Discarded Mask on the Ground of a Park
Discarded Mask on the Ground of a Park

The mask mandates for Chicago began on May 1st, 20201. The exact order only mandated masks in stores that were not large enough for social distancing. However, in practice, every store was refusing to let people in without a face covering. I already had concerns over the reaction to the pandemic, and I decided to draw my line in the sand very early. For the next few weeks, I drove to Indiana in order to shop for groceries to avoid the mandate. Usage grew even past the state line, and one store stopped allowing entry to those who were unmasked. Eventually I settled into a routine of purchasing groceries and supplies on-line for drive-up/pick-up. Eventually I left Chicago for an undisclosed location on the east coast, in the deep south, far away from cities and the growing hysteria. Even in the middle of nowhere, major chain still have signs requiring masks. There are some people who wear them, but the rules are never enforced. Although seeing people with masks in stores does disturb me, I’m glad I now live in a place where I have the option to not participate in a mandate defined by pseudoscience. It’s not “Just a mask.” The consequences of shame around a new article of clothing are not minor, and I think we will see the effects for decades to come.

Clothing is Irrational

Is the belief that everyone should wear clothing rational? Clothing has a utilitarian use in protecting human bodies from the elements. Without wearing the skins of other animals, we wouldn’t be able to survive colder climates. From a modern standpoint, killing an animal and wearing its dead skin seems disgusting. Yet it allowed human beings to migrate into much colder parts of the planet, as we lost the genetic traits necessary to grow fur and long, thick hair.

“And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed … And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.” -Genesis 2:25, 3:7

To force everyone in a civilization to wear certain garments requires a certain degree of shame. This shame can be trivial, such as judging people who wear cargo short or socks and sandals. It can be legally enforced, such as with public exposure laws. It can also be life threateningly serious, such as refusing to wear a hijab or burka in certain regions, being punishable by death.

Going back several years, we can find mandatory medical masks in an entirely different context: Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. People detained by the US military as enemy combatants, held for years without access to lawyers and tortured2, can be seen in photographs like the one below, forced to wear surgical masks3. They obviously served no medical purpose. Their purpose was for control and humiliation.

Prisoners wearing surgical masks at Guantánamo Bay
Prisoners wearing surgical masks at Guantánamo Bay

The Science

I’ve written before about various studies showing the ineffectiveness of masks in preventing the spread of respiratory infections written in years prior to 2019. Many of those studies now have large warnings on their download pages indicating they somehow don’t apply to the current pandemic. A recent Danish study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine shows that using control groups and a large sample size, there is no statistically significant difference in transmission between those who did and did not wear masks4. Various journals attempted to suppress this study5, and it has come under attack by various fact checking websites since its release. However, a preprint from the University of Louisville comes to the same conclusion6. The CDC’s own numbers, from a study published in March, also show that mask mandates were statistically insignificant in preventing the spread of infections. However, the CDC study goes on to list a conclusion that literally contradicts that data7. Data can be interpreted by scientists in the same way religious text is interpreted by priests.

Fauci admitted before congress that he lied about the ineffectiveness of masks, in order to prevent a run on the supply needed for healthcare workers8. He admitted to telling a noble lie. He’s implying that the American people were too stupid to do the right thing, and that his lie was to protect health care providers. By facing zero repercussions, and by not being held in contempt, it shows both his power over government and the narrative. Nothing he says can be taken for any value. I literally saw a bumper sticker with the words “In Fauci Trust” on a red, white and blue background. Why are people in this country trusting a man who is a known liar, with connections to pharmaceutical companies and the GAVI Vaccine Alliance9?

Maskless Privilege

I hate to use the word privilege because it’s often used to represent either luck or to cloak people in victimization armor. Your identity doesn’t ever define what you are or what you can do. That being said, my live choices have meant I can work in an industry that’s supported fully remote work prior to COVID. I had been 80% remote at other jobs in the past, and I had 100% remote coworkers at my current employer in 2019, making the transition easier.

“Dignity and an empty sack is worth the sack” -Ferengi Rules of Acquisition #109 (Star Trek DS9)

I know many friends who could not stand up against mask mandates without risking their jobs. With such an unstable economy in the face of the pandemic, many had to balance their beliefs with their source of income. Although I’ve walked away from positions before due to ideological differences, I realize many people have families to think of.

Human Rights

Never would I have imagined the degree to which human rights would be challenged in western, high-income, industrialized nations. In Canada, church leaders have been arrested for holding services, and an opposition political candidate has been arrested for campaigning outdoors in small towns10. In America, we have people volunteering their private medical information, for perverse incentives such as lotteries11, free beer12 and free cannabis13.

In the 1960’s, Stanley Milgram showed how the right conditions and incentives could lead over 66% of the population to kill another human being by simply following orders from an authority. Though people have tried to discredit him, his experiment has been replicated several times. One has to ask, if Milgram’s experiment had been real; if Milgram was psychopathic and the teacher actually killed the person in the other room with a 300 volt electric shock, who would be responsible? More importantly, how many people would think they would do the right thing prior to entering the experiment?

The utility of the mask is perpetuated by the myth of asymptomatic spread. The belief that we could all be spreading a disease, combined with the belief a small piece of fabric can significantly reduce the spread of that disease, builds an almost religious devotion to the mask as a talisman. The mask is a literal symbol of communism: that we are all responsible for everyone else’s safety at the expense of our own rights, agency and beliefs.

Mask Hanging from a Car Mirror
Mask Hanging from a Car Mirror

This is not a slippery slope

We are in a free fall. What started out as business closures, turned to mask mandates, and travel restrictions. Some nations also saw mobile app tracking and curfews. In many countries, we are on the verge of medical passports and mandatory injections of literally the least tested drugs in the modern area of medical regulation.

Masks come at high environmental costs. Billions of disposable masks have made their way into our rivers and oceans, adding several thousand metric tons of plastic waste into our ecosystems14. Non-disposable masks have created a massive new multi-billion dollar textile industry, that will also lead to an untold amount of new textile waste. Even masks that are regularly laundered can quickly build up and harbor bacteria, fungus and other dangerous pathogens15.

Masking has resulted in long term behavior changes. There are a number people who have said they will continue to wear masks, out of fear, even after mandates end16. Society has essentially adopted a new shared obsessive compulsion, and a new social shame around an article of clothing. Like the burka or hijab in Islamic societies, the mask will be a political symbol, and there are some who are afraid to go without them for fear of being identified as republicans17.

I am glad that I drew my line in the sand very early. It is stressful to be in a store with a high amount of mask usage, and I always felt relief walking into places where masks were low or non-existent. Despite the awkwardness, I would remind myself that in my refusal to wear a mask, I was attempting to be a light onto the world18. Could I be wrong? Possibly. I can only hope that I am on the right side in the largest conformity experiment of our time.

  1. Front-line face-offs: Mask rule sparks threats, rebellion, shouting at store workers: ‘And we can’t do anything about it’. 5 May 2020. Armentrout. Chicago Sun Times. 

  2. The Road to Guantanamo. 2006. Documentary/Film 

  3. Truth about masks. 9 March 2021. The COVID Blog. 

  4. Effectiveness of Adding a Mask Recommendation to Other Public Health Measures to Prevent SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Danish Mask Wearers. March 2021. Annals of Internal Medicine. DOI 10.7326/M20-6817 

  5. On the Suppressed Danish Mask Study. 24 October 2020. Aagaard. Swiss Policy Research. 

  6. Mask mandate and use efficacy in state-level COVID-19 containment. 25 May 2021. Guerra. Guerra. medRxiv. DOI 10.1101/2021.05.18.21257385 

  7. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 350MMWR/March 12, 2021/Vol. 70/No. 10US Department of Health and Human Services/Centers for Disease Control and PreventionAssociation of State-Issued Mask Mandates and Allowing On-Premises Restaurant Dining with County-Level COVID-19 Case and Death Growth Rates — United States, March 1–December 31, 2020. Guy. Lee. Sunshine. CDC. 5 March 2021 erratum 

  8. Krystal and Saagar: Fauci ADMITS LIVE government lied about masks to preserve supplies. 18 June 2020. The Hill. 

  9. Fauci: forging closer ties with GAVI. 22 May 2012. Gavi. 

  10. Canadian police have arrested Maxime Bernier. 11 June 2021. Viva Frei. 

  11. First “Do it for Babydog” vaccine lottery winners named. 21 June 2021. Point Pleasant Register va Yahoo News. 

  12. Budweiser Is Giving Free Beer to Vaccinated People. 20 April 2021. Nelson. Thrillist via MSN. 

  13. LCB Allows “Joints for Jabs” Promotions to Support Vaccinations. 2021. Washing State Liquor and Cannabis Board. (Retrieved 22 June 2021) 

  14. COVID-19 Facemasks & Marine Plastic Pollution. Ocean Asia. (retrieved 22 June 2021) 

  15. A Group Of Parents Sent Their Kids’ Face Masks to A Lab for Analysis. Here’s What They Found. 15 June 2021. Morefield. Townhall. 

  16. ‘Ultra-maskers’ say they’ll keep wearing masks even though they’ve been vaccinated — and perhaps after the pandemic ends. 23 May 2021. Bendix. Business Insider. 

  17. Fully vaccinated liberals are scared to take masks off out of ffear of being labeled ‘Republicans’. 1 May 2021. Emmons. The Post Millennial. 

  18. Matthew 5:14