Your Mask Is In My Face!

The other day, I had a fight about wearing masks with someone on Facebook. I know what you’re thinking: “Two people can’t wear the same mask simultaneously, especially over Facebook.” And yet, here we were, two grown adults with a low number of medical degrees between us having it out over whether the general public should wear face masks. Like bank robbers, or skiers, or surgeons who rob banks and do cross-country skiing on the weekends.

One of us stood on the side of truth, drenched in liberty, advocating for an America as the founders intended it. The other guy said we shouldn’t wear masks. I think he also said we should drown puppies, but I might be mixing up my Facebook friends.

Of course, he had reasons for rejecting the use of face masks to protect against COVID-19, which I summarize here just to make things fair.

  • Protection against disease varies greatly based on the type of mask and how you wear it.
  • Some people can have health complications when wearing masks.
  • The government wants to lock you up and sacrifice your children to Moloch.

While there is something to be said about exercising reasonable caution when engaging in any healthcare-related activity, my friend seemed overly concerned about the government’s designs. He’s a nice enough bloke, not normally prone to hysteria. Therefore, I knew I could approach him in an atmosphere of brotherly love and open discussion.

“Hey dummy,” began my reasoned argument, “what’s the deal-e-o with you and masks?” I have that flair for language that gets right to the heart of a shared concern.

Imagine my shock when he rebuffed my cause. It turns out some people can’t handle confrontation, but I was able to get out of bed and return to my day job after a week or so. Still, I wondered what went wrong.

On a second glance at his post, I realized his comments touched on three topics germane to many societal quandaries: education, safety, and rights. Plus, the accompanying graphic had a nice selection of colors.

I wasn’t too worried about the civic-minded instructional gaps that led to incorrect masks use. Some people never learn. At least that’s what my family, my friends, my doctor, my neighbors, and random strangers keep telling me on a daily basis. Still, if Americans were able to fake a moon landing way back in the 1960s, we can certainly educate ourselves in how to select and wear masks.

I also didn’t give too much credence to his healthcare point. No doubt there are people who should not don a mask. But most of them are in cribs and rest homes, and don’t get out in public that much. So that one’s a no-go.

His allusions to rights, however, had legs that went all the way to the floor. Rights are a big deal in America. It’s even on our money, next to the image of…oh wait, it’s not there. But it should be, because rights are up there with capitalism in the USA psyche.

John Locke wrote some of the most memorable things about rights, and a few of them found their way into America’s Declaration of Independence. Even members of Congress have heard of that life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness stuff.

We all have rights, and they are “unalienable,” meaning, “not capable of being taken away.” Like a body part. I mean, you can take body parts away, but I used to be able to count on two hands the number of times that happens to ordinary people.

This is the gist of my friend’s mask hate speech: I have unalienable rights, and the government can’t force me to do something it isn’t empowered to do. Good stuff, with just the right amount “Shut up, King George” attitude that Americans are famous for.

However, that Locke guy also said, “though this be a state of liberty, yet it is not a state of license.” Rights are unalienable, but not absolute. They stop being rights at the point at which you beat someone over the head with them. Plus, there’s that clause in the Constitution about not sneezing on other people.

I get that demasking is some sort of macho rights power play, and that’s fine. But even if you don’t think the government should make you wear a seatbelt, you can wear one anyway. You could even claim you came up with the idea. Lying falls under the liberty part of rights.

Go ahead and advocate up for your rights. Just don’t stick your runny nose in my business. Better yet, stick it in a mask when you’re around me, for America’s sake, since she seems to have a fever right now.

[Image Credits: Edgar D. Mitchell/NASA, pixabay.com/PapaOsmosis]

Tim Patrick

5 comments

  • The mask controversy is clouded by inconsistencies:
    Fauci and CDC reversing themselves on the record on the effectiveness of masks.
    Governors imposing mask rules that include bandanas, scarves, etc. that do not have any certification to be a barrier to virus contact compared with what appears to the use of one type of mask by the people of Japan.
    State and municipal elected “leaders” establishing restrictions based on “science” without revealing the science, authorizing winners and losers on who can continue to operate their businesses.

    Inconsistencies by leaders – elected, appointed, assumed (press?) – do not build trust in a society where behind the scenes motivation to gain personal reward always seem to be present.

    • The scientific method is a powerful tool for making progress and is based on trial and error. Respectable scientists (and public servants), acknowledge failed hypotheses, come up with a new ones, and move forward in good faith. Regardless of what experts said in the past, the current best research available shows that mask wearing is effective at reducing the spread of COVID-19.

    • I get that elected and other leaders said conflicting and misleading things about masks. Isn’t there a constitutional amendment that says government leaders are required to be inept?

      Regardless, “kill the messenger” arguments are cute, but beside the point. The argument about whether a mask is effective or not is unrelated to what any government leader may say about masks, or about what kind of power grab they wish to make. It’s possible to be against government excess and still be excited about protecting others by wearing a mask.

  • Wow! You are very funny, fairly sarcastic, and manage to be on point. Working Locke into an article always lends a bit of credibility to your points. I will not argue anything with you on Facebook.

  • I enjoyed this article and appreciated that you accompany the history and philosophy with a good dose of humor.

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