Just outside Miguels Restaurant (based on the GPS coordinates displayed in the video) in The Summit, an upscale outdoor shopping complex in South Reno, Richard was picked up by a rideshare driver for a ride home. Noticing Richard didn’t have a mask on, the rideshare driver asked Richard to either put one on or to cover his face with his shirt.
Richard did neither of those things. Instead, Richard responded by covering his mouth (but not his nose) with his hand and shouting homophobic and racial slurs instead. To be unnecessarily fair to Richard, it took him a bit to work up to that last part — about two minutes, to be exact.
Richard, to be clear, is not a particularly interesting or noteworthy individual. He’s merely an individual sample of a common breed of person who, when called on his male bovine excrement and unearned sense of entitlement, responds by being as unpleasant and misanthropic as possible. The merest inconvenience for these sort of people is proof that the world is out to get them — that the world, in other words, isn’t giving them their way every second of every day. They are simply adult-sized and adult-aged spoiled children.
These large adult sons, these department store princelings — they don’t want to wear their face diapers.
Yes, face diapers.
Having to keep their bodily fluids behind a mask, you see, is uncomfortable and, apparently, for whatever reason, infantilizing. Even having a plastic partition in front of them makes them feel like they’re in a zoo. All of this emotional trauma, this discomfort — for what? A virus that killed more Americans in three and a half months than the trenches of the first World War killed over an entire year? Please. We must reopen everything and let herd immunity sort it out! Don’t tread on their feelings! Give them liberty and give us death!
Since we live in a nation of spoiled solipsistic brats who find even being in the same room as the most simple and basic personal hygiene measures to be unreasonable infringements of their freedom to… not look at people being responsible, I guess?, it should come as no surprise that positive cases throughout the country are creeping back up. That cases are creeping up isn’t a total catastrophe, though it’s certainly not what we’d like to see. The point of the economic shutdown was to buy us time — time for a vaccine, for more effective treatments, for improved hospital capacity. We’re currently at about one and a half out of three; we’re neither running out of hospital beds nor ventilators and a week ago we learned that dexamethasone appears to help in professionally run medical trials.
That said, unless you’re grading on a particularly generous curve, 50 percent is not a passing grade.
That’s why most countries are currently relying on basic, comparatively voluntary methods of airborne disease mitigation (compared to shutting down businesses or limiting freedom of movement) to control the spread of COVID-19. Outside of the United States, it’s working — the European Union, which has 100 million more people than the United States and includes previously troublesome countries such as Spain, Italy and Belgium, is averaging only four thousand new cases per day while we’re averaging six times that. Bear in mind both the United States and the European Union had similar-sized peaks (roughly 30,000 cases per day — again, our population is roughly 75 percent the size of theirs) and both of our peaks hit in early April. Clearly they are doing something right that we aren’t.
Inside the United States, however, we issue death threats against government officials who tell people to put a mask on. We have a president who demands people sign a waiver absolving his campaign of all responsibility if they predictably catch COVID-19 at a crowded indoor rally. We talk about how herd immunity will save us, despite Sweden’s head epidemiologist admitting that pursuing herd immunity was a mistake. We even have conservative activists who get kicked off of airlines because they refuse to abide by mask restrictions put in place by private property owners to limit corporate liability. Remember when conservatives actually cared about the inviolability of private property rights?
A couple of days ago, Gov. Sisolak announced he was evaluating enhanced face covering policies. This, I suspect, was triggered in part by scenes like this one in a crowded bar in Summerlin, where several employees recently tested positive for COVID-19, and in part by California’s governor recently announcing mandatory statewide mask restrictions. Of course, having one of our neighbors become a COVID-19 hotspot certainly doesn’t help matters.
Unfortunately, though I think the governor’s heart is in the right place, I don’t think tougher policies are going to help. Arresting people and throwing them in jail for refusing to wear a mask isn’t going to help anyone and certainly isn’t going to slow the spread of the virus. Fining people might be useful, but the penalty for refusing to pay a fine is incarceration and, again, putting likely disease carriers in a confined indoor space isn’t going to help anyone. Since the sort of person who refuses to wear a mask would almost undoubtedly be the sort of person who would refuse to pay a fine for refusing to wear a mask, our government’s hands are tied.
As individuals, however, we have better tools to work with.
As the rideshare driver demonstrated, private property combined with freedom of association may not proactively prevent the Richards of the world from being angry, entitled jerks, but they do provide recourse when that happens. Individuals who refuse to respect the rights of property owners to decide their terms of entry and terms of service can always be kicked out. No shoes, no shirt, no mask, no service.
Additionally, Nevada is both an open carry and concealed carry state — that means many of these angry, entitled jerks are armed, frequently conspicuously so. Unfortunately, this puts many of Nevada’s workers at a disadvantage since most businesses, to avoid liability, have policies in place which require their workers to labor unarmed. This power imbalance has led to assaults and murders of clerks and security guards in other states when mandatory mask orders were put into effect. Revisiting corporate liability laws so Nevada’s workers can effectively defend themselves and equip themselves accordingly would go a long way towards ensuring our collective safety from these misanthropes.
Finally, as customers, we also have tools at our disposal. We can refuse to do business with companies that refuse to take their workers’ or their customers’ health seriously. If you walk in and you see people without masks on, don’t reward bad behavior. Instead, reward good behavior — reward businesses that strictly require common sense hygiene measures at the door.
Individual choices by selfish brats are making this pandemic worse than it needs to be. Individual choices by the rest of us to stand up and hold these people accountable will provide the discipline they apparently never received earlier in life. Let’s put these princelings back in their place.
David Colborne has been active in the Libertarian Party for two decades. During that time, he has blogged intermittently on his personal blog, as well as the Libertarian Party of Nevada blog, and ran for office twice as a Libertarian candidate. He serves on the Executive Committee for both his state and county Libertarian Party chapters. He is the father of two sons and an IT professional. You can follow him on Twitter @DavidColborne or email him at [email protected].