You don’t need to wear a mask. Period. Full stop. When you’re confronted (and you will be) for not wearing a mask, politely decline. You can note that each of the government orders that have been issued requiring masks also come with broad exemptions for health conditions. What medical or mental health condition you may have that prevents you from wearing a mask is a personal matter. You are not required to explain beyond that or supply proof of your condition.
Refusal to comply is an important act of civil disobedience, especially now as Boise Mayor Lauren McLean has decided to devote taxpayer resources to the apprehension of mask scofflaws and the shuttering of their business co-conspirators. There are more of us than there are McLean’s minions. So go to stores and restaurants. Mingle and congregate. Greet your fellow travelers with a beautiful, naked, fully uncovered, fully human, fully free, smile. Let’s call her mandate out for what it really is: a charade.
For those of you who didn’t see my last column (most “news” outlets refuse to run it because it questions the prevailing “expert” opinion) masks are mostly a tool of Risk Communication 101. The theory goes that if the public is given “something to do” they’ll feel empowered and less fearful. That’s not to say that some mask somewhere hasn’t prevented a virus from escaping one person and reaching another. It’s to say that the real magic in the mask is in the illusion that it’s stopping coronavirus from getting out and hurting people. Obviously it’s not.
“At a minimum, you can give people some sense of control by suggesting something they can do,” wrote Dr. Peter Sandman, a crisis communications consultant who often works with government officials. Sandman was the lead lecturer at a pandemic planning conference I attended in 2005 when I worked for the state of Idaho and helped develop the state’s pandemic response plan. Sandman also wrote that “action is a powerful antidote to denial, panic, depression, and paranoia. Finding something you can responsibly ask people to do in an emergency is a major, not a minor, task – one well worth planning for in advance.”
And while Sandman has lectured and written that he favors individual autonomy -- that “optional” is better than “mandatory” and “forbidden,” you may have noticed that most government agencies skip over that and race to edicts--lockdowns, business closures, bans on gatherings, and face coverings.
Kudos to Dr. Roger Hodkinson, a Canadian virologist who scolded the Edmonton, Alberta, government officials recently for their ‘rona response efforts. Hodkinson said “masks are utterly useless” and condemned people for “walking around like lemmings obeying without any knowledge.”
“There is utterly unfounded public hysteria driven by the media and politicians. It’s outrageous. This is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on an unsuspecting public,” Hodkinson said. “This is not Ebola. It’s not SARS. It’s politics playing medicine. And that’s a very dangerous game.”
Our state constitution starts out with the words, “We remain grateful to Almighty God for our freedom.”The fact that a pandemic may or may not be occurring changes nothing about the meaning or intent of the state constitution in the preservation of our inalienable rights.
A couple of months ago, I and hundreds of other Idahoans resolved that any order issued in the future that abridges our rights will be ignored, “unless those orders recognize, honor, and uphold, without reservation or equivocation, our God-given rights.” Now we have an order that does exactly that. It’s time to honor that commitment so that freedom will be preserved, today and for generations to come.