On Contrasting Caring Maskers With Psychos Like Me

by Travis Mateer

Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak about my experiences mobilizing against the mask mandate with other like-minded people. One of my suggestions was using contrasts to undermine the supposed position of caring and empathy the fabric authoritarians are exhibiting.

I’ve been using contrasts on the refugee/homeless front for many years, most recently this article from last March, but don’t tell Doug Odegaard that. He wanted to let me know, after advocating for bringing Afghani refugees into a rental market with a vacancy rate of LESS THAN 1%, just how prepared they are to do this:

Yes, Doug ain’t speculating about what they can do for refugees, just like I’m not speculating about what Missoula IS NOT doing for homeless folks, like ensuring the “safe space” at the Pov is free of murder and rape.

In case Doug thought his noble efforts was being attacked by some heartless right-winger, I let him know the director of the Missoula Refugee Resettlement office, Jen Barile, was a former volunteer of mine when I worked the Poverello Center.

Other volunteers who spent time with my Homeless Outreach program include a candidate for Municipal judge, Jacob Coolidge; the creator of the Missoula Interfaith Collaborative, Casey Dunning; and the Public Information Officer for the Missoula Police Department, Lydia Arnold.

I’m referencing these notable former volunteers of mine because social media has given people a far too easy method of venting their hateful thoughts from their propaganda-infected minds, and anyone who has the temerity to question a NEW DICTATE, like the mask mandate, is going to get attacked.

Even a 12 year old girl?

I don’t think Patrick Ricci, a former locomotive operator in Missoula, actually understands his “F#$k them” comment includes a 12 year old girl who got up to speak against the mask mandate on Tuesday, August 3rd. And why would he? He wasn’t there, listening, like I was, so it’s easy for this dude to sit at his keyboard and type this:

If any PRO MASK MANDATE people want to be a guest on my podcast, hit me up at willskink at yahoo dot com. We can discuss all that amazing science you think justifies wishing death on the non-compliant.

While I wait for a screen-warrior to accept my challenge, I’m hoping to interview a parent involved with the legal challenge of the mask mandate this coming week. I’ll ask him why he’s a crazy Trumptard with a psychotic death wish suggesting the naked faces of our children get dusted with DELTA.

So, stay tuned…

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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5 Responses to On Contrasting Caring Maskers With Psychos Like Me

  1. If we were a truly humanitarian society, we would not have to make false choices between taking in refugees of our foreign wars, and providing for our domestic class war refugees. But you’ve told it like it really is on that score. Locally, we need to abandon the “net zero” travesty of our city’s homelessness plan, and apply that principle instead to housing and commercial development. We should not be expending millions upon millions of dollars to entice and accomodate influx of extremely wealthy idle rich — who now constitute 40% of our residents — while 49% of our residents are insecure in their housing and make less than half of the area annual median income.

    As often occurs, I find points in your commentary with which I strongly agree, and those with which I do not. I now turn to an example of the latter. You assail the phenomenon in which “…social media has given people a far too easy method of venting their hateful thoughts from their propaganda-infected minds.” But the venom with which you attack those who support masking mandates is an example of that very venting of hateful thoughts from propaganda-infected minds. The distinction between blog and social media platform is one of degree, not kind.

    Had you issued this challenge six months ago, I’d be down with it. I spent a year debating people who deemed this rational public health measure to be a scientifically moribund (and even medically dangerous), gross violation of personal autonomy, and in very few exchanges rendered them silent, unable to refute science. In the months that have since elapsed, the data have only grown much more conclusive that masks greatly reduce the likelihood of transmitting the virus. They aren’t imbued with supernatural ability to render transmission impossible. The validated public health triad of masks, vaccination and social distancing applied in countless epidemics including the U.S. polio epidemic, remains the most effective approach in these matters. One validation of this, is the radical
    reduction in the number of influenza cases during the months of relatively high compliance with that triad.

    (Incidentally, the last of those who have spent the last ~70 years of their lives inside a metal cylinder — an ‘iron lung’ — due to infection by polio virus, are now nearing the end of their lives. Had the current level of militant resistance to masking, social distancing and vaccination existed durig that epidemic, there would be many, many more, younger, polio victims in iron lungs today. And unlike the incidences of polio infection resulting from the Salk live vaccine prior to the Sabin vaccine, the chances of contracting COVID-19 from an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine are zero.)

    I happen to be among those who did not welcome the movement to vaccinate against chicken pox, as that was a virus for which deliberate exposure of children to infected ones during periodic outbreaks seemed to adequately deal with the matter. In the years since, I’ve tempered my cynicism and skepticism upon reading many evaluations in scientific journals, of the effects of that change in paradigm. I’m not able to cogently argue against it. Speculative harms arising from the change in public health policy never occurred.

    The novel coronavirus is not like chicken pox, although the fitness of the Delta variant (and other variants yet to come) is such that it is roughly as “infectious” as was chicken pox. The reason is that infected persons, whether symptomatic or not, shed 10 to 100 times as much virus as do persons infected with non-Delta variants. A different age cohort — young adults and children — is bearing the brunt of Delta-produced disease and dominating new ICU admissions.

    It’s socially irresponsible to refuse the trivial “sacrifice” of wearing a mask (and avoiding transmissive environments), based on debunked pseudoscientific claims that masks damage childrens’ brains via hypoxia; claims that psychological harm from masking is a greater danger than consequences of infection by the Delta variant, and claims that virtually the entire medical establishment, Big Pharma and the massively overwhelming majority of virologists, epidemiologists, infectious disease specialists, clinicians and public health authorities are complicit in a vast conspiracy to soften people to totalitarian control by means of cloth masks and social distancing during a pandemic.

    Never would I attribute evil intent to the protests of a 12-year-old, to being required to wear a mask in school. Nor would I afford much weight to those protests. With the exception of the fictional Doogie Houser, MD, I wouldn’t attribute the 12-year-old’s testimony to much more than parental indoctrination and political exploitation of the child. On the other hand, I’m sure there are many 12-year-olds who could readily prevail in a scientific debate with you on the questions of masks.

    The situational ethics of Anthony Fauci did great damage to the credibility of scientists. Having initially recommended against masking on the basis that it was “ineffective,” he later admitted that his initial public position was not based on that falsehood, but rather upon the then-existing shortage of top-grade masks for frontline health care workers. That was an indefensible transgression of scientific ethics that should have led to his dismissal by the new POTUS (who has proved ineptness in several respects).

    Parents do have the option of educating their children at home. The collateral effects of parents doing that have proved to be more likely of causing child-to-child transmission of this virus than occurs in public school (largely owing to the prevalance of two working parents, leading to homes in neighborhodds at which many children gather for their home schooling.

    Were I not immersed in an expensive and time-intensive campaign for city council, I would leap at the opportunity to debate you, and on a platform with much larger audience if possible. But my time is at a premium. That I take time to engage in discourse here is a reflection of my refusal to permit others to dictate to me with whom I shall maintain: friendships; temporary, ongoing, limited or broad-based alliances, and/or frequent public discourse. It’s for me to determine to whom I afford such respect, regardless of the existence of fundamental differences on some matters.

    I wish you good health.

    — /s/ J. Kevin Hunt

  2. Greg, your case for the position you advance would be hysterically funny if lives were not at stake. Particularly ridiculous is your reliance upon a blogger’s vacuous and utterly invalid claims derived from a series of charts that track only two variables. With that sort of dishonest pseudoscientific substitute for evidence, I could “prove” that the increase in wildfires this summer is the result of the Missoula airport’s increased number of MD-80 passenger jet takeoffs and landings since June. If you’re seriously presenting that garbage as evidence, then I can see why you reject the possibility of any study changing your opinion. For starters, you don’t read the peer review scientific journal articles (which begin by explicitly describing precisely what they are quantifying, the methodology utilized, the limitations inherent in the particular application of that methodology, and the confidence level of the quantified result). Nor, have you read other studies on and related to the same question. Nor have you read the correspondence published in the journals pointing to flaws in the methodology or conclusions, and the responses of the authors. Nor have you taken into account conflicts of interest the authors may have, the sponsors of the studies, and so forth. Uou rely on blog posts, and upon seconfdary and tertiary sources.

    The Washington Examiner article from 2015 is NOT a “study,” it is a secondary source, unvetted opinion piece misapplying (and misrepresenting) a study that is utterly inapposite for reasons I could write several hundred words explaining, which I won’t waste my time doing. I could also provide you with a litany of environmental (i.e., contextual, such as closed rooms, closed rooms which one or more COVID-19 positive persons entered for five minutes and then exited, “domes” such as those used by Checota at The Top Hat, etc.), and epidemiological studies, all conducted within the past 18 months, that all conflict with the conclusion being improperly advanced by means of refernce to the inapposite and very limited-value mask paper cited by the Examiner opinion piece.

    We just had an unintended experiment in what masking and social distancing do to reduce spread of respiratory virus. There was no flu epidemic this year. Flu has a very low reproduction index of 1 or 2, which made it a serendipitously good pathogen for such an empirical experiment. Is it “proof” that masks likewise would stop the COVID-19 pandemic? Of course not, for numerous reasons. It’s possible that this year’s trivalent vaccine perfectly matched the strains that dominated (highly unlikely). The novel coronavirus has a much higher reproduction index than does influenza. The intricasies of cellular attachment, entry, and infection are different. And so on. Nonetheless, the inference is very strong that the implementation of masks and social distancing prevented a flu epidemic in the United States for the first time since epidemiological records were kept of them.

    Your observation that “opinion is more important than truth” is sadly accurate from a sociological perspective. But from a scientific perspective, truth enables rational decisions that serve paramount societal interests, whereas supremacy of (ideologically motivated) opinions irrespective of truth, invariably has disastrous consequences. That is not to say that policy decisions do not ultimately reflect choices of values, because they do. A rational manner of applying these factors would be to first assess the magnitude of a risk in proportion to the gravity of the harm, and adust the kindand degree of policy response accordingly. Value choices are still involved. If dominant values are that the paltry inconvenience of donning a mask indoors constitutes an outrageous affront to freedom of such magnitude as to outweigh very robust evidence justifying the strong inference that masking indeed substantially reduces spread of the virus, then the selfish individualism of those values will drive policy, rather than the public health values that consider the right of every person in a community to be protected from a significant risk of harm. Put more simply, refusing to comply with a de minimus thing such as donning a mask indoors in close quartered groups, is not merely making an individual decision regarding one’s own health, but is also imposing the public health consequences of that decsision upon others without their consent. How that comports with individual liberty and autonomy escapes me, particularly when one contrasts the purported harms of wearing a mask with the obvious harm to an individual from a bad case of COVID-19.

    — JKH

  3. TRAVIS — I wanted to recommend that you view an excellent dissection of the myriad limitations and confounding co-factors requiring dissociation in order to draw bullet-proof conclusions about such things as the efficacy of masks. This is a 1.75-hour video in which prominent molecular-oriented virologist Vincent Raccianello and three colleagues host brilliant population-oriented epidemiologist and critical statistical conclusion debunker Dr. Jeffrey Shaman. I think you will appreciate the depth and quality of this. It is shown that the inferences drawn from available data are just that — inferences that are variously strong or weak, none of which are conclusive. THIS is how a discussion of this subject ought to proceed, not in the format of absolutist adversarial debate.

    The opinions of the virologists after 90 minutes of Shaman’s analysis, was that people ought to wear masks indoors in populated environments, while also maintaining that increased “transmissibility” of the Delta variant has not been proven, and concurring that 100% bulletproof data that masks are efficacious is not quanitified. (Neither is the general theory of relativity bulletproof in all of its implications).

    If you’re serious about an obejctive and complete treatment of this question, I strongly urge you to watch this eppisode of This Week in Virology (“TWiV”), which has been broadcast for more than 15 years, first on “Microbe TV” and now by these live-streamed and recorded episodes accesible at the Microbe TV website of Columbia University and, as per the following link, on You Tube.


    If, for some reason, that link doesn’t work, do a search on You Tube for “This Week in Virology #792: Transmission with Jeffrey Shaman.”

    — JKH

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