COPYRIGHT 2020 DEBRA LITTLEJOHN SHINDER
I voted today. With a naked face. I entered the polling place ready for battle, armed with printouts of the governor’s order exempting voters from the mask mandate and the secretary of state’s election rules. I didn’t need them.
One poll worker offered my husband a mask. He said, “no, thanks.” That was that. Nobody said a word to me. Maybe I still have that lingering cop aura about me that broadcasts “don’t mess with Texas women who carry guns.” Even though I couldn’t carry it at the polling place.
I was sad to see that we were the only free breathers in the building, although we did see another older unmasked lady going in as we were leaving. As I watched the muzzled faces of the rest as they trudged up the sidewalk to enter the place where they would cast their ballots, I felt a little as if I was watching sheep being led to
slaughterthe voting booths.
This post may make some people I like angry and it may make some others uncomfortable, and I apologize in advance for that. In writing it, I’m really trying to work through my thoughts and feelings and I am genuinely trying to come to an understanding as to why people do what they do while verbally advocating something different.
I have quite a few friends whom (I thought) are in agreement with me regarding the uselessness of masks as a means of preventing viral transmission. They quote the (real) science on Facebook; they refer to the many pre-Covid politicization studies that showed little efficacy; they post anti-mask-mandate memes and they “like” or “love” my social media posts and blog posts that express my opinion about the current mask hysteria.
So is it any wonder that I find myself bewildered to see that so many of them are dutifully donning face coverings to go vote — in many cases after publicly declaring their support for the candidates they believe will restore our personal freedoms and do away with the mask orders?
It’s as if their words say one thing, but their actions are saying something else entirely.
Let me clarify that I’m talking here about my fellow Texans. I know the mandates – and the consequences for violating them – vary widely from state to state. I realize that in some places there may be serious repercussions for trying to cast your vote without being masked up. The decision to engage in civil disobedience (refusing to comply with unjust laws as a form of peaceful protest) can be a difficult one. But that’s not what I’m talking about here.
In Texas, Governor Abbott’s mask mandate, GA-29, specifically exempts voters from masking requirements:
The governor’s order also specifically overrides orders issued by county and city officials.
And as if that weren’t enough, the Texas secretary of state’s election advisory also states that “There is no authority under Texas law to require voters to wear face coverings when presenting to vote.”
So why are so many of my friends here in Texas, who profess to know that masks aren’t doing any good (and in fact in some cases are doing harm) — people who have repeatedly said that they hate wearing a mask, some of whom have even said they won’t go on a cruise if masks are required despite the fact that they were avid cruise addicts pre-Covid — putting on the hated symbol of submission when the law specifically says they don’t have to?
Is it because they honestly don’t know their rights? Has the media has done such a great job of brainwashing that many folks think the cops will come and fine them (or worse) if they don’t cover their faces in the voting place? That’s probably the case for a lot of them. I asked one friend who posted “I voted” whether she wore a mask and she said yes, she had to. I asked whether she tried not wearing it and she said it didn’t even occur to her.
it didn’t even occur to her. That is how insidious the indoctrination is. That’s how deeply the propaganda has permeated our society. It doesn’t even occur to most people to question it. It doesn’t even occur to the majority to find out exactly what their rights really are. After all these months of government oppression, they just assume they don’t have any, I guess.
Another good friend, who has done a ton of research into the scientific evidence regarding masks and who’s been extremely opposed to the lockdowns and mask mandates since the beginning, likewise lamented that he “had to wear one” to vote in the county where he lives. He was surprised when I sent him the documentation showing that no, he didn’t — no matter what anyone might have told him.
I’m not blaming them — at all. I think they are just two out of thousands, maybe millions, who are in the same rocky boat. The first friend even made a self-deprecating statement that “I guess I drank some of the Kool-Aid” but actually, it’s more like she had her mouth forcibly held open and the Kool-Aid poured down her throat.
And it seems that very few are immune. Thus the almost universally masking up that I saw at the poll.
Oh, we might be a minority but there are others out there like me, who are aware of their rights and exercised them at various polling places throughout the state. But they, too, generally reported back that they were the only ones there with naked faces, out of dozens of voters. I do wonder how many just don’t know they have a choice.
Is it because they do know, but are doing it to avoid a confrontation? I guess that’s the case with some of them, whom I know have researched and studied the orders just as much as I have. I know they know. But a few have commented that it’s just “not a hill they want to die on.”
I understand that. I really do. It’s a lot easier to just “go along to get along.” Especially when it seems as if the capitulation is harmless enough. The irony is that, at least in my case, there was no confrontation. Everyone I encountered was actually very friendly. I only saw one person (a voter, not a poll worker) give me a look — but it was more surprised than hostile.
Still we’ve all seen or heard about maskless people being verbally attacked or even physically assaulted by vicious crowds in grocery stores and such. Nobody wants to be subjected to that. Putting on the mask may feel like a necessary act of self-protection, not from a virus but from angry self-appointed mask-enforcers.
And every situation is different. The decision to stand up for your rights might be different depending, for example, on whether you have your small children with you. Or it might be based on how hostile the environment is; if you can see that you’re greatly outnumbered and that some of the “maskholes” seem to be on the edge of physical violence, you may decide it’s more prudent to back down. That is and should be your choice.
Is it because they don’t want others to disapprove of them? It’s human nature to want other people to like us, or at least to not dislike us. While there are those who go out of their ways to provoke negative reactions, most of us like to be admired and will settle for being accepted.
Even in the absence of real violence, going maskless among all the “Karens” who in the infinite wisdom of their social media-earned fake medical degrees know for certain that your doing so puts them and the rest of the world at risk of imminent death is asking to be judged — and these people judge harshly and often loudly. It’s not pleasant to be sternly lectured by people who don’t know us or anything about us, even if we don’t really give a flip what they think of us. Why spend our standing-in-the-voting-line time being yelled at when we can avoid that by simply cutting off our oxygen supply for however many minutes it takes to get in and out of the polling place?
Again, this is a personal decision. I’m not going to criticize anyone for choosing to give in to peer pressure on this. After all, “it’s only a mask” and “it’s only for a short time.” But I’ll be honest: it does make me wonder just a little about where they’ll draw the line — whether they’ll draw a line. Because it may not stop there.
Next there may be peer pressure to spy on your neighbors and turn them in for violating orders. There someday may be peer pressure to look the other way when the dissenters are loaded onto the trains to be taken away to the concentration camps. It’s happened before. Can it really happen here? Maybe not. But Germany was a civilized and enlightened society, too, and six million died because so many of their fellow citizens didn’t believe it could happen there, and didn’t want to buck the system that was telling them that everything was okay. And right now in New Zealand, all who test positive for Covid-19 are being forcibly relocated to
concentration oops — quarantine camps.
Is it because they don’t want to make others feel uncomfortable or afraid? Nice people care about other people’s feelings. Never mind that many of those other people don’t care about yours, or about how uncomfortable wearing a mask makes you. While there are bullies who actually enjoy scaring other people, most of us don’t want to cause grandma to cringe and scurry away from us, or make that nervous new mom spend the night lying awake, worrying that we’ve infected her infant with a deadly disease (let’s put aside for a moment that the fatality rate for Covid in babies is almost non-existent. If this year has taught us anything, it’s that fears don’t have to be reasonable to cause extreme distress).
If I had to guess, I’d say this is probably the number one reason that people who know masks are useless and know the law doesn’t mandate them at the polls are wearing them there anyway. Certainly it’s good to accommodate others’ needs when it makes sense to do so. But does it make sense to do so when it infringes on your own needs, comfort, and principles?
And at what point does accommodating become enabling? If you agree government edicts forcing individuals to wear a muzzle are unethical and unconstitutional, but you wear one anyway — particularly in a venue where you are not required by any law or order to do so, what message does that send? I fear that even those who voice opposition to these mandates have accepted — perhaps subconsciously — that this is indeed “the new normal.” It might be new, but it will never, ever be normal to me.
EDIT #1: Freedom has fallen
This morning, as I was wrapping up this blog post, I saw the news that a judicial activist federal judge has taken it upon himself to rule yesterday that Governor Abbott’s mask mandate exception for voters is invalid and that Texans have to wear masks while voting despite that exemption.
I’m glad I voted before this came down. I’m sad for those who may be unable to exercise their right to vote mask-free because of it. I’m frustrated that yet another step has been taken toward total oppression in my formerly free state of Texas.
There is a good reason we have three separate branches of government with different duties, responsibilities and authority. That constitutional order of things has been completely turned on its head here in Texas and elsewhere this year. Now we have both the executive and the judicial branches making laws — which should be the purview of the legislative branch.
We can’t kid ourselves any longer, folks. Freedom has fallen and it can’t get up. Not by itself. It’s going to take more than just one or two of us, here and there, standing up for what we believe in, to get it back on its feet again.
EDIT #2: And the good news is …
Maybe freedom in Texas isn’t down for the count just yet. A couple of hours after I wrote that first edit, this came down the pike:
Texas voters won’t be required to wear masks while voting after appeals court temporarily lets Abbott order stand
Earlier I had said to my husband that surely Abbott should be able to get a temporary order given that there is no time to appeal the ruling before the election. Lo and behold, it happened faster than I expected.
“A requirement that Texans wear face masks when casting ballots during the pandemic lasted less than a day after a federal appeals court halted an order that would have compelled voters to don the coverings.”
And so I’ll end this on that happy note. And now, if you haven’t yet voted, you once again have a decision to make: How will you vote? And I’m not asking which candidates’ names you plan to check off on the ballot.