The question came up recently among friends about answering the claim that, concerning the wearing of a mask these days, “I have freedom of choice. If I choose to risk getting sick, it’s still my choice.”
My reaction was basic, which I will reveal at the end of this.
Choice is one of those perennial topics that rises and falls with public fashion. We link it to our ideas of liberty the way we link certain colors and seasonal clothing. At least until it really matters, but then we tend to dismiss it as a right and turn it into a species of moral determination that brooks no debate. We have it or we don’t. Period. Mitigating circumstances, point-of-view, necessity—and it is almost always the unaffected decrying the tragedy of permissiveness when someone whose situation is unknown, alien, or unfortunate seeks redress through choice which, all things being equal, most people never have. Or have to exercise.
Making a choice because the outcome is important means weighing options, reviewing evidence, considering multiple factors. It is a matter of consideration, not a reflex, or, worse, playing to a script because it sounds righteous. Denigrating people who have to make choices, who do that work, is done by people who probably have never been faced with a critical issue that requires thought, maybe sacrifice, and the knowledge that what choice is made affects others beside yourself.
I’m being categorical here because listening to and watching some of the protestations over the wearing of masks and seeing them “masked” as a matter of personal choice stirs my blood a bit. I’m sorry, but no, you are not making a choice based on reasoned consideration of viable options. You’re just saying you don’t want to be bothered. It’s too much trouble. It feels funny. It’s inconvenient.
Because all the nonsense about this being a violation of rights is empty posturing. You’re just a selfish jerk who probably doesn’t obey traffic laws very well, either.
And if you add to that the excuse that your current fearless leader has given you permission to be a jerk, then I will add that you’re a moral coward as well.
Because this is on you, as an individual (which is what you’re claiming, after all), defending your right to choose. Offloading the responsibility onto the blind mouthings of that empty suit—well, that’s more of the same, isn’t it?
You just can’t be bothered.
So, no, this isn’t an example of choice in action. This is an abandonment of all the factors that go into making choice a valuable right. If you were actually exercising that right, then you would go somewhere and isolate yourself from human contact until a vaccine is available. That would be the reasoned exercise of the right you’re claiming. Putting others at risk just because you don’t want to be bothered…well, that’s just lazy self-centered blather.
And, yes, since you ask, that’s really how I feel.