Parental rights and mask mandates

As I have said many times, I have been generally supportive of pandemic mitigation policy. But if you do not think COVID-19 is being exploited to expand government power at the expense of our liberty, you are not paying attention. As an example, see this headline at Politico:

The Dangerous Legal Illusion of ‘Parental Rights’

The body of the article is much more reasonable than the title, but the title was chosen for a reason: It is part of a campaign to undermine parental authority. But parental rights are not a “legal illusion” and they are certainly not “dangerous.” What is actually dangerous is surrendering parental authority to government bureaucrats. We should trust parents before we trust bureaucrats.

Masking children is not as much of an open-and-shut case as some argue. Masks provide some protection, but they need to be worn properly. That is less likely for children than adults. Children are more likely to get their masks wet or dirty. Making children wear masks outside, despite the fact that COVID-19 is mostly transmitted indoors, is excessive. Plus, children who are learning to communicate often need facial expressions, which are muted by masks. This is especially important for children on the autism spectrum.

Furthermore, children are statistically the least at-risk group for COVID-19. Using overheated rhetoric about the danger to children does not help anyone and sows distrust. Children are more at risk for influenza than the novel coronavirus, but no one in the last forty years would have gone along with universal masking for children during a more severe flu season. The argument that parents who oppose a mask mandate are “endangering” their children is not backed up by statistical data and is a backdoor way to strip away parents’ rightful authority. We should closely guard that authority and resit government overreach.

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