It’s time for zero tolerance on mask ignorance

Today I’ve decided I’m done being nice and kindly asking people to wear masks. We’re way past the point where society should tolerate endangering behavior from the few. The mutations, the deaths, the economic crisis, this could all have been avoided had the freedom of the few to be ignorant not been treated like it outweighed the safety of the vast many and especially of the vulnerable. 

This month represents yet more records in the scale of this pandemic. There are 700,000 new cases and 13,000 new deaths every day. That’s just the latest in almost 78 million cases worldwide since the start of and it’s resulted in over 1.7 million deaths. 322,000 of which have occurred here. 

Let’s put that in context, both in scale and historical commensurate reactions we’ve had in the United States to human-caused tragedies at home:

  • On September 11, 2001, the final number stands at 2,977 victims killed in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The United States entered two ill-informed decades-long wars with Iraq and Afghanistan in the name of getting the leaders responsible and preventing future attacks. While the number of people dying every day here at home now surpasses that total. Every day. If you herald 9/11 every September and you post the hashtag “Never Forget”, then what are you doing right now?
  • On December 7th, 1941, the Empire of Japan launched an attack on the US Naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and claimed the lives of 2,335 human beings. Disproportionate American retribution was to eventually drop two nuclear bombs on Japan, killing, by some estimates, upwards of 220,000 people. In reaction to 2,335 deaths. 

Why do I say this? Because there have been 322,000 COVID-related deaths in the United States and somehow people are still walking around without masks on. It is time to be angry and it is time to empower our community leaders to punish people who continue to endanger the lives of others around them.

And I’m not talking about a slap on the wrist or a fine. The time has passed for that. I’m talking about real, significant punishment for those who willfully create a dangerous environment for those around them.

In New York, reckless endangerment carries a sentence of up to seven years in prison. Merriam Webster defines reckless endangerment as “the offense of recklessly engaging in conduct that creates a substantial risk of serious physical injury or death to another person”. Tell me someone not wearing a mask isn’t recklessly endangering the lives of those around them.

Also in New York, if I die from negligent homicide, what’s often referred to as involuntary manslaughter, the punishment is up to fifteen years in prison. Tell me someone who is not wearing a mask, who kills me, is not negligent and isn’t committing homicide.

And, if I die because someone has ignored every warning, every sign, every ounce of scientific guidance out there and has killed me because they decided not to wear a mask, tell me they’re not responsible for attempted manslaughter, carrying a minimum sentence of 20 years and a maximum sentence of life in prison. 

I want to add, as I wrap things up, that I have never come down on the totalitarian side of the political spectrum. But I believe we should be protected from those who willfully ignore the danger they’re putting our lives in. We should have zero tolerance for it. We license our vehicles and we punish people who kill others without abiding by the legal constraints of driving. We license our gun ownership and we punish people who kill others in negligent use of those guns. 

There should be no debate left to have about whether not wearing a mask is dangerous behavior, and we have every right to be mad and demand a punishment that is commensurate with the crime of endangering lives. Maybe not a year in prison, but something tangible and something motivating that will stop the ignorant behavior of endangering lives simply because you think a mask is uncomfortable or uncool. 

You know what the perfect punishment would be? House arrest. If you can’t be adult enough to responsibly wear a mask, then you are not allowed out here with the grown-ups. We will seat you at the proverbial children’s table until you grow up.

That wraps it up for today. Thanks for listening to the Ben Garves Podcast, at the intersection of health, activism, and technology. Don’t forget, Fitness is for Everyone™.


By Ben Garves

Ben Garves is a digital product expert, author, entertainer, and activist. His portfolio of thought leadership in digital marketing and web experiences has included major clients like Microsoft, Google, Twitter, eBay, and Facebook. He’s also a freelance health and fitness journalist with over 400 stories written since 2018, a podcaster with 200 episodes to his name, and runs a YouTube channel with over 100 fitness and activism-oriented videos and live streams. Ben has founded the Fitness is for Everyone™ initiative to raise awareness about social injustice in both racial inequality and socioeconomic disparity in access to quality fitness and nutrition options around the globe.

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