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Reblogged:'Fence vs. Mosquito' Discredits the Right

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A recent article by Michael Fumento contains a nearly perfect specimen from the wild of an asinine anti-mask argument I keep hearing made mainly by conservatives:

Still, it is important that people are so cowed that they believe they should lie to anonymous pollsters and engage in virtue signaling (whether at Tom Cruise decibel level or lower) and theater. And we know that even now the media and public health community are actually ramping up their efforts, insisting on first two masks and then three masks, then four layers of masks. Which would mean that if both the sender and receiver followed protocol, there would be eight layers of masks. Where does it stop? Even razor manufacturers quit at five blades. And never mind that none of these masks can stop aerosolized virus that are so tiny it would be like slapping one chain link fence atop another to keep out a mosquito. [bold added]
Image by coyot, via Pixabay, license.
I am pro-mask, but anti-mask mandate. The above argument, in particular the part I bolded, (1) fails against mandates because it doesn't address the proper role of government, and (2) fails against masks (which are a lazy proxy for mask mandates).

The attempt to "debunk" masks as it were, fails because the main way this disease spreads outside of hospital settings and other situations where aerosolized viruses can pose a significant transmission threat is by larger droplets, against which masks and keeping distance from others can be quite effective. As poor as reporting on the pandemic has been, it was not exactly hard for me to learn this last year, when both the pandemic itself and our government's insane response to it were looking like they were going to be huge problems for an indefinite time.

Despite the fact that there were no scientific studies with conclusive results one way or the other on how effective masks could be against Covid transmission at the time, there was ample reason to believe that wearing a mask afforded some level of protection against catching the disease in public.

It is also easy to find clear explanations of how masks are supposed to work, such as at the Covid-Explained site. The fact that the government gave inconsistent and shifting guidance on the matter has nothing to do with the question of whether they work or how -- or why one should or should not wear one. The latter depends not just on the scientific evidence (which one owes to oneself to weigh in the absence of conclusive studies), one's risk calculations, any legitimate government guidelines, and the wishes of property owners, such as grocers, restaurateurs, and amusement park operators.

It is interesting to consider why some people who should know better -- such as Fumento -- keep up with this silly fence-vs.-mosquito argument against face masks, refuse to wear them, and constantly whine about other people wearing them.

These things, depending on who is doing them, look most like a disguise for a lack of pro-freedom arguments against the onslaught of tyrannical measures (including mask mandates) coming from the left, blind rebellion, and virtue-signaling/marking tribal membership.

At its best, the "fence-vs.-mosquito" argument is mistaken. At its worst, it can be just as vapid as the virtue signaling by leftists who wear masks alone at podiums or in empty fields or while driving alone. As virtue-signaling, both ignore what masks are for and how they are supposed to work, and attempt to score political and pseudo-self-esteem points by substituting a ritual for thought and intentional action. And both very oddly are attempts to misuse facts or "science" to make an inappropriate point about the branch of philosophy known as politics.

Anyone who values his own health would be very odd to base his decision about mask-wearing on anything but a solid understanding of what a mask is supposed to do and how vs. his best assessment of risk. And anyone who values his freedom would likewise spend his time better understanding what government is for and how it is supposed to work, rather than grasp at straws to debunk a common-sense measure the left should never have gotten away with coopting as a badge of support for tyranny.

-- CAV

P.S. The subject of aesrosol transmission has been a great source of annoyance to me throughout the pandemic. Just as much as the right has tried to use it to "debunk" masks, the left has tried to use it to panic people into assuming the coronavirus spreads like the measles, which it clearly does not, and so to "justify" lockdowns.

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