Portland stages a funeral for the death of face masks
Attendees will gather to mourn the end of 'public health'
Today, at 4:30 Pacific Time, a group calling itself Mask Bloc will gather in the courthouse square in Portland, Oregon dressed in black, with masks, to mourn the official end of mask requirements in healthcare settings in Oregon.
Mask Bloc’s tweets are now protected, but the gathering invited protesters to “”Wear funeral black, wear your mask, bring signs” to lament “the end of infection control in OR”. It’s billed as a “funeral” for “public health”.
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The meaning of “public health” in this context, though, merits a moment’s reflection. Portland is, after all, a city whose drug and homelessness problem is well-documented. Overdose deaths were already climbing in 2020, a change attributed to the pandemic. But following the 2021 passing of Ballot Measure 110, with 58.8% support, which decriminalised the use of hard drugs, overdose deaths both in Portland and across Oregon rose by 41%.
This is the kind of change that, on most people’s metric, would constitute a severe public health issue, as would the proliferation of tent encampments throughout the city, along with litter, and rising crime and violence rates — a shift that has driven some long-time residents to sell up and move.
It’s a fairly safe bet that the people holding a ‘funeral’ for the end of mandatory masking in doctor’s appointments don’t view the proliferation of homeless encampments characterised by litter, violence, petty crime and rampant drug abuse as a public health issue. Meanwhile, more recent research has cast doubt on the efficacy of masking full stop as a means of slowing transmission of Covid-19.
It’s a good rule of thumb that obvious inconsistencies tend to reflect unstated moral hierarchies; this, then, makes me curious about the common underlying moral position that legitimates rampant public ill-health in the context of drug use while erupting in obvious outrage at the discontinuation of a ‘public health’ measure whose impact was minimal at best.
My best guess at the common factor is that this apparently inconsistent position reflects an underlying belief that it’s an act of radical love and kindness to demolish every possible way in which people might be said to have an effect on or obligation to one another in a social context.
This explains the fixation on masks: wearing one symbolises a desire to contain one’s own microbial footprint, so it doesn’t accidentally contaminate someone else and thus impinge on their autonomy. For someone with a total metaphysical commitment to autonomy this is a basic ethical duty. I can see why such individuals would be outraged by others’ willingness to embrace an elevated level of involuntary mutual contamination: from this perspective, such willingness looks like a derogation of our individual duty to safeguard others’ freedom from our actions (even from our microbiome).
Conversely, for believers in separateness-as-love, drug abuse and homelessness can’t be read as public health crises. That’s because it follows from this that everyone around us also has skin in the game in which our individual choices are concerned. And it follows from this that safeguarding the social fabric requires some top-down curbs on individual freedom. From the freedom-absolutist’s perspective, even such a low bar as prohibitions on injecting hard drugs on the pavement or defecating in the park are an inexcusable infringement on that freedom.
It’s to the credit of even as institutionally liberal a jurisdiction as Portland that the most potent contemporary symbol of atomisation-as-love – the Covid mask – is now being jettisoned. But we should not expect the pseudo-religious worship of radical separateness to go away any time soon.
My wife was at a doctor’s office the other day that had mandatory masking. She didn’t know, but as she walked down the hall, the receptionist literally got up and ran after her to give her a mask. The same receptionist had to book her in for a follow up appointment to get the results of a blood test. The results (we later learned) showed an immediate need for medication to address a potentially serious condition. The receptionist said it would take two weeks just to look on the calendar and make the booking, and the booking itself might be another two weeks after that. There is no morality that can justify these two contrasting experiences. But they certainly don’t run after you because they care. Can we please stop pretending this is about ‘care’?
Which country/state is this lunacy?
The masks seem to symbolise a security blanket little children carry around, nothing else. My brother-in-law had to go as an outpatient to a hospital at the height of Covid infections. He wore his FFP2 mask to the appointment. After 2 days he showed signs of Covid at home. Before the hospital visit he was isolating himself, so he only could have gotten the Covid virus from there.
I can’t believe that hospital policy still insists, that people should wear masks. Didn’t they wake up when they read the Cochrane report.
Up here in WA state, I’m not holding my breath for hospitals to drop the mandate when the rest of the state does in April. For one thing, Federal pressure from the CDC and Medicare/Medicaid will likely continue the Kabuki theater ad infinitum and ad nauseum. And hospitals (and hospital administrators) always say “How high?” when the Feds say “Jump.”
The worst thing about this continued charade is not being able to see my patients’ faces, nor for them to see mine. A huge amount of communication and cues are nonverbal.
But don’t they just love the thrill exercising authority
Potentially FOUR weeks to deal with a condition that warrants “immediate need for medication?” As an MD, I would be rearranging my schedule to squeeze that patient in. But I’m not in the UK, and wait times in the USA for primary care appointments have gotten ridiculous as well. Which is why I’m very thankful to have found a primary care doc who has a panel practice. It’s well worth the modest additional annual enrollment. Best thing about it is that she doesn’t have to see 30+ patients a day and can sit down and TALK to her patients, like internists and family practice MDs used to. And she dispenses with the mask Kabuki theater as well.
And people wonder why I call these people Branch Covidians
Makes perfectly good sense to me.
Elon Musk also uses this phrase…
“This explains the fixation on masks: wearing one symbolises a desire to contain one’s own microbial footprint, so it doesn’t accidentally contaminate someone else and thus impinge on their autonomy.”
Notwithstanding the efficacy or otherwise of mask-wearing, I very much doubt that is/was the motivation for the vast majority of mask-wearers, which would primarily have been to protect themselves from the germs of others, with the protection of others as a secondary consideration.
The article makes too many other false assumptions for it to cohere. What i did find useful was the further insight (for someone living in the UK) of the depths of degradation that US cities are succumbing to whilst those tasked with keeping inhabitants safe and free from health hazards are simply looking on. This too, in contrast to the draconian measures meted out during the pandemic. It looks (and probably smells) like a breakdown in civilisation.
the motivation for the vast majority of mask-wearers, […] would primarily have been to protect themselves from the germs of others, with the protection of others as a secondary consideration.
I think you have got that one wrong. For one thing it was clear reasonably early that masks were rather better at stopping *outgoing* virus than incoming ones. But mainly the logic was that keeping the virus suppressed required a collective effort. It would only get anywhere if *everybody* cooperated. So you stuck to the rules and wore your masks (even in specific cases where it was less likely to matter), not because your own mask would protect you, but because by doing so you encouraged others to do the same, and hopefully help to protect everyone. And protecting everyone was the best – indeed the only – way of protecting yourself. If you like, the argument against dropping your mask is there same as you might use against your child throwing their fast-food wrappers at the road verge: “Imagine if everybody did it!“.
I think you’re taking a far too objective view of the primal instinct that kicked in during the pandemic, especially the early stages. Whatever the rationale put across by the authorities for mask-wearing, i would politely suggest the underlying motivation by most individuals – even if rationalised differently – was one of survival.
And I think you are missing something important. Now, if you say that the main motivation was not altruism but some kind of self-protection, I can only agree. You can only get so upset about people who decide to put their own health at risk – like driving without a seatbelt. If you say that part of the story is a not fully rational need to be ‘doing something’, whether it helps or not, there is at least something to that. But a really important part of the reaction is surely that people saw it as a common effort to fight a common enemy – the pandemic. That would also explain the very strong feeling from mask-wearers against refuseniks. It is not that they refuse to protect their own health (even if that will put more strain on the hospitals). It is that they are seen as (wantonly) refusing to cooperate, and as openly putting their own comfort and idiosyncratic beliefs ahead of the common good. And indeed as deliberately sabotaging the common effort. This may or may not have been a scientifically correct judgement (before anybody votes me down), but I am pretty sure it was an important motivation.
Which still does not line up with what MH is saying in the article.
Whether it’s right or wrong, this is how many people felt. I myself didn’t care if people wore masks, but I wore one – go along to get along. Looking back, maybe I shouldn’t have.
I did NOT wear the mask – it was weird at first – everyone masked, some projecting an air of strong disapproval. But what is funny, and I know this feeling well because a couple times in my life I lived as a willfull outcast and it was the same then..
No one will look you in the eyes or say anything to you. The occasional security guy may ask you to leave, but other wise people will not catch your eye.
I also got the feel from some they were happy to see one person refusing.
But then I am big and look pretty rough, so that may be a factor.
Agreed. After the first couple of weeks, when we really didn’t know what we were dealing with, I was proud to be the only person with a brain in a bus full of morons.
I also didn’t wear a mask and am a small woman. Nobody seemed to care and recently, on a visit to the doctor’s surgery when the receptionist offered me a mask I simply said “no thanks, I don’t wear a mask” and she didn’t object. At a hospital appointment last week I was the only person in a waiting room unmasked and people looked but nobody said anything. Masks always seemed to me to be a rather sinister ploy by governments to see how far people could be “nudged” into ways of behaving and I’ve never been a conspiracy theorist but was sad how many people were terrified into obedience.
I think you are both correct although I’d add we also did it to not stick out and risk an altercation with someone. Maybe not the best reason but most of us most of the time want a quiet life and the odd inconvenience will be absorbed
But you had a moral duty not to comply
That’s even more offensive.
“We’re all wearing the same silly hat except this guy. He’s not even wearing a hat! He’s ruining everything! I hate him!!”
“We’re all wearing the same silly hat except this guy. He’s not even wearing a hat! He’s ruining everything! I hate him!!”
“We’re all wearing the same silly hat except this guy. He’s not even wearing a hat! Why is he not wearing a hat ? What is his rationale for not wearing a hat ? Does he have a hat I can’t see ? “
Or driving with a mask on.
This was certainly the feeling in Italy for most of 2020 and early 2021.
Not uncommon for people not wearing masks to be hissed at (at least in northern Italy).
I should add that early on there was a heavy overlay of fear as well because of what happened in the hospitals in northern Italy.
This seems right to me. Yet we “banded together” to do something largely if not entirely ineffective, and then stomped our feet when someone suggested as much. Not sure what conclusion to draw from this.
All this ongoing ludicrous moral posturing does not change the fact that this is an airborne virus. When this was discovered it was a game changer. Do you know the size of a virus Rasmus? Masks are not effective …. If you are sick stay at home. If you want to cough or sneeze do not do so into someone’s face. You cannot mask society forever… it is too harmful.
Your knowledge is a bit out of date Lesley.
Masks don’t work like colanders straining spaghetti.
Viable Covid virus particles don’t float around free they are always attached to something (water molecules, mucus protein, blood, saliva, faeces). These particles are larger than 1 micron.Aerosol particles display brownian motion inside and outside masks – random zig zagging, so more likely to bump into a mask fibreMasks carry an electrostatic charge which attracts small particles.Is the evidence for masks being effective in reducing transmission / infection by influenza or Sars Cov 2 rubbish ? You betcha ! but that is because the science that has been done in this area is very poor and generally has not involved environmental engineers who know a lot more about aerosols, airflows etc than your average medic.
One of the problems with our goldilocks virus this time around was that there was some presymptomatic transmission, so just staying at home when you started to cough (which a lot of people in the UK couldn’t afford to do anyway) would not have been enough to curb spread.
The authorities knew at the time that mask wearing was pointless.
The research was already available (but quickly removed) and indeed there was a proposal to withdraw masks in the NHS to save, I think, £19m.
When the Government instructs you do do something which you know is pointless the moral duty is to refuse.
As the song goes, if you tolerate this your children will be next, as indeed we are witnessing
It is. America has been hijacked by the leftists and we are headed for a cliff. I’m boning up on my survival game by watching Survivor and The Walking Dead reruns.
captured by satanists – what they are doing is evil
It’s a breakdown in civilization, but mostly limited to cities run by liberal, woolly-headed Democrats. I used to enjoy visiting Portland, but no more. It’s become a pig-pen.
Not just Portland. Pretty much every big city on the Left Coast is deconstructing.
But we were told to wear them primarily to “protect” others.
Interesting theory, and a good attempt. But surely these people were the ones who were most rampant about demanding restrictions on other people’s freedom during lockdowns? How does that square with some sort of autonomy absolutism?
I think it’s a little naive to ascribe the control freakery of the progressive left to any kind of altruism. Mask Bloc looks to me like yet another expression of the totalitarian impulse.
Absolutely. The socialist desire for state control.
Maskurbation is a filthy habit which makes its degenerate addicts go morally blind.
And if I recall correctly, hair on the palms of the offenders’ hands.
Maskurbation is a filthy habit, mostly indulged in by fascists who call themselves anti-fascists for the purpose of inflicting violence on non-fascists.
It is amazing what harm some people can inflict on others under the guise of “doing them good.”
Youu’ve described socialism succinctly.
I loved revving people up during Coronapobia by wearing a full metal and glass welders mask… it provided me with hours of sport and entertainment!
It is more efficient and elegant to say this is just Blue Team vs Red Team, and the Blues are upset at giving back a tiny piece of the cultural and legal space they have seized in the last few years.
Masks are not being prohibited, only not mandated. They are still free to wear their masks and a facility can require them if it wishes.
This is about controlling other people for no reason other than power. They may tell themselves a different story but that is their revealed position
No one says the obvious truth about the mask die hards: They are ugly.
Bad teeth, bad skin, a honking schnoz. For the first time in their lives the playing field was leveled and conventionally attractive people didn’t have the upper hand, day in and day out. They never want to give that up.
Since I live in the city being discussed, I can clarify that compliance with Covid restrictions has been consistent with loyalty to the Democratic Party. Most people I know believe everything they are told by Democratic media, and do everything the Democratic media tell them to do. Being good boys and girls is very important to them, and wearing masks has been a visible symbol of their perfect adherence to the officially approved morality.
I suspect Mask Bloc PDX is a group of one.
Interesting observation. I’ve often wondered myself if Left’s fondness of seeing drug addicts die on the streets is because of a revolutionary desire to destroy “bourgeoisie” morality (or reality) with the intention of rebuilding things pure (like Stalin’s Russia, or Mao’s Cultural Revolution). Or indeed as I read now on this article perhaps a form of anarchist compassion (separation-as-love) is at play.
The left likes street drug-taking because it’s transgressive and makes them feel edgy and counter-cultural.
I fear that Mary has completely missed the mark on this one.
This is just one more example of my fellow Americans being totally hypocritical. “Liberty” and “Science” can’t hold a candle to senseless fear and political anger.
I suppose that in the UK people might be more reasonable and thoughtful. But I doubt it.
What you’re seeing with the combination of mask mandates and rampant public drug use is the civic and public health authorities of Portland giving their subjects a little Sam Francis-style anarcho-tyranny.
It’s the MANDATE that gives it away, Ms Harrington.
Portland’s autonomous individuals are still free to wear their useless masks, and they will. But it’s the loss of the delightful pleasure of bossing the bourgeois around that they are going to be denied. That’s why they are mourning.
They will now console themselves by smirking at the appalled and disgusted faces of the men and women of their city’s middle class, who have to sidestep the crazies, the needles and the feces.
And they’ll also smirk at the tortuous reasonings of former leftist women like Mary, for whom the advocacy of right wing physical force and harsh social controls to reverse the anarcho-tyrannical left is anathema.
By the look of the twitter feed it was not a well attended event: https://twitter.com/mandatemasksus/status/1638079306097209344?s=20
I had a minor mouth operation by local anaesthetic at our local hospital recently. The foyer had signs about masks, which I ignored, as did many other patients. The receptionists were religiously wearing them, behind their plastic shields, but guess who wasn’t? That’s right – the surgeon. A no nonsense older Geordie who, no doubt, over a pint, would admit that they were always nonsense.
My mouth has healed perfectly and I didn’t catch Covid. As I have had it twice and survived, I wouldn’t have been too bothered if I had.
Public health and drugs.
Well the Portugese have had an interesting take on this since 2000.
The Portuguese Drug Policy Model (PDPM) abolished the distinction between hard and soft drugs and “decriminalized the public and private use, acquisition, and possession of all illegal drugs, as long as they do not exceed the amount required for an average individual’s use for 10 days (Law n. 30/2000, November 29, 2000).”
This moved the drug addiction problem from the public order to the public health domain. Money and effort was put into harm reduction, education of schoolchildren, outpatient treatment units etc.
Initially they saw big reductions in HIV, Hepatitis B and C, incarcerations in prison, usage rates and drug deaths however, these optimistic outcomes have not been entirely sustained over 20 years for all sorts of political and financial reasons as outlined in these 2 good articles :
From a cost benefit point of view I remember one analysis (lost in my deep litter filing system) which indicated that this sort of holistic, health approach, in the long term (20 years +) was a darn sight cheaper than tossing a lot of people into prison and having them repeatedly rotate through the criminal justice system although possibly not as cheap as just leaving them to die on the streets.
the mask is the coronaphobes swastika!
Right. Except they aren’t mourning masks, they are mourning a mask mandate which is indeed much more about top down state control than radical individual liberty.
I needed to go into a medical office this week for a minor check-up. They insisted I wear a mask, so I did, but I wore it over my chin, with mouth and nose uncovered — and nobody said anything. It’s all just theater and make-believe. Stupid virtue-signaling. It’s even more absurd at the dentist’s office …
The headline is wrong. Your article says: “a group calling itself Mask Bloc.” That’s not Portland. This article belongs on Twitter.
They should be holding a funeral for Portland instead. And San Francisco, LA, and Seattle. The far Left has done an incredibly effective job of trashing all of those Left Coast cities.
It’s time to revoke mask mandates outside of hospitals and care homes but my goodness, doesn’t she wax lyrical about a few people lamenting the end of it, and what a cheek to call wanting to wear a mask ‘pseudo religious worship.’ She’s surfing her own rhetoric when she links mask wearing with homelessness, ‘moral hierarchies’ and people crapping in the park. By the way, the recent report casting doubt on mask efficacy is the Cochrane report. It will take you three minutes to find online and fifteen minutes to read. See if you can spot why it’s been panned as a flawed report, it’s not hard.
“following the 2021 passing of Ballot Measure 110 … which decriminalised the use of hard drugs, overdose deaths both in Portland and across Oregon rose by 41%.
This is the kind of change that, on most people’s metric, would constitute a severe public health issue”
If most people would consider that a public health issue, then most people have bought into a perverse definition of public health.
Government should concern itself with communicable diseases and law & order.
Smoking, drinking and consumption of other drugs is primarily a personal health issue.
“Smoking, drinking and consumption of other drugs is primarily a personal health issue.”
Presumably you haven’t yet had the pleasure of a crackhead taking a dump in front of your kids on the way to school.
I thought small kids generally delighted in the awfulness of poo-poo? Aren’t you just superimposing yourself all over their most playful impulses?
I wish people would read before downvoting.
I said the government should concern itself with law & order. A crackhead defecating in the street is committing a law & order violation.
People should be free to ingest whatever substances they like, but those who infringe the rights of others should be removed from society, not allowed to live on the street.
Fair enough, my apologies.
Sounds great, until you ask what happens to minors under your proposed regime. I think myself usual in having smoked my first cigarette in grammar school, and my first booze well before legal age. I’ve encountered a six year old who told me (unprompted) when he was good, he got to smoke a joint with mommy and daddy. Prohibitions help protect the defenseless and the social fabric. Your proposal is in line with Ms Harrington’s analysis of the underlying beliefs of the mask cult.
Sorry, but (very unusually for Mary Harrington) this one does not make sense. Whatever you think about wearing masks, they are a sign of people being *connected*, in that my behaviour influences on (and so should be constrained by) the effect on others. It is the anti-maskers who insist on doing their own thing without being limited by what other people think. The Oregon demonstrators are indeed inconsistent, but I think we need a better analysis of how and why.
They’re mourning the loss of power they once enjoyed by telling others to mask up and morally condemning those that refused.
Masking is people being disconnected, because they can’t see eachother’s faces.
Taking that to its logical conclusion, we should NEVER again walk about in public maskless. How about wearing gloves or hazmat garb to prevent spreading MRSA, or other infections that inhabit our skin? Best yet, just stay indoors if you really love your fellow man.
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