The Sacred “Me”

Right now, it seems as though not a day passes before there’s not another news story about some form of protest against wearing a mask. A number of people have been shot, and some have been killed, for asking or requiring others to wear masks.

Shooting someone who’s trying to stop the spread of Covid-19?

It doesn’t make sense. First, requiring a mask doesn’t endanger your health, nor is it a significant restriction on personal freedom. Second, legally, public health proscriptions are indeed constitutional. And third, if you’re caught, you’re going to spend a number of years incarcerated.

The so-called “freedom” not to wear a mask is a declaration that non-mask-wearer has the right to infect others, some of whom will get ill, possibly seriously, and some possibly fatally. But some individuals have declared that the vulnerable should just lock themselves up until a “solution” is found.

There are several problems with that assertion. First, while we know certain groups of people are vulnerable, there are still significant numbers of deaths and longer-term health effects among people not thought to be vulnerable. Second, as I’ve noted before, in many professions, from 20% to as many as 35% of those professionals are in the vulnerable category. Potentially endangering even a fifth of a range of professionals, whether teachers, doctors, nurses, or others, is going to harm them and those who need their services. Third, failure to wear masks by even a fifth of the population will prolong the epidemic. Fourth, a longer pandemic will penalize the vulnerable economically and socially, and in fact, will penalize society as a whole.

In the end, any individual who asserts his or her “freedom” not to wear a mask is declaring that he or she has the right to harm others through such “freedom.” That’s not freedom, it’s extraordinary narcissism masquerading as freedom… but what can we expect when the President continues to set an extreme example of narcissism at the highest levels?

18 thoughts on “The Sacred “Me””

  1. Chris says:

    I wonder if an enterprising prosecutor could make a case that someone who wasn’t wearing a mask and then tested positive (Rep. Gohmert maybe?), against the recommendations of health officials, is guilty of reckless endangerment.

    1. RRCRea says:

      Also tortious assault. If anyone who was exposed to him gets sick, then legal or tortious battery. On the criminal side that could go up to aggragavated battery. Criminally one could add “attempted”. Ultimately, potentially, attempted or actual 1st degree murder or reckless murder.

      And think of who would count as Party to the Crime…

      1. shannon says:

        You might have trouble with proximate cause but recklessly spreading covid should be a tort.

    2. Bill says:

      I wonder if an enterprising prosecutor could make a case that someone who plants a flower garden, in order to attract bees, is guilty of reckless endangerment of someone who is allergic to bee stings.

      1. Chris says:

        If national health authorities had said that people shouldn’t plant flower because it attracts bees which might sting other people that would be a very analogous argument. But that isn’t the case, so it doesn’t directly fit. Instead, they have said people should wear a mask so they don’t unknowingly directly infect other other.

  2. Hanneke says:

    To me, it correlates with the “right to bear arms, including assault rifles” + “stand your ground, in public space” mentality: I can do anything I want, wherever I want to do so, and others have no such rights, but should appease me.
    Bolstered by the threat inherent in how the US justice system appears to function for white bullies: or else I could kill you with near impunity, as long as I use my guns or my car to do so, and say I ‘felt threatened’.

    A very thuggish, bullying mentality, which some parts of American society seem to venerate.

    1. Bill says:

      To me, it correlates with the right to Burn, Loot, and Murder, vandalize public property, and threaten innocent bystanders unless they show support. I can do anything I want as long as I claim it is based on urban legends and social media rumors. Bolstered by the current trend to drop all politically inconvenient charges of riot and assault: I can kill, rob, or maim you with impunity as long as I can claim that I feel threatened by your White privilege.

      A very thuggish, bullying mentality, which some parts of American society seem to venerate.

      1. Golly, gee, when they do what whites have done to them for 400 hundred years, you get outraged. Fancy that.

        I don’t condone in the slightest looting and burning or killing [although the number of deaths in such protests has been minuscule], but I get very tired of White outrage and selective moralistic posturing that ignores centuries of oppression and abuse. If you want it to stop, it just might help to address the root causes.

        1. Bill says:

          It is rather outrageous to be blamed as a group for actions of other people’s ancestors. So, let’s wander through history finding oppression and abuse to justify present violence. All Irish And Scottish can now crush the English. Armenians, Serbians, and Hungarians can shoot any Turk.

          As long as black people are going after their oppressors, why aren’t they going after the Arabs, who bought up WAY WAY more of them than the Europeans. Of course, there aren’t many blacks still living in Arab countries because the men were all castrated and rape children were just killed. And yet, most all of the overseas BLM riots are in indigenous White areas.

          1. I’m not blaming you or anyone else personally for the actions of their ancestors. I am saying that our failure to fix the problem is why there are riots, and why that anger is understandable. After 400 years, we still can’t get it right… and you’re worried and outraged because I’m pointing out that this has gone on for four hundred years?

            Your second paragraph is a typical white male “What about?” rationalization. We in the U.S. are limited in what we can do about oppression in other countries. Just because it exists elsewhere doesn’t mean that it should continue here. In the U.S. blacks face a host of problems. As with any group of people, some are their problems, BUT they didn’t cause de facto closures of polling places in minority areas; they aren’t the ones who set up criminal punishments that are far harder on blacks for the same offense as they are on whites; they aren’t the ones who arranged school funding systems so that minority schools have far fewer resources; they aren’t the ones who essentially froze the minimum wage for a generation… The list goes on and on.

            If I were in their shoes, I’d be damned angry, too. I likely wouldn’t engage in violent protests, but I can understand why some people would.

            And what amazes me even more is that I see lots of Caucasians protesting over masks, over a tiny limitation on their freedom, and most of these same Caucasians can’t understand why blacks are unhappy over restrictions on a far greater range of activities for generations?

  3. Tom says:

    As we ‘democratically’ become another authoritarian oligarchy in November the question becomes what, if anything, the military will do. It seems that Congress and the Supreme Court (with the Justice Department) has already joined the ‘sacred me’ crowd, so, that leaves only the military as a potential player in determining our future.

    I do not thing Mark Esper by himself will be able to determine the military’s direction and I do not have a feel of what the Joint Chiefs of Staff will do. Perhaps they will follow the now non-existent laws and what the Commander-In-Chief demands or do nothing and thus ensure the switch to anarchy. Anarchy and oligarchy are both very ‘sacred me’ but Anarchy would not last as long as an oligarchy even though it would be more physically destructive.

  4. Bill says:

    Life is risky. Before this ‘pandemic’, tens of thousands of people died of influenza every year. No masks were required. Every year, tens of thousands of people are killed by our transportation system, and we are OK with that. Somewhere around one hundred thousand are killed by medical errors, but that doesn’t stop people from going to the hospital.

    Roughly the same number of children are killed by dogs every year as are killed by guns in schools. I don’t know how the number of dogs compares to the number of guns in this country, but I bet it’s close. And yet, no one is calling for the banning of dogs, which are not mentioned anywhere in the Constitution.

    In my opinion, the mask protests are an expression of frustration with the always escalating restrictions imposed by one side of the political spectrum. There seems to be no end in sight. What was once ‘flatten the curve’ is now ‘no one must get sick’. Many people are willing to risk getting sick if it means that they might not soon be destitute. After all, who is more at risk from an infected third party, someone masked or someone maskless?

    And, yes, President Trump is an obnoxious NY blowhard, but Obama was the champion narcissist. He couldn’t utter three sentences without using the word “I”.

    1. You wrote: “Roughly the same number of children are killed by dogs every year as are killed by guns in schools.” This is an incredibly misleading statement in a misleading context. Total dog bite deaths in the U.S. run about 50 per year. Total annual deaths from firearms run between 35,000 and 39,000.

      1. Bill says:


        It is a completely valid statement. [IT ISN’T, BECAUSE THE ARGUMENT AGAINST GUNS GOES BEYOND SCHOOLS. YOU’RE RESTRICTING IT TO A TINY SEGMENT OF THE ENTIRE PROBLEM] School shootings and dog attacks both kill around fifteen kids annually on average. Hot cars kill about fifty. On the one hand, we had ‘Piglet’ Hogg waving his tiny fist and demonizing all gun owners. For an equally minuscule risk, we had crickets.[TYPICAL MALE “WHAT ABOUT SOMETHING IRRELEVANT?” ARGUMENT] These days, one’s risk assessments are greatly skewed by political perspective.[EXACTLY. YOUR PERSPECTIVE IS CLEARLY THAT PEOPLE DON’T COUNT, AND THAT NOTHING THAT RESTRICTS YOUR FREEDOM SHOULD BE REQUIRED, EVEN IF IT SAVES THOUSANDS, AND THEN YOU COMPOUND THE SLEWING BY PRESENTING A LIMITED AND RESTRICTED EXAMPLE, WHICH ISN’T EVEN ACCURATE, AS ANOTHER COMMENTER POINTED OUT, BECAUSE VICIOUS DOGS ARE PUT DOWN]. And, of course, your firearm fatalities figures were two thirds suicides [EXACTLY. SUICIDES AREN’T PEOPLE? AND THE OTHER 13,000 PEOPLE KILLED BY GUNS DON’T COUNT?].

        1. Hanna says:

          “And, yes, President Trump is an obnoxious NY blowhard..”

          Just a “blowhard”, huh? Not divider-in-chief (historic at that), xenophobe, bully, incredibly corrupt, tax defaulter, draft dodger, adulterer, serial liar, zero morals, etc. So many to pick from and your takeaway is freaking “blowhard”?

          And why “NY”? Isn’t the POTUS supposed to represent all states?

          Frankly Bill, your far-right leaning bias shows & shines brightly.

    2. shannon says:

      Dogs are frequently put down and their owners held liable in dog attacks. I can’t say the same about guns.

  5. Tom says:

    Masks were used by those directly involved with the influenza patients during the epidemic in the US as photographs from that time support. The authorities then also used quarantine and isolation (a step beyond masks).

    In the US death rates from influenza range from 24/100000 in 2000 down to 15/100000 in 2017. Taking the 2000 figure means total deaths from influenza was about 79000. So far this year in the US total deaths is said to be approximately 180000 to date.

    But we are comparing apples and oranges because we do not know yet what the annual death rate from Covid 19 will be; in fact we do not know what the death rate from this Covid epidemic will be because we are still struggling with it.

    So we should not be using numbers out of context to support arguments that cannot be supported otherwise.

  6. M. Kilian says:

    It is strange, to live in Australia where there in generally a consensus of trust in the government with regards to everything but economical management. It took a great deal of foreign news to even incite a few protests put on by impressionable college students trying to echo BLM, or to convince some more libertarian-minded people to try and protest quarantine measures. Thankfully, we are not against shaming culture here and the police are held in much higher regard due to the high standards they’re held to. Of course, having a rather monogamous culture where most people are too apathetic to be incensed and polarized against group think helps.

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