Let's Talk About The Asshats Claiming School Mask Mandates Are 'Child Abuse'
With schools either opening or about to open, anti-mask parents have been terrorizing school board meetings and screaming to anyone who will listen that mask mandates are "child abuse." They love calling it child abuse, as if doing so is the only proof they need that they are righteous saints instead of the selfish asses we know them to be.
Earlier today, pediatrician Dr. Scott Hadland tweeted out something that I, at least, have been thinking for a while now — a simple plea for these people to stop calling it "child abuse," noting "We folk who work with children & families know how tragic actual child abuse can be. It has a very real meaning, and this ain't it."
Pulling rank as a pediatrician. You can debate me (using science) about kids wearing masks in school, but don’t cal… https://t.co/9f2vf3yiQB— Scott Hadland, MD (@Scott Hadland, MD)1630328723.0
Naturally, there are a whole lot of anti-maskers in the comments doubling down, getting huffy, and saying "IT IS SO CHILD ABUSE." It seems fair to say that they have very likely never been the victims of child abuse themselves or otherwise encountered actual child abuse, or else they would probably not go to that well. They'd probably take it a little more seriously and wouldn't feel comfortable using it as a rhetorical device in that way.
Alas, since the beginning of this pandemic, anti-maskers have made a habit of taking unbelievably serious things, like the Holocaust or slavery and cynically using them in hopes of making people take their bullshit more seriously or feel badly for them or see them as legitimate victims.
While bad hyperbole is not unique to the Right (I am begging the entire world, please stop the overuse of "grooming," it is not going to end well), this particular strategy tends to come from a very Republican place of victim-envy. Though they don't want to experience what actual victims of abuse or discrimination experience, but they do want the moral authority and clarity they believe a "victim status" bestows on those who have it.
In this particular case, if a parent were to throw a child down the stairs, everyone would agree that the parent is horrible and should have the child taken away from them. Or even if we were to hear about actual psychological abuse, practically anyone's human instinct would be to say "Oh my god, that's awful." But they tell people that their kid has to wear a mask in school and the only people going "Oh my god, the trauma! They're going to be scarred for life!" are the idiots who agree with them.
If something is obviously horrifically bad, it should be easy enough to explain why it is bad without comparing it to a thing that is obviously worse. Once you do that, you have lost your argument (even if you are actually right!) — because what that means is that you haven't even really convinced yourself that you are right. If something is obviously bad, you don't need to compare it to child abuse, to rape, to slavery, to the Holocaust, just like none of those things need to be compared to anything else in order for people to understand that they are bad.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse