Refusing A Mask Doesn't Equal Sainthood Or Bravery
It's been recommended by people much smarter than us -- like doctors, scientist, the guy in the inflatable t-rex suit at the car wash -- that everybody start wearing face coverings while in public spaces. It's even more important to do so when entering a medical facility -- not just to prevent infecting yourself, but to prevent spreading anything to others. Then there's our Vice President, Mike Pence. Yes, the same Pence who thought Mulan was too pro-woman.
Pence visited the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and, despite being offered protective face gear, declined to wear any. The Mayo Clinic even tweeted out a cover-your-ass "we swear we told him" type tweet they've since deleted.
And naturally, Pence was grilled over this decision -- for good reason. As we said, the reason for the face coverings isn't just about protecting you; it's about protecting others too. Pence, needing a better explanation than "it makes me feel like there's a bra on my face and that makes me uncomfortable," decided to do the thing where he invokes Jesus without actually invoking Jesus by name. He claimed it was because, quote, "since I don't have the coronavirus, I thought it'd be a good opportunity for me to be here, to be able to speak to these researchers, these incredible health care personnel, and look them in the eye and say 'thank you.'"
For those of you not up to speed with your Bible stories, that quote might sound like BS, but is 100% a valid answer to the question "What Would Jesus Do?" Jesus would go curing sick people, lepers even, N95 masks and other PPE be damned (also, not invented yet). Where Pence's unspoken logic starts to fall apart is that even literal saints in post-Jesus times don't get the miraculous benefit of not getting sick when exposed to dangerous contagious diseases.
Take, for example, Saint Damien of Molokai. In the late 1800s, Damien was a missionary working among those in the Hawaiian leper colony. His instructions were simple -- just don't touch anybody with leprosy, and you'll probably be fine. What did he do? Touched people. How did Damien die? Leprosy. There's even a David Wenham & Kris Kristofferson movie about it.
Just as upsetting as his ignorance of religious history was his ignorance of American history. As we learned when interviewing 9/11 first responders, there was rampant misuse and non-use of protective face coverings by those working at Ground Zero in New York City. This runs counter to what happened with workers clearing the wreckage at the Pentagon, who were essentially told to wear face masks or GTFO. The results? Thousands of funerals for Ground Zero first responders over the years, and it's only getting worse.
Back in 1918, when the Spanish Flu was breaking out, America was big on masks and even policed it. On an almost-funny note, there was once a group of men attending a boxing match who decided to forgo masks. Law enforcement blew it up (presumably with whatever 1918's version of Photoshop was), and identified the men who weren't wearing masks. This was presumably made possible by, you know, their lack of masks. They were told to make a voluntary-but-not-really charitable donation or get in actual trouble.
What Mike Pence did by refusing to wear a mask was essentially a much higher-stakes version of your buddy who orders the hottest wings on the menu just to prove how tough he is. People are dying here, and what we need right now is a good example to follow, not whatever kind of saintly bravado Pence thinks he's got going on right now. No mask is not a good look right now. But hey, for a guy who thinks condoms aren't effective, are we really that surprised?
Top Image: US Air Force