The Onerous Oppression of Being Asked to Wear a Mask

The simple courtesy of protecting others is a bridge too far for many

In the age of a respiratory pathogen spread by airborne droplets, I’ve stayed the hell out of public places. I didn’t own a proper mask and didn’t know where to get one, so I just stayed home. It was not that I feared for my life — I’m healthy and slightly younger than the Window of Doom. That’s exactly why I needed to avoid public places when unprotected. I would be the perfect candidate for an asymptomatic carrier, spreading the biological flotsam and perhaps impacting someone else that was compromised while not even knowing it.

I could not live with that.

Yesterday I emerged from my isolation and headed to the hardware store. I put an old t-shirt over my head and snugged the neck line up just below my eyes, then tucked the rest into my shirt. It was the best I had. The clerk noticed that I looked like Mort from Bazooka Bubble Gum and pointed out proper masks. I bought a ten pack, slapped one on my face and went to the beer store. That little face filter was my ticket to liberty, allowing me to participate in society, agreeing to a social contract to protect others while protecting myself.

At the same time Facebook exploded about the oppression of the face mask, a thief of liberty, a deep violation of civil rights that a couple of rubber bands an a few layers of filter paper apparently bring. They guy in this post feels that we’re “surrendering freedom”.

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A Gainesville, Florida attorney certainly feels this way. Raime Eagle-Glenn feels that a local ordinance to require face masks in public venues is a strangling overstep by government, probably one step away from loading us all into boxcars for destinations unknown.

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She’s told the County Commission to rescind the face mask order or else she’ll file a civil rights violation lawsuit in federal court.

Have we lost our minds?

Being asked to wear a face mask in public during an airborne pandemic is not a violation of your rights. It is not the government putting its foot on your throat. It is asking you to make an itty-bitty sacrifice to serve others.

“But that takes away my freedom,” they say.

In World War II our nation and the world faced an existential threat. Thousands of young men were told to abandon their personal freedoms to serve in the national interest. They were compelled to sacrifice their time, their relationships, and oftentimes their limbs or life. This happens in times of war.

We are at war with an invisible pathogen that is killing on our soils. It threatens the sustainability of a health care system, puts health care workers at risk, and we are just discovering SARS-CoV2’s negative collateral effects on health.

In this war we are being asked to sacrifice, a tiny sacrifice, by wearing a little protective cloth over our air interfaces with the environment. Well, the two highest ones.

Those that defy the simple request for a tiny sacrifice to help others are simply selfish. It is the macho-guy / rules-don’t-apply-to-me crowd that proudly defies this simple courtesy that may protect others. Selfish. Yes, I’m looking at you national “leadership”.

The President and his buddies are leading by example — this is a non-issue, go about your business, ignore the experts, and don’t worry about those blue hairs.

True leadership would agree with me, that we have an obligation to protect the weakest, the most vulnerable among us. If we can take a simple step to do that, then why not? It is amazing to hear the arguments against it. If you feel that your liberty is at stake because you entered a social contract to love and protect others, then it might be time to re-evaluate your priorities.

The COVID19 crisis has been eye opening. Those that always claimed that every life is precious now tell us that lives are expendable if inconvenient. The mask request is not an assault in your liberty, your freedom, or your civil rights. Refusing to wear one is not a sign of strength.

To the opposite, the mask is a symbol that you agree to protect the safety and liberties of most vulnerable, and the health care workers that will inevitably have to risk exposure to treat them. That’s very American and very Christian. Apparently being their brother’s keeper isn’t such a hot idea if you have to to it through a dust mask. WWJD?

The conscientious will be wearing masks in public for a long time. To shun, or worse admonish, this simple request is a reflection of selfishness and a blatant disregard for others. If I’m wrong I wasted a few shekels on masks, thinking I was doing the right thing. If they are wrong the consequences could harm innocent people.

How are they comfortable living with that?

Written by

Land-grant scientist exploring ways to make better food with less input, and how to communicate science. All funding at

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