- The Washington Times - Friday, May 1, 2020

Major U.S. airlines have announced that as a condition of riding their friendly skies, passengers must all put on a face mask.

Let the muzzling of America commence.

Let the — hopefully! — lawsuits against the mask nazis begin, as well.

“Wearing a face covering isn’t about protecting yourself,” said JetBlue president Joanna Geraghty, in The Associated Press. “It’s about protecting those around you. This is the new flying etiquette.”

How nice of America’s airlines — American, Delta and United, as well as JetBlue — to take it on themselves to become nanny to the people.

But it’s not just the airlines.

“Governor’s order will require everyone to wear face masks in public places,” the Press Herald just reported, about Maine.

WBUR maintains a running list of Massachusetts’ cities and towns that require residents to muzzle up while walking in the public, or face fines.

Arkansas has ordered that beginning May 11, all restaurant staff must wear face masks and gloves. Colorado has ordered that workers in businesses deemed critical must wear facial coverings and, if possible, gloves.

Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming — these are all states that impose on citizens and businesses requirements for wearing face masks, as conditions of traveling, for instance, or entering a restaurant, or in some cases, even stepping outside.

Stores around the nation, with increasing frequency, are denying customers’ entry unless they first put on a mask.

The face-masking of America, at first a federal no-no, then a federal recommendation, has now trickled to state and local governments, and into the private business sector, as a mandate.

As a mandated muzzle on individuals.

This seems a blatant violation of an individual’s right to choose — of an individual’s right to self-govern. America, after all, isn’t a nation founded on collectivism, but rather individualism — on the right of individuals to exercise their God-given authorities, absent government tinkering and intrusion. What gives government the authority to order citizens to cover their faces?

What gives businesses the authority to serve as government’s enforcer on this same face masking matter?

Particularly when even the federal authorities only recommend, rather than order?

Here’s what the enthusiastically supporting mask-wearing sheep of the world will say: The mask is to protect other people! The mask is to stop the spread of COVID-19! The mask will save lives! There’s a national health emergency, dontcha know, and government and businesses and medical professionals are only trying to prevent the coronavirus from getting worse.

Well, those are all great reasons for government and businesses to demand citizens wear masks — in a socialist country. In an authoritarian society. In a communist, dictatorial, tyrannical kind of country.

But this is America.

And America is about freedom and free choice.

And on masks, there’s a simple solution that doesn’t mean tossing out individuals’ civil rights and personal choice to determine self-care — and it’s one that goes like this: Those who want to wear masks to protect themselves can wear masks.

Those who don’t, don’t.

Either way, those who feel the need to protect themselves are protected — at least, in their minds.

Another benefit? All those self-righteous indignant mask-wearers can tell themselves that the non-mask wearers will catch the coronavirus and die. That ought to keep ‘em content and quiet for a while, yes?

In the meantime, how about a return to sanity and sound civil rights’ protections? If face masks can be made mandatory, then so, too, gloves — then so, too, hair coverings and facial hair and clothing and shoe standards, as well as a slew of other so-called protective measures. Masks should be individual choices, nothing more. Medically speaking, nothing more is needed.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley. Listen to her podcast “Bold and Blunt” by clicking HERE. And never miss her column; subscribe to her newsletter by clicking HERE.

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