Your Inability to Do Rational Risk Assessment is Not My Problem

 

I’m losing patience with the irrational. This is just the latest example of dozens I could cite about dealing with those who are incapable and unwilling to let go of their COVID hysteria in a post-vaccine world. It comes from a local mommy listserv about our local library system, which, surprisingly in this deep blue county in already blue Maryland, dropped its mask requirements upon finally reopening, fifteen months after closing its doors.

My son and I were thrilled – THRILLED! – to return to the Silver Spring library this weekend for the first time since March 2020.  While 95% percent of the people in the library were wearing masks (and all of the library staff that I could see), some library patrons were not, including a family with young kids in the children’s section.  We were looking forward to spending time browsing books in-person for the first time in over a year, but even my 11 yr old felt uncomfortable in the library with unmasked adults and kids so we left.

I understand that mask mandates are changing in Montgomery County as more people get vaccinated, but I think masks should still be mandatory in indoor public facilities where children who are too young to be vaccinated and individuals who are immuno-compromised may be present.  I understand there is low risk in a large facility like the Silver Spring library, and we were wearing masks, but with new, more transmissible and possibly more dangerous variants spreading, and no way to verify someone’s vaccination status, it’s a very small thing to ask all people wear a mask while in the library so that all people can use the library.

Unfortunately, we will not be going back to our beloved library if masks are not required of all library patrons.

I welcome others’ thoughts on keeping the mask requirement for all patrons of indoor public facilities so that children and immuno-compromised individuals can also have equal access to those resources.

I’m tempted to respond thusly:

If you are driving to the library, you and your child are assuming more statistical risk than you are walking into a public library in our county at a time when COVID is at all-time lows. You have done significant psychological damage to your child over the course of the last year, that is clear. Your refusal to try to undo that damage is your problem; your refusal to trust the effectiveness of the vaccine you volunteered to receive is your problem, your inabilty and downright refusal to do basic and rational risk assessment is your problem. I will not mask my vaccinated-self or my young children to assuage your irrationality any longer.

But it’s time to have a real conversation, especially in Blue America, about encouraging people to psychologically move on from this pandemic. In any other circumstance before 2020, if someone were to walk around in a face mask, face shield, and gloves in order to go into public (I saw this scene driving by a bus stop last week), someone in that person’s life would sit them down and have a conversation about seeking mental health treatment, as well they should. Especially for the vaccinated, but honestly for everyone, pretty much any voluntary COVID-mitigation steps aren’t just theatre at this point; they indicate a psychological inability to move on from what was already for most Americans a small risk of suffering from a viral infection. It’s a problem that people need to address and deal with in a mental health setting instead of our society continuing to normalize it.

 

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  1. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    I fear that we have a new kind of pandemic: fear. And I see no easy way to overcome/cure/mitigate it either. People don’t think they are irrational; they think they are being smart, wise, to “take precautions.” The future mental health of our country is at great risk.

    • #1
  2. Franz Drumlin Member
    Franz Drumlin
    @FranzDrumlin

    I have a sneaking suspicion that a significant portion of those who control the commanding heights of American life are saying to themselves, “Yes! The Delta variant! Our Rationale for Running Things has a new lease on life! Behold our Power!” If I were a parent I’d hold off on buying new lunchboxes. There’s a good chance your kids will be once again eating their PBJ sandwiches at home this coming ‘school year.’

    • #2
  3. Blondie Thatcher
    Blondie
    @Blondie

    And what about this Delta variant? If it is as horrible as it is supposed to be, explain to me the fact that hospitalizations are way down and most hospitals have closed their COVID ICUs for lack of patients. I decided about a month ago that I’d just as soon these people keep wearing a mask if they’d like. Just lets me know who to avoid when I’m out and about.

    • #3
  4. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    Whoever did it for whatever purpose, it worked.  It’s good for us to see how vulnerable to manipulation we have become.  Now what?

    • #4
  5. Illiniguy Member
    Illiniguy
    @Illiniguy

    Franz Drumlin (View Comment):

    There’s a good chance your kids will be once again eating their PBJ sandwiches at home this coming ‘school year.’

    And what, sir, of all those kids with peanut allergies who would be exposed to your kid’s PBJ? Waving peanut butter around while being maskless will brand your kid for life and probably get him/her expelled anyway.  (snark)

    • #5
  6. Chuck Thatcher
    Chuck
    @Chuckles

    Bethany Mandel: You have done significant psychological damage to your child over the course of the last year, that is clear. Your refusal to try to undo that damage is your problem

    Yes, but it’s also their childrens’ problem.

    • #6
  7. DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) Coolidge
    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!)
    @DonG

    The innumerate are a bane to the numerate.  Hey Karen, your paranoia should not infringe on others.

    • #7
  8. Lilly B Coolidge
    Lilly B
    @LillyB

    Did you respond as quoted above, or at all? I don’t see why you shouldn’t, particularly because it doesn’t seem like opinionated progressives ever hold back from sharing their views in a public forum. 

    On the other hand, I think the “Ruthless” podcasters, Twitter’s Comfortably Smug, Josh Holmes and Michael Duncan, are on to something when they advise all the concerned liberals to keep staying locked down. Keep telling them it’s just too dangerous out there for them, so the rest of us can enjoy life without their nagging. 

    • #8
  9. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    Like all things nowadays.  You will be made to care.

    • #9
  10. Charlotte Member
    Charlotte
    @Charlotte

    Bethany Mandel: your refusal to trust the effectiveness of the vaccine you volunteered to receive is your problem

    This is what flummoxes me every time someone says something about continuing with masks or drowning everything in sanitizer or whatever “just in case”. Why did you get vaccinated? What do you think was achieved by getting vaccinated? If all of the precautions are still necessary, what was the point?

    (For the record, I am vaccinated and was delighted to become so. When we received the all-staff email at work rescinding the mask requirement for vaccinated individuals, I tore mine off, threw it across the room, and yelled YYYESSSSS!!!)

    • #10
  11. Bethany Mandel Editor
    Bethany Mandel
    @bethanymandel

    Lilly B (View Comment):

    Did you respond as quoted above, or at all? I don’t see why you shouldn’t, particularly because it doesn’t seem like opinionated progressives ever hold back from sharing their views in a public forum.

    On the other hand, I think the “Ruthless” podcasters, Twitter’s Comfortably Smug, Josh Holmes and Michael Duncan, are on to something when they advise all the concerned liberals to keep staying locked down. Keep telling them it’s just too dangerous out there for them, so the rest of us can enjoy life without their nagging.

    I haven’t responded, I’m undecided if I want to. It was on a giant parent listserv and now the Karens are organizing to petition the county to make them mandatory again. We just went today to a different branch and were the only people not in masks. 

    • #11
  12. ToryWarWriter Thatcher
    ToryWarWriter
    @ToryWarWriter

    I get my second shot in less than 10 days, but when I do I am going to start hammering people if they give me trouble.  “Are you a science denier?  Do you believe vaccines dont work?  Then why are you wearing a mask?”

    Its time to take the moral high ground away from these cowards.

     

    • #12
  13. Roderic Reagan
    Roderic
    @rhfabian

    Blondie (View Comment):

    And what about this Delta variant? If it is as horrible as it is supposed to be, explain to me the fact that hospitalizations are way down and most hospitals have closed their COVID ICUs for lack of patients. I decided about a month ago that I’d just as soon these people keep wearing a mask if they’d like. Just lets me know who to avoid when I’m out and about.

    The vaccines protect against the Delta variant.  We are not seeing any Delta related spikes in new patient numbers in the US.

    • #13
  14. ToryWarWriter Thatcher
    ToryWarWriter
    @ToryWarWriter

    Roderic (View Comment):

    Blondie (View Comment):

    And what about this Delta variant? If it is as horrible as it is supposed to be, explain to me the fact that hospitalizations are way down and most hospitals have closed their COVID ICUs for lack of patients. I decided about a month ago that I’d just as soon these people keep wearing a mask if they’d like. Just lets me know who to avoid when I’m out and about.

    The vaccines protect against the Delta variant. We are not seeing any Delta related spikes in new patient numbers in the US.

    The Delta variant is being hyped by the media, to encourage more people to get vaccines.  Its a propaganda campaign.  I mentioned this someone last week and was called ‘paranoid’.  I countered with pointing out the government lied for 16 months about the origins of the virus.  Paranoia bah.

    • #14
  15. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Charlotte (View Comment):
    (For the record, I am vaccinated and was delighted to become so. When we received the all-staff email at work rescinding the mask requirement for vaccinated individuals, I tore mine off, threw it across the room, and yelled YYYESSSSS!!!)

    You shouldn’t have been so happy about it.  Now you’re marked for sure.

    • #15
  16. Lilly B Coolidge
    Lilly B
    @LillyB

    Bethany Mandel (View Comment):

    Lilly B (View Comment):

    Did you respond as quoted above, or at all? I don’t see why you shouldn’t, particularly because it doesn’t seem like opinionated progressives ever hold back from sharing their views in a public forum.

    On the other hand, I think the “Ruthless” podcasters, Twitter’s Comfortably Smug, Josh Holmes and Michael Duncan, are on to something when they advise all the concerned liberals to keep staying locked down. Keep telling them it’s just too dangerous out there for them, so the rest of us can enjoy life without their nagging.

    I haven’t responded, I’m undecided if I want to. It was on a giant parent listserv and now the Karens are organizing to petition the county to make them mandatory again. We just went today to a different branch and were the only people not in masks.

    Yes, that’s the problem with the “Ruthless” approach to overly fearful liberals. When they are the overwhelming majority, they can ignore opposing voices and shut everything down anyway. I understand why you wouldn’t respond. There’s such a big divide between your perspective and that mom who wants a mask mandate that it’s hard to bridge on an Internet forum. I wonder if you could invite her for an interview or discussion. 

    • #16
  17. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Blondie (View Comment):

    And what about this Delta variant? If it is as horrible as it is supposed to be, explain to me the fact that hospitalizations are way down and most hospitals have closed their COVID ICUs for lack of patients. I decided about a month ago that I’d just as soon these people keep wearing a mask if they’d like. Just lets me know who to avoid when I’m out and about.

    I’m reminded of something I mentioned last week on a different thread, from character Hank Hill of the animated show “King Of The Hill.”  It went something like, “The good thing about all this tattooing and piercing and stuff, is you can tell someone isn’t right just by looking at them.”

    • #17
  18. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Lilly B (View Comment):

    Bethany Mandel (View Comment):

    Lilly B (View Comment):

    Did you respond as quoted above, or at all? I don’t see why you shouldn’t, particularly because it doesn’t seem like opinionated progressives ever hold back from sharing their views in a public forum.

    On the other hand, I think the “Ruthless” podcasters, Twitter’s Comfortably Smug, Josh Holmes and Michael Duncan, are on to something when they advise all the concerned liberals to keep staying locked down. Keep telling them it’s just too dangerous out there for them, so the rest of us can enjoy life without their nagging.

    I haven’t responded, I’m undecided if I want to. It was on a giant parent listserv and now the Karens are organizing to petition the county to make them mandatory again. We just went today to a different branch and were the only people not in masks.

    Yes, that’s the problem with the “Ruthless” approach to overly fearful liberals. When they are the overwhelming majority, they can ignore opposing voices and shut everything down anyway. I understand why you wouldn’t respond. There’s such a big divide between your perspective and that mom who wants a mask mandate that it’s hard to bridge on an Internet forum. I wonder if you could invite her for an interview or discussion.

    Seems to me it would be a good idea to make it as public and as widespread as possible.  Don’t let them hide, to any degree.

    • #18
  19. Hammer, The (Ryan M) Member
    Hammer, The (Ryan M)
    @RyanM

    I very much agree.  A similar conversation is happening with respect to my kids’ private school, and I really hope it is a conversation we’re allowed to have.

    • #19
  20. Hammer, The (Ryan M) Member
    Hammer, The (Ryan M)
    @RyanM

    Blondie (View Comment):

    And what about this Delta variant? If it is as horrible as it is supposed to be, explain to me the fact that hospitalizations are way down and most hospitals have closed their COVID ICUs for lack of patients. I decided about a month ago that I’d just as soon these people keep wearing a mask if they’d like. Just lets me know who to avoid when I’m out and about.

    If it’s not the delta variant, it will be another, and then another.  For as long as they keep looking for something to keep the fear machine rolling, they will always find it.  Of course, it ceased being about any real danger a very long time ago, now it is justified by the mere existence of the virus, which will always be with us.

    • #20
  21. navyjag Coolidge
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    Even in San Fran about half the people, are virtually all the young ones, tossed the masks.  Others walking their dogs like me smile and say ‘do you still have your mask in your pocket?’ Embarrassed and say yes. 

    • #21
  22. Chuck Thatcher
    Chuck
    @Chuckles

    “Just say no.” 

    • #22
  23. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Three people (out of about 100) wore masks at our church on Sunday. One was a regular visitor who has recently had cancer and a bout of pneumonia, so I understand her self-concern. But she is coming and she is not fussing about everyone else. The other two were child siblings (about 10 years old). Neither their mother nor their aunt wears a mask. The same children were the only masked attendees the previous Sunday. They hang out with the other children, who are unmasked. I assume their mother is a literalist on the “unvaccinated = masked” idea. I think the mother is nuts for masking the children, but as long as she’s not making a big deal of the decisions the rest of us make, I’m not going to make a big deal of it either. 

    • #23
  24. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    From my own blog:

    https://rushbabe49.com/2021/06/24/the-washington-state-health-nazis-can-go-pound-sand/

    Bethany, please publish your response.  It is perfect, and needs to be heard.  Now.

    • #24
  25. EB Thatcher
    EB
    @EB

    I have had the vaccine. The woman who  has been styling my hair (who operates out of her home)  has had the vaccine. Yet last week when I went to get my hair cut, she insisted that I had to wear a mask. I demurred pointing out that we both had been vaccinated.  She said, “But you can still get the virus.”

    I continued to demur, quoting the CDC guidelines and she said, “Businesses can require their customers to wear masks.”

    “Yes,” I said, “but you can’t require me to be your customer.” And I left.  Now I have to find a new hairdresser.

    • #25
  26. Blondie Thatcher
    Blondie
    @Blondie

    EB (View Comment):

    I have had the vaccine. The woman who has been styling my hair (who operates out of her home) has had the vaccine. Yet last week when I went to get my hair cut, she insisted that I had to wear a mask. I demurred pointing out that we both had been vaccinated. She said, “But you can still get the virus.”

    I continued to demur, quoting the CDC guidelines and she said, “Businesses can require their customers to wear masks.”

    “Yes,” I said, “but you can’t require me to be your customer.” And I left. Now I have to find a new hairdresser.

    HAHA! I just got back from my hairdresser and had almost the exact opposite experience. I say almost because she agrees with us about this whole business, but she had a customer (vaccinated) that wore a mask and lectured her on not wearing one. My hairdresser is not vaccinated, but had COVID and was recently tested for antibodies (has them in spades). I told sounds to me like this lady doesn’t think the vaccine works. I mean, what’s the point.

    • #26
  27. Thistle Inactive
    Thistle
    @Thistle

    Lilly B (View Comment):

    Bethany Mandel (View Comment):

    Lilly B (View Comment):

    Did you respond as quoted above, or at all? I don’t see why you shouldn’t, particularly because it doesn’t seem like opinionated progressives ever hold back from sharing their views in a public forum.

    On the other hand, I think the “Ruthless” podcasters, Twitter’s Comfortably Smug, Josh Holmes and Michael Duncan, are on to something when they advise all the concerned liberals to keep staying locked down. Keep telling them it’s just too dangerous out there for them, so the rest of us can enjoy life without their nagging.

    I haven’t responded, I’m undecided if I want to. It was on a giant parent listserv and now the Karens are organizing to petition the county to make them mandatory again. We just went today to a different branch and were the only people not in masks.

    Yes, that’s the problem with the “Ruthless” approach to overly fearful liberals. When they are the overwhelming majority, they can ignore opposing voices and shut everything down anyway. I understand why you wouldn’t respond. There’s such a big divide between your perspective and that mom who wants a mask mandate that it’s hard to bridge on an Internet forum. I wonder if you could invite her for an interview or discussion.

    Agreed–the Internet forum isn’t the place to correct her thinking. She’s a true believer in Big Government and it’s trained her to cower in fear. Sometimes I think people are making bad faith arguments, but she sounds like she’s genuinely terrified–without basis, but she’s in full Mama Bear mode protecting her family from what she falsely believes is an existential threat. Some of it may be the Karen coming out of her, but this simmering and unreasonable fear of risk has been around long before Covid. This article (I know, the Atlantic, but still) demonstrates how parents are motivated by unreasonable fear: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/04/hey-parents-leave-those-kids-alone/358631/

    • #27
  28. KevinStamber Thatcher
    KevinStamber
    @KevinStamber

    I’ve been having to do a lot of the fear firefighting in my household, Bethany. Wife, oldest (17), and I have all gotten one of the vaccines and are past the two week point. Youngest has some risks (asthma) but has been out and about with friends. 

    Much of our fear comes from past issues with our second-born, who had numerous health and immune issues in her short life. While she was with us, many of the precautions we took in the last year were second nature: changing out of work clothes on returning home; the extra large container of hand sanitizer was a normal item in our cart. We did these things because what would be for us a round of the sniffles would be an E.R. visit at best, and an ICU visit at worst for her. But – and this is an important but – we didn’t attempt to make our protocols part of others’ lives. And that’s the difference now. Youngest can wear a mask, but I’ll keep him aware of the futility of it. I had to do that this week, while we were on a university visit for oldest. We stayed overnight at a hotel for the first time post-covid. Youngest was going to help me bring in bottles of water from the car, and went to put on his mask. I had to remind him that the air system for the entire hotel, which he was breathing from without a mask at the time, also fed the lobby. He left it off, as he has in sleepovers with friends. 

    We have indeed, as a culture, completely screwed up the general risk assessment skills of our kids. And we’d better do something about it soon.

    • #28
  29. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    Went to the theater last night.  About 50 people.  Everybody 25 and under was masked.  Everybody older was not.  Go figure.  When did our kids become such wimps?   This stuff would not have happened when I was a teen.  None of us would have put up with it.  Now we all want to whip the other guy to make them do it.  

    • #29
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