Say what you will about Moscow Mayor Bill Lambert, but you’ve got to admit: The man is decisive.
To defend his city from COVID-19, Lambert canceled not one, but two youth sports tournaments last weekend. More than 100 soccer and baseball teams played on Saturday, but on Sunday, Lambert shut both tourneys down while teams were playing because too many spectators weren’t wearing face masks or keeping their distance from others.
“It’s a very sad thing,” Lambert told the Daily News, “but in my opinion it’s the right thing to do.“We’ve got to protect our citizens, our businesses and our town.”
Let’s take a moment to applaud Mayor Lambert’s gutsy leadership. It wasn’t popular, but it was justified as he put the city’s long-term health before the short-term interests of some coaches, athletes and their parents. (Keep in mind, many of the teams were from out of town, which greatly increases the risk of spreading this new coronavirus.)
Unhappy parents and coaches shouldn’t blame Lambert for enforcing rules that were clearly defined and communicated. The mayor didn’t do anything to anyone; it was the people who flouted simple rules who did it to themselves.
OK, I understand this pandemic is frustrating. Everybody is weary of it. And everyone wants to “get back to normal.”
But these are not normal times. We’re deep in the biggest public health emergency that any living American has faced. More than 150,000 of our fellow citizens have been killed by COVID-19, and untold thousands will die in the weeks ahead. Death rates are rising in more than 35 states, so this is not the time to ease up on precaution.
Now is the time for everyone – not just everyone else – to make small sacrifices to hold this disease at bay.
Unfortunately, for every Bill Lambert, we have plenty of people like Kalena Kendell, whose Aug. 1 column in the Daily News (“The reason I choose not to wear a mask”) was a paean to individual selfishness over the common good.
“I view not wearing a mask as a visual statement that I do not agree with the current happenings in our country, in our state, and in our community,” Kendell wrote.
Hmmm, I don’t agree with earthquakes, but that doesn’t count for much when one destroys my house. Same goes for COVID-19; I don’t “agree” with it, but it could kill me anyway.
At the heart of Kendell’s argument is a piercing observation that a lot of contradictory information is available these days. “We are in a world full of voices – loud voices,” she wrote, “each one shouting out their opinion until it is hard to know what is true and what is not.”
It’s this inability to discern fact from fallacy that is hastening the death of expertise. Simply put, not everyone’s opinion matters in the realms of medicine, science, engineering and other disciplines that demand rigor and precision.
Want to know how to protect yourself from infectious disease? Ask an infectious disease expert, not a pizza delivery driver. Want to know how to transport a piping hot pizza? Ask a pizza delivery driver.
It’s pretty simple, actually. Does the guy on the next barstool get to invalidate public health officials who say California, Texas, and Florida are facing rising levels of COVID-19?
I don’t mean to pick on Kendell, but her argument echoes a substantial subset of American society. They offer the same semantic scam used by anti-vaxxers, who leave the effort to others while reaping benefit for themselves. They are “free riders” on the many millions of us who contribute to a civil society.
“I choose not to wear a mask because I believe in the freedom of information, and I will not hide my voice,” Kendell concluded in her column. OK, that’s her opinion.
Now here’s mine: Get over yourself, lady. Stop complaining about media censorship and start working for the greater good. Try putting others first by wearing a mask when you’re inside a public building. Leave the self-absorption for later, when we’re out of the woods.
Wearing a mask isn’t difficult, so it needn’t be a fight to the death.
Unless you want someone else to die.
After years of collecting passport stamps, William Brock ran aground on the Palouse in 2001.