A big hat-tip (H/T in blogger parlance) to Mogadishu Matt for reblogging this New York Times piece about masks and The Virus. I tend to view mask mandates as a form of petty tyranny—a way of signalling virtue on the cheap while inconveniencing otherwise law-abiding citizens who don’t want to muzzle themselves every time they want to buy cereal.
As such, I was surprised to see the dubious wisdom of mask mandates questioned in the pages of the progressive Left’s favorite “mainstream” rag, The New York Times.
We’re all familiar with stories of some bitty losing her cool in a Target as she scolds someone for not wearing a mask. These public displays of needless outrage are ways for True Believers—the people that fear The Virus with a cult-like belief that not performing certain rites will anger their sickly god—to signal their membership among the COVID-Elect.
The Times piece details these rituals:
These days, there is a new absolutist health fad: the discouragement — or even prohibition — of any behavior that seems to increase the risk of coronavirus infection, even minutely.
People continue to scream at joggers, walkers and cyclists who are not wearing masks. The University of California, Berkeley, this week banned outdoor exercise by on-campus students, masked or not, saying, “The risk is real.” The University of Massachusetts Amherst has banned outdoor walks. It encouraged students to get exercise by “accessing food and participating in twice-weekly Covid testing.”
A related trend is “hygiene theater,” as Derek Thompson of The Atlantic described it: The New York City subway system closes every night, for example, so that workers can perform a deep cleaning.
There are two big questions to ask about these actions: How much are they doing to reduce the spread of the virus? And do they have any downside? ….
The answer to the first question, according to many experts, is: They seem to do little good. Prohibiting outdoor activity is unlikely to reduce the spread of the virus, nor is urging people always to wear a mask outdoors….
The short answer [to the second question] is: because we are human.
We are, indeed, human, and prone to growing weary with excessive kabuki theatre around our health. We were all willing to give it “two weeks to flatten the curve,” which very quickly turned into seemingly endless quarantines and rapid erosion of our liberties (see also: bitties screaming at you in Target). According to the piece quoted above, there is little evidence that The Virus can survive on surfaces as long as we once thought. I still think it’s a good idea to wipe down surfaces—there are other diseases out there—but at best the “deep cleanings” that require businesses and services to close early are just another form of hygiene theatre.
It was bad enough being told to stay inside watching movies indefinitely, as if it were some great sacrifice. Now the outdoors are risky. The absurdity would be hilarious if it weren’t so obviously intended to control us.
Sensible distancing and cleaning procedures—and even occasionally wearing a mask in crowded areas—at least makes some sense. But we’ve gone beyond reasonable precautions to insane edicts, willingly sacrificing liberty for the illusion—not even the actuality!—of safety.
When does it end? I’m hoping the vaccine will bring an end to this insanity, but I’m not optimistic. Our elites have learned they can command us to do ridiculous, humiliating things, and we’ll do them. Why give that up?
If this foolishness is going to end, it’s going to take us putting an end to it. The first step: don’t comply with your own oppression.
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