The internet is littered with articles explaining why people are choosing to wear a mask and why some people choose not to wear a mask. Words like selfish, uneducated, compliant and freedom are being tossed around on both sides of the argument. I thought I would share my own opinion on why I choose not to wear a mask.

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. I do not wear a mask as a visual representation that I believe in the freedom of speech.

Some readers might now be wondering, Well what does a mask to protect the spread of a virus have to do with freedom of speech? Let me explain.

We are in a world full of voices — loud voices; each one shouting out their opinion until it is hard to really know what is true and what is not. Certain platforms have taken it upon themselves to help drown out some of that noise.

This censorship is not happening by the government — at least not as far as we know — but through social media platforms, information platforms, news channels, news stations, newspapers, etc. Organizations that platform as news sources for the American public are censoring the information that we receive.

This is not new. After all, they are private companies that have the right to hold certain standards in reporting and displaying information. However, I feel that we are currently experiencing a pivotal point in our ability to receive information. What good is the freedom of speech if we do not have the freedom to be heard?

If I have an opinion that goes against the CDC, sure, I can call my mom and share my opinion with her. Verizon hasn’t stepped onto that communication censorship battlefield. I can tell my neighbor — granted six feet apart. But I cannot share my opinion with my extended friends and family members through platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other information stages that have become the norm in sharing information without my opinion being blocked, removed or hidden from information feeds.

In April, I viewed the controversial video posted by California doctors Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi. From what I was able to view of the video, I witnessed two doctors recognize that the CDC and local authorities responded quickly to lock down society to save lives based on the limited information professionals had at the time of initial lockdown, but expressed concern and disagreement with how the CDC and local officials continued to respond to COVID-19 weeks into shutdown when additional information became available. I specify “from what I was able to view” because, unfortunately, I was never able to watch the full video. YouTube removed the video from online viewing before I was able to watch the second half, citing a violation of “Community Guidelines.”

Evidently, since coronavirus, YouTube now has standards. I only hope they extend those standards by removing videos on how to rob a grocery store or build a bomb along with removing videos on disagreement with public policy.

And it is not just YouTube that is censoring America’s opposing opinions to coronavirus. Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms are also blocking videos and comments that disagree with the CDC.

Since when can Americans not speak against the executive branch, or an executive agency? Last I checked, disagreement with executive functions were number one on social media and news material, so why is COVID different?

Our current reactions to the virus might truly be the best approach. I am not a health expert and am not claiming to know more than they do. I am, however, more than a little suspicious of information if all opposing perspectives suddenly become blocked from public view. It forces me to consider that information might not be worth the credit general society gives it.

I choose not to wear a mask because I believe in the freedom of information, and I will not hide my voice.

Moscow’s Kalena Kendell is a working wife and mother, trying to keep the balance of being politically involved and environmentally aware.

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