban on allowing anybody who is male competing in “an athletic program that is designated for females.” This would extend to public and private schools, plus the University System of Georgia (think UGA, Georgia State, Georgia Tech, etc.).

House Bill 372: Also with the House Education Committee. A bill to legally define “gender” among other things.

Senate Bill 266: Senate Education and Youth Committee. More or less the Senate’s take on HB276.

By the way, a quirk in the Georgia system is something called Crossover Day. As Georgia is a part-time legislature, there comes a point, midway through the session, where both chambers focus on bills that made it through the other body. Put more bluntly, on 08MAR, any bill that started in one chamber and was never voted out is declared dead for the session. For any of these bills to succeed, they need to move now.

House Bill 1304: Referred to Education Committee. Description is pleasingly straightforward: “Prohibits biologically born males from competing in any athletic program offered by a public high school that is designated for women or girls.”

House File 184: Introduced, referred to Education. A bill whose rough-to-read cover file suggests that it is similar to the Hawaii bill.

House File 334:: Introduced. Referred to Education. These appear to be almost identical.

Senate Bill 208: In Committee on Education, hearing 23FEB. This bill ensures that the women’s divisions in public schools “only include members who are biologically female.”

Senate Bill 106: Introduced. Requires student athletic events to be divided by biological sex, “prohibit designated agencies from entertaining complaints or investigations of policies; create a cause of action against a school that violates these provisions,” and many, many other things. This is a VERY comprehensive bill.

House Bill 471: Introduced. The House version of SB106.

SF 96: Introduced, referred to Education and Finance Policy Committee. Labeled as “high school league member public schools separate teams provision violation clarification.”

HF 352 Introduced, sent to Education Policy Committee. The description reads “female student sport team participation restricted to the female sex.”

HF 350: Introduced, sent to Education Policy Committee. “Student participation in athletic teams restricted.” This one seems to be a slightly more restrictive version of HF 352.

Senate Bill 2536: Passed out of the Seante, referred to House Accountability, Efficiency, Transparency Committee.

Also, note the use of Comic Sans. You can find quirky stuff in any State.

Just try and stay with me on this. There’s a LOT to go over.
Tackling the House bills, in numerical order.

House Joint Resolution 53 and House Joint Resolution 56. 53 had a hearing 01MAR, 56 did not. They appear to be identical.

House Bill 1045 and House Bill 1077: Referred to Emerging Issues Committee. Establishes “guidelines” for public school athletic competitions, organized by biological sex.

Both appear identical.

Senate Bill 503: First Reading. Requires that “no athletic team or sport designated for females, women, or girls shall be open to students of the male sex, as assigned at birth,” and that no government agency can take action against a school that keeps to separate divisions for men’s and women’s sport.

House Bill 112: Referred to Senate Judiciary Committee. “Require interscholastic athletes to participate under sex assigned at birth.”

House Bill 198: Referred to Senate Education Committee. Bars men from being in all-female athletics.

House Bill 304: Referred to House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee. Requires schools to “prohibit male participation on female athletic teams; prohibiting adverse action against schools complying with the Women’s Sports Protection Act.”

House Bill 1298: With the House Human Services Committee. The bill aims for “Athletic events exclusively for males or exclusively for females.”

House Bill 61: Refer to Primary and Secondary Education Committee. Requires schools, and both public and private colleges to designate separate teams for each sex.

Senate Bill 331: Referred to Senate Education Committee.

House Bill 3477: Referred to Judiciary Committee: The House version of the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” alongside Senate Bill 531, which is the Senate version.

House Bill 1217: Passed the House, scheduled for hearing 03MAR in the Senate. The title is “promote continued fairness in women’s sports.”

House Bill 3, Senate Bill 228: Senate Bill 228 passed, and was sent to the House. The House version appears to have been referred to the Calendar and Rules Committee.

House Bill 1458: Filed.

House Bill 302: Passed House, currently with the Rules Committee.

House Bill 2734 and House Bill 2141: Both referred to House Education committee.

2.) Congress. All of that is happening against the backdrop of the federal Equality Act, which was basically in stasis until the start of the post-2020 election Congress. That bill passed the House on 25FEB, and is listed on Congress’ official database as with the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Three Republicans joined Democrats in getting the bill through the House, though its future in the Senate remains unclear.

3.) Stil ahead: Taking a broader look at the legal issues, we have the USAPL/Gender Justice lawsuit, as well as the lawsuit in Connecticut being spear-headed by the group Alliance Defending Freedom.

There is no guarantee that all, or even most, of these bills will pass. The purpose of this monthly update is simply to track both the State- and Federal-level bills in regards to women’s sport. The SLB is a regular checkpoint in the fight to defend their platform.

Defend Their Platform: The Story So Far

Before we get much further into the discussion on transgender participation in sport, it’s worth highlighting one of the main threads of the last few years. Namely, the matter of transgender women (which is to say, biological men) in the women’s division of USA Powerlifting. It seems odd to consider the adage “men are physically stronger than men” being controversial in a sport with decades of meet results showing the clear differences, but such is the case here.

What follows is a timeline stretching back to 2019, when the USAL initially posted their “Transgender Participation Policy” and the firestorm that kicked up.

Feb 19, 2019 — USAPL Transgender Participation Policy hits Barbend. Barbend is a news service dedicated to covering the strength sports. Namely weightlifting, powerlifting, crossfit, strongman, and bodybuilding. — In addition to the policy, USAPL released an FAQ, targeting criticisms of the policy, and specifically the loaded use of the term “discrimination” in Outsports and other outlets who, to put it charitably, disagreed with the policy.

Feb 21, 2019 — At a meet in Minnesota (which is practically the flashpoint of our study tonight), competitors protested the policy by “timing out” their attempts, and occasionally holding flags reading “share the platform.” People such as JayCee Cooper spun it as a brave protest. ….video from the meet itself, however, paints a more aggressive picture. One that, frankly, is humiliating to athletes who weren’t interested in the protest. — UK-based rapper “identifies as female” to smash female weightlifting records. Not much to say tghere.

May 9, 2019 — VICE News piece on transgender powerlifter JayCee Cooper. The highlight of this piece is when the reporter asks “why should you be allowed to compete,” to which Cooper responds, “why not.” (Why not, of course, being the fact that men would sail to victory in the women’s division.)

May 9, 2019 — This is something we are going to come back to again, and again. For almost an hour, the chairman of USAPL’s Therapeutic Use Exemption committee, Dr. Kristopher Hunt, laid out a ton of evidence on why the USAPL’s policy was quite fair, and how men participating in the women’s division would leave women pretty much without any hope of competing. Cooper and another transgender lifter, Rebecca Fox, were present to speak for a proposal to essentially force the issue. Their opening argument was complete with barely veiled legal threats that we’ll get to later. — Proposal went nowhere, but Maile and others DID get a ton of blowback from transgender activists/media nets.

July 1, 2019 – Interview with Dr. Hunt — Human interest story on why the fairness argument isn’t relevant. This is a true piece of work, if we’re honest.

October 30, 2019 — USAPL, Gender Justice “agree to talks.”

October 31, 2019 — Outsports interviews Maile.

December 21, 2020 — USAPL announces new competitive categories, including the gender-neutral MX division. The MX division is essentially a free-for-all where people can compete according to their “gender identity.” The USAPL’s anti-doping rules still very much apply.

January 5, 2021 — Study suggests “transgender women maintain an athletic advantage” years after therapy.

January 13, 2021 — Cooper sues USA Powerlifting in MN Civil Court.

January 18, 2021 — Montana bill. (This stuff will be taken care of in a future update.)

January 19, 2021 — Save Women’s Sports response to USAPL/Cooper lawsuit.

January 21, 2021 — “On Day One, Biden Destroys Women’s Sports With Anti-Science Executive Order.” The EO expanded Title IX to include gender identity. This links directly to athletics at the high school/collegiate level.

January 22, 2021 — “Joe Biden’s gender discrimination order offers hope for young trans athletes.” This is an….interesting article out of the Guardian, which pays next-to-no mind to biological females who are convinced (and rightfully so), that their ability to compete is greatly hindered by the EO.

January 26, 2021: — Save Women’s Sports’ Beth Stelzer appears on FOX News’ America Reports to discuss Biden’s Executive Order.

If this timeline feels completely unfinished, that’s largely because it is. This is just the start of the issue of transgender participation in women’s sport being played out in the courts, and in the legislatures (both State-level and in Congress).

If nothing else, this at least lays out the foundation, and frankly the rather tenuous state of women’s sport at present. While I reject the idea that the Biden EO is the one-shot death of women’s sport (this series would have no reason to exist, otherwise), I am not so naive as to believe it will not damage women’s sport for several years if fully implemented.

But, again, we have multiple bills in various states, we have (to my count) three separate bills in Congress which are bi-partisan. While there are vastly more Republicans than Democrats that support the idea of barring men from women’s sport, the issue has some fairly big names on both sides of the aisle; namely Democrat Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), and former SC governor Nikii Haley.

The executive order from President Biden is a problem, but it is not the end of the fight. There is far too much evidence to the contrary, and there are far too many reasons to continue the fight to Defend Their Platform.

Defend Their Platform: Introduction

In 2019, I attended USA Powerlifting’s National Governing Board meeting (from here on, NGB). A major topic of that meeting had been a proposal to essentially allow male-to-female transgender lifters to compete in the women’s division, complete with permitting the use of hormone therapy.

A few months prior to the NGB, USAPL had released its Transgender Participation Policy, that effectively barred men from competing in the women’s division. The reasons for this included the use of “testosterone and other androgens, commonly used to transition from female to male,” which are banned from the federation, regardless of reasons. The secondary reason was, of course, the physiological differences between men and women, and the competitive advantage the former would have over the latter.

The keynote, for lack of a better term, of the NGB was delivered by the chairman of USAPL’s Therapeutic Use Exemption Committee, Dr. Kristopher Hunt. In roughly an hour (which was posted online alongside a Q&A that we will get to later), Dr. Hunt laid out the reasons for preventing men from compete in the women’s division, much of which was mentioned above. His presentation was followed by two people who had brought the transgender proposal to the NGB, JayCee Cooper and Rebecca Fox. Cooper and Fox, both powerlifters, took questions from the attendees and, frankly, made more than a few barely-veiled legal threats.

Since then, Cooper has sued USAPL in court in Minnesota, various states have decided to try their own laws to protect women’s sport, and a Presidential administration has taken office that has a decidedly dim view of keeping transgender men out of women’s sport.

It is in this context that Midnight Iron launches its coverage of transgender participation in the sport of powerlifting, and by association women’s sport in general.

Tonight will be the first in the series, laying out my own views on the subject. After this, we will quickly recap the timeline of USA Powerlifting’s Transgender Participation Policy.

1a.) The Opener. It is worth stating, explicitly, what my views are, and where I intend to come from on this story.

Put bluntly, I have been quite bitter about the events of the NGB since they concluded. To my mind, the proposal was written in such a way that it was intended to fail, thus opening USAPL up to pages and pages of breathless criticism from Outsports and other organizations. Dr. Hunt’s well thought-out, science-based approach was derided as “anti-trans rhetoric,” among other, more colorful language.

The concept that men and women have always had physiological differences, has never been in question. The difference in muscle mass, bone density, and other physical attributes were just taken as read. Indeed, if one looks at the results of virtually any powerlifting meet, and compares those in similar weight classes, the differences are obvious.

But that does not seem to matter to activists. Shortly after the NGB, VICE News aired a piece on Cooper and the USAPL “trans ban.” The piece suggests that there is no clear link between “testosterone and sports performance.”

That, particularly in a strength sport, is bogus. If there were no link between testosterone and sports performance, there would be no reason to ban testosterone therapy from the sport wholesale.

But even leaving the science aside for a bit (to the extent that we can), allowing men to compete in women’s sport essentially makes the latter co-ed and dominated by people who are not biological females. This has massive impact across the sporting world, from professional competition, down to the high school level.

I have no interest in entertaining the idea that allowing men to compete in women’s sport will not devastate the latter, even those who support the idea don’t want to deny that simple fact.

1b.) “Share The Platform.” In powerlifting, the slogan from trans advocates has been to “share the platform,” implying that USAPL’s prevention of biological males competing in the women’s division is somehow blocking people from the platform entirely. However, “sharing” implies an equal ground, and the idea of men competing in women’s sport is anything but. It is true that the hormones used in transition therapy are banned, and that they have never been exempted. Powerlifting is a strength sport, and hormone therapy has a direct impact on strength.

In a drug-tested organization, athletes are better served when they compete against others of the same biological sex. The playing field is as level as it can be.

Powerlifting is a unique sport, and anybody who has worked backstage can see that. People from various teams working through warmups together, platform managers working to keep everyone on time and ready for their attempts, and a blend of competition and teamwork that is unlike any other sport.

The simple fact is that we, as powerlifters, do share the platform. I personally have managed a platform backstage with all types of people. But, perhaps more important than sharing the platform, is defending the right of competitors to a fair game.

In a drug-tested federation, men have next-to-nothing to fear about women competing in the men’s division. The physical differences, and the physiological advantages that have been known for years aren’t surmountable without testosterone therapy. The concept of combining sexes has not and never will be referred to as “the end of men’s sport.”

But for women? The reverse is not true. Those physiological differences that make the men’s division a non-issue will devastate the women’s division.

We must, and we do share the platform. However, we owe it to each other as competitors, and frankly to women in particular, to defend its integrity.

It is with that goal in mind that this series will cover the transgender case. Male athletes will be largely unaffected by women entering the men’s division (indeed, next to nobody is even entertaining such a thing out of sheer futility). The position entertained, therefore, is the definition of the term “privileged.” Men are not impacted by the transgender case in any significant way.

However, since the reverse is not true, there is an obligation to ensure that the same fair play that occurs in the men’s division also occurs in the women’s division. It is that mission from which this series will take its name. Share the platform, certainly; and Defend Their Platform.

Lifting lockdown: The Pitt

When I first thought about creating a timeline to make sense of the lockdown in PA, my first thought was “there but for the grace of God go I.”

Because that’s just the kind of spaghetti we’re dealing with.

What follows is at least an effort at making sense of the nonsensical. An effort at figuring out what (if anything) drove the lockdown in PA the first time, or the most recent one announced last week.

This timeline cannot be anywhere near as clean as O-H-I-O was. Any incoherence is not my fault.

Same format, different characters, and a less coherent storyline. Let’s (try to) do this.

April 23: — Gov. Wolf unveils a three-phase reopening plan for the state.

May 8: in a post on Instagram, PwrBld leader Collin Whitney announces the gym will open on May 18th.

May 11: — Multiple gyms, such as 10X Fitness in Taylor, PA, announce similar plans.

May 12: — Crawford County’s DA, among others, say that they will not prosecute businesses that violate Gov. Wolf’s lockdown orders. — Hit with multiple citations, 10X Fitness in Taylor, PA is forced to close.

May 13: — Alpha Fitness leader Jeremiah Snyder makes it rather clear that he, too, had no plans to shut down. — Gov. Wolf and Dr. Levine admit they have no real criteria for the yellow or green phases.

It’s always great when your builder builds the entrance but forgot the exit, isn’t it?

May 14: — Gov. Wolf starts to attack businesses that open in defiance of his orders; calling them “cowardly.” That didn’t go over well.

May 15: — Whitney’s plan to open PwrBld makes headlines. This leads to a torrent of messages on 6ABC’s Facebook calling Whitney just about everything; more or less saying PwrBld will be the site of the next outbreak.

That didn’t happen, by the way. — He also appeared on the Philly in CBS, asking a very simple question: if a Wal-Mart can be open, why not a gym?

It’s a question that has gone unanswered to this day. — Meanwhile, Transcend Fitness announces their intent to open on May 16th.

May 18: PwrBld Gym opens. Nothing happens beyond that for them. In an IG Story, Whitney notes that a lot of the people who are new members are themselves first responders. People who “need the gym” as a sort of stress relief.

May 20: — While all this is going on, Atilis Gym is getting what have become their daily citation. — Gov. Wolf now says that PA can’t return to normal until people feel “perfectly safe” and there is a vaccine.

May 21: — Basically, around this time, a lot of gyms did a lot of opening in defiance of a lot of orders and social media mobs. — Restaurants, which unlike gyms ARE licensed, open their doors in defiance of orders as well around this time.

May 22: — A gym owner in the Leigh Valley announces his plan to open his gym in defiance of the lockdown, calling the situation “do or die.” —- A few counties go into the green phase. PwrBld is still open, despite its home county being in the red phase. — PA quietly revamps the Green Phase, adding the phrase “changing behavior for a new normal” without so much as a press conference. The idea presumably being people wouldn’t notice the phrase change.

May 26th:
People noticed. The phrase is quietly removed from the “reopening” plan.

May 27: — Gov. Wolf finally releases guidance on the so-called “Green Phase.”

June 3: — Dr. Levine suggests that Green Phase will stick around until a vaccine is available.

July 17: — With most of the state in the so-called “green phase,” restrictions start to come more from the counties and cities than from the state itself.

July 28: — Gov. Wolf, completely lacking in self-awareness, tells Pennsylvanians to get off unemployment benefits. This is after numerous businesses close their doors as a result of the lockdown.

August 5th: — Allegheny County continues its restrictions on restaurant capacity among other things.

August 27th: — DoJ starts looking for information from several states in regard to their handling of nursing homes.

August 31st: — Setting off a series of stories of officials not following their own restrictions, the mayor of Philadelphia was forced to apologize after being photographed dining indoors at a restaurant in Maryland after having banned indoor dining in Philly.

September 3rd: — When asked to present data justifying the restrictions on restaurant capacity by a CBS affiliate in Harrisburg, the state says that information is protected.

November 16th: — Philadelphia closes indoor dining, gyms, museums until January of 2021. — Gym owners feel they’ve “been given no choice but to fail,” as an article in Philadelphia Magazine puts it. — PwrBld, located outside the city limits, does not close.

December 10: — The closure of museums, gyms, etc. expands from Philly to the entire state. A press conference involving Gov. Wolf, Dr. Levine, and a handful of others reveals a series of “frustrating” restrictions, including the outright ban of indoor dining, and the closure of gyms. — Gyms, and small businesses react pretty much as you’d expect, observing that many of them have seen no reported cases, and are being closed down regardless. —- At least, the businesses that comply, anyway. Crack’d Egg, a restaurant that won a lawsuit against Gov. Wolf, announces that they will be “business as usual” just hours after the press conference.

PwrBld also refuses to close, with Collin telling me that PwrBld will be open “Forever. Even after the zombies come.” — Other gyms have taken the same tact.

And this is where we find PA. At this point, a quiet, continuing revolt is really the only way for businesses to survive.

Whereas gyms and other businesses saw success in kicking the doors down in Ohio via the court system, PA’s Supreme Court has more or less rubber-stamped virtually everything that came out of the Wolf administration.

The sole remaining goalpost right now is, of course, the vaccines that have been slowly releasing over the last few weeks; but even that goalpost has shifted with alarming regularity in some states. PA’s government seems almost determined to go for a lockdown, while not supporting much of anything impacted by that lockdown. (The restaurant industry has seen this first-hand, with their constant “discussions” with the State about the restrictions being unsurvivable being met with near-total indifference).

The current lockdown is supposedly only for three weeks, but of course we’ve been here before. “Just two more weeks” was the refrain used for much of the summer, and most of the fall.

The hard truth is that most of the efforts that have been successful elsewhere have been exhausted in PA. Barring a ground-level revolt, or a major turnaround in the agenda of the state’s government, there does not appear to be many remaining ways to lift the lockdown.

Lifting Lockdown: O-H-I-O

As stated before, Lifting Lockdown has become a running record of lockdown efforts, the damage they’ve done, and how people have worked around them. Tonight, I present a recap of the fight in Ohio, drawing primarily from Episodes 1-6 of Lifting Lockdown.

Tonight’s structure is a little unconventional. We will start with a baseline, and move into more of a timeline of events as opposed to sections. We will not reference which episode an article is taken from, either. The point of this brief is to combine all of the Ohio fight into one single, easily accessible place.

1.) The Baseline. Let us state the obvious, given the growing body of evidence that physical activity can help prevent COVID symptoms from being severe (and boosting physical and mental health generally), there is little reason to treat gyms as an enemy during a public health crisis. Indeed, as has been discussed numerous times here on Lifting Lockdown, the industry is more than equipped to help people who already are healthy stay that way.

From the Ohio lawsuit, to New Jersey attacking Atilis Gym only to borrow their health guidelines in a sort of admission-by-plagiarism, the above case would generally need go unstated, as even the industry’s critics have tacitly acknowledged both that physical activity has a role in helping prevent COVID symptoms, and that gyms are not the source of the next outbreak.

Atilis Gym Bellmawr has rather famously started highlighting this fact, while referencing how many people have died in New Jersey nursing homes.

With that as our baseline, we can begin.

2.) Timeline.

April 27th:— Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announces a “gradual reopening” of the state. Gyms are left out almost entirely, given no real sign as to when they will reopen.

May 10th: — Pinnacle Performance testifies before the Ohio House 2020 Economic Recovery Task Force. Simultaneously, the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law files three lawsuits “on behalf of gym owners against the State of Ohio for the closure of Gyms without affording due process.”

May 12th: — The 1851 Center goes into more information about the suits, and posting the Complaint on its website. — Tattoo parlors, massage services are permitted to open. Gyms remain closed. At this point, I had referred to the decision as more a personal vendetta for the lawsuits than anything science-based.

May 14th:— Following the two-pronged approach of testifying before while suing the State, Gov. DeWine announces that gyms may reopen on May 26th, largely under sanitation guidelines that were hammered out shortly after gym owners testified before the Economic Recovery Task Force. —— Gyms told FOX28 in Columbus that the most frustrating part of the ordeal was not knowing when they’ll reopen.

May 19th: — DeWine announces that the Stay-At-Home Order will expire.

May 20th: — Lawsuits filed by the 1851 Center bear fruit, as a judge orders an injunction that effectively opened gyms almost a week before they were initially expected to open. — The judge on the case said that the state’s top health official went past the limits of her authority.

Nov 11th: — DeWine reissues a mask mandate, with provisions for penalties for violations. He also announced a “compliance unit” which will have the authority to close a store for 24 hours.

He explicitly warns that restaurants, gyms, and bars could face closure if the cases continue to increase. (We’ve discussed the problem with using case numbers/testing at length here on Lifting Lockdown.

Nov 13th: — Gyms begin exploring their legal options.

Nov 17th: — Ohio State Senator Jay Hottinger releases a letter signed by himself, and 38 other State legislators concerning the warnings about lockdown, and the “compliance” unit. The letter says in part:

“Furthermore it is unfair to single out the three specific sectors of restaurants, bars, and gyms for closure. These entities have spent an incredible amount of time and dollars to provide a safe environment for their employees to work and their customers to find relief from the pandemic. This targeting is particularly troubling when the government’s own data demonstrates that the majority of the virus spread is not coming from these types of businesses. Ohio State Wexner Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Andrew Thomas has noted that a second stay-at-home order that would close businesses and manufacturing is not necessary at this moment. Stopping the outbreak comes down to personal behavior and personal decisions. Other officials in your administration, including Dr. Thomas, say private gatherings such as birthday parties, weddings, and game watching events are what is driving the spread of the virus.”

At a 2PM press conference, focusing almost exclusively on case numbers. DeWin issues a curfew, started at 10PM on Thursday, November 19th. The curfew will go to 5AM.

He says “we are not talking about closing any businesses as we did then.” It is spun as being not a lockdown but a “slow down.”

3.) Closing thoughts. The only real difference between then and now, from a political perspective, is that the response from gyms was only slow compared to the lighting-fast response we’ve seen in the last week. In addition, as has been discussed countless times here on Lifting Lockdown, gyms are not anywhere close to the outbreak centers we were told they were. The Atilis Gym Bellmawr case in NJ teaches us this, as its owners have made a point of counting how many people go through their doors with no COVID outbreak traced back to Atilis.

As an aside, NJ has announced additional lockdown plans, of which Atilis has no interest in taking part.

But, at this point, even the most lockdown-eager politicians are now facing something of a headwind. The data does not support lockdown as a mitigation effort, the WHO has condemned the idea of lockdown as a mitigation effort, and the damage of lockdown is only just starting to become known.

As for Ohio, it must be said that the reaction from gyms was incredible. Standing on the efforts of the previous lawsuits, gyms were able to mount a defense extremely quickly. Though it was never explicitly mentioned, the two-pronged approach of the previous effort was hovering in the background of the lockdown threats.

When Lifting Lockdown returns, we turn our attention to Pennsylvania, as lockdown there becomes more, to use the state government’s terminology, “targeted.”

But for now, let us appreciate the efforts of Ohioans, and their combined-arms use of legal precedent, medical data, and economic data, to prevent the lockdown.

Lifting lockdown: Episode 14

Previously on Lifting Lockdown:

  • New home for the blog, and plans for the future.
  • Numerous studies on the impact of lockdown versus their supposed value.
  • We checked in on the no-doubt stunning concept of gyms not being the outbreak centers they were promised to be, and also discussed yet more issues with obesity and COVID-19.
  • We recapped active lawsuits.

On this episode, we continue to grow the case against continuing lockdowns, we look through the work of Stanford’s John Ioannidis from March to the present, and we check in with the ongoing trainwreck in Pennsylvania.

1.) Health Impact. —- There’s a story out of Dallas about Children’s hospitals seeing a rise in suicide patients. Back in August it was “a child or teen a day” for Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth. This is tied, in part, with kids struggling with being unable to return to any kind of normalcy. — This has dovetailed with other evidence going over the mental costs of the COVID pandemic and, frankly, the damage of the response to the pandemic. — As Dr. Ken Duckworth of the National Alliance for Mental Illness told ABC News, “There is a mental health wave to this pandemic. We as a species don’t do well with uncertainty.

1A.) The trouble with case reports. —- A growing body of research suggests that many “positive tests” of COVID may just be tests picking up on “residual traces” of the virus. In other words, viral load that aren’t contagious, and are on their way out regardless.

Put more bluntly, “confirmed cases” may be so insignificant as to be not worth reporting. But it DOES lead to some scary graphics to hide that. — One of Toronto’s top public health experts suggested back on October 3rd that the focus on daily case counts isn’t helpful. In an interview, Vivek Goel said that “what we seem to have developed, by and large, is a view that we need to focus on eliminating COVID-19. And we have got people to the point that they’re so scared of COVID-19 that they’re not thinking about all the other consequences.” — The World Health Organization has essentially reversed itself, now holding that blanket lockdowns aren’t a good idea anymore, and that their cost is far outweighing their supposed benefits. Dr. David Nabarro observed that “lockdowns just have one consequence that you must never ever belittle, and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer. — Following this logic, we have the Great Barrington Declaration. Signed by about 15,000 “medical and public health scientists” according to the Washington Times, the Declaration lays out opposition to lockdowns on the basis of their risk to the general public, and the damage done to other parts of public health (cancer screenings, for example.

1B.) John Ionnadis. One of the main scientists who have opposed lockdown since March is Stanford epidemiologist Dr. John Ioannidis. Tonight, we celebrate his work, and retrace this comments, working our way from March to the present. — In March, Dr. Ioannidis said that the rush to lockdown was based on bad data. Dr. Ioannidis projected about a fatality rate of .05% to 1%, adding that “a population-wide case fatality rate of 0.05% is lower than seasonal influenza. If that is the true rate, locking down the world with potentially tremendous social and financial consequences may be totally irrational. It’s like an elephant being attacked by a house cat. Frustrated and trying to avoid the cat, the elephant accidentally jumps off a cliff and dies.” — Stanford would later release research over a month later showing a remarkably low death rate, and that other factors (namely poverty) could contribute to worse outcomes for COVID-19 patients.

There’s also the issue of obesity that we covered in practically every episode of Lifting Lockdown. — In June, he called for an end to lockdowns across the globe. — His work was backed by biologist Beda Stadler, formerly the director of the Institute for Immunology at Switzerland’s University of Bern. — Put more bluntly, Dr. Ionnadis’ position in March was validated. — A few weeks ago, his study on COVID-19’s fatality rate was released by WHO.

2.) Education. — Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL), has become very much anti-lockdown as of late. From saying that lockdowns will never happen again under his administration, to more recent comments where he states that he believes closing schools was a monumental mistake. — Meanwhile, a study out of Zurich, Switzerland has found no link between schools opening in the area and a surge in COVID-19.

3.) Gyms. — A gym in Nebraska made headlines this month. Big Kent’s Strength and Fitness has been training student athletes at low or no cost during the pandemic. Owner Kent Fleming told KETV that “It was very important to me as one of the only Black owned gyms to use my platform to really effect in the community.”

3a.) Gyms in California.—gyms-from-lincoln-heights-to-silver-lake/article_5ec1debe-050f-11eb-9d2f-43bd40cccba7.html — A lot of gyms in California are starting to believe they’ll never reopen. The state’s “reopening” guidelines allow for 50% capacity if the county the gym resides in has less than 1 case per day. (Recall what we just discussed about the tests. This is virtually impossible.) — Gyms across the state are taking their case to court, calling for an end to the lockdown in California. It is what the California Fitness Alliance called “restoring access to fitness.” In response to Governor Newsom’s reopening plan, CFA advisory board member Francesca Schuler said in a press release that “he has apparently decided only those who can afford a Peloton should have access to a healthy lifestyle.

4.) Politics. —- Michigan Supreme Court rules Gov “has no authority to continue state of emergency.”

5.) PA. —- PA Lawmaker caught on hot mic saying masks are “political theater.” It was fun watching the backpedaling there.

6.) Closing thoughts. Remember when bringing up the effects of hard lockdown, or bringing up that it’s VERY likely unnecessary for such a long-term blanket closure, or that the damage would would outweigh the benefits would get you labeled as “not caring about people” among other things? When suggesting that lockdowns might kill more than the virus was “being selfish.” — When social distance shamers roamed the Internet looking for people to mob?

Turns out that absolutely none of that has aged particularly well. — As we discussed in episode 13, what we’ve been left with is accepting government control of business at a granular level, businesses having to sue for their own survival, a rise in suicide; domestic violence; and generally the sort of long-term damage that will outlast the lockdown.

It isn’t exactly the kind of minor damage that can be waved off.

Even as Lifting Lockdown slowly becomes an occasional feature, and not the main segment of Midnight Iron, that will continue to be the theme for the series. This series will aim to be a thorough examination of everything that happened OUTSIDE of COVID, and that has now become acceptable to talk about only because it’s now impossible to run from.

Of course, we never ran from it in the first place. As a result, this series also serves as a well-sourced running record for everything outside of COVID, that for whatever reason was allowed to fester and grow.

That is one thing I will always be proud of, regardless of where Midnight Iron goes. From the beginning, we saw coming what everyone else was surprised by. Every last one of the sources that supported the series’ main premise has now been thoroughly vindicated. From the benefits of physical activity, to the impact of lockdown on a physical, mental, emotional, and economic level; everything laid out in this series over the last few months has been validated.

The only problem is now, everyone has to inspect the damage.

As even the WHO now notes, we can prevent further damage by ignoring the perpetually-wrong promises of doom, looking at the hard data, and lifting the lockdowns.

Lifting Lockdown: Episode 13

Previously on Lifting Lockdown:
– We discussed the impact of lockdown outside of the gym, although we ended up discussing how gyms could help prevent a pandemic, and not spread it.
– We spent a significant amount of time discussing intimate terrorism, AKA domestic violence.
– We briefly ran though all of the lawsuits we’ve seen in regards to the pandemic.

Tonight, we discuss the impact of lockdown outside the gym, we discuss the relative safety OF gyms, and we get an accidental case study in the arbitrary nature of lockdowns from California. In addition, we add to Lifting Lockdown 12’s stack of evidence on obesity making COVID-19 worse, and check in on way too many lawsuits. Because people can only take this for so long.

By the way, PwrBld, the gym that everyone said would be the location of the next outbreak when it opened months ago, just celebrated its one-year anniversary. And they still haven’t been able to link anything back to that gym, or Atilis for that matter.

Let’s get started.

1.) Midnight Iron. Before we go anywhere, it’s time to recognize the new home. Midnight Iron will be the main archive for Lifting Lockdown going forward, and will also see regular updates relating to powerlifting OUTSIDE of the COVID-19 restrictions as competition resumes and, frankly, as issues such as the transgender debate evolve over the next few years. My goal is to ultimately produce a regular podcast of news from around the powerlifting world, focusing on USAPL and USPA events. We will discuss Midnight Iron in detail in a later update. For now, let us remain focused on COVIDS.

2.) COVID Stats —- For our lead story, which is a study on the impact of COVID-19 and whether the lockdown actually did anything productive that was worth their cost, I borrow from my friend Mike Newbern, who wrote that “as the data matures (or emerges depending on your training), we are learning our response came at a very high cost. Even if we stopped now, we’ll be paying the price for years to come.” — There is a growing body of evidence showing that the stay-at-home orders were at best worthless, and at worst counterproductive. —- The Wall Street Journal has called the lockdowns “overly blunt and costly.” — There is also an absolutely brilliant own goal out of Nashville, with emails showing that the city government wildly overstated COVID stats coming from restaurants.

3.) Gyms —- A national study involving check-ins at thousands of gyms has shown what we all suspected and what Norway already proved; gyms present no more of a risk than any other business. — This is where the data from O2 comes from. — Meanwhile, in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis rejected calls to close gyms back in July due to an increase of cases in the state. DeSantis said that the people who go to gyms tend to be fairly low-risk, and that “I think what they are doing is making them even less at risk of the coronavirus. So, I don’t think it would make sense to close them.”

For those looking for information that ISN’T coming from the industry itself, the simple fact is that there isn’t any. — CBS21 in Harrisburg filed a Right-to-Know request demanding information backing the state’s decision to restrict restaurants to 25% capacity, and was told that the information was “protected.”

The only info we have from outside of the industry is DeSantis’ musings; the successful opening of PwrBld, Atilis, as well as gyms in Georgia, Texas, and of course Florida.

We also have the odd note that, to be blunt, if there WERE an outbreak at PwrBld or Atilis, it would have been on 6ABC in Philly by now. In this case, absence of evidence IS evidence of absence.

But even if that’s not enough…..

3.1) Atilis — NJ gyms are opening under a carbon copy of the rules Atilis opened under. A sort of admission-by-plagiarism. — Commentator Matt Christiansen has an excellent review of the Atilis case here. —- NJ’s government is essentially demanding that Atilis mandate masks in their gym in exchange for not being fined….. —- After simultaneously admitting that there is no evidence linking gyms to COVID outbreaks and, apparently there never has been. Which is all the more ironic given that Atilis has been demanding for weeks to see the evidence linking COVID outbreaks to gyms.

3.2) California. — Also found this out of California. The gyms that are open in CA (not many of them), have also shown to have no real impact on the spread of COVID-19 —- News also broke out of California that, while they forced gyms to close in the city, San Francisco Government buildings keep their gyms open for their own use. —- About a week after that story broke, the city announced that gyms, hair salons, and nail salons would be permitted to open. Note that nothing changed about the SCIENCE of the virus, merely the POLITICS of the virus. —- Matt Christiansen has an excellent recap of the California case, as well. — Gym owners in California are now suing the state. Under the State’s plan, a gym’s in a county can operate at 50% capacity if there is less than a new case per day. That’s almost impossible, but as we’ve seen California government doesn’t much care.

Because, again, gyms in SF government buildings operated OUTSIDE of those restrictions.

4.) Obesity studies. We now increase the stack of evidence from Lifting Lockdown 12 with more studies on obesity and COVID-19. — Namely, studies showing that obesity could impact effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccine.

5.) Lifting Lockdown Lawsuit Listings. —- A federal judge found the open-ended restrictions placed on PA citizens to be a violation of the 1st and 14th Amendments; namely the right to assembly and due process. The judge further noted that the Governor sees these restrictions as a “new normal” and has no plan to lift anything. —- Staying in PA, a restaurant in Brentwood is suing the health department over COVID-19 restrictions in the state. — Meanwhile in Ohio, we have another lawsuit looking to remove the restrictions on business entirely. You may recall Ohio gym owners two-pronged approach to getting their businesses open back in Episode 5. This focuses on the closures as a whole. — We have a lawsuit over the government’s emergency powers in Connecticut.

6.) Closing thoughts. The Atilis case has become a parody of itself. Not in terms of the gym, but in terms of what is being done TO the gym. First the state sued Atilis, only to release guidelines on reopening that are a carbon copy of what Atilis has been operating under. Weeks later, Gov. Murphy acknowledges that outbreaks were not traced to gyms OR indoor dining, for that matter. While all of this is going on, the government is apparently trying to get Atilis to agree to mandate masks as a condition of not being fined out of existence.

Meanwhile, California )which already was a parody of itself) managed to score an own goal by proclaiming gyms needed to be closed, only for it to be revealed that government gyms in San Francisco remained open. This case did not come out of the government being honest, but of a gym owner having it rubbed in her face.

Finally, we have the case of PwrBld Gym in Conshohocken. As stated earlier, the gym celebrated its one year a few weeks ago. The promises of doom made against Whitney (and the sizable amount of slander/libel he had to deal with) failed to materialize or be even close to accurate. As Gov. DeSantis noted in Florida, the clientele of most gyms tend to be fairly low-risk to begin with, and physical activity has been proven to boost the circulatory, respiratory, and immune systems.

All three cases on their own would demonstrate the arbitrary nature of the restrictions. Combined, they make clear not only the arbitrary nature; but also how government refuses to follow its own rules, in many respects.

But with restrictions now being actively fought in the courts, some governors actively rejecting the idea of a second lockdown, and the complete lack of supporting data; the case for lockdown continues to fall apart. Upwards of six months in, the damage is becoming too great for all but those most dedicated to the idea to ignore.

In short, it is becoming a lot harder for governments to avoid lifting the lockdown.

Lifting Lockdown: Episode 12

Originally posted 23JUL2020

Previously on Lifting Lockdown:
– Suits. Lots of lawsuits. Joined by Arizona. Because that’s just where we are today.
– We saw Philadelphia go into Independence Day under lockdown
– USAPL canned most of its Nationals schedule, with Collegiates remaining.

After the huge chasm of time separating Episodes 10 and 11, I want to do two things tonight. First, I want to update previous stories to the extent that I can. Second, I want to take a closer look at the impact of lockdown long-term. Even putting aside gyms (although we will certainly touch on them), what has been the impact of lockdown outside of them?

This episode of Lifting Lockdown is something of a checkpoint.

Tonight, we look at all of the stuff surrounding COVID. The physical and mental health impacts, the long-term economic impacts (and the physical/mental impact THAT brings).

We will go in-depth on domestic violence through the pandemic (including a hand signal for video calls, and other resources. We’re discussing it both because it’s important and because it’s part of the pandemic I was blind to for way too damn long and I feel the need to rectify that mistake.)

We will close this evening with a quick discussion on lawsuits.

That all being said, a peek behind the curtain at the last few weeks. Getting together this episode has been a mental trainwreck. Once one examines the damage, and once one looks at the data relating to COVID, it is difficult to justify further lockdown. The first few weeks, back when it was about “flatten the curve” were fair enough. The last few MONTHS? Not so much. COVID doesn’t happen in a vacuum, it never did. And yet, we’re essentially asked to pretend that it does, and whatever damage caused by it is merely “frustrating.”

It leads to a mental image where there’s a group of people celebrating “defeating” this virus (which isn’t happening, by the way) in the foreground, while a bunch of people who have lost basically everything are completely forgotten about in the background, largely abandoned because nobody wants to talk about the damage lockdowns have caused. I call this image “We’re All In This Together?”

Not much room for positivity in this one; this is a damage inspection, not an effort to tarp over the damage.

It’s not pretty, but it needs to be covered.

So, let’s talk about the impacts of lockdown.

1.) Physical. —- This article from Time magazine regarding studies showing COVID-19 lockdowns leading to people being more sedentary than they were to begin with will serve as this section’s grounding element. This article was featured back in Episode 3 and has aged like fine wine, to be completely frank. —- [H/T Mike Newbern] —- This is from Alywn Crosgrove of Results Fitness. Cosgrove points out multiple examples of how increased physical activity REDUCES risk of COVID-19. —- He cites this study about how physical exercise is one of the main ways to prevent getting sick, largely because of the physical and mental health benefits of physical activity. —- In Episode 10, we would come across this study showing that sedentary lifestyle leading to an increase in chronic diseases. —- We also have this study showing that physical activity dropped during COVID-19, “raising concerns for health” —- [H/T Donna Marts] —- More recently, we have seen that obesity has been tied to the severity of COVID symptoms. This is in addition to everything else obesity is tied to, namely cardiovascular disease (which kills significantly more Americans than any other disease).

(Sidebar: In his multiple Executive Orders, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has defined “medically fragile” to include those with “severe or Class 3 obesity.”) —- Of course, the irony came back on Episode 5, when Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis mused “this is a respiratory virus that tends to attack people who have health problems or are not in good physical condition. So don’t we want people to stay in shape” during a press conference on 15MAY announcing Florida’s continued reopening. —- This was exactly the case made back in Episode 3 by Friendship Fitness in Ohio, whose governor treated gyms worse than bars. Ohio gyms had a two-pronged approach, combining testifying before government committees with suing the government. (Lifting Lockdowns 1-4) —- Also from Episode 3, this look at the opioid epidemic, and the impact COVID has had on that. —- More recently, we have seen evidence of an increase in drug overdoses in general. — To close out the physical section, we can’t do much better than this. New research has all but validated people like Joe Sullivan, Collin Whitney, and Ian Smith. —- Namely this study from Norway showing that gyms that follow basic hygiene guidelines have no higher risk of transmission than anywhere else. This is in addition to the physical health benefits described above.

Point blank:
Lack of physical activity INCREASES risk of getting sick.
INCREASED physical activity DECREASES risk of getting sick.

2.) Mental —- Back in episode 8, we discussed a rise of suicides in the San Fran Bay Area. Namely how doctors in the area had seen more suicide deaths than COVID-19 deaths. — More than 600 doctors signed a letter to President Trump about the “exponentially growing health consequences” of lockdown. The letter goes on to note that “poverty and financial uncertainty” is closely linked to poor health. We’ll get to poverty and financial uncertainty in a moment. —- “Mental health in the UK’s COVID-19 lockdown is a brewing crisis that could cause more damage than the virus itself.” —- Back in May, Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNBC that long-term lockdowns could end up causing “irreparable damage” if they went on too long. — Finally, while children have largely been spared the physical impacts of COVID itself, it hasn’t been easy on their mental state. This article in Time does a remarkable job connecting the mental health of children to the state of the economy, and frankly, the stress the pandemic is causing on those children.

3.) Economic —- This is from Episode 8. It is simply titled “Lockdowns haven’t been worth the havoc.” —- WSJ had a great piece out entited: “The Data Are In: It’s time for a major reopening.” I prefer this one over the Bloomberg piece, but both are excellent. Both look at the economic impact of lockdown, and ask whether or not lockdowns actually achieved their goals. —- Dr. John Ionnadis predicted that lockdowns would have considerable damage without much benefit. He has been validated several times over. — He’s also far from alone. —- It’s cold comfort for small business owners, many of whom have decided that the current environment isn’t survivable, and have given up.

4.) Domestic Violence. Domestic abuse does not fit neatly into any of the above categories. In fact, domestic abuse often involves all three: physical, mental, and economic (read: financial) abuse. — This article from Psychology Today will serve as our grounding point. Specifically the following excerpt:
“For some, the correlation between sheltering-in-place and increased IPV seems to have elicited surprise. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, for example, expressed alarm upon learning of the increased reports of domestic violence within his state. But for anyone experienced with IPV, the increase in its occurrence arrived with the predictability of the tides. IPV surges in times of natural disasters and crises. We previously witnessed this ugly social phenomenon during Hurricane Harvey in 2017, and we will see it again during whatever form of Armageddon brings the nation to its knees on the next go-around.” —- We move on to this NYT report, which looks at global efforts to combat domestic violence, which as discussed above, many apparently didn’t see coming.

The article also introduces a term I am not familiar with to define domestic violence but think is perfect: “intimate terrorism.” —- Lockdown measures are also being blamed for a surge in violence against children. —- A relatively new study shows that domestic violence has doubled in the wake of the pandemic.

Before we get out of here, a few resources from domestic violence groups here in the US, and one from Canada that I hope catches on even after the pandemic. —- This is from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. —- This is from the PA Coalition Against Domestic Violence. — Finally, there is this neat idea from the Canadian Women’s Foundation. The Foundation came up with a hand signal that someone in an abusive situation can use when communicating with someone else over video. The idea, in theory, is that the victim can use this hand signal in such a way that the victim can signal for help WITHOUT leaving a digital trace (such as a text message, or straight up vocalizing it).

It is worth noting the rather obvious obstacles in this situation, namely the prevalence of screen recorders (i.e. the one quite literally built into iOS), and (as the Foundation readily admits) the fact that abusers will inevitably learn the signal as well. But it’s a resource, and anybody who has been in that situation before knows that you will take whatever help you can get.

Because, regardless of what the internet mob might say, you can’t “just leave” an abusive relationship.

5.) Lifting Lockdown Lawsuit Listings. Finally, a brief summary of all lockdown-related lawsuits we’re currently aware of. —- 03JUL2020: Illinois Lockdown tossed —- 14MAY2020 Wisconsin Stay-at-Home Order Tossed —- 20MAY2020 Ohio gym closures tossed —- STL County lawsuit dropped —- Arizona lawsuit still happening. It’s worth pointing out the following bit from Reason:

“The unwillingness of large segments of the fitness industry to close down again illustrates just how tired Americans are of seemingly endless lockdowns that have kept them inside and endangered their businesses. Many of these gym owners complained to the media that they’re adopting the same cleaning and social distancing protocols as businesses that are allowed to remain open.

It’s a sign that state officials are going to be increasingly hardpressed to force people back into their homes, regardless of the public health merits.”

We’re going to skip Atilis Gym, for the most part. Not because I’ve stopped caring. (Quite the contrary; much like PwrBld, I need to get to Atilis at some point. Rather, because the movement of the last week or so warrants its own recap. In the past week, Gov. Murphy tried again to force Atilis to close by having the locks changed. Atilis removed the doors, and eventually won against a contempt of court charge. —- We’ll handle all of that later, but there is this interview of Atilis Gym’s Ian Smith from 21JUL2020 on Tucker Carlson I’d like to share with you.

6.) Closing thoughts. In 2018, Poland’s 11-bit Studios released the video game Frostpunk. The game took place in a single city, cut off from all civilization, in an extremely cold climate. The themes of morality and being forced to decide between two bad options permeated every second of the gameplay. The player was tasked with building a city from scratch in an environment that actively hated everyone

Should the player manage to survive to the end of the game, the player is presented with a stop-motion recap of the city’s evolution, with key decisions flashing on screen. Before asking a very simple question: “The city has survived, but was it worth it?”

The goal of Lifting Lockdown tonight was to look at the damage around lockdown. To account for basically everything that has happened while we were shaming people for being outside, attacking business owners, and trying to spin losing everything as merely “I know its frustrating.”

Losing everything is not merely “frustrating,” it’s not an “inconvenience.” It’s devastating. And, for a lot of people, it has gone ignored.

What started as “just two weeks,” in many places has become several months. “Flatten the curve” is a term nobody even remembers using, and the data coming out on COVID suggests a plummeting fatality rate.

As Dr. Ionnadis has noted for months, the lockdowns have not been worth it. In the process, we’ve destroyed businesses that didn’t need to be destroyed. We’ve forced people with numerous other diseases to delay treatment. We’ve told people to go onto unemployment systems that we knew didn’t work. We’ve forced people who do not take well to isolation to isolate regardless.

The data we’re seeing shows that the virus is not nearly as fatal as first claimed. The data we’re seeing shows that we’ve made a conscious decision to exacerbate other problems, while simultaneously paying almost no attention TO those problems.

The data shows that we’re about to get out of a physical health crisis, only to roll straight into a mental health one. We aren’t ready to have a discussion on either one.

The consequences of the last few months will last long after we lift the lockdown.

Lifting Lockdown: Episode 11

Originally posted 02JUL2020

Last week, I said that this week would be the last episode of Lifting Lockdown.
Yeah, that’s not happening, and it was a dumb thing to say. We aren’t even close to done.

Previously on Lifting Lockdown:
– Ian Andrew’s case against NJ’s Governor moved VERY slowly.
– Green Phase metrics changed with the day of the week.

1.) PA —- Alpha Fitness is still open. —- PwrBld is still open, and has even opened up to drop-ins (scheduled in advance). —- 10X Fitness in Taylor, PA is opening again. —- But, of course, with a rise in cases (more on that later), Philly has decided to close gyms and halt indoor dining.

We’ll deal with the arbitrary nature of closures later on. (And it IS arbitrary.)

2.) Atilis —- Atilis is closed. They are currently suing the Governor. It’s a long process that is being needlessly dragged out by the state.

For the record: I want to keep following the case, since it IS going to define lockdown going forward…..but the State dragging its feet on this case and making it really painful to try and monitor. PACER’s great….when PACER has new stuff. —- Atilis co-owner Ian Andrew wrote this on the current state of affairs in New Jersey. Even had someone say that Atilis was responsible for gyms in NJ being closed. If you’ve followed Lifting Lockdown, you know this isn’t remotely the case. It’s a problem of abuse of power, not of Atilis opening. (A similar abuse of power is taking place in PA, which is leading to a torrent of lawsuits there, as well.) —- In a more recent update, Ian notes that the courts have done just about everything they could to wash their hands of the case. Atilis has been open in a manner of speaking, as the staff and a couple die-hard lifters have helped them move the equipment outside during the day, and back in at night.

I need to get out there at some point, and I look forward to it.

2.) USAPL. — USA Powerlifting has largely wiped out the Nationals schedule for 2020. The sole remaining event is Collegiate Nationals in Oaks, PA, about 30 minutes from the Philly airport.

Of course, not much intel on 2021 events.

3.) Arizona. Please welcome our newest Lifting Lawsuit, Arizona! —- This comes to us by way of Miryam Gutier Elm. The governor of Arizona issued an executive order closing gyms. Mountainside Fitness, a chain in the state, has decided it is going to keep its gyms open in defiance of the order (from here on referenced as the “PwrBld/Atilis” method). —- It’s worth noting that, in Michigan, a judge ruled that singling out gyms as “dangerous” as reason to keep them closed during a pandemic is irrational and, thus, unconstitutional.

Gyms are “dangerous” because of the risk of virus transmission. As opposed to significantly larger buildings which are open, have significantly higher risk, but aren’t “dangerous” for some logic-defying reason. Miryam has observed that her gym, WADE Strength Systems, is closed but a dance studio across from her is open.

4.) Blowback. We’ve done it. We’ve managed to go into Independence Day week both cheering for more restrictions AND singling out businesses for at-best arbitrary reasons. On paper, it looks almost cartoonishly bad.

However, we are continuing to see resistance to these efforts; from the ongoing lawsuit from Atilis, to the new one from Mountainside. We must also remember the two-fisted approach Ohio gyms took to force the issue in their state (reference Lifting Lockdown 4).

Stated differently, as evidence emerges over the damage of lockdowns regarding physical and mental health (Lifting Lockdown 3, 5, 8, and 10), the constantly shifting “guidance” from “experts” (whose guidance on social distancing faded during protests), and the arbitrary nature of closures becomes clearer, the argument for lockdown gets worse. (Reference the closing thoughts of Episode 6. The “rationale” for closing gyms vanishes when virtually any other establishment is brought up) —- UPMC, a major hospital system in PA, has been calling for a “changing mindset” on COVID away from the obsession over case numbers and more on the decreasing severity of the virus. —- In addition, herd immunity to the virus may be much closer than we know.

I said last week that this would be the final episode of Lifting Lockdown. In hindsight, that was quite naive and optimistic; it’s something I should never have said. I will continue to follow gyms and the lockdowns thereof.

But I look forward to ending this series eventually; but not until the lawsuits are won, and the lockdowns are lifted.

More as it develops, and thank you to Mike Newbern, Collin Whitney of PwrBld, Ian Andrew of Atilis, Donna Marts, Steven William Davenport, Ram Hernandez of Third Coast Strength Solutions, and Miyram Gutier Elm of WADE Strength Systems for their help on the entire Lifting Lockdown project. Your information and feedback on this project has been incredible.

Happy Independence Day, people.