Unjustified moral judgments about masking up

A columnist for the Washington Post said recently that we are unmoved by death, and uses people not wearing masks as an example. And this is the problem: If someone makes a different choice than you do, they must be morally deficient. It cannot possibly be they have made a different risk calculation or that they disagree with you about the effectiveness of masks. No, they are just moral reprobates.

Perhaps the reason people are not wearing a mask at an outdoor gathering is because they know transmission of COVID-19 outside is very unlikely. Perhaps their age and health factored into their decisions. Maybe some of them have been vaccinated, so they know they are at even lower risk of catching and spreading the disease than they otherwise would be. But no, disagreement is not allowed. Anyone who does not follow what you demand is either a murderer or recklessly indifferent to the death and suffering of others.

As I have said many times: I support the statewide mask mandate. I support the right of private property owners to require masks in their establishments. I was wearing a mask before it was required to do so, either by store policy or by government mandate. I do think people should follow the law and respect property owners wishes. I think it would be good for people to wear masks regardless of mandates.

But if someone disagrees with me, I do not think they “do not care” about death or that they are willing to recklessly risk other people’s lives. I can think someone is wrong without thinking he or she is evil. One of the worst things about this pandemic is how it has transformed disagreement over pandemic mitigation policy into anger, rage, resentment, paranoia and literal hatred for our neighbors. Tolerance for disagreement is lower than ever, as people treat COVID-19 as a religion and departure from their personal coronavirus theology as heresy and witchcraft. It is very sad and terrible for the country. Chill out, already!