Editorial: What, real men don’t wear masks?

Walt Mares Photo/Gila Herald: More signs such as this one are appearing in Clifton/Morenci area and other parts of Greenlee County urging people to wear protective face masks to help protect them from the deadly Corona virus. This one is at the north end of Clifton so motorists can see it as they travel from Morenci to Clifton.

Being young does not mean being invincible

Column By Walt Mares

Walt Mares

The idea of being invincible can come with being young, say from teenagers to those in their 30s. Being young can also come with an attitude that there will always be a tomorrow. There will always be a sunrise. 

What, me worry? I plan to live forever, or close to it. I’m tough. I can handle anything.

To such people, it does not seem to matter one whit that there is a potentially deadly virus increasingly spreading across Arizona and the world. That is why Covid-19 is called a global pandemic.

 ‘That don’t matter.  I’m tough. I can handle anything. I’m tougher than any stupid little virus. Heck, you can’t even see it the darn thing.’ 

Remember the Village People song “Macho Man.”

“Macho, macho man

I wanna be a macho man

Macho, macho man

I wanna be a macho man!”

What brings that to mind is that while more and more people are wearing masks when they enter a business, a large percentage of those who do not wear masks are bearded young men. Many are pretty big fellows. 

One has to wonder that if along with the feeling of invulnerability, some of these folks consider wearing protective face masks as being unmanly. Yeah, real men don’t cry and they do not want to be seen wearing something like one of those, silly, sissy face masks. It could be they do not want anything to interfere with their manly, bearded appearance. 

On the other hand, clerks at some stores note that young women, from teens to those in their 20s and 30s are also most likely not to wear masks. 

Perhaps these young people do not keep up with the news that Arizona has become one of the nation’s hot spots for the skyrocketing number of Covid-19 cases. Maybe they do not watch or listen to news broadcasts or just ignore what they see or hear.

Perhaps they believe that all news that isn’t on their Facebook account is “fake.” The fake news is that COVID is like the flu, that face coverings are dangerous and that the virus will just disappear on its own.   Even President Trump now acknowledges that everyone should wear a mask in public — though he seldom follows his own advice.

Early on in the epidemic, it was believed that young people were not as likely as older people to become ill from the virus. That has changed. More and more virus cases among the young are being reported. That could be due to such stupid activities as having “Covid parties.” 

There have been incidents reported across the U.S. that some young folks hold parties to deliberately contract the virus. Participants chip money into a pot and the first person to contract the virus wins all the money.

The act of being deliberately stupid is astounding. 

My youthful days are long behind me. I try not to think of the follies of my youth except for the important ones from which I learned.  For several years I have had a sign on my desk to remind myself of those bygone days. It reads, “I like you. You remind me of when I was young and stupid!”

It’s the law

Locally, some of the young may not be aware that in Greenlee County or in Clifton, the county seat, there are laws mandating that people wear protective masks if they are in a public setting, as in entering a business. If they are aware, they seem to not care what the law says.

Does not wearing a mask make someone a criminal? Local law enforcement, at least the Greenlee County Sheriff’s Office, is not enforcing the regulation. It is a claim made by law enforcement statewide that the mask law is not enforceable. 

That leaves it up to each business to enforce the mask mandate. Doing so is slippery ground. That is why many business owners and managers choose not to enforce it. They do not want to put their employees in a potentially dangerous situation. There have been instances across the U.S. in which employees have been verbally abused, assaulted, and injured when they advise customers entering a store that they must wear masks. 

Walt Mares Photo/Gila Herald

Wow, it seems incredible that some folks can become so angry over something as simple as wearing a mask to protect themselves and others from the virus.  Not only do they become angry but also act out on it. It sounds almost beyond belief but it is true.

Medical experts across America repeatedly warn people that wearing a protective mask is for the public good, especially with the huge spikes in virus cases in so many states. So what sets people off that they become angry, even violent about wearing a mask? At the core of the issue is politics.

The anti-mask folks claim that the requirement is unconstitutional. It is infringing on their personal rights. 

Personal rights? Don’t people have the right to not be exposed to a deadly virus? After all, the whole idea of wearing protective masks is to protect the wearer and others from contracting the virus. 

It all comes down to common sense. The virus is virulent and spreading fast. Because it is so deadly, why not avoid the possibility of some people or their loved ones dying a miserable death?

This virus can be beaten, as has been shown in countries like Italy and Canada. In those countries, masks have not been politicized and nearly everyone wears one. In Canada, it is said that wearing a mask during a pandemic is like wearing a coat in the winter – it’s just what one does. 

Please remember that the next time you walk into a business without a face covering.

Wearing a mask is only common sense. But to quote Will Rogers, it still appears that “common sense ain’t common.”

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