Put a sock in it —
or, at least, over it
We can all thank whatever powers we thank that we haven’t caught COVID-19 yet. Still, we have to mourn for the sizeable portion of our community that seems almost terminally infected by another disease — one that appears to lower intelligence significantly.
Whether Governor Laura Kelly does or doesn’t have the right to order people to wear face masks is irrelevant. It isn’t a matter of personal choice whether you protect yourself with a mask. Masks don’t protect the wearer. They protect other people.
That point is worth repeating. Masks scientifically have been proven to be of absolutely no value in protecting the wearer from contracting COVID-19. The reason people wear masks is not to protect themselves but rather to protect others from getting a virus that the mask wearer may not know he or she carries.
It may be a matter of personal choice whether you engage in risky behavior that affects only yourself. But it’s not anyone’s personal choice to engage in risky behavior that affects others. This fundamental principle is what all of civilized society is based upon.
True, the governor might be wrong. Few of us might have the virus and therefore have little need to protect others we come into contact with. But how can you know for sure exactly where everyone you have run into in the past six months has been and whether he or she unknowingly picked up a potentially deadly hitchhiker that you can now unwittingly turn loose on others?
Numbers suggest the governor may actually be right, even in Marion County. Now that we’re no longer staying at home, the number of new COVID cases each week seems to be right back where it was before stay-at-home orders were issued. All that has changed are attitudes.
It’s no surprise so many people act like spoiled children, insisting it’s their right to determine whether they will disrupt the world. Treat people like children and they behave that way. A good portion of the blame falls squarely with people who should know better — state and local officials who flatly refuse to provide sufficient information that could let us better assess the situation.
By refusing to tell us, in general terms, anything about any of the 11 people in Marion County who have contracted the disease, officials have done more than protect privacy. They have prevented everyone else from learning where those people made mistakes so we can keep from making them on our own.
Instead, we blithely resume our lives, insisting on doing such things as opening pools, resuming sports, busing children, having in-person meetings and services, and congregating with friends and relatives without knowing where any of these people have been.
Treating us like children by giving us dumbed-down advice like “stay calm and wash your hands,” however well-meaning the intent might be, merely makes us behave like children and resume childish pursuits.
The COVID-19 threat didn’t end with stay-at-home orders. Absolutely nothing has been done to lessen the potential for the virus to spread. All that the stay-at-home orders did was prevent everyone from getting it at once and overwhelming hospitals. Trillions of dollars in lost wages, sales, and productivity were invested in that effort. It will all be for naught if we insist on returning to normal when the threat still exists. Is a ball game or a graduation ceremony or a party really worth that?
Now should be a time for doing only the most essential things. For economic reasons if nothing else, we need to restore some semblance of work, but we need to keep our focus on essentials. Essential No. 1 is survival. All the other stuff is so far down the list of essentials that we can only assume those who seek them have lost control of their minds.
Next time you hear some overwrought radical mouthing off about personal choice, tell him or her to put a sock in it. Or, better yet, stick a mask over it. Your right to survive and keep your friends, neighbors, and family members safe overrides their right to spout silliness and spread diseases.
— ERIC MEYER