What a world we are living in. Following Gov. Kate Brown's announcement last week that face coverings would be required in all indoor public places in the state, it appears most people are complying.
Suddenly, grocery aisles are not populated by half the people wearing masks and the other not; suddenly, the vast majority of people are wearing them in keeping with the governor's order. But still, the issue remains controversial among many, and some still refuse to comply. And among those who are complying, a small few find themselves playing mask police.
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All along, Gov. Brown has had the unenviable job of balancing competing interests: there's the business community, largely wanting to keep their businesses open in order to continue to bring in revenue and pay employees, and the public health community, concerned that people would spread the novel coronavirus and ultimately overwhelm our hospitals. Protests erupted earlier this spring over the former's desire to open back up—and now that they have seen their desires heeded, people need only comply with some very basic guidelines in order to see businesses continue to stay open. People just need to avoid close contact with others and wear a mask inside public places. That's it.
So why, when the guidance is so simple and hardly infringes on one's life, liberty or happiness, are we still seeing "maskholes" on both sides of this "issue?" On the one hand, the maskholes who refuse to comply with a basic order that helps protect themselves and others. On the other, the maskholes who find that it is their business to publicly shame others who aren't wearing masks, or those who are wearing them wrong.
What is it about us as Americans and Oregonians that makes this so controversial? Why are other countries so able to adopt these basic tenets of public health, while here, the issue remains a reason to protest? Is it the rugged individualism espoused in this country that makes us so unable to resort to reason, temperance and kindness in this time of crisis? Masks should not be a source of protest.
We understand the desire and need to protest against systemic racism. It is a justified area of concern that has not seen a reasonable conclusion in centuries, and we can all do more to end it. We can even understand the desperation that led some to protest in favor of re-opening Oregon's economy.
But protesting against wearing a mask? That diminishes the potency of things truly worth protesting.
Forcing a grocery worker or a food service employee to act as a public health authority by asking you to wear your mask is a travesty. These are the same people who, just like you, want desperately for your favorite ice cream store or your go-to taco shop to stay open—you for the good eats; they for the livelihood these places offer. It is basic decorum for you to comply if you want to go into these businesses.
This is not a political issue and should never have been made one. Mask-wearing is a protocol put in place to protect everyone. It is not an infringement on your life, liberty or happiness to wear a mask, however briefly, while you buy your soda and your beer or even your cigarettes. You don't walk into a store without your shirt and shoes; and your bare chest spreads less disease than the particles coming from your mouth.
Mask wearers, thank you for doing so. However, be kind, and refrain from getting on your high horse and berating people who aren't wearing masks.
Mask haters, don't make government officials have to clamp down further on our struggling economy. If you truly can't abide a mask...stay home.
In short: Just stop being maskholes.