THE FREEDOM TO BE SELFISH – BY ELLIN CURLEY

So what is the problem with the anti-maskers? I understand that many of them believe that the entire Coronavirus is a hoax or a greatly exaggerated hype to sully Trump’s sterling reputation and political fortunes. But why are they arguing that their “freedom” is being encroached upon merely because they are being told to wear masks to protect OTHERS as well as themselves?

They equate the discomfort and/or inconvenience of wearing a mask when they don’t want to with ‘oppression’. They’re like toddlers having a tantrum, screaming “I don’t wanna do it!” But freedom has never meant doing whatever you want whenever you want to. Every society, even a democratic, ‘free’ society places limits on individual freedom. They have to. To function, any group must have rules, mores and customs that shape the behavior of it members. We say please and thank you and wait patiently in lines for our turn to do things.

No one complains that their freedom to push to the front of the line to get served first is being violated by this custom. So everyone, on some level, agrees to accept some kinds of restrictions on their behavior to get along in society.

There’s a famous Supreme Court ruling that held that freedom of speech doesn’t extend to being able to yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater. That would be dangerous and potentially harmful to the group so it’s an acceptable limit on freedom of speech, one of our basic rights.

So why is being required to wear a mask to protect yourself AND others from a deadly virus, suddenly considered to be an unacceptable infringement on freedom? People don’t balk at wearing seat belts as a safety measure, though many did when the laws were first proposed and put into effect. Maybe the difference is that seat belts mainly protect YOU, while masks are to protect other people, not only you.

Do the anti-maskers feel that it’s their freedom to be selfish that’s being restricted? People have been caught on video screaming at employees who insist they wear masks in stores, refusing to put a mask on and even getting removed from stores by the security people or the police.

There’s another element in this situation, which is the Right’s obsession with people being allowed to refuse service to someone if doing so would violate their religious or personal beliefs. This exposes a deep hypocracy or inconsistency in the thinking on the right. If a baker doesn’t believe in gay marriage, he wants the right to refuse to bake a cake for a gay couple’s wedding. But at the same time, they don’t accept the fact that many vendors believe that masks have an important health benefit and therefore require people in their facility to wear them.

Even Trump people accept the “No shoes, no shirt, no service” signs that are everywhere. And that’s based on personal preferences and aesthetics, not issues of public health. Yet they not only won’t abide by the no mask rule in privately owned facilities, they often harass owners and workers in stores that require masks.

Since wearing masks is about safety and health, it’s a better comparison to the laws against drunk driving. Even people who drive drunk, accept the fact that they’ll be arrested and punished for doing it if caught. So they accept the state’s authority to make the law in the first place, restricting what the state sees as potentially harmful behavior. It doesn’t matter if you believe that you can drive perfectly well after drinking. You can’t make that argument to a cop. The ‘state’ or the ‘society’ has deemed that a certain behavior is for the good of the group and most people go along with it. Why is this situation so different from a freedom perspective?

I guess it all boils down to the anti-science, conspiracy theory beliefs of Trump’s supporters, who think that they are the ‘real Americans.’ Somehow they feel that they have a right to defy the entities that believe different things than they do. Like the Confederacy that went to war to continue slavery, they are fighting a culture war to preserve the right to possibly infect others with COVID-19.

The same people who are anti-abortion and anti ‘choice’, are now proudly shouting, “My body, my choice!” I don’t know if irony is dead or is on speed dial!

 

20 thoughts on “THE FREEDOM TO BE SELFISH – BY ELLIN CURLEY”

  1. The rampant hypocrisy is amazing.
    It’s okay to have laws governing a woman’s body but not for face masks? And we’re just looking for an executive order or a public statement, not an act of Congress.
    The way things are going, we are going to have extensive shut downs and wide spread illness in the fall.
    Stock up on supplies now.

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  2. Mindless|? Or just selfish? or mindlessly selfish…caring only about themselves and not the risk to others? Until hey get it, of course, then watch all hell break loose about not enough being done to protect them. Our society has become a mindless idiotic me first tantrum-throwing bunch of two year olds!

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    1. A very apt description. It’s true. First they deny it exists, then they realize it DOES exist and get furious at all the people who tried to protect them when they were refusing to listen. We are so damned DUMB.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Not wearing masks is nothing but a selfish gesture. And not a good kind of selfishness, either, since the self is imperiled by it and others are endangered. The problem caused is not a matter of freedom but a matter of health. Put mayonnaise on your French fries (I have friends who do, and apparently Belgians like to), go to a church of your choice, sign up for the political party you prefer. I might disagree with all of these, but these choices are free. Contribute to the illnesses and deaths of many, many people? This is not freedom. At best, it is assault.

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    1. I would hope that stores are prepared to enforce their own rules! I don’t think there are too many problems in my area, but I’ve read about horrific scenes where shoppers have to be carried out, screaming about their rights.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The town north of me shouted down their mayor twice when she tried to enforce mandatory masking in that town. Their rights and all that nonsense….. In my town, masks are now mandatory. A local resident wrote a letter in the Op-Ed page saying how about this: All those people in the town north of us HAVE to wear a mask if they want to come into our town. We don’t want them bringing COVID to our town. And I am in Florida, for gosh sakes! One of the three ‘New Yorks!’ It is absolutely ridiculous.

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    1. I love to hear the comments by the Florida Governor a few months ago about how they had no cases and were handling things so brilliantly compared to places like New York, that was overrun with the virus. I have a friend in FLorida and am really worried for him. He’s at high risk and is in a very conservative area, which probably means that there are few, if any rules about masking or social distancing. You’d think that they’d at least learn from what’s happening in their states now, but some tates still refuse to even mandate masks. Unbelievable. Your life can depend on who your governor or mayor is!

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  5. Dumb and selfish. It’s happening here too. Not so much in Tassie but in Victoria where they are experiencing a second wave mask wearing has become mandatory and they seem to have the same problem with people who think the rules don’t apply to them.

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    1. In general, Canada has handled things better than we have, but I’m sure you have your share of stupid, selfish people. The problem is that we have lots of them and they congregate in large groups so whole areas can be effected by their behavior – anda their governments often cater to them.

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    1. I think it’s more than just dumb. They are selfish and infantile and have no sense of contributing to a larger community. They have no impulse control and they can’t postpone gratification, which I guess is what makes them infantile. I read an article about these same people refusing to wear seatbelts when they first came out in the 1980’s and were mandated. The same arguments about freedom and rights were made and the same denyal of the government’s right to ‘tell me what to do!’ But then we were just trying to protect the individuals, not the society at large. It’s a broader issue today.

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