Viral video after viral video of mask-holes proudly defending their rights to infect anyone they chose to come close to — as they place their individual freedoms above their responsibilities to society as a whole — can make one lose faith in the essential beneficence of human nature.
A bleak vision of the world as a place of cutthroat savagery devoid of the civilized advancements of cooperative civic behavior emerges as more and more of our fellow citizens are literally unmasked as selfish misanthropes, more concerned about their personal comfort than about preventing the demise of both our economy and our normal daily lifestyle by deferring their own convenience until the virus transmission rate drops to manageable levels as it has in countries with higher compliance with lockdown and mask-wearing regulations.
Today’s dose of depressing behavior emanates from North Carolina, where a woman picking up a takeout food order went on an ugly rant that encapsulates the perplexing politicization of protective face coverings, a public health issue that somehow got wrapped up in the Trump campaign’s re-election bid and, inadvertently, became an instant low-cost test for both morality and IQ.
While it would be easy to write off this woman as a byproduct of the failure of the underfunded American educational system, her interpretation of the freedoms that are guaranteed by the Constitution as unbounded by any responsibilities to others, shows the pernicious influence of the parallel system of information and opinion delivery in this country — the alternative universe of right-wing media that feeds its followers with a doctrine of dumbed-down extremist libertarian rhetoric 24 hours a day.
The only solace one can take after watching this fine example of the deterioration of the intellect of a certain sector of the American public is to realize that at least a portion of these people will actually be infected by COVID-19 and may have to reckon with their stupidity and stubborn self-centeredness when they realize just how reckless they have been.
That eventuality was made clear by the news that a 30-year-old San Antonio man attended a “COVID party” had converted to a believer in the coronavirus’ seriousness on his deathbed, saying to a nurse right before he succumbed to the virus:
‘I think I made a mistake. I thought it was a hoax but it’s not.”
Perhaps such an end can be chalked up to karma, but it would be infinitely preferable if, rather than the Darwinian culling of that portion of the populace too ignorant to practice behaviors that protects both their own health as well as that of others, the government, the media, and social pressure convinced the stubborn individualists among us to do what’s in everyone’s best interest for the good of society as a whole.
In Trump’s America, unfortunately, that hope is a pipe dream so unlikely to be fulfilled in any way as to send one right back to the depression over the state of our nation that the dystopian vision of the future initially inspired.
Our only hope is to fight on and continue to apply the social pressure on those who refuse to sacrifice their own comfort for the good of everyone else by condemning and mocking them at every available opportunity until they get the message that it’s time to change their behavior.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.