New Normal Criminals: When It Becomes Impossible to Live Without Breaking the Law

By John C. A. Manley

I listened to Just Right’s special end-of-the-year musical episode, Singing against the reign of tyranny — where host Bob Metz played an hour of selected music hits from artists awake to the prison planet plans for humanity.

These two lines from Tom McDonald’s song “Sheeple” will probably resonate with you:

The only people you can rule are the criminal ones
So they force you into corners until you are breaking the law

I wonder if McDonald was at all inspired by these words from Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged:

“There is no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is to crack down on criminals. When there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking the law. Create a nation of lawbreakers and then you can cash in on the guilt. Now that’s the system!”

This theme of turning harmless acts into crimes and innocent people into criminals is woven throughout my novel Much Ado About Corona. For example, in “Chapter 79: To Scare a Dandelion,” Vince ends up in police custody. Here’s how his “one phone call” went with Stefanie:

“What do you mean?” she argued. “It’s not like you’re under arrest. They can’t—”

“Actually, I am.”


“Five charges.”


“Yeah. Let’s see. Assaulting a police officer. Evading quarantine. Um, it’s hard to remember them all. Violating the Reopening of Ontario Act.”

“Reopening of Ontario Act,” she grumbled. “What the hell does that mean?”

“I think that was for the illicit ice skating.”

Much Ado About Corona: A Dystopian Love Story

Then there was “Chapter 3: My Naked Face” after Stefanie gets Vince to take off his green mask:

My crime of nonconformity was undeniable. I had just walked out of a store with my face naked for all Moosehead to see. The atrocity of not protecting others from my lethal exhalations was being reflected back at me from two dozen scornful eyes.

Or “Chapter 23: The Little Shop of Heroes” when Vince is talking to AJ:

“Since when have mouths become a crime?”

“Since the WHO said so,” countered AJ. “Or Doctor WHO, as I like to call them. After all, the world is starting to look like a far-fetched science fiction series with some really cheesy props.” He tugged at his own mask. “One big B-movie.”

Which was followed by chapter 28, literally called “New Normal Criminal,” after Vince covers for a bunch of kids:

Trying to avoid the question, I responded in a nervous voice: “Criminal investigation? Has someone been murdered?”

“No, no,” said Mackenzie. “At least, not directly. Rumour has it there’s some type of meet-up group happening down here, exceeding capacity limits, not wearing masks, no social distancing.”

And one of my favourite scenes is from “Chapter 66: Dumping Ground” — where Vince “borrows” a painting from the hallways of the nursing home to hang in Grandad’s room:

I put down the bucket and glanced behind me. The hallway was clear. I tapped 0391 into the stairwell’s keypad. Click! Holding the door open with my foot, I carefully lifted the picture frame off its hook and tucked it under my right arm. With my left hand, I picked up the bucket and slipped into the stairwell.

The print was surrounded by double matting, glass glazing and decorative molding within a three-by-five-foot frame. Not cheap. And I had just stolen it.

Add it to my growing list of new-normal crimes, I thought. Make me wear a mask, like some common thief, and you deserve what you get.

We came very close to living in a world where hugs, handshakes, smiles and refusing medical treatment were all illegal. We’ll continue to teeter on the edge of such tyranny until enough of the population is awake to the real “new normal criminals” in government, media and major institutions. We can’t be quiet.


John C. A. Manley is the author of Much Ado About Corona: A Dystopian Love Story. This full-length novel tells the story of group of small town folk who refuse to comply with medical tyranny. As a result, they are hunted down by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as if they were terrorists who had toppled the CN Tower. The book exposes the irrationality of the pandemic measures using the power story. Read samples, check out the testimonals or buy the book at

Image: Spiro Skouras

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