I'm just an ordinary citizen that likes to express my opinion on various subjects.
Wearing a Mask Does Not Violate Your Freedom
I have been giving people who don't wear a mask a pass as that is their right to choose. Of course I have no say so, but to avoid confrontations like the one pictured above, I just kept my mouth shut. I figured that just like a woman has the right to choose regarding abortion, why should I care if someone decides not to wear a mask. They claim that it violates their freedom of choice. Ironically, most of those people don't want women to have that same freedom of choice over their bodies.
Then I got to thinking about all of the freedom of choices that were taken away from me in my lifetime because they affected someone else, not just me. Some of these freedoms were taken away because what they did affected other people and not just themselves. These freedoms eventually wound up being put into law, no matter how unfair we may think that they are.
I'm going to discuss four of those freedoms that were taken away and why. I'm sure you can think of more later.
When I was a child cars didn't have seatbelts. According to my research they were first introduced into automobiles in 1956. In 1968 all cars were required to have seatbelts. These were only required to fit across your lap and referred to as lap belts. Later the three point seat belts, which are the ones used today, were built into every car.
At first seatbelts were not required to be worn, but because so many traffic accidents were beginning to result in serious injury and death, in the mid 1980s laws were beginning to be passed requiring occupants in the front seat to wear them. Now a lot of people, including me, felt that this was a violation of my freedom. What does my wearing a seatbelt have to do with saving someone else's life? I should be able to decide if I want to wear one or not. Guess what everyone complained about? Wearing it was uncomfortable.
Well if they make it a law, then I have to abide by the law. After getting two tickets for not wearing a seatbelt I decided it wasn't worth it not to wear one. Later laws in some states were expanded to require every passenger in the car to wear one also. Now no one can ride with me that doesn't want to wear their seatbelt. Either you put it on or you find another way to get where you are going. It's that simple.
The next violation of my freedom was requiring me to carry auto insurance to be able to drive. My research tells me that actually insurance was required in Connecticut as early as 1927. When I first started driving insurance wasn't enforced the way it is today so I didn't even know it was a requirement by law. Police didn't ask for proof of insurance during traffic stops, only if you were involved in an accident.
A lot of people considered themselves good drivers and felt they didn't need to carry insurance. They never considered the fact that someone might hit their car and they would be stuck with a repair bill if the other driver didn't have his vehicle insured. Also it was costly to carry insurance so if you never had an accident, you could get away with not having any insurance.
Then in the late 1970s cars started getting more expensive and also more expensive to repair. People were having accidents and later it was found out that they didn't have insurance and would give officers false information to avoid having to pay for repairing your vehicle. This began to drive up the price for people who did have insurance, so laws requiring drivers to have insurance became stricter.
Nowadays when you purchase a car you are required to have insurance when you leave the lot. If you purchase from a private owner, you must show proof of insurance before you are issued license plates. This is done as a protection for you and for the other drivers on the road. If you want to be able to drive, then you need insurance.
Also, if you had insurance and stop carrying insurance but still own the same car, you will have to pay a penalty for the time you didn't have insurance on that vehicle. This is not a violation of your freedom, it is the law and people still choose not to carry insurance. Therefore, if you have an accident or get stopped for a traffic violation and don't have insurance, you can be fined and your freedom can be taken away. It's your choice.
There was a time when alcohol consumption was not taken as seriously as it is now. People would go out to a bar or friend's house and get drunk and then try to drive home. They usually made it without incident in most cases. In some cases they wound up wrecking their car and damaging property.
Sometimes the police would pull them over and tell them to sober up or call someone to come and get them. They might even take them to jail until they sobered up without charging them. After all, alcohol consumption was legal and as long as no one got hurt, there was no need to make a big fuss about it.
This all changed when MADD was formed in 1980. Mothers Against Drunk Driving started a movement because drunk drivers were killing people without prosecution. In 1988 all of the freedoms of drinking and driving changed. The national drinking age was raised to 21 where in some states it had been as low as 16. Businesses that sold alcohol were now being held liable if they sold to underage customers. Bars were being held liable if they served to someone who appeared to be to impaired to drive. Even people that had guests in their homes were being held liable if they let their guest drive impaired.
Police began issuing field sobriety tests when they pulled over a driver suspected of being impaired. No longer were they just taken in to sleep it off. Instead they were being charged, fined, and sometimes sentenced to jail. Bars were given the authority to confiscate a person's car keys. Stores had to check the identity of anyone buying alcohol, no matter how old they looked. Groups of people going out to party designated one person not to drink or they called Uber. Your freedom to drink and drive was taken away.
This last category is the one most related to the spread of COVID-19. People used to be able to smoke cigarettes anywhere they pleased. At work, in stores, in elevators, in bars and restaurants, and even on airplanes just to name a few. If the mood hit you, you could fire up a cigarette without any regard to the people who didn't smoke around you. All of a sudden it was learned that not only were the smokers dying from lung cancer, but non-smokers were dying from second hand smoke.
Now any place where non-smokers could be affected by people who were smoking had to designate an area just for smokers. Restaurants had separate sections for people who wanted a cigarette after their meal. There was a smoking area or room at some workplaces. It was later found that this still subjected non-smokers to second hand smoke, so a lot of places banned smoking or made you go outside.
This is what led me to write this article because the other day when I came out of Walmart, I walked past the area where the employees were designated to smoke. I was at least 40 yards away from them and I still had my mask on but I caught a huge whiff of cigarette smoke. My first thought was my mask cannot be that effective if I can smell second hand smoke from that distance.
My next thought was if I can smell smoke, what if one of them has COVID-19? I'm well beyond the six foot range so if the wind is blowing right it could carry the virus that far also. Now I am conflicted. Is this mask really working? Well I've been listening closely to the experts and they have always said that the mask prevents the wearer from spreading the disease and a smaller effect of preventing you from catching it. Since these people were not wearing masks to smoke and they were exhaling heavier than normal breathing, I concluded that I probably need to double up or get a better mask.
It also stressed the importance of everyone wearing a mask, especially indoors. Anywhere I go I rarely am there for more than two hours. That's not long compared to the people who are working there. Imagine how they feel when you approach them and you are not wearing a mask.
The Final Analysis
So cigarette smokers have had a lot of their freedoms taken away also. All Americans have had there freedoms taken away at some point to save the lives of their fellow Americans. These are the things I tried to point out in this article.
When HIV hit in 1985 it was an unknown like COVID-19. We avoided people until we learned more about the disease. It also led to laws that held infected people responsible for knowingly transmitting the disease. This is where we are headed if we don't start protecting our fellow humans.
If you are infected or have been around someone that requires you to be quarantined, please quarantine for the full period suggested by the physician. We even know that if you test positive it may take a few days to show symptoms. This disease is on the rise and we are about to be shut in again. We have seen that not everybody will die from it, but no one knows who can handle it or who will die from it. A temporary mandate to get this disease under control is better than being responsible for the death of others. Please wear a mask.
Thomas Blackshear (author) from Greensboro on November 20, 2020:
Thank you Kathy Henderson!
Kathy Henderson from Pa on November 19, 2020:
I love how you use specific examples from past issues. Well done! I was a therapist back when they did not require seat belts in the back of vehicles. Then our hospital received two young sixteen-year-old boys who broke their backs with a permanent disability. They were simply coming home from school. After their tragic accident, they changed the seat belt rules to save lives. How a mask helps is a bit confusing? But if it saves lives, we can do it for the interim. Great article, very thought-provoking.