Just a thought – Wearing a mask can be a life and death matter – reducing anxiety and putting someone at ease is not a life and death matter – thus the needed difference in the language that the government must use so as to show the seriousness of the issue
Q for the group: While rights and freedoms are no doubt essential to a democratic society, some may argue that living within such a community (abiding by the Hobbesian social contract as it were) also entails certain responsibilities (i.e. mask-wearing during a pandemic). How does responsibility – personal, civic, or otherwise – fit into our discussion of freedoms, their exercise, and their limits?
When we speak of freedom, freedom is an abstract concept and needs to be defined. Sociologist would speak of operational definitions when doing research on abstract concepts in general. Secondly, we would need to specify the unit of analysis, whether we speak of the entire world, country, community, family, couple, or individual. Thirdly, each unit of analysis functions under socio-legal structures which vary according to the different units of analysis.
without these taken into account we may be speaking and arguing about freedom but actually find ourselves in a different unit of discourse.
Dr. McDowell’s last comment of thinking of “lives rather than “actions.” If we focus on enriching each other’s growth of “human capital” which I see in terms of developing “take-into-account-abilities” we could practice the golden rule and co-operative principles
Unfortunately, there is not much accommodation for that human right at the workplace.
What actions would an employee take if they have their rights violated at the workplace contradictory to local city bylaws? Specifically in regards to mask-wearing
For example, in most local mask mandates bylaws, it states that no employee or member of the public is required to proved proof of any mask exemption outlined.
If any government could provide sufficient evidence and consistency for unprecedented guidelines imposed, the majority of people would more than likely choose to wear a mask without much resistance. Humanity innately has the instinct for self-preservation.
When does Rule of law matter
Mr. Han’s position strongly supported weighing expert recommendations over the lay-person’s conclusions regarding mask wearing. He went so far as to validate expert recommendations as the only option and stated that anyone disagreeing would be mentally ill. This is a broad over statement and cannot be true of all who disagree with expert recommendations.
Mr. Han’s perspective does not acknowledge the limitations of expert recommendations. Experts tend to focus in a very specific area and may not perceive all the consequences of their recommendations. Experts are subject to their own biases. In our current culture, there is also political pressure to control the population in a certain manner and this pressure will determine what recommendations are validated and those which are ignored.
To be completely clear, this comment was made only in regard to mask-wearing, and not to other requirements that require significantly more sacrifice, such as having to shut down a business. And I prefer not to use the phrase “mental illness,” as that implies more than I intend. (I was explicit about that.) Mental health is a much broader category. A parallel example from the physical side is that if a fellow is badly overweight and smokes two packs a day, we aren’t likely to call him “ill” until he has a specific malady, such as COPD, lung cancer, or coronary artery disease. But we would agree (I hope) that he has physical health issues, probably including shortness of breath, lethargy, and who knows what else. Likewise with mental health issues: a person might have pent-up anger issues that burst out at inappropriate times, and that could be relieved with counselling. But he might not necessarily have a diagnosis such as oppositional defiant disorder. So mental health is a much wider net that I believe captures more people than would the narrower interpretation of “mental illness.” And during a pandemic lockdown, with all the uncertainty, fear and distress, it seems a very likely outcome that more people are going to experience mental health issues.
Does that explain all possible cases? Possibly not. But anyone claiming to be able to safely dismiss expert opinions because of some ill-defined bias and to know better how to battle a pandemic from a living room chair is not easily going to convince me that his or her reasoning is rational. Sure, governments do have biases that are inherent in their political platforms: a UCP government might be more concerned about freedoms, while an NDP government might be more concerned with a baseline level of preservation for all. And even health experts might be biased in favour of saving lives over saving money, or even physical health over mental health. And while those biases might become relevant to decisions about closing down businesses or preventing social gatherings, they seem to have no bearing on whether anyone should be required to follow the simple requirement to wear a mask in public places.