How did face masks become so political?

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Ita Bear

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Hello folks,

The pandemic was like a war fought between people who used masks, and those who didn't. I have tried reading into the mindset of so-called "anti-maskers" but I simply cannot understand how it works. I've read so much conflicting information, from masks work to masks don't work, and the oft-repeated claim that using a face mask means you are an obedient and submissive slave. I'm honestly baffled. What sane person equates a face mask to that of slavery? Were people who wore face masks during the Spanish flu slaves? Are people who work with other contagious diseases and use PPE also slaves?

The irony is that it is rather backwards - those who used face masks tended to have more rights and were able to do more. Perhaps hoping to find sense from the insane is a fruitless endeavour, but I would be very interested to learn more about how this silliness came about.

Kind regards,
Ita Bear
 

Birdjaguar

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Hello and welcome to Off topic.

In the US Trump poo pooed the mandated use of masks as a violation of personal bodily freedom. His followers made this a huge cause against the dems. Meanwhile, with their "other hand" they demand government intervention to force women to give birth regardless of circumstances. The GOP has twisted everything into a pathway to "get the libs" and feed the fury that keeps Trump relevant.
 

El_Machinae

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The irony is that it is rather backwards - those who used face masks tended to have more rights and were able to do more.

This might be the part you were missing.
Suppose I told my wife that she would only be allowed to leave the house if she covers her face, because I value her modesty. So, her wearing a veil outside isn't a sign of 'freedom', even though she's more free than my other wife who refuses to. The mere imposition by me on her will be seen as anti-liberty.

There was some early bitterness because the advice on masking shifted and the messaging was definitely bungled. We were both nervous of hoarders AND not confident that the lay public needed masks. We needed PPE at the hospitals

Later on, the messaging shifted such that masks helped protect others, but obviously the science on this isn't easy. But, in order to protect others, we need people to wear masks even when it is uncomfortable. I think this is were all the politics got involved, because no matter how many times I explained "it protects others from you", the anti-maskers in my social circle always saw my masking as a sign of fear of them. There was a very strong set of memetics here that are just confounding.

Because masking is an imperfect tool and because people aren't good at masking, it was always over-regulated and improperly regulated.
 

Angst

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So speaking clearly here.

Masks are technically restrictions of freedom. Same are travel restrictions, testing mandates, etc.

But not all restriction of freedom is bad. We already have a lot of it across the West, most of which people consider natural and practical. Most people understand that traffic lights are generally a good idea (even if they may whinge about certain implementations of them).

Even with totality of freedom, it starts running into each other unless you want to go sheer libertine.

So the question nearly always isn't "do we want freedom" but "while having a lot of freedom, what freedoms should be restricted". But a lot of people can't see the forest for the trees. They live in what they consider a natural state and don't really recognize how restricted their freedoms are (and how much they like their freedoms restricted this way).

If you ever encounter a pundit who always blares about freedom, most of the time they appeal to this lack of understanding of the world, and it's all basically an appeal to "everything's fine you're fine you'll be good don't look outside lest you see the wildfires and pandemics". It's weaponization of people being stupid for the purpose of (ironically) pushing policy to change policy, for the betterment of the wrong people.
 

TheMeInTeam

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Hello and welcome to Off topic.

In the US Trump poo pooed the mandated use of masks as a violation of personal bodily freedom. His followers made this a huge cause against the dems. Meanwhile, with their "other hand" they demand government intervention to force women to give birth regardless of circumstances. The GOP has twisted everything into a pathway to "get the libs" and feed the fury that keeps Trump relevant.
it took exactly 1 post for the problem to be demonstrated in action.

discussion with this kind of biased framing is how it happened, op. talk about opponent's stance in as negative a light as possible. ignore their valid points. address any contradictions or even apparent contradictions. ignore your own contradictions (such as coherency in preference regarding choice). if the "bad guy" said it then it's bad apparently, evidence be ****. welcome to us politics.

The irony is that it is rather backwards - those who used face masks tended to have more rights and were able to do more.
as a consequence of government otherwise restricting said rights. which means they weren't rights. rights are things the government ostensibly can't take away while still functioning as a government. at least in principle.

There was some early bitterness because the advice on masking shifted and the messaging was definitely bungled.
this. plus the assertions about whether the masks were useful were correct on both sides, depending on what type of mask was worn. the error bars for properly fitted surgical masks were really tight and far above the "does nothing" line. the error bars for single-layer cloth masks made it doubtful they did anything other than obey dress code. government policy treated these two types of masks equally in many cases.

But not all restriction of freedom is bad.
very true, though you typically need a justification/basis for restricting it. that justification comes off more hollow/less plausible when gov't policy considers surgical masks and cloth masks equally sufficient. many of the covid measures did not have evidence sufficient to justify that the policy helped more than harmed. many of the measures were useful too though.
 

cardgame

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very true, though you typically need a justification/basis for restricting it. that justification comes off more hollow/less plausible when gov't policy considers surgical masks and cloth masks equally sufficient. many of the covid measures did not have evidence sufficient to justify that the policy helped more than harmed. many of the measures were useful too though.
we had evidence of the efficacy of single layer cloth masks in the very first months when Skorea, an incredibly dense and populated nation right next door to China, wore masks and had less covid than the U.S.A. which didn't.

To the OP, anti-government cultish thinking (and the propagation of such by the pundits who profit off it) is almost the sole the reason for our plague of anti-masking. It's not dissimilar to how many people disliked wearing seatbelts when that was introduced as a law. Chafing over new restrictions is pretty human, except masks had a very large ready-made propaganda empire to spread division over the topic; seatbelts, less so.
 

Senethro

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Don't touch the stove, its hot!

Also haha imagine we had this level of evidence asked for with regards to fuel additives, fertilizers, pesticides, microplastic pollution... We'd be better off but somehow you don't see right wing manufactured drama about it.
 

TheMeInTeam

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we had evidence of the efficacy of single layer cloth masks in the very first months when Skorea, an incredibly dense and populated nation right next door to China, wore masks and had less covid than the U.S.A. which didn't.
no, we didn't. and what i'm saying has borne out in more trials. factors between usa and skorea were not otherwise controlled, obviously. it's like saying florida had a more effective policy than new york by cherry picking when you looked. governments/businesses had reasonable basis to request people wear masks to go in their buildings. treating single layer cloth vs surgical masks the same made that policy into a clown show. note that i am specifically stating "single layer", because per the data, multi layer/tightly woven cloth masks started showing evidence of doing something beneficial. worse than proper surgical masts, but not "close enough to nothing that it might as well not be there" any more.

similarly, we don't have a good handle on excess deaths arising from various governments' covid policies compared against projected lives saved by same policy vs doing nothing. there were always going to be more excess deaths, and was always going to be covid death, regardless of policy. the question is which policy gives best balance to get lowest in these categories. however, governments are acting like all excess deaths can/should be pinned on covid, as if covid forced them to make the exact policy choices they made. a convenient way to dodge blame, if populations buy it.

Also haha imagine we had this level of evidence asked for with regards to fuel additives, fertilizers, pesticides, microplastic pollution... We'd be better off but somehow you don't see right wing manufactured drama about it.
the main distinction with these is that they don't inconvenience general populace in an immediately observable fashion, so they don't become talking points. you better believe there's drama over these things from interest groups though. and i'm sure some regulation/deregulation regarding them finds its way into bills that can be and should be completely unrelated, as people "take care" of each other.
 

Senethro

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the main distinction with these is that they don't inconvenience general populace in an immediately observable fashion, so they don't become talking points. you better believe there's drama over these things from interest groups though. and i'm sure some regulation/deregulation regarding them finds its way into bills that can be and should be completely unrelated, as people "take care" of each other.

Or maybe your concerns are not based upon your attitude to public risks and can be better inferred by taking the data point that you think many of the covid vaccines are gene therapy and drawing a line back from there.
 

TheMeInTeam

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Or maybe your concerns are not based upon your attitude to public risks and can be better inferred by taking the data point that you think many of the covid vaccines are gene therapy and drawing a line back from there.
that "gene therapy" line really seems to have triggered a few folks, lol.

maybe you should choose a different approach to ad hominem so it's less of a clown show rather than posting as if calling something gene therapy somehow inherently implies it's bad or ineffective.

“As mRNA is genetic material, mRNA vaccines can be looked at as a genetic-based therapy, but they are classified as vaccines and are not designed to alter your genes,” said Dr Adam Taylor

??? can it be or can't it be?

what i don't get about this discussion is why there is any taboo about gene therapy as a label. this shouldn't be a charged talking point at all. they are altering mrna to get a response from the body, and it's doing its job. there are dozens of fda approved, non-experimental things which are classified as gene therapy and are well-tested/effective when used as indicated. you can reasonably draw a distinction that the way the moderna/pfizer stuff works is different from other gene therapies, but it is also different from traditional vaccines. regardless, it doesn't imply what you seem to think it does.

though if i'm not mistaken, this thread was about masks, right? and you quoted a post about masks, right? so in a thread, about masks, you quote someone, question their motivations rather than what was posted about the topic, didn't address the topic at all, and made bizarre implications about vaccines/gene therapy...in a thread about masks. sounds like you're...politicizing a factual discussion. almost like your post is part of the problem op describes.
 

Angst

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Don't touch the stove, its hot!

Also haha imagine we had this level of evidence asked for with regards to fuel additives, fertilizers, pesticides, microplastic pollution... We'd be better off but somehow you don't see right wing manufactured drama about it.
normal is natural apparently, either normal that benefits very few or normal that is not suddenly slight inconvenience. imagine the uproar if traffic lights were introduced today

travel restrictions in rural areas i get can be more of an inconvenience, but even then, if testing is free (as it should be), it's +1 hour to a trip, if it's not free or within a reasonable timeframe, the fault lies entirely elsewhere than covid prevention. (spoiler alert: us healthcare is bad.) and you really shouldn't travel with deadly airborne diseases, be that covid or like the actual damn plague
 

Gorbles

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you're...politicizing a factual discussion. almost like your post is part of the problem op describes.
I'd like to point out to the OP that this kind of projection is a classic example of how the topic went as it did.

It was made political by, well, politicians. People like this poster here took up the rhetoric and ran with it, often along ideological lines (see "triggered", etc).
 

Senethro

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that "gene therapy" line really seems to have triggered a few folks, lol.

maybe you should choose a different approach to ad hominem so it's less of a clown show rather than posting as if calling something gene therapy somehow inherently implies it's bad or ineffective.



??? can it be or can't it be?

what i don't get about this discussion is why there is any taboo about gene therapy as a label. this shouldn't be a charged talking point at all. they are altering mrna to get a response from the body, and it's doing its job. there are dozens of fda approved, non-experimental things which are classified as gene therapy and are well-tested/effective when used as indicated. you can reasonably draw a distinction that the way the moderna/pfizer stuff works is different from other gene therapies, but it is also different from traditional vaccines. regardless, it doesn't imply what you seem to think it does.

though if i'm not mistaken, this thread was about masks, right? and you quoted a post about masks, right? so in a thread, about masks, you quote someone, question their motivations rather than what was posted about the topic, didn't address the topic at all, and made bizarre implications about vaccines/gene therapy...in a thread about masks. sounds like you're...politicizing a factual discussion. almost like your post is part of the problem op describes.

You're either misusing terminology with a couple of possible intents, or you're presently throwing sand.

I'm not scared of the phrase "gene therapy". However, I am somewhat perturbed by conspiracy theorists who think vaccine programs are attempts to mass genetic engineer the human population.

If you just happy to say in writing that ain't you, then I'll advise you to not misuse terminology in future and butt out immediately. Just don't even start with with "genetic based" vs "gene". The meanings are not remotely equivalent.
 

amadeus

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It’s not a political issue here in Japan.

I was skeptical at first. I thought, how can a virus that’s the size of nothing be stopped by a piece of paper? Then I saw that, it can to some degree, and I was swayed.

I don’t like them, but I don’t like the coronavirus more, and I like its underlying cause even less.
 

Angst

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It’s not a political issue here in Japan.

I was skeptical at first. I thought, how can a virus that’s the size of nothing be stopped by a piece of paper? Then I saw that, it can to some degree, and I was swayed.

I don’t like them, but I don’t like the coronavirus more, and I like its underlying cause even less.
wasn't it also normal practice for some people before the pandemic to sometimes wear masks when sick?

i remember feeling that was a weird thing to do and then..
 

Farm Boy

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Right right, especially that one that's less cancerous than sunlight and has probably saved human lives through reducing skin cancers along with the pedestrian hand removal of weeds in commercial row crops and reduced diesel powered field passes... but yeah. What are rednecks even for? I chalk up the anti-maskers into about the same camp as the Roundup haters. There are principled, non idiotic, outliers on both sides. But they're a pleasant surprise. I usually like surprises!
 
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