TBT: Wayback Wednesday: Airlines; Back to the Grind

I flew to and from Indianapolis, Indiana this past weekend (as readers are wearily familiar by now), and it gave me another opportunity to interact with that most loathsome of institutions, the American airline.

Honestly, I was blessed with two easy, uneventful flights—no delays, no missed connections, no overly officious airport functionaries.  I even got two Coke Zeroes on my flight up.

One jarring element of flying was the abundance of mask propaganda at the airport.  Living in South Carolina—free territory—I seldom have to wear a mask anywhere anymore, so wearing one on the plane was a bit shocking.  A friend reminded me that I would need one, and that gaiters are not allowed, so I begrudgingly took a pack along.

In the Charlotte, North Carolina airport, one guy asked me, as I got into the security line, if I had a mask.  I started fumbling for it in my pocket, and he said, “You’re good.”  Apparently, he just wanted to ask make sure I had one so they wouldn’t boot me off the plane.  I did put it on before passing through security (where you have to pull it down so they can check your face against your ID), but ripped it off again as soon as possible.

I’m still blown away by how many folks wear them, but especially at the airport.  Out of the hundreds of people I saw, I was probably one of five people in the entire Charlotte airport not wearing a mask.  In the Indianapolis airport, there were even fewer facial nudists.

Regardless, it seems like a lot of the mask hysteria has died down.  Yeah, there was tons of mask propaganda plastered all over the Charlotte airport, and the flight attendants made a big deal about it rhetorically on the flights (especially the one from Indianapolis back to Charlotte), but I got the impression that if I wanted to sit maskless for the entire flight, no one would bother me about it.

The airline industry is probably the worst of all about treating human beings like cattle to be herded mindlessly on board flying metal tubes.  Probably only credit agencies are worse, and at least on a plane you get some pretzels (thanks to the peanut allergy folks for ruining something else for us).  I don’t think TransUnion is going to send me any treats anytime soon.

So if airlines are cooling on the mask hysteria, we might finally—finally—putting that absurdity behind us.

Anyway, I didn’t mean to go on a mask rant, but here we are.

With that, here is “Wayback Wednesday: Airlines; Back to the Grind“:

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When Does it End?

At my second Town of Lamar Council Meeting, my colleagues outvoted me 4-1 to renew Lamar’s mask ordinance for another sixty days.  They also shot down my proposal that we reopen council meetings to the public, who can currently only attend online via Facebook Live and Zoom.

That’s precisely what I expected to happen, and I appreciate their reasons:  concerns about safety, etc.  The big, lingering question—one I can’t get out of my mind—is “when does it end?”  At what point are we safe “enough” to remove our masks?

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Authoritarian Creep

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.  For a full rundown of everything your subscription gets, click here.

Something with which I struggle to wrap my mind around is the authoritarian impulse.  I’m not pretending I’m immune to this impulse—this desire to tell others how to live their lives, backing it up with the threat of force for non-compliance—but the older I get, what little appeal the tendency held continues to diminish.

What I struggle to comprehend is the apparent need to boss people around.  I understand needing to be authoritative with children and students—setting clear boundaries, understanding actions have consequences, molding the child to become a self-governing adult—but this desire to boss around perfect strangers is increasingly foreign to me.

This impulse manifests itself in virtually every facet of our lives.  It creeps in bit by bit.  Modest policy proposals and laws suddenly becomes weaponized Karenism, empowering authorities and otherwise normal people to swagger about with impunity, assured of the righteousness of their cause du jour.

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The Virus Kabuki

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.

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Mask Mandates Come for Lamar

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?

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My Declaration of Independence

Last Friday as I pulled up to work, I do what I do every day:  pick up my gaiter mask from the emergency brake and put it over my head.  As I did so, I experienced every ounce of everyday oppression that modern man endures.

Wearing a mask is, indeed, a small thing to ask, but it’s become the proverbial straw—and my face the camel’s back.

So I decided, then and there, to make an extremely small stand for my own independence.  In some limited scenarios, I am going to stop wearing my mask publicly.

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