The beaches are open, go enjoy yourselves! No lifeguards needed!

Rightwing doofuses have a new object of hate: face masks, which symbolize oppression, big government, and, worst of all, being told what to do. Back in March, Fox News rabble rouser Laura Ingraham was insisting that quarantine measures weren't needed, because everyone could just wear surgical masks and get back to work while observing social distancing. But now, she and her pals on the Right have decided that the very idea of social distancing is oppressive, because wearing a mask is what Antifa does, and disease prevention is actually a plot to make you live in fear, which means you can be controlled by big government.

Wednesday, she suggested on her show that widespread mask usage is some sort of plot to scare people.

"The masks, they're kind of a constant reminder," Ingraham said. "You see the mask and you think you're not safe, you are not back to normal — not even close."

The notion that we still have a pandemic that's killing people, and therefore we shouldn't pretend things are normal, appears not to have occurred to her.

The rightwing claim that it's up to individuals to decide whether to wear a mask sounds a lot like the Right's conventional opposition to motorcycle helmet laws or seatbelts: If I decide to do something you think is dangerous, that's fine because I'm the one taking the risk.

In the case of traffic safety, it's already a shitty argument that ignores the healthcare and insurance costs we all pay for such bad decisions. But the CDC recommended in early April that wearing a face covering, in addition to social distancing, could help prevent the spread of the virus. Masks aren't magic, but they can reduce the amount of spit and snot spewing from an asymptomatic person when they sneeze, cough, or scream obscenities in the faces of cops in the state Capitol — for today, let's call it "California."

All of which is the public health argument for masks, but that carries little weight with wingnuts. If they object to measures for their own good, there's no way in hell the government can make them do something to protect others. If people don't want to be infected, let them stay home, unless they work for "a business," in which case they better not stay home! No way are you going to make them give a damn about anyone else's health, that's how Hitler got communism started in Russia and China.

As Will Sommer notes at the Daily Beast, masks as instruments of oppressive control have been a big thing for Rush Limbaugh and other crazies:

"It is clear that the mask is a symbol of fear, and when you see various people suggesting that we may now have masks as part of our public lives for the rest of our lives?" Limbaugh said. "Uh, why?"

For some conservatives, refusing to wear a mask has become just the latest way to thumb their noses at social distancing mandates. Talk radio host Dennis Prager said in a video that he refused to don one — and compared himself to Rosa Parks or dissident Germans in the Nazi era for his defiance.

But he's definitely not like Ann Frank, who was just a dumb teenager who believed people are inherently good. They are not.

The attitude is definitely out there, and is being amplified by organized disinformation efforts.

Needless to say, British rightwing loon Katie Hopkins is all in on the idiocy, too:

And as you'd expect for her brand, plenty of the replies said masks are merely an intermediate step toward mandatory wearing of full burqas in England.

One participant in the astroturfed protests in Michigan readily admitted that he'd be a pretty bad anti-government protester if he wore a mask:

[Protest organizer] Jason Howland defended protesters who refused to wear masks, identifying mask usage as one of the issues they were rallying against.

"If I'm gonna protest somebody, and I do it by the rules that they're laying down on me, I'm going to look pretty stupid by the end of the day," Howland told The Daily Beast.

Heck, wearing a mask would acknowledge that viruses are real, and a potential danger to others. And once you start thinking like that, you might come to believe it's not a good idea to be reopening everything while the numbers of new infections and deaths are still climbing. Certainly can't have any of that.

Unfortunately, this isn't just an abstract online argument about masks as a symbol of oppression. Wingnuts are so angry about the oppression of public health measures that they pressured Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine to withdraw an order to wear masks as stores reopen. Similarly, the city of Stillwater, Oklahoma, decided to end its requirement that people wear masks in newly reopened establishments. The measure went into effect Friday as stores reopened, but within hours, crazy people were already threatening violence if they weren't allowed to endanger others, damn it.

"In the short time beginning on May 1, 2020, that face coverings have been required for entry into stores/restaurants, store employees have been threatened with physical violence and showered with verbal abuse," Stillwater City Manager Norman McNickle said in a statement.

"In addition, there has been one threat of violence using a firearm. This has occurred in three short hours and in the face of clear medical evidence that face coverings helps contain the spread of Covid-19."

The city now says masks are "recommended," but not mandatory.

In Flint, Michigan, a security guard at a Family Dollar store was shot and killed Friday, reportedly because he had tried to keep a customer from coming into the store without a mask. Calvin Munerlyn, 43, was shot in the head and died at a local hospital; police are investigating multiple accounts on social media that the shooter had argued with him after Munerlyn said masks were required. A spokesman for the Michigan State Police, Lt. David Kaiser, said, "We're seeing a lot of these reports on social media, so we're investigating them [...] We'll talk to all the potential witnesses." A GoFundMe in Munerlyn's name has collected over $10,000.

Hey, wasn't the point of "reopening" all about letting people support their families? Maybe only if they're not fascists making you wear a mask.

This is where we remind you that the shooter's motives still haven't been confirmed. But if those reports do turn out to be true, we're certain that the shooter was merely a lone nut, not some ideologue who took literally the idea that public health orders are just like Hitler. There's certainly no reason to think Donald Trump, with his calls to "liberate" states and to uphold the Holy Second Amendment, could have possibly contributed to this.

Heck, only a lone nut — or maybe a snowflake — would take all this stuff about the need to oppose the fascism of public health orders literally.

[Daily Beast / Detroit News / NBC News / CNN / Guardian]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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