Of a different generation

Speaking of moral density…a license facility in Texas had to close because of a case of the virus.

Since reopening on 3 June, the facility had spaced seats inside to meet social distancing guidelines, cleaned surfaces regularly and only served those who booked appointments online. All workers wore masks, and anybody allowed in was required to wear a face covering. But despite the precautions, a Covid-19 case had been reported there.

One of the people turned away was Laurie Smith, 50. She is an administrative employee at a local church, where she is also a member, and calls mandatory mask requirements a sign of “sad” government manipulation. “My college-age kids are able to follow the recommendations without questioning it, but my husband and I are of a different generation, and we value our liberty to be able to make our own choices. So we question it more than they do,” she said.

No, see, that’s not it. We all value our liberty to make our own choices, ffs. We don’t go to BurgerKing and say “You choose for me.” We all like to make our own choices, we all like our freedom, nobody likes wearing a mask. The issue is that wearing or not wearing a mask is not a purely personal choice, and that’s why we don’t get to treat it as if it is. The choice affects others, and in a non-trivial way. What speed we drive our cars is also not a purely personal choice, and for the same reason. If we’re all alone on a driving range we can go as fast as we like, and if we’re not we can’t, because the choice does not just affect us. It’s a pretty simple idea, I think.

The science of wearing masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus seems to be largely settled, but the politics around it is still raging, especially in conservative strongholds like Texas. Stores, churches, small businesses, government offices and other institutions across the state are grappling with how to enforce public health rules without alienating those who disagree.

You know, often “conservative” means people who pay a lot of attention to how we treat each other. It’s not at all obvious to me that it has to mean refusing to wear a mask during a pandemic. It’s a pretty warped brand of conservatism that thinks it does.

“We don’t live in a communist country! This is supposed to be America,” said Tee Allen Parker, who has banned wearing of masks at her bar.

But communism isn’t about wearing masks. Also? Capitalism isn’t about refusing to wear masks to slow a pandemic.

Just a thought.

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