Contra Statist #3 - Your Faces are all Gross Anyway

Updated: May 30, 2020

For Contra Statist 3, I wanted to take a look at an opinion piece published by the entire (apparently) Seattle Times editorial board, endorsing King County’s directive to require mask wearing under some roughly defined circumstances.

While we at the Libertarian Party of King County reject the use of government force to achieve desired results, I did want to emphasize, as a member of the party of individual responsibility, that wearing masks is most certainly a good idea in close-quarters settings during times like this – and, I would argue, during normal flu seasons. It’s why those of us who participated in the Dangerous Liberty protests in Olympia insisted on covering up (that, and it’s a nice deterrence to facial recognition):

As everyday activity slowly resumes, all members of our communities need to do their part to slow the rate of transmission of COVID-19.

Sorry, but government mandate or not, there’s a 0.0% chance that every human being is going to do every single thing humanly possible to prevent to ensure with 100% certainty that they don’t spread a disease – which is, I assume, what we’re calling “their part”.

When people were not following health recommendations to cover their faces,

Which people? Which health recommendations? The ones the CDC gave us two months ago, or the ones we’re currently operating under?

Seattle and King County officials made the right call this week to make them mandatory. People are required to cover their mouths and noses when they’re likely to be in contact with others, including while riding public transit, visiting stores or restaurants and in crowded outdoor spaces.

The directive comes at a time when modified Stay Home, Stay Healthy restrictions are more likely to bring more people into close contact and the number of COVID-19 cases has plateaued, King County health officials say.

Right off the bat, let’s talk about the some of the vagueness of this directive. Who determines when a person is likely to have person-to-person contact? What constitutes a crowded outdoor space – is there a density we’re going to put on this? How does one eat food in a restaurant with a facemask on? How are we enforcing this? Arresting parents in front of their children like in New York?

And even though Pierce and Snohomish counties are still only strongly recommending — not requiring — the use of face coverings, residents throughout the Sound Region should voluntarily do so whenever they may come in contact with others.

I agree. It helps That’s what liberty and voluntarism is all about. It’s likely a big reason why countries like South Korea and Japan – where mask-wearing is engrained into their culture – were hit far less potently than we were in the United States (even though there was no specific government directive saying to do so).

Note - this is why it was absurd of the World Health Organization to insist that masks would not prevent the spread of the disease (linked article is from March 30, not exactly ancient history).

Cloth masks may not be perfect, but they do reduce the danger of transmitting coronavirus. They also have the benefit of being readily available — a homemade mask, scarf or bandanna will work in a pinch. N-95 masks still should be preserved for health workers.

By work-in-a-pinch, do you mean avoid arrest? Because, I agree, a facemask is substantially better than nothing as far as spreading disease, but your entering premise into this article was that everyone needs to “do their part” and a scarf isn’t going to do the job quite like that N95 mask I robbed from the hospital in the picture above (kidding, it was left over from wildfire season).

Many people already make regular practice of this common-sense precaution.

Oh ok, kinda sounds like a government directive might be unnecessary then.

Last week’s announcement makes it mandatory in King County as of Monday. The directive does not apply to children age 2 and younger, or to people with certain disabilities or medical conditions that would make mask-wearing difficult or unwise.

So, all anybody has to do to get out of punishment of this loosely defined arbitrary directive is to say they have a “certain disability or medical condition.” Due to HIPAA, I don’t believe they can be asked for proof of that condition. So either we have a meaningless, toothless law or King County is admitting a willingness to violate legal privacy provisions in addition to every other right that we the people have been forced to abdicate.

Officials said police would not enforce the directive and warned people not to discriminate against or make assumptions about anyone they see in public without a mask. That does not lessen the obligation to comply with the directive for those who are able to do so.

“We are at a precarious moment in our battle against this virus,” as King County Executive Dow Constantine said in announcing the change. Simply put, it’s the responsible thing to do.

To help, Seattle has vowed to distribute 45,000 free cloth face coverings to people experiencing homelessness, low-income seniors, food-bank staff and other vulnerable communities. This is a worthy investment of public funds.

You misspelled “stolen taxpayer” (I cringe at the word “investment” when referring to government spending). But hey, there is might be the least bad thing the government could spend rapidly depreciating currency on.

State health officials had confirmed 17,512 cases and 975 deaths from COVID-19 as of Wednesday. New diagnoses and deaths continue to be a daily occurrence. Social distancing has been working to slow the spread, but it is estimated that only a fraction of the population has been exposed.

Washington is by no means out of danger. Cloth masks help reduce the risk and are a visual symbol of a communal commitment to public health.

Government-mandated dress codes meant to signify a communal commitment towards the public good. That certainly doesn’t have any dark historical implications, right?