The effects of the coronavirus pandemic are redefining life for many Americans, but none of the virus’ effects are more surprising than how it’s transforming surgical masks into muzzles.

A tool designed to prevent the spread of infection has instead become one used to silence free speech. A surgical mask is not designed to have any effect on the translation of thoughts into speech. However, when their use is required by liberal-progressive “stay home, stay healthy” restrictions they become a tool to silence dissent. By mindlessly donning a mask we are signaling our allegiance to the nanny state.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website they currently recommend or note the following:

Steve Piccirillo
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
  • You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick.
  • Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities.
  • Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
  • The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
  • Do NOT use a facemask meant for a healthcare worker.
  • Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing.

In this, the CDC is making a recommendation — not a law. As the scientific understanding of the coronavirus changes, so too does the guidance from the CDC and other public health officials. While the CDC’s perspective today is to recommend masks, this was not the case at the outset of the epidemic and may not be a month from now.

Notice that the guidelines make no specific recommendation as to what healthy Americans should be doing with regards to face masks.

In the second bulleted point, the CDC says you can spread COVID-19 “even if you don’t feel sick.” That may be true, but you can’t spread it if you are not sick.

In the third bulleted point, the CDC states “Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they go out in public,” but doesn’t explain why a healthy person should do so. If the face mask is “meant to protect other people” from you, then by extension, if you are not sick, you do not need to wear a face mask.

No reasonable person believes that a raging pandemic is a suitable reason for forbidding thoughtful, or thoughtless, disagreement. U.S. Attorney General William Barr wrote recently in a memo to the Justice Department’s attorneys that the constitution is “not suspended in times of crisis.”

The mask has become a symbol of lock-step obedience to the left and their onerous stay-at-home policies.

When the governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, says in reference to lockdown protestors, “I do think the fact of the matter is these protesters in a perverse way make it likelier we’re going to have to stay in a stay-at-home posture,” she is really warning those with whom she disagrees.

The governor’s statement is chilling. She is threatening those who disagree with her restrictions with further governmental oppression.

When a doctor expresses his or her confidence in hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the coronavirus, no government agent nor citizen should demand the doctor be silenced. The doctor’s medical opinion as to the efficacy of that drug as a treatment for the virus is based on their experience and expertise. The doctor is acting from a scientific or medical perspective, not a political one.

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If we want politicians, the press, or non-medical degreed pundits to provide approval for medical treatments, we will go to our local newspaper or state legislature when we are sick.

I doubt very much if you would trust Governor Andrew Cuomo or the editorial board of The Seattle Times to prescribe a treatment plan if you had cancer. Why then would anyone care what their opinion is on the use of hydroxycholorquine to treat COVID-19?

As if this weren’t bad enough, digital trolls hiding beneath virtual bridges in the vastness of the internet wait to pounce on any post, statement, or video that rejects the official coronavirus restrictions orthodoxy.

Once located, they demand those contributions be removed. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram seem to be perfectly comfortable with the idea of controlling free speech by disallowing content that violates their “community guidelines.” It is apparent those “guidelines” are simply an extension of leftist, politically correct prohibitions on independent thought and speech.

Censuring the speech of those whose views depart from official government propaganda, or those of the majority, is a fundamental violation of the right to free speech. We cannot allow “groupspeak” to replace free speech.

Here in Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee, as with so many leftist governors, has implemented restrictive policies relative to the COVID-19 epidemic to force American citizens to live in a manner he deems appropriate.

To usurp the rights of the people to speak, to assemble, and to worship freely, the governor — and others like him — assert it must be done because of a public health crisis. However, there are no “public health” exceptions to any of the rights enumerated in the constitution.

Wearing a mask should be done in those circumstances where the use of it is necessary to protect others. The CDC’s mask guidelines are meant to prevent you from making others sick, not to protect you from getting sick.

If you are not sick, you do not need a mask. If you are healthy, not asymptomatic, and you wear a mask, you may as well wear a football helmet while watching the NFL on TV. In both cases, the benefits of the protections are imagined, not real.

The wearing of masks by healthy people during this pandemic has become the way the meek and compliant signal their submission to their leftist overlords. Those same citizens will not question or reject restrictions that infringe on their constitutional rights because their fear of the illness is greater than their love of freedom.

By submitting to unnecessary and illegitimate restrictions out of fear we embolden those who seek to control our behavior, violate our rights, and will seek greater restrictions of our liberties during the next crisis.

Steve Piccirillo is a longtime resident of the Wenatchee Valley “whose passion is defending our liberties against those who seek their limit or restriction.”