I always get worried when I find myself on the same side of the argument as Donald Trump, so I was relieved recently when I saw him wear a mask – as I am against the imposition of masks.
But why can I be against saving lives, I hear the moral crusaders amongst you ask?
Firstly, I don’t believe that wearing a mask does save lives.
There is much evidence against – albeit there is also some that suggests there might be a tiny benefit to others but nobody is sure.
If mask-wearing was really helpful, then how come it hasn’t stopped cases increasing in countries where it has been mandated for a while like Spain? Was around 300 new cases a day a few weeks back – you have to wear masks even outdoors there (except on the beach because the sand stops the spread of covid-19 obviously) – now it is 2,500 a day.
Austria – mandated masks in April yet cases are now much higher than recent months. Even Japan where masks seem to be mandatory even in bed, they have more new cases every day now than in the UK.
It seems to me that there is as good a public safety argument for not wearing masks than for wearing masks, perhaps even better.
Though I stress I totally understand why people make the argument. This pandemic is truly shitty, and people want an end to it and are willing to argue whatever they feel will end it. I have no feelings of ill will towards anyone who proposes the argument and totally understand why they would do so.
I cannot prove that forcing people to suffer the imposition of being masked will not save lives. You cannot prove that it will either. There is evidence from research which will back up whichever argument you prefer.
So I will simply not go anywhere where it is mandated that I wear a suffocation device. It seems to me that if going to the supermarket without a mask has suddenly become so dangerous, that I am better off not going to the supermarket. I don’t need to ever go to a shop – I mostly buy unhealthy things from unplanned shopping visits anyway, and obesity is a big risk factor so it can only be good for me not to go to Sainsburys.
Apart from health…
Further to the health arguments, masks are exceptionally uncomfortable, they do make breathing difficult for many people, myself included – someone I know well told me that she has nearly fainted 3 times from having to wear one.
Oh my god how dare I consider symbolism in a pandemic? As masks are not only tools of criminals (I do worry also about crimes being easier to hide now), they are also symbols of repression. To me – masks represent telling people to shut up, telling them they don’t have a voice, that they are under control of whomever or whatever it may be.
Yes, being forced to wear a mask is also going against your freedom – though I also respect that those who believe masks will cure covid-19 could also make the freedom argument – in terms of them feeling like they now have the freedom to go to the shop without risk of catching covid-19. Except that people who work in shops don’t have to wear masks yet they could surely spread it to every customer that visits during their shift – if you buy that I can apparently spread it in the 2 minutes that I am buying a bottle of shit red wine.
And once you are forced to wear masks in shops, they will come for offices, restaurants and pubs too. Eventually you will have to wear a mask in your house. I was laughed at on Facebook for being a drama queen when I suggested this a couple of weeks back – but now this is becoming reality in Madrid where you are advised to wear one in your home. Yes, in your own home. Though, yes, I am still a drama queen.
Although I completely reject the idea that mask wearing is beneficial to other’s health (at least nobody is pretending that it is to the wearer), and I insist that it is unpleasant symbolism and a castration of further freedoms – there is one argument in favour of masks:
CAPITALISM (yeah in capitals…as if you haven’t rolled your eyes already to this point).
There are clearly people out there who are too scared to go out and participate in the economy and masks may reassure them to go out and spend lots of money.
As a proud capitalist, I can see this argument and accept the validity – if the best way to increase GDP is to mandate masks, then whilst I remain against the imposition from the perspective of liberalism (and personal health) but at least there is an argument.
And who knows, I could be wrong about the validity of masks. Maybe everyone wearing a mask in a shop will cure covid-19. I am not an expert on public health – look at my belly if you need any further clarification. I have been wrong before. I will be wrong again.
Which is why that I am willing to stop going to places where it is now suddenly apparently too dangerous for me to visit without a mask. I shall make that sacrifice.
So a life of not going to the shop?
All the above said, my life is littered with me making evidence-based principled stances and eventually cracking. Hell I’ve even been inside a Wetherspoons since the Brexit vote…albeit only to have a piss. Maybe let’s forget that I stayed in a Wetherspoons hotel two years ago but that was a sacrifice that I was willing to make for a wedding.
You and I both know that it is inevitable that at some point an emergency might come where I have no option but to wear a face mask – perhaps I get to the point where I cannot put off going to the dentist, for example.
Also I am not one for intentionally upsetting people, so if I do reluctantly have to get the Met line at some point, I may end up carrying one in case someone insists on it – I have found my asthma inhaler that I’ve had for 20 years and is still nearly full so I can hopefully wave that around and reduce the level of evil glances from the mask stasi.
And I may have found the perfect solution for when I do crack:
You want me to wear a mask, right?