Covid-19 safety measures continue to ease up across the country, and rumor has it that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may soon—as early as Tuesday—issue new guidance on whether vaccinated people still need to wear a face mask outdoors. But that isn’t soon enough for Fox News’s most punchable reactionary, Tucker Carlson. During his titular show Monday night, Carlson went on an extended rant about mask mandates, comparing adherents to those following orders from a North Korean dictator and calling those who follow CDC mask guidelines as mentally ill “zealots and neurotics.”
“If you dare to go on foot from Union Station to the Capitol, for example, in Washington, without wearing a mask, angry Biden voters will snort at you in judgement,” Carlson said. “‘How could you?’ they’re saying, from behind the gauze. How could you? That’s the question we should be asking of them in return. The rest of us should be snorting at them first. They’re the aggressors. It’s our job to brush them back and restore the society we’re born in.”
He continued, urging his viewers to say the following line when they see the “repulsive” sight of someone wearing a mask outdoors: “Would you please take off your mask? Science shows there’s no reason for you to be wearing it. Your mask is making me uncomfortable.”
And yet, this wasn’t his most dramatic diatribe of the night. Carlson eventually compared parents who make their children wear masks at the playground to people who physically abuse their children.
As for forcing children to wear masks outside, that should be illegal. Your response when you see children wearing masks as they play should be no different from your response to seeing someone beat a kid in Walmart. Call the police immediately, contact child protective services. Keep calling until someone arrives. What you’re looking at is abuse, it’s child abuse and you are morally obligated to attempt to prevent it.
If it’s your own children being abused, then act accordingly. Let’s say your kids school emailed you and announced that every day after lunch, your sixth-grader was going to get punched in the face by a teacher. How would you respond to that? That’s precisely how you should respond when they tell you that your kids have to wear masks on the soccer field. That is unacceptable, it is dangerous, and we should act like it because it is. But too few of us have responded like that, we have been shamefully passive in the face of all of this.
The CDC recommends that children over two years old wear masks in public settings. That may change when the majority of Americans have been fully vaccinated or when a covid vaccine is approved for children. But until then, kids are going to wear masks outdoors, and it’s going to suck for them just like it sucks for us, and it’s going to be fine.
Carlson’s mask fatigue obviously isn’t an outlier. While some outdoor scenarios are riskier than others—the chances of getting covid-19 while hiking or lounging on the beach is lower than, say, hanging out in a crowded beer garden for several hours—you’re far more likely to contract covid-19 indoors than out, where viral particles disperse more readily. As summer approaches, an opportunity to forgo a sweaty N95 mask while I walk to the subway sounds positively blissful. But we can all hang tight until people who know a lot more about this shit than we do give us the okay. There’s no need to harass people who dare to wear a mask out in public or compare their adherence to CDC guidelines as child abuse.
But Fox viewers are highly impressionable. It’s only a matter of time before someone is filmed calling the police on some mom who dared to make sure her daughter wore her Disney princess face mask on the monkey bars, all because Tucker Carlson said so.