What do burkas, tichels, yarmulkes, hijabs, kapps, fezzes, dukus, and surgical masks all have in common? Religious cultures mandate or strongly encourage these head coverings to comply with dogma. Although most of these are rooted in ethnic and religious traditions of any denomination to reflect humility before G-d and modesty before man, surgical masks have become the morality trend of the Western world for those who fear The Science before they fear any god.
As absurd as that last sentence may sound, the People of the United States are under siege–a war that is targeting our greatest claim to fame, our pride and joy: our freedom. Our Forefathers determined at the inception of this nation that all men have the inviolate right to life and liberty. Recognizing some freedoms that are indelible to the identity of a human are especially at risk of infringement, the Founders drafted the Bill of Rights to expressly protect freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to peaceably assemble, and freedom to petition the government among other activities.
Yet over the last three years, our government has encroached on these unalienable freedoms in the name of public health and following The Science. The few government officials and bureaucrats sitting in D.C. and Georgia imposed their beliefs on what makes the public healthy on the masses, without regard for dissenting opinions or contrary beliefs. Such factional tyranny is exactly the breach of social contract the Framers aimed to prevent.
After initially telling the country that masks would not work against this virus, Anthony Fauci fell in step, ordering persons be masked and directing both government and non-government actors alike to hold their fellow citizens accountable for failing to mask. A futile exercise in the name of “public health” given research predating the pandemic had already put to bed the idea that masking could prevent respiratory infections. Even following the Cochrane Review’s pandemic masking study showing little-to-no efficacy at masks preventing infection, the Biden administration still tells the People we should be masking.
Beyond inefficacy, recent studies are also researching possible adverse consequences from constant mask-wearing, now termed “Mask-Induced Exhaustion Syndrome.” The illness bears many of the same symptoms as “long covid,” begging the question: are the health risks of long-term masking worth the miniscule efficacy? I digress. Masking mandates began to die down when the CDC lost a legal battle where the court only addressed the agency’s statutory authority to impose such a mandate. The question of whether such mandates are constitutional at all was never reached. Despite the open question in the courts, I firmly believe mask mandates do not pass constitutional muster.
Recalling my extreme parallel of religious head coverings to surgical masks, compare this scenario: one day, the bureaucrats in Washington decide that for public health and decency, everyone must wear a burka. The land would cry, “Foul!” Non-muslim citizens would lose their minds that Sharia law was being imposed on them in violation of their First Amendment right to be free from the establishment of religion! Only the worshippers of the public health fascists would gladly adorn the dress as a testament to their true belief that the burka would save them from illness. I ask you, how is our current masking guidelines any different? Because masking is not a teaching from an institutionalized religion? Is trusting The Science not a form of having faith?
In truth, our courts have held time and time again that government actors cannot infringe on our clothing under both freedom-tenants of religion and speech. Our Constitution contracts our appointed government to respect and defend our human right to liberty, which includes our ability to express ourselves and beliefs through our clothing and appearances. After all, our appearance is all a part of our individual identities. Covering one’s face, one’s physical identity, must be a choice and not a requirement.
Moreover, our individual identities are not just linked to our physical attributes. Nay, our speech is also core to our humanity and identities. Speech is the expression of one’s soul, subjective based upon the speaker’s own perceptions and experiences. How I speak and what I say is part of how others (and I) recognize me as who I am!
Like any painting serves as a window into the artist’s being, so is speech into a person’s mind, heart, and soul. It is as complex as the human body that produces such words and sounds: the speaker’s larynx, vocal chords, pharynx, palate, tongue, teeth, cheeks, lips, and nose are all coordinating in harmony to make what we think in our minds come out of our mouths. Speech is as unique to each individual as a person’s fingerprints or DNA. Muffling a person’s voice, covering the delicate facets producing speech, hiding non-verbal facial cues, and restricting air flow via masks is not natural.
Masking inhibits self-expression. Even prior to physical masking, virtue-signalers touted policing one’s own speech as being “politically correct.” Policing and masking speech is toxic to both individuals and humankind. It evokes the same hesitancy as does domestic abuse–the feeling of “walking on eggshells” for fear your words will trigger and bring you harm. It further causes an identity crisis–a dissociation within oneself, wherein the mind is policing the heart and soul for fear of offending any listener (or observer). Both perpetuate the victimhood complex where one believes she cannot live without fear because others will not do “what they are supposed to do.”
It is true that internal perceptions expressed outwardly are not always correct or palatable. Such is the beauty of allowing one to convey his opinions and beliefs in his own words: the listener can understand the person with whom she is speaking and take the opportunity to debate and educate, correct her own misunderstanding, or completely discredit the speaker of value within her own mind. Speech is not just about speaking, but about hearing and deciding what one believes to be true. Speech of our own and listening to others’ speech helps us understand and develop our own identities.
It is not that constant expletives and hyperboles should become the norm of self-expression through speech. No, language itself is so vastly malleable that it can be morphed to rise to any situation–to connect with one’s listeners. For instance, there are different ages of communication. You would not use the same words with a child as you would with adults, unless your intention is to be misunderstood or completely unintelligible like the unseen adult characters of Charlie Brown. To be understood by your listeners, you must change your speech to be appropriate for the venue and target audience.
How is any of this relevant to the topic of mask mandates eroding freedom? Requiring people to cover the face and bodily member responsible for speaking and being heard and understood is inhumane. It strips children of their ability to learn how to speak, how to use their body to produce sounds and words and sentences, and how to connect those words to facial expressions to add context for listeners. It socially distances people from each other, deteriorating the human connection that allows us to communicate and understand each other.
There is no replacement for that connection. As I discussed in a prior article, humans are a social species. Although we are capable as individuals, we fail to thrive when deprived of interacting with others. During lockdowns, people yearned to visit family, go out to restaurants, to resume “normalcy.” Zoom meetings, video calls, and text messages were not enough to curb the cravings for human connection.
Masking is just another degree of separation from one another. Although it is less obvious than the isolation of quarantines, it is just another lonely reminder that we are not free. Not free to be ourselves, not free to connect, not free from fear, not free to breathe, not free to decide for ourselves what is in our own best interest. Even President Biden joked during a recent press conference that, “they keep telling me… I got to keep wearing [a mask], but don’t tell them I didn’t have it on when I walked in,” defiantly waving his surgical mask away from his face.
Who are “they” to decide what is in any individual’s best interest? Are we children and “they” our parents? Do we lack the mental capacity to think for ourselves? Are we not developed and educated enough to decide what is healthy and what is not? Are our God-given immune systems so defective that we can no longer survive colds? I find it a hard blue pill to swallow that humanity has survived on this planet for hundreds of thousands of years for a coronavirus variant to suddenly confound our natural biological defenses.
Who are “they” at all? “They” are not our duly-elected legislators who oathed to uphold and defend our Constitution and who are the only branch of government who the People gave authority to create laws. In fact, Senator JD Vance (R-OH) is now fighting this usurpation of legislative authority by “them.” On September 7, 2023, he brought to the Senate floor the “Freedom to Breathe” Act, which would prohibit mask mandates. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) objected to the call for unanimous consent, arguing that this legislation would infringe on the health powers of the states.
An interesting and seemingly Constitution-based argument by Senator Markey, but it presupposes masking mandates on the public are a health-related decision at all, which is not supported by scientific evidence, and that such mandates are not otherwise constitutionally prohibited.
Though the People granted health powers to the states, those powers are still limited by the People’s ultimate right to life and liberty, including the free exercise of religion without a state-sanctioned religion (The Science) and free speech without intrusions on the speech-producing orifice or physical identity of the speaker.
Masking restrictions are not a “health power” the state governments are permitted to enforce. Masking mandates are not a public health measure the federal government is permitted to sanction. Both impede life and liberty guaranteed to the People by being human and safeguarded by the People through enforcing our Constitution. As such, the People will not comply.