Is the “maskgate” scandal created by Lincoln County officials indicative of a mass misinformation campaign, or just plain dumb?
Editor’s Note: The original editorial responding to the decision of Lincoln County Council to exclude people of color from a facial mask mandate has been updated to reflect the Council’s decision to rescind the stipulation.
In the thousands of micro news-cycles before activists parading through the streets of Seattle superficially succeeded from the US and founded the CHAZ/CHOP commune demilitarized zone, the sometimes passionate and predominately savage debate quickly deviated from social justice to public health. The collection of suburban “Karens” in a uniform chorus of dissenting off tune guttural nagging, switched the rally cry from “Black Lives Matter”, to a public service style rant scolding the protestors for not wearing masks or practicing social distancing. While the sensible group of American citizens armed with popcorn watched the ideological storm brew, the major social media syndicates nearly drained the entire power grid, as the amount of server space required for basic operations crossed into the critical stage of rivaling the bandwidth capacity capable of hosting Ellen Degeneres’s vast ego.
At some point, the minuscule proportion of rational hipsters vehemently engaged in social networking warfare came to the realization that basic principles of physics, also apply to the exchange of information, and attempting to perpetuate a duality in merging causes is impossible. For the sake of logic, a pontificating keyboard warrior cannot honestly endorse donning masks, thus acknowledging the existence of a pandemic and pinning responsibility to conform or else, while supporting a countercultural movement in a public space, where the participants are egregiously engaged in risky actions not following the recommendations of health officials. The reactionaries have effectively walled themselves into the corner of an intellectually disingenuous argument. Public health and public protests cannot both be prioritized, because the concepts are intertwined. It is either one, or the other. So is this about politics, or a plague?
Adding gasoline to the raging bonfire of discontent sweeping through the urban corridors of Seattle’s autonomous zone, a county in Oregon further convoluted, or maybe clarified, the insufferable narrative furnished by extremist politics. Officials in Lincoln County, Oregon, which covers a portion of the state’s central coastal region, adopted a mandate that “most” residents should wear a mask in public, however, authorities bumbled and stumbled in attempting to politicize and codify the demands of social justice warriors across the nation. Known for it’s breathtaking coastline where the fishing scene from “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” was filmed, the County ironically will forever be synonymous with a mental institution for originating a crazed narrative furnished by the wonders of bureaucracy.
In a shocking and reckless motion, county leaders specified the mandate to exempt people of color from the mask requirement, and blatantly stated the stipulation and posted it on the County website, only to rescind the specification over pressure from all sides. (The original document is posted here in PDF format.)
Listed under “exceptions” and emphasized by a bullet point was the following clarification on the county’s website excusing POC from the mask requirement:
“People of color who have heightened concerns about racial profiling and harassment due to wearing face coverings in public.”
This declaration was removed electronically on June 25th.
Screenshot from the original Lincoln County (6-16-2020) mandate pertaining to mask wearing policy.
While the county had a change of heart as a result of tremendous backlash, the original mandate is a shimmering display of just how warped the optics have become surrounding the conversation of race and policy. In a show of brazenly unsustainable policy marking a fruitless attempt at apologizing in forwarding affirmative action to resolve fallacious guilt, the leadership in Lincoln County shares the cold and hard precipice of an implausible corner with the self-inflicted nonsensical paradoxical rhetoric generated by the legions of social media radicals. The caveat to the reckless actions of elected offcials, is that the entire mandate is made illegal by the inclusion of the statement, a resounding violation of civil rights.
Fortunately for members of the Council, they narrowly avoided a staunch courtroom battle with the 11th hour desperation move in an attempt to alleviate possible multifaceted damages.
Armed with resources, data, and a dedicated staff, how do the decision makers in a county government justify putting residents at risk for the sake of politics amid an alleged public health crises? If Covid-19 is such a grave concern to elected officials, who share the duty of holding the collective safety and well-being of constituents at the highest level of importance, why is there an absence of consistency in applying a preventative measure to the entire Lincoln County populace? Is it simply a numbers game, as according to the 2010 census, 87.7% of the county identifies as white?
For those who buy into the opinion that masking is vital to “flatten the curve”, giving minorities or any demographic the latitude to opt out in the universal effort to contain a virus defies the entire definition of reason. Focusing on the feelings of a tiny demographic of individuals would certainly not underhand the priority of a basic health standards. Veteran public servants simply would not make the fatal mistake of putting residents directly in harm’s way, as the possible ramifications would include at the very least, jail time. It just doesn’t make sense, unless something nefarious and nuanced is at play.
The brass of Lincoln County temporarily put their collective civil careers on a trajectory fateful trajectory, as flirting with violating the Constitution, while heedlessly and ungraciously policizing an apparent public health crises, is simply a microcosm to the ongoing chess match of epic proportions. As a compartment of the nation jostles with the intricacies of either/or, the remaining majority awaits a hopeful conclusion to the impending madness.
Idealism and legalism are not soluble, and thankfully the courts provide a time-tested respite from the impetuousness stemming from visceral information overload.
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