From the Left



Believer: Prime Time Paul Zine No Longer Thinks COVID-19 Is Up for Debate

Jeff Robbins on

At age 68, former wrestler Paul Zine still looks as though he could personally deconstruct a skyscraper with his bare hands. A personal trainer for the last 20 years, Zine went by the professional name "Prime Time Paul Zine" on the wrestling circuit. In his prime, he once bench pressed 512 pounds. Now, decades later and after too many shoulder surgeries to count stemming from his years in the ring, it looks like he can no longer lift more than 508.

Zine is real people through and through. He grew up in a Boston neighborhood that was seized by eminent domain in order to expand the Massachusetts Turnpike. His father worked for a half-century as a photo engraver for the old Record American, later the Boston Herald. After high school, Zine himself worked at the newspaper, then tried flight school, canine training and helping out in the family restaurant before launching a wrestling career at 32.

Zine makes no bones about his politics. "I'm an absolute conservative and an absolute Trump supporter," he says. "Hate me if you will." When the COVID-19 pandemic took over the news two winters ago, Zine was a full-fledged cynic, sharply inclined to view the warnings about shutdowns and social distancing as classic media hype, exaggerations hatched and promoted by a news business that wanted to take then-President Donald Trump down. Like many, he was offended by the idea of government telling everyone what to do and what not to do. "People don't like to feel forced to do things that they don't want to do, me included," he says. "People were told which way to walk in a grocery store. People don't like that. It's just human nature, especially in this country."

His own views about the coronavirus changed in a hurry this past March, when he contracted it. It began with a cough. "At first I didn't pay much attention to it ... And then the cough got a little worse. And it got worse every day. And then I was lightheaded and dizzy, and I became very, very weak." Before long, Zine was unable to stand, let alone walk.

He landed in the hospital twice. "As sick as I was, there was a time that I really didn't know that I was going to survive it," Zine continues. "I wouldn't wish that on anyone. It's just too dangerous."

His politics haven't changed. What has changed is his belief that COVID-19 is a media invention. "For those who think that," Zine adds, "I say, believe that at your own risk." The virus left him out of commission for seven weeks. Asked if his views have evolved, Zine is unhesitating. "Oh, yeah," he says. "You can't pooh-pooh it once you've had it. You take it very seriously. You may not have believed it before, but if you get it, you believe. Trust me. It's not politics. It's for real. It's not an issue that's up for debate anymore."


For all of the tangible signs that the worst is over, approximately 50% of Americans 12 and older are still not fully vaccinated and 39% have not even received a single shot. We will likely fall short of President Joe Biden's goal of administering at least one shot to 70% of all Americans by July 4, and American public health experts and the World Health Organization alike warn that a new strain of the virus, known as the Delta variant, is emerging as a potent threat. The good news is that the vaccines currently being administered are highly effective against it. The bad news is that tens of millions of Americans insist on just saying no to vaccination.

This is incomprehensible to Prime Time Paul Zine. "I understand that people don't want to have things injected in them," says Zine. However, "I don't think people have the right to endanger other people. You need to get vaccinated. I'm a Trump supporter, sure. But there are precautions you've got to take."


Jeff Robbins, a former assistant United States attorney and United States delegate to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, was chief counsel for the minority of the United States Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. An attorney specializing in the First Amendment, he is a longtime columnist for the Boston Herald, writing on politics, national security, human rights and the Mideast.

Copyright 2021 Creators Syndicate Inc.



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