The unmasked man

When you think about it, wearing a mask in these infectious times is the ultimate act of selflessness.

Alas, selflessness is not deemed an American virtue these days.

I think it’s tucked into the Declaration of Independence somewhere: Life, liberty and the freedom to infect my fellow Americans.

That codicil coming right before: Suppress votes, not germs.

Which, when you think about that, is pretty much the ethos of the Party Of Trump.

So it wasn’t surprising to read state Sen. Keith Perry’s condemnation of Alachua County’s face mask mandate in last Sunday’s Sun.

It “sends the wrong message to local business owners that the government can operate their businesses better than they can,” Perry wrote.

Which is also a great argument against restaurant sanitation inspections, fire prevention codes and policing bars to make sure they aren’t serving 17-year-olds.

As Perry assures us, “In the absence of a mandate, businesses can still implement health and safety measures as they see fit and allow the consumer to shop where they are most comfortable.”

Of course, we know from his history that Perry objects to lots of things cities and counties do.

He objects to Gainesville selling electricity. He objects to Alachua County banning gay conversion therapy and buying land that he had his eye on. This coming session he wants to crack down on local occupational licenses.

And let’s not overlook the political propaganda embedded in Perry’s call to liberate Alachua residents from the tyranny of county mask enforcement.

“While not yet as loaded as a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat, the mask is increasingly a visual shorthand for the debate pitting those willing to follow health officials’ guidance and cover their faces against those who feel it violates their freedom or buys into a threat they think is overblown,” reports the Associated Press.

Listen, with an election year unfolding in the face of widespread joblessness and an ever-steeper body count, pretty much the only thing Republicans have left on which to hang their re-election hopes is the party’s time-tested “government is the enemy” rant.

Trump sets the example: He doesn’t like masks, won’t wear one and urges armed protestors to “liberate” their states from the pro-maskers (Democrats).

Not to forget Florida House Speaker Jose Oliva’s recent tweet that “we are past the limit of acceptable government intervention in a free society.”

Olivia asks: “We measure Covid cases but who is measuring the wide spread destruction of people’s personal and financial lives?”

He might have strengthened his case by pointing out that, despite all of this unwarranted government intervention, America still leads the world in COVID-19 deaths.” Except that might lead to uncomfortable questions about why Trump, his party’s standard bearer, sat on his hands for so long while he tried to wish the virus away.

There will inevitably be real casualties in this war of words.

Like the security guard in Michigan who was shot in the head for presuming to enforce face mask compliance in a Family Dollar store. He left a wife and eight children.

“If 80% of a closed population were to don a mask, COVID-19 infection rates would statistically drop to approximately one twelfth the number of infections—compared to a live-virus population in which no one wore masks,” reports Vanity Fair, citing new research.

Maybe. But saving lives at the risk of making America bluer would be a selfless act indeed for Trump and his Freedom To Infect Party.

(Ron Cunningham is former editorial page editor of The Sun. Read his blog at

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