Saturday, May 15, 2021

The Mask Comes Off

As you've no doubt heard, the CDC has issued new guidance that vaccinated persons normally do not need to wear masks. This has generated some predictable, if bizarre, caterwauling that now anyone who is seen wearing a mask can be assumed to "anti-science" or "virtue signaling" or whatever ad hoc buzzword is currently being pushed on Tucker Carlson.

First, clearly, it is a good thing that we're at the point where many of us no longer need masks. This is exciting! Be happy!

Second, there are plenty of people who have still ample good reason to wear masks. Most obviously, not everyone is vaccinated yet! And some people can't get the vaccine at all, or are immuno-suppressed, or have other reasons why they remain at heightened risk. And on the whole, there's absolutely no reason to care if someone wears a mask even if there is no logical rationale for them to do so. Wearing a mask when you don't need one hurts no one. Refusing to wear a mask when you do need one hurts everyone. This is a basic distinction and it is maddening that some don't get it.

For me, while I certainly don't prefer wearing masks, I'm not a toddler, so I have not experienced wearing one as an intolerable burden on my human freedom worthy of a temper tantrum either. What does that mean in practice? Well, my building still for now has a mask-mandate in hallways and common spaces, and I'll follow the rules because I'm not an anarchist. But I just had friends over for the first time in over a year, and none of us wore masks, because we're all vaccinated. Great. 

Meanwhile, I'm hosting a somewhat larger event at the law school next week where I don't know if everyone is vaccinated or not, and the law school asked that we stay masked up except when eating or drinking. Fine by me -- the attendees don't necessarily know if I'm vaccinated and vice versa. And that applies to many public settings -- I know I'm vaccinated, but the restaurant hostess or the store clerk or jogger standing next to me at the intersection doesn't know that, so I'll probably still wear a mask for awhile longer just so they don't have to wonder whether I'm maskless because I'm vaccinated or because I'm a sociopath. Eventually, I'll stop. I'll stop faster if there's a vaccine passport system so people can know I'm vaccinated -- not so I can pat myself on the back, but so they know that they're safer. But either way, so long as you stay within the boundaries of being a good citizen, do what you do.

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