I’ve never been anti-mask, just pro common sense. For me, common sense means three things:
- Epistemic humility and respect for authority: I am not an epidemiologist. The case for masks sounds reasonable enough but I can’t know for sure. The legitimate authority (in my case the Commonwealth of Massachusetts) asks me to put on a mask in close social situations, and I go along with it. If a business owner asks me to wear one in his store, I’ll comply.
- Don’t be a bastard: I have a couple of friends who are anti-maskers and I never understood it; they would rather be thrown out of a store than put on a mask but I’d rather just get my shopping done. I can be stubborn about a lot of stuff but I don’t get how this is anyone’s hill to die on.
- Moderation: I don’t wear a mask outdoors, nor when I am in a spacious indoor area where the owner doesn’t seem to mind if I go mask free. I am in the minority on this, at least in my area, but I will not be one of those people jogging down an empty street in 90deg weather with a mask on. The state does not mandate masks in open areas and no one is going to transmit the flu in that situation.
Well, I just figured out my anti-mask friends. Walking down a lonely, tree-lined street in Salem I noticed a series of signs along the sidewalk telling me that I was in a mandatory mask zone by order of the Board of Health. I stopped and looked around to determine a cause and finally realized it was because the adjacent property was an over-65 community. The building was set about 25 feet from the sidewalk. Were I dripping with contagious disease I could not I have infected any of the people inside, not even with my best luggie. Never once have seen old people walking about the grounds. There was no practical reason to wear a mask there even if there was a plausible one.
Then I noticed the signs were scattered about town in all manner of places on only the faintest of pretense, such as at little used crosswalks or, mysteriously, by the flowers planted in meridian in the center of the road. Perhaps the flowers made the meridian a public garden?
And I thought this is insane. Who are the drooling imbeciles making these rules? It ceased to be a matter of deference to legitimate authority for me; obeying these rules – however small -would be for me to participate in someone else’s delusions. I resented having lunatics enforcing their lunacy upon me.