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Don’t Tread on Me! Navigating Among the Politically Unmasked

Third Eye Blind founder, singer and songwriter Stephan Jenkins has interests that goes beyond music. He will be sharing his viewpoints on a variety of issues on SPIN. Today, as a new wave of COVID-19 sweeps America, he takes on those who refuse masks in public:

Are you crying out to be liberated from the tyranny of wearing a mask in public and politely staying the fuck away from me at the market?

Of course not. Like the rest of us, you’re tucked into your bandana trying to dodge those bastards.

Recently, Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered wearing masks in public as NYC opens this month. More cities will follow suit. This, along with the swill, promulgated from the top that public mask-wearing is PC weakness, suggests encounters with the aggressively unmasked increase as we all venture back into public space.

Recently when I did a kitchen quarantine series on Instagram Live, I was trolled with a comment “fuck masks.”

There is scads of evidence that wearing masks decreases COVID-19 transmission. Lotta good that whole sharing-facts-thing will do with people who take their cues from a malicious, lying, imbecile (no need to say his name).

Reducing the transmission of SARS-CoV-2

I was recently out marching with 30,000 of my neighbors in the Mission District of San Francisco at a protest. Everyone was masked on their own volition, which makes sense because the whole purpose of this is about looking out for each other. Masks are just part of it. This is for dealing with those other types.

How do we survive people, who with zeal, see it as their right to get up in your critical distance without a mask during an airborne pandemic?

First, it helps to know you’re right. You are.

On Feb. 20, 1905, the Supreme Court said, “upon the principle of self-defense, of paramount necessity, a community has the right to protect itself against an epidemic of disease which threatens the safety of its members.”

What kind of hippie shit is that you might ask? Well, it’s enough for states to impose health-based quarantines and for individuals like you to insist on the social contract of social distance and face masks.

Don’t Tread on Me! Navigating Among the Politically Unmasked

Second, you should know who you’re dealing with.

Like everything else he touches, this president has made rancid American concepts like rugged individualism: It used to be recognized by staunch self-sufficiency. Now it’s used to project malice.

What you’re dealing with is when the perversion of rugged individualism meets a personality deficiency. It’s hostility over agreeableness, the excitement of conflict over altruism. It’s the pleasure of exploiting vulnerability rather than protecting it. In short, it’s a bully mentality.

Your freedom gets restricted when it infringes on mine, which is the most nerve-racking thing because for these people – an infringement on others is where the satisfaction is.

The reason our grievance loving grotesque in the White House holds onto a 38% approval-floor no matter how our country crumbles, is because, for many of them, politics is not about the common good, or even just tax cuts. It’s about punishing people they don’t like and raining down droplets on the mask-wearing-wimpy-libs gives them the occasion.

It is a futile task to cajole into reasonableness this mindset. I am all for civility and accommodation, but not when it risks infection. So again, how to deal with this type?

Once while riding my bicycle, a car almost clipped me and then beeped and flipped me off for good measure. I caught up with him at the next light. He, of course, rolled up his window. I wrapped on it and said, “Hey, I’m vulnerable out here.  Will you look out for me?” He melted, nodded his head and said through the glass, “Sorry.”  He got to keep his power, and I protected my space, and we were all good. Usually, when you project peace, you get peace back.

But I doubt it will work in this case, so give yourself permission to call bullshit publicly. Bullies back down. Let them know not to confuse your compassion for weakness.

The truth is until we switch out the bully-in-chief, this kind of pettiness will likely trickle down to someone at your bodega.

In the meantime, the burden is on us to look out for each other. We all have to be public health protectors, lest like Trump we become disease vectors. We either hold the line on this virus or we let it through. Combating COVID-19 has been compared to a war. Sadly, the fights may sometimes be with each other. Brace yourselves.