Why face masks are no small deal

Clement Harrold

Student Government Vice President

Funnily enough, nobody has ever asked me to amend the U.S. Constitution, or at least not yet. But if they did, I imagine my proposed 28th amendment might read something like this: “A well-regulated student body being necessary to the sanity of a free campus, the right of the people to keep and bare faces shall not be infringed.”

Indeed, with active COVID-19 cases currently rising in Ohio, and lucidity levels decreasing proportionately, it feels like an opportune time to touch upon this prickliest of issues.

Now, to be clear, my purpose in this article is not to criticise the administration or to challenge its policies. Instead, I shall content myself with a much more modest thesis: contrary to popular opinion, requiring people to wear face masks in public is a serious matter, and we should recognize it as such.

Of course, perhaps face masks are still a necessary sacrifice. But even if that is the case, let’s not delude ourselves into thinking this is somehow normal, or “no big deal,” as many would have us believe.

Whilst we’re at it, let’s also avoid the stomach-churning attempts certain figures have made to wrap this issue in religious language, where being forced to cover your face simply becomes one more expression of “Christian obedience” or, worse still, “taking up your cross.”

No, no, emphatically no. Forcing the populace to conceal the very part of them that makes them most human isn’t some lofty ideal or noble sacrifice. It’s base; it’s inhuman; and if we must tolerate it, we should only ever do so reluctantly.

Before going any further, however, it is worth first taking a step back and reminding ourselves just how far — or how low — COVID-19 has brought us.

As the British journalist Peter Hitchens correctly observes, the state has already thrust itself into every corner of our existence in the name of this virus:

It has come between husbands and wives at the ends of their lives. It has forbidden the old to embrace their grandchildren. It has denied us funerals and weddings, locked the churches, silenced the ancient monastic music of cathedral choirs and prevented the free worship of God for the first time in 800 years, and banned us (unless we are left-wing) from holding or attending public meetings. (Daily Mail, 19 July, 2020)

It is no exaggeration to say that the global pandemic has been a dream come true for every totalitarian-minded socialist. Never before in the history of English common law have the masses so willingly (and so quietly) gone along with all manner of pervasive and intimate governmental overreach.

This brings us to the issue of masks. What’s the big deal, you ask? Well, let’s evaluate the matter objectively. By executive edict, the almighty state not only requests but actively demands, almost without exception and under penalty of fines or something worse, that every man, woman and child cover their faces with a soggy cloth. Very curious.

But why? Why does it demand this? Well, that’s easy: Because Big Brother knows what’s best for us, and they have determined that this is a necessary health precaution. Nevermind the fact that the median mortality age for COVID-19 is 78 years old, or that the nationwide hospitalization rate across all ages is 0.2%.

But no, rather than letting individuals and organizations tailor their behaviour to fit their situation, instead it is the great Leviathan which has to mandate our behaviour. It is the Leviathan which says we have to depersonalize ourselves in our day-to-day lives, that we have to “muzzle up and suck it up,” all for the sake of some perceived greater good that they have determined and that we dare not question. “Become a mouthless submissive at the behest of the state … or else.”

Always the tactics are the same with big government. Abortion must be legal to safeguard women who would otherwise resort to backstreet procedures. Homeschooling should be banned due to some tiny minority of radicals. Everyone must cover their faces at all times for the sake of the elderly and immunocompromised.

No space is left open to individual discretion or any kind of subsidiary approach. In an insidious contortion of Christian ethics, “Love your neighbour, and especially the vulnerable” is replaced with “Surrender your liberties for the sake of the community, or else we’ll turn you into a social pariah.”

In summary, then, whatever your personal opinion of the various rules and regulations, and however you choose to apply them, I urge you, dear reader, to never allow this state of affairs to become in any way normalized or downplayed in your mind.

And even if this is something we have to endure for a time, let us never forget that overriding goal of the American framers: to “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”

Indeed, I daresay if Benjamin Franklin or Thomas Jefferson were alive today, they would be very much in agreement about the current state of affairs: This is not normal, and this is a big deal.

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