Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: Just a Tool

 

“Masks are a tool, useful in the right application. They’ve become a political fetish object for reasons that have nothing to do with their utility.” Prof. Glenn “Instapundit” Reynolds

I never expected to hear this much debate over masks outside of a superhero comic convention. Posts here bounce back and forth between people who wear masks and those who oppose them. Then you have people who are constantly watching for someone to not wear their mask. It’s no longer just a layer of absorbent material worn over the nose and mouth, it is a symbol of fighting against the pandemic — a literal virtue signal.

I think the word “fetish” is well-chosen. While commonly associated with people’s kinks – people deriving sexual interest from non-sexual objects like leather clothing, feet, diapers, uniforms, etc., the older meaning of fetish is related to magical talismans. In essence, medieval peasants looking to touch a saint’s toe, tribal people wearing bone charms, and the modern new-age person into crystals and dreamcatchers are all seeking objects of magical power. It’s not based on a testable proposition (experimental science like biochemistry) or inference to the best explanation (historical science like geology), it is based on belief and magical principles.

A mask is a tool. When used properly, it will reduce the number of viral particles crossing the mask filter material. Even the most virulent anti-mask person would expect their surgeon to wear a surgical mask. Thicker, more tightly woven fabric or fiber is better at stopping infectious material, but is harder to breathe through. An N95 respirator is even more effective when fit to the face. The gold standard for stopping particles is a P100 cartridge respirator, which is used for mold, lead, and asbestos remediation. Those are pricey and need to be fit to the face like a gas mask, while being rough to breathe through. I wear various masks in various circumstances and sometimes I do not wear a mask at all. When I wear the mask, I am not trying to express my devotion to the pandemic response or expecting it to be a Mask of Warding Coronavirus +3. When I don’t wear a mask, I am not trying to repel the Karen legions of Darth Gretchen or blaspheme against the false god of Progressivism. It is just a tool, useful when used properly in some circumstances and not in others.

This is something more general. Hydroxychloroquine has moved from a drug to some kind of totem of your view of Trump. Imagine if aspirin or penicillin was treated the same way, where taking a medication was not just to make you feel better, but a political statement. Guns are tools. It is just as silly to not carry a gun to show your moral superiority as it is to carry a gun to prove you are a real man or as a magical talisman to ward off criminals. When I decided to obtain a gun, I looked into what gun to carry and went with an experienced friend to practice. A gun has no morality. It is not magical. It is only a tool. The same applies to driving a Prius (nicknamed the Pious). The most conservative man I knew in grad school drove a Prius because he liked the gas mileage. It’s a tool to get around, not a sanctuary of worship for mother Earth.

Some things are meant to be symbols — like a cross or a flag. Their whole purpose is to convey a deeper meaning. For other items, we need to remind people that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

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  1. OmegaPaladin Moderator
    OmegaPaladin

    This post was prompted by my birthday gift of some stylish masks from my cute and crafty girlfriend. They may just be tools, but they remind me of her.

    Thank you, my love. I will use these tools and think of you.

    This post is part of the Quote of the Day series, the easiest way to get started writing on Ricochet. (My first main feed post came from here) Check out the July sign up sheet to snatch up a day!

    • #1
    • June 28, 2020, at 2:50 PM PDT
    • 13 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  2. Hoyacon Member

    The Reynolds quote is a good one. Will it be seen as cutting both ways in this discussion over masks?

    • #2
    • June 28, 2020, at 2:53 PM PDT
    • Like
  3. Randy Webster Member

    No one I know wears a mask.

    • #3
    • June 28, 2020, at 2:53 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  4. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    When the use of a tool is made mandatory is it still just a tool?

    • #4
    • June 28, 2020, at 2:55 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  5. Joshua Bissey Coolidge

    OmegaPaladin: Even the most virulent anti-mask person…

    har-dee-har

    • #5
    • June 28, 2020, at 3:25 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  6. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):

    This post was prompted by my birthday gift of some stylish masks from my cute and crafty girlfriend. They may just be tools, but they remind me of her.

    Hey, Happy Birthday!

    • #6
    • June 28, 2020, at 3:46 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  7. Misthiocracy got drunk and Member
    Misthiocracy got drunk and Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Masks are rapidly moving from political fetish to fashion accessory.

    Once again, as it has so many times before, capitalism wins.

    • #7
    • June 28, 2020, at 4:17 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  8. Misthiocracy got drunk and Member
    Misthiocracy got drunk and Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    No one I know wears a mask.

    You sound like Pauline Kael.

    ;-)

    • #8
    • June 28, 2020, at 4:18 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  9. Flicker Coolidge

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    When the use of a tool is made mandatory is it still just a tool?

    A shackle is a tool.

    • #9
    • June 28, 2020, at 4:20 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  10. Arahant Member

    Misthiocracy got drunk and (View Comment):
    Masks are rapidly moving from political fetish to fashion accessory.

    Exactly. My wife is a librarian. Her favorite masks so far have a bookshelf pattern on them. We ordered some from a local museum, too. I got Münch’s The Scream, van Gogh’s Starry Night, and a Modriaan. She got two with flowers. One was by a Dutch Renaissance artist, the other by a French Impressionist. She also got the Mondriaan and The Scream, although she sent The Scream to her sister.

    • #10
    • June 28, 2020, at 4:28 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  11. Arahant Member

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    No one I know wears a mask.

    You know me, don’t you?

    • #11
    • June 28, 2020, at 4:28 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  12. Misthiocracy got drunk and Member
    Misthiocracy got drunk and Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Flicker (View Comment):

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    When the use of a tool is made mandatory is it still just a tool?

    A shackle is a tool.

    Shackles are rarely mandatory, even for convicts.

    • #12
    • June 28, 2020, at 4:31 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  13. Misthiocracy got drunk and Member
    Misthiocracy got drunk and Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    No one I know wears a mask.

    You know me, don’t you?

    Choose your own witty rejoinder:

    a) Well, not in the Biblical sense, I hope.

    b) Can anyone truly know another person?

    • #13
    • June 28, 2020, at 4:34 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  14. Flicker Coolidge

    Misthiocracy got drunk and (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    When the use of a tool is made mandatory is it still just a tool?

    A shackle is a tool.

    Shackles are rarely mandatory, even for convicts.

    You mean they were rarely mandatory.

    • #14
    • June 28, 2020, at 4:51 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  15. Bruce Caward Thatcher
    Bruce Caward Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I wear it, and feel stupid and embarrassed and ashamed.

    Everyone around me is wearing theirs and they seem happy and superior and virtuous.

    One of the worst things about the current racism extravaganza is that it forces everyone to stop thinking all the things they would normally be thinking, and instead consider every next passing moment through the filter of Race. (One of the dumbest, least useful filters.)

    The masks do the same thing. They take every situation where people might encounter each other – grocery store, church, construction site, yacht club, out on a sailboat during a normal race (yes, happened today), and provide a highly visual reminder of what we should all be collectively obsessed by. All of the judgemental-ness – is he taking this as seriously as I am/is he a responsible citizen/is he laughing at my deeply held beliefs/is he an idiot who doesn’t know to cover his nose/he’s not wearing his properly, he MUST be a Trump supporter/and on and on – all these things are now directly at the front of every meeting of anyone in public.

    Actual sickness, or hospitalizations, or deaths, don’t seem to matter anymore. I read the news every day and I haven’t heard any reports that sickness, or hospitalizations, or deaths, are rampant across the land. In fact I hear crickets. The only reports are of the massive uptick in people who have tested positive.

    In other words, increased testing is revealing all of that 99.5% of the population who will test positive, but will not get sick, or at least sick enough to die from it. You know, the ones we all knew where out there. Probably includes you and me. This should be comforting, not alarming – it is exactly what we assumed we would find. All is good – as you were, soldier.

    The only thing that seems to matter now is whether or not you are bending the knee to the mask edicts. In other words, whether or not you are a Good Person. One of Us. One of the proudly cowed.

    • #15
    • June 28, 2020, at 4:58 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  16. OldPhil Coolidge

    sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

    See the source image

    • #16
    • June 28, 2020, at 4:59 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  17. E. Kent Golding Member

    I have to wear a mask at work. I am happy to be at work.

    • #17
    • June 28, 2020, at 5:28 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  18. Susan Quinn Contributor

    OmegaPaladin: I think the word “fetish” is well-chosen. While commonly associated with people’s kinks – people deriving sexual interest from non-sexual objects like leather clothing, feet, diapers, uniforms, etc., the older meaning of fetish is related to magical talismans. In essence, medieval peasants looking to touch a saint’s toe, tribal people wearing bone charms, and the modern new-age person into crystals and dreamcatchers are all seeking objects of magical power. It’s not based on a testable proposition (experimental science like biochemistry) or inference to the best explanation (historical science like geology), it is based on belief and magical principles.

    Excellent point, Omega. I do think that some folks give them a “magical power,” and not even consciously. Very good post.

    • #18
    • June 28, 2020, at 5:52 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  19. cirby Member

    The two things that I noticed with the mask rules:

    1) A lot of people might as well stick a 3×5 note card to their nose. They’ve got big fabric rectangles with lousy fit and a couple of loops to hang the things from their ears.

    2) It really dehumanizes everyone. And I mean everyone. The same grocery store cashiers who would happily say hello and make eye contact with every customer are now muttering something vague, while staring at the contents of your cart.

     

    • #19
    • June 28, 2020, at 7:04 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  20. Weeping Member

    Misthiocracy got drunk and (View Comment):
    Masks are rapidly moving from political fetish to fashion accessory.

    Of course! If I’m going to be stuck wearing a mask, I’d like for it to be a cute one that makes me smile.

    *******************************

     

    Arahant (View Comment):
    My wife is a librarian. Her favorite masks so far have a bookshelf pattern on them.

    Oooh! I’d love to have one like that! I love to read! Any idea where they came from? And what style are they – surgical mask, bandana, pulled-up scarf?

    • #20
    • June 28, 2020, at 7:20 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  21. Buckpasser Member
    Buckpasser Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I am still waiting to hear a reason why people should ever contemplate not wearing masks for their entire lives. If it is necessary to prevent the spread of disease why would we ever go back to not wearing masks? There will never be a vaccine that eliminates Corona virus just like there are 50,000 deaths from the flu each year even with a vaccine. Why should I ever take a mask off?

    • #21
    • June 28, 2020, at 7:40 PM PDT
    • 11 likes
  22. WilliamDean Coolidge

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    When the use of a tool is made mandatory is it still just a tool?

    You’re required to use your headlights after dark.

    No organized football league will let you play without a helmet.

    If you don’t get your kids’ measles vaccinations, you can’t send them to public school.

    Do you consider any of these required tools to be symbols of oppression?

    • #22
    • June 28, 2020, at 7:42 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  23. Bob Wainwright Member

    You know why there have been less than 10 deaths from covid in Hong Kong? Because everyone wears a mask. 

    The irony is that if everyone wore a mask, then the day when we could stop agonizing and complaining about masks would arrive much sooner. 

    • #23
    • June 28, 2020, at 7:51 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  24. Saint Augustine Member

    Bob Wainwright (View Comment):

    You know why there have been less than 10 deaths from covid in Hong Kong? Because everyone wears a mask. 

    On the MTR, and in other crowded public spaces.

    I don’t know why anyone wears them on hiking trails, but some do.

    But many don’t. Karens shouldn’t be telling us we gotta wear masks everywhere outside.

    • #24
    • June 28, 2020, at 8:49 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  25. Randy Webster Member

    Misthiocracy got drunk and (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    No one I know wears a mask.

    You sound like Pauline Kael.

    ;-)

    We aren’t electing anyone.

    • #25
    • June 28, 2020, at 9:12 PM PDT
    • Like
  26. WilliamDean Coolidge

    Buckpasser (View Comment):

    I am still waiting to hear a reason why people should ever contemplate not wearing masks for their entire lives. If it is necessary to prevent the spread of disease why would we ever go back to not wearing masks? There will never be a vaccine that eliminates Corona virus just like there are 50,000 deaths from the flu each year even with a vaccine. Why should I ever take a mask off?

    I think it’s pretty clear at this point in what environments masks should be worn, and when it’s ok to doff them. If you’re alone or at home or out in the open on a nice day, don’t feel obligated. I walk through NYC streets in the nice weather without one, but try to distance myself from others, especially if they’re masked (in Chinatown EVERYONE is masked, and pretty much have been for months. It’s more a mixed bag once I leave that neighborhood), out of politeness more than anything. With the roads as clear as they’ve been there’s always somewhere I can sidestep to. Then I keep a surgical mask in a ziplock baggy in my back pocket in case I want to step inside anywhere. No one’s screamed at me yet. 

    • #26
    • June 28, 2020, at 11:14 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  27. Arahant Member

    Weeping (View Comment):
    Oooh! I’d love to have one like that! I love to read! Any idea where they came from? And what style are they – surgical mask, bandana, pulled-up scarf?

    I’ll have to ask her where she got them when she gets up. They are more surgical style. They have the filter pocket. They also have pleats to shape them around the nose and chin better.

    • #27
    • June 29, 2020, at 3:14 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  28. Arahant Member

    Buckpasser (View Comment):
    Why should I ever take a mask off?

    To eat. To sleep. But when around those germy humans, keep it on.

    • #28
    • June 29, 2020, at 3:15 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  29. Arahant Member

    Weeping (View Comment):
    Oooh! I’d love to have one like that! I love to read! Any idea where they came from? And what style are they – surgical mask, bandana, pulled-up scarf?

    Okay, here’s the link.

    • #29
    • June 29, 2020, at 3:38 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  30. MiMac Thatcher

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    No one I know wears a mask.

    Are you stealing Pauline Kael’s line?
    addendum- just saw misthocracy’s post- he stole my thunder

    • #30
    • June 29, 2020, at 6:01 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
    • This comment has been edited.