Here’s a radical thought: even if masks provide benefits to the wearer and to other people (an unproven assertion) wearing them shouldn’t be mandated! We’ve been breathing viruses and bacteria on each other for millennia, it’s an unavoidable part of life, and we all have a right not to breathe our own respiratory waste if we don’t want to. From Brendan O’Neill at spiked-online.com:
Here come the sneerers. Their target this time? Anyone who expresses even a tiny amount of scepticism about mandatory mask-wearing in shops. Within hours, mask sceptics have become the new climate-change deniers. They’re granny-killers. They’re sociopaths. They’re the kind of people who care more for their right to breath all over the fruit and veg at Lidl than they do for the continued existence of people over the age of 75. The speed with which mask scepticism has been turned into a foul blasphemy that only thick people who probably voted for Brexit would ever engage in rather confirms that this latest manifestation of the culture wars has very little to do with masks. It’s all about people. Those people. It always is.
Boris Johnson has announced that it will be mandatory to wear masks in shops in England from 24 July. If you don’t wear one you could be fined £100 by the cops. We should talk about this, right? We should weigh it up. Discuss the efficacy of masks and the desirability of empowering the police to take a hundred quid off someone who dares to show his face in public, like a politer public-health version of the morality guards in Afghanistan who would whip women with a stick if they ever committed the crime of unmasking their face in public. Apparently not. Apparently you would have to be a Covidiot, a mad libertarian, to want to discuss this latest development. The right thing to do is vigorously nod your head in agreement with the Tory government, don your mask, and muzzle your opinions.
It is remarkable that it is always the people who spent the past year or so telling us that Boris and his crew are fascists who have unquestioningly embraced every Covid-related diktat issued by Boris’s government. Stay in our homes for three months? You got it! Don’t engage in sexual relations with people we don’t live with? Sure thing! Wear a mask in public? Yes sir! The most fanatical lockdown-lovers tend to be found among the millennial left, in Corbynista circles, in the pages of liberal broadsheets, and of course among public-sector workers who know they’ll have a job at the end of all this (unlike many private-sector workers). So it isn’t surprising that these masochistic middle-classes are now fuming against mask sceptics. ‘Do as you’re told!’, they’re essentially saying.
The clampdown on mask scepticism is motored by the usual hatreds of the culture war. Witness James O’Brien, LBC’s privately educated mocker of the dim masses, putting out a video in which he discusses the possibility that anti-mask people are Brexit voters. Of course they are, the thick shits. The snobs even have a study now to confirm their prejudices against mask sceptics. The Daily Mail reports that researchers in the US have found that ‘people who refuse to wear a mask or comply with social distancing have lower cognitive ability’. ‘Real covidiots!’, as the Mail sums them up. We’re squarely back in Brexit / blue passport territory, with the chattering classes once against looking down their long noses at what they presume to be the mentally deficient, ‘low-information’ little people. In certain circles, mask-wearing will become a form of distinction; a way of distinguishing yourself from brainwashed cretins and showing you are a Good Person. Masks will become moral garments, public demonstrations of decency. Not unlike in Afghanistan.