Ending the Rutherford County Mask Mandate is Dangerous Culture War Nonsense

Mar 04, 2021 at 08:00 am by Brendon Donoho

Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron
Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron shows how to improperly wear a mask.

Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron recently announced that the county's mask mandate would be lifted on March 15, paradoxically urging Rutherford County residents to continue following CDC guidelines despite his ending the mandate to do so.

With all the confidence of a patient who stops taking their antibiotics midway through their treatment because they “feel better,” Ketron cited the improving COVID infection rates across the county and state at large. Thankfully, most schools will continue to impose their mandates, but this won't stop the wave of negative effects which is sure to come from this decision.

One may be tempted to chalk this glaring mistake up to a mixture of ignorance and incompetence, as is often the case with Mayor Ketron. I would argue, however, that we are seeing the closing pages in yet another chapter of cruelty and destruction wrought by the peculiar divorce from reality which the modern Republican Party has undergone.

Of course, all of the evidence shows the efficacy of mask mandates and masks in general. While early reports may have had some trouble assessing the exact necessity, it's been roughly a year now and there is no serious debate on this topic. Whether mandates are well enforced can depend on the region, but repealing the mandate entirely can only make this worse.

Some Republicans contest this, but the argument is a complete waste of time as Republican opposition to masking is not driven by science or logic. It's driven by the same element which drove nearly every major rallying cry of the GOP in the last handful of years, and which sets their particular brand of conspiracy apart from other, apolitical ones: aggrievement.

Everything, from the scientific fact of climate change to the “traditional gender roles” of the Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head dolls to taking any measures at all to protect their neighbors during a national pandemic, is quickly absorbed by the all-consuming and endlessly ridiculous conservative culture war.

While this may not be the stated position of your average GOP voter, the actual party as a whole and the media apparatus surrounding them has learned that, when all attempts to logically justify their beliefs fail, great success can be found in simply convincing their targets that everyone who disagrees with them, including epidemiologists and doctors begging them to protect themselves and others, simply hate their “way of life” and want to “take their freedom away.”

Of course, logic tells us that being forced to wear cloth over your mouth while in a store to protect yourself and others is not a violation of our freedoms any more than being forced to wear a shirt in a store, or a seatbelt to keep us safe.

This is asinine, but it doesn't matter.

It's a vicious cycle. Media companies like Fox News peddle lies to increase their ratings and to empower politicians who's only constant, unchanging goal is cutting the taxes of their rich donors. Even much of the modern day talking points of “freedom” and “liberty” which Republicans are happy to employ to stop mask mandates but somehow forget when voting to strip voting rights from protesters, entered the current lexicon through the “Tea Party.” The movement was vehemently opposed to taxation and, coincidentally, heavily astroturfed by the Koch Brothers and other billionaire donors.

This leads to viewers and voters who demand increasingly absurd lies from their publications and politicians. It has been driven to the point of losing its original purpose, where the elite funders of organizations like Fox News and politicians like Bill Ketron have little material interest in denying the seriousness of this pandemic or halting public safety measures which would help to end it and save countless lives. They cannot, however, afford to disappoint a now rabid base which has been mislead to the point of questioning even the most obvious realities and downplaying their severity.

Having received their reality from misleading content creators through a television or phone screen for this long, even the world that is directly in front of them feels like nothing more than another, aesthetic culture war. Like some kind of game, the goal is to see their team win in whatever fight they've chosen.

As a man recently interviewed by the DNJ put it, “if something is gonna kill me, I'm gonna die sooner or later.” A grown adult actually said that instead of just putting a piece of cloth in front of his face.

Truly remarkable.

And so, Bill Ketron's rabid voter base, his general incompetence as a mayor, and his need for a political “win” as his corruption hearings continue has lead him to make a horrible decision which absolutely everyone, somewhere deep down inside, knows to be horrible.

There is no way of predicting for sure whether this change will cause an unnecessary and damaging spike in the final months of the pandemic, or simply slow the gradual waning of the infection rate unnecessarily. One thing is clear, however:

This decision, and the web of nonsense from which is came, will cost lives.

Sections: Opinion


I find it interesting that experts say wear a mask because...science. But they never offer scientific research that proves wearing cloth over your face is actually effective. It seems Mr. Donnoho merely uses this article to spew his vile hatred of everything conservative. He uses “logic” as though he has all the answers and anyone who disagrees is just ignorant. Unfortunately he misses the big picture that Covid mandates and lockdowns are about control by the elite ruling class. Freedom says you may choose to wear a mask rather than be shamed or ordered to. Thanks Mr. Ketron.
There are over 819,000,000 posts on the internet of why to wear a face mask. In a nutshell they reduce viral transmission, prevent asymptomatic spread, protect you and others from contamination and, as a side benefit, stop transmission of influenza. Your statement that "they never offer scientific research" is not true. What is true is that a politically challeneged county right leaning county mayor is playing to the base. Masks are the cheapest and most effective way to control covid-19. Mask wearing is seen by some as a way to protect their families, themselves and others from the disease. Others see it, as you do, as an assault on freedom and rights. I would imagine if the 500,000 dead could speak, many of them would not see mask wearing as about the "elite ruling class" trying to control them. That 15 mph sign in a school zone is designed for control as well.
The Republican political cadre has demonstrated that they're willing to do anything to cling to what power they have, including pervert the Constitution, thumb their noses at the rule of law, build a culture of cultism through an endless blizzard of lies, propaganda and gaslighting, and sacrificing human lives. In one of the last conversations I had with my father before he died, he told me he was worried about the future of the country. That was when George W. Bush was president. I'm not glad my father is dead, but I am glad he's not alive now to see what we have become.
I expect all the face mask worshippers to wear their mask for the rest of their life. There always have and always will be communicable diseases that you can pick up and take home to kill grandma and grandpa. This crap about China Flu being "special" is bovine scatology. If it saves only one life, it's well worth it, right. And change the name of this thing. M'Boro Socialist would fit. It's not the Voice of the vast majority of Murfreesboro inhabitants.
819,000,000 internet posts on the effectiveness of masks? The statement is as absurd as the made up number. Dr. Fauci originally said masks were not effective and then he said wear three. I agree that 500.000 Covid deaths is horrifying. I also maintain that the thousands who have died from suicide, opioid overdose, and lack of healthcare because of Draconian lockdowns is equally horrifying. Elected leaders and unelected experts use fear to control us while many are unwilling to follow their own strict guidelines. Masks and social distancing are important except during social justice protests and “peaceful” riots. The hypocritical messaging by those in power is just not effective. So I will wear a mask because I choose to even though there are countless studies that show they are not effective. My question is this. Covid is not ever going away. Will the lockdowns? Will we wear masks until we die? Will large gatherings always be illegal? And-will those in power ever relinquish that power? Freedom is at stake.
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