I know, I know—everyone wants to read and talk about the storming of our metaphorical Bastille. I’m going to cover that in-depth in this weekend’s SubscribeStar Saturday post, not because I know it is the event of the decade—and will therefore crassly milk it for subscribers—but because my own observations are so tantalizingly spicy, I have to hide them behind a paywall. Believe it or not, $1 is apparently a major hurdle.
Instead, I’m going to focus on a bit local draconianism that I will hopefully soon be able to address head-on: my small town of Lamar has adopted a mask ordinance. Given our current Town Council, I’m surprised it took this long.
The ordinance, dated 14 December 2020 and effective 4 January 2021—but only received in water bills on 7 January 2021—is entitled “REQUIRING INDIVIDUALS TO WEAR FACE COVERINGS IN RETAIL AND FOODSERVICE ESTABLISHMENTS, AND MATTERS RELATED THERETO.” It features a number of “WHEREAS” justifications, mostly the “recommendations of public health experts.” It then lists the “Use of Face Coverings” in Section 1, detailing that face coverings must be worn indoors at stores and restaurants, etc., with plenty of opportunities to not wear a mask listed in Section 2, “Exemptions”—religious reasons, dental cleanings, etc.
The penalties for infractions—detailed in Sections 3 and 4—are $25 for individuals and $100 for businesses that fail to require employees to wear masks. Section 3 seems laughably unenforceable in a town that has maybe three police officers—and just a recipe for another unpleasant interaction between otherwise law-abiding citizens and police. Section 4 is particularly onerous, though, as it forces private companies to force their employees to wear masks, or face daily $100 fines.
Granted, most business establishments have already bent the knee and have bought into the mask hysteria. In my mind, though, that makes the mask mandate even more unnecessary: if Dollar General is making me wear a mask to buy a $1.26 loaf of bread-based loaf product anyway, why does the Town Council need to ladle an extra dollop of self-righteous scolding?
There is hope, however: Section 5 of the ordinance provides for its expiration in sixty days, on 4 March 2021, “unless extended by Town Council.” That last bit presents both hope and dread: the hope that the Council will let this ordinance die, and the dread that it will seek to renew it—or even strengthen its penalties. Should I be elected this coming Tuesday, I will hardily vote against its renewal.
That government which governs best, governs least. Why should the town government issue an ordinance requiring something that most everyone already does? Even if a resident loves masks and thinks mask-skeptics such as myself are reckless, that individual has every right to wear her mask—and most establishments, as noted, already require them anyway!
I don’t think this ordinance is particularly burdensome in the particulars, and it offers many opportunities for residents not to wear masks. I also suspect it will not really be enforced. Nevertheless, the principles of individual responsibility and liberty are violated.
We forget that Americans seceded from the British Empire not because of some paltry taxes on paper goods, but because the principle of giving consent to be taxed through representative assemblies was violated in the Stamp Act of 1765. Similarly, the Boston Tea Party was a last-ditch effort to prevent the British monopolization of tea—which would set the dangerous precedent that the British could therefore monopolize the trade of any commodity in the colonies, effectively strangling the colonial economy in its cradle.
Sure, wearing an identity-destroying, suffocating piece of fabric across our faces is a minor thing—at first. But it’s proven to our elites that we will sheepishly participate in dubiously effective safety kabuki theatre and give up our liberties crumb by crumb, so long as we can appease our new god, COVID. Knowing that we will voluntarily muzzle ourselves, they’ll take more and more—and have been for decades.
Again, I don’t think my local Town Council is involved in some sinister plot to deprive me of the right to breathe free. But I do think they’ve bought into the virtue-signaling rhetoric and hysteria surrounding a nasty, but largely survivable, illness.
If I win, I’ll do everything I can to stop the renewal of this ordinance, and others like it. I don’t want to take away liberty, but give people more opportunities to govern themselves—to live their lives as they wish.
Except we’re banning pit bulls. They’ve gotta go.
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