Local View: Exercise your right to unmask the masking mayhem


To mask or not to mask, that is the question. Scientists say wear masks while President Donald Trump and many of his ardent supporters do not seem to think it is necessary; they ridicule those who do. A nationwide mandate? No way! In fact, those opposed to masks go further and say it is an abridgement of one’s personal liberty, if not unmanly. Another step toward socialism!

But what is forgotten in all this is that if you are breathing and coughing on someone else, you are abridging someone else’s liberty, if not health.

What is the big deal anyway, as we already observe numerous ordinances, laws, and regulations that abridge our personal freedoms to be able to function as a civil society? We do not issue or encourage death threats or prison time or plot to kidnap a governor because the measures are enforced. Thankfully, the sovereign citizen movement is still a fringe grouping that wants a society without any regulation.

Where to begin?

Minnesota was the first state to ban smoking in airports in 1975. Then, in 2007, smoking was banned in bars and restaurants by a Republican governor. Some people grudgingly accepted it, and non-smoking proponents did not get death threats like some mask advocates are getting now, including Dr. Anthony Fauci.


But even before that, drivers had to start using seat belts in new cars in 1968; today you can get a ticket for not using one. And onerous traffic laws have long been in effect to help prevent speeding, drunk driving, and the dangerous passing of stopped school buses loading and unloading children. Adding to the list of regulations is distracted driving. And we are required to get a license to prove we can drive? And why do we have to drive on the right and obey traffic signals? People still break those rules, but we pretty much accept them without saying our freedoms are threatened.

Goodness, we cannot even urinate and defecate in public as in India, where 500 million — yep, 500 million — people don’t have access to restrooms.

We also accept fishing and hunting seasons and licenses and do not threaten the lives of game wardens who enforce those restrictions. You also need a license to become a doctor or nurse or dentist, or to work in other professional positions. If you run a restaurant, you have to prove it’s healthy. If you are a builder, your buildings must meet code.

Goodness, I did not know that smoke alarms abridged on my freedom.

Where I live, I cannot shoot off a gun or shoot someone I don’t like. In some locales, you are required to register your firearm or get a concealed-weapon permit.

Speaking of weapons, you are required to be checked that you are not carrying any when boarding an airplane. You are even required to show ID to prove who you are.

And the absolute worst of abridgment of personal freedom: the master of a 70,000-ton freighter wishing to enter Duluth’s harbor has to have gone to a maritime academy to obtain a ship master’s license. Can you imagine that? I mean, really, all those wave-running personal watercraft that zip around the massive freighters don’ t have licenses; so why should freighter operators?

Other societies have better figured out how to deal with this whole issue of licenses, regulations, and laws. To wit, in Russia, everything is prohibited, especially those things that are permitted. Meanwhile, in Italy, everything is permitted, especially those things that are prohibited.


John Freivalds of Wayzata, Minnesota, is the author of six books and is the honorary consul of Latvia in Minnesota. His website is He wrote this for the News Tribune.

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John Freivalds

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