The‌ ‌real‌ ‌maskholes‌

A man was attacked in my neighbourhood for not wearing a mask – outside.

Lou Perez

Topics Politics USA

My wife gave birth to our son at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. That was March of 2020. We were living in New York City, the epicentre of it, quarantined away from family and friends. I was a new father, spending way too much time online, trying to discern fact from fiction, good-faith arguments from political posturing, and trying to navigate the masks vs no masks debate.

I was very paranoid.

I washed my hands countless times a day. But how could I know for sure if they were really clean?

The virus could be anywhere – on any surface! In anyone! Every time I went to the supermarket I felt like I was embarking on a suicide mission, or worse – a murder / suicide of myself, my wife, and our newborn.

The stress took its toll on me during what should have been the amazing first months of fatherhood. I’m fortunate to have broken free from it, for the most part. I still worry about my parents, who are at a higher risk of serious symptoms from the novel coronavirus. But anyone who wants to live as full and productive a life as possible needs to do their own risk-assessment – if not for their own good, then at least for their child’s.

That’s why it is so important to find out where the science ends and the paranoia begins. I’m afraid too many people just aren’t there yet.

Every day, new videos are posted of ‘maskholes’ – people who refuse to wear masks in public. The ones I’ve watched are always recorded on smartphones and usually take place in big-box stores in the United States. You don’t need that much footage to publicly shame someone – especially if they’re having a meltdown on camera. And in these times of Covid, even just a few seconds of a bare face will do.

As much as I get a kick out of my fellow Americans who believe it’s their constitutional right to enter a private establishment without a face-covering – even if store policy demands they wear one – I have yet to meet such a patriot in real life.

After all, I live in a bougie Brooklyn neighbourhood. Even the kids wear surgical masks. So, all the maskholes I’ve encountered have been wearing masks. That’s right, you can wear a mask and still be an asshole. (I actually think this version of the slur makes more sense. If you’re not wearing a mask, shouldn’t you be called a ‘NOmaskhole’?)

I wear a mask when entering or leaving the building where I live. I wear one inside stores and restaurants. (In New York City outdoor dining is back, so once I’m seated at a table the mask comes off.) And, if I happen to be passing someone on the street, and they’re wearing a mask, I’ll be courteous and put mine on too.

Sure, my decision is not always based in science. But I try.

According to Dr Amesh A Adalja, a senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, masks should be worn in situations where you are unable to social distance – that is, if you are going to be within six feet of others, particularly indoors or in crowds, and that close contact is going to last between 10 to 15 minutes.

The virus is not spread through ‘fleeting contact’, like going for a walk or a jog – or encountering a maskhole outdoors. And that’s something to be thankful for.

I wasn’t wearing a mask the night I heard a fight happening outside our apartment building and ran downstairs to make sure our doorman was okay. I hardly had time to put on my shorts, let alone a mask, before I got down there to find out that a maskhole who lived in the building had attacked another resident for the crime of… not wearing a mask… outside the building, in the street, in the bike lane, while on a bicycle.

That maskhole has gone on to deputise himself, patrolling our building and the neighborhood for other violators. I don’t think he has children – but paranoia has given him this baby. (And it’s led to at least one police report filed against him.)

Over the weekend, a masked individual attempted to shame me for walking around with my wife and our baby, mouths and noses exposed. To be fair: it can be a struggle to remain courteous in an increasingly uncourteous world… And I did call the unidentified M-hole an A-hole. To which they responded by calling me ‘Brad’ – which I didn’t know was an insult.

So, what should have been, at worse, ‘fleeting contact’, turned into one of those scenes that could have gone viral – had either one of us been quick enough to record it on our phone.

I’m happy that didn’t happen. The mask is a tool that has unfortunately become a symbol. What that symbol means depends on the maskhole. I’m either ‘Brad the Patriot’ or ‘Brad the Murderer’. ‘Brad, Whose Real Name is Actually Luis, Wears His Mask When It’s Reasonable to Do So’ – that’s just too much work.

I’m no longer paranoid. But I am worried. I’m worried about all the things a new father worries about. And I’m worried about all the people who think science is on their side and their attempts to ‘save lives’ are worth the cost of making those lives around them miserable.

Covid-19 might not be going away any time soon, but that doesn’t mean maskholes should stick around until it does.

Lou Perez is head writer and executive producer at We the Internet TV. Follow him on Twitter: @TheLouPerez

Picture by: Getty.

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Dave Patterson

2nd August 2020 at 12:58 pm

the aggressive ‘maskholes’ are, I think, too unintelligent to understand any of this, they just believe what their authorities tell them to believe – and being unable to defend their beliefs with intelligent arguments turn to violence. You need to meet them on their own level, or avoid them, there’s no reasoning with this kind of mindless obedience. The barbarians are at the gates – another cult is all this is.


2nd August 2020 at 10:03 am

The Peter Hitchens article in M on S continues his campaign against wearing of masks, but the paper will not allow comments this week. My objection to the focus on masks is it is just a visible part of a general malaise-as a country we have been put in a state of emergency quarantine for no reason. We are just compelled to obey whatever draconian measures those in charge choose to dream up next-they are the self appointed adults ( who go against their own rules so obviously do not fear the virus themselves ) who have given themselves control over us all. I presume the real reason for all this will come out years in the future when we are all dead.

Jerry Owen

2nd August 2020 at 11:40 am

If go to ‘Peter Hitchens blog’ there are comments.

Iwan Hughes

2nd August 2020 at 1:02 am

I Thank goodness I don’t live in New York.


1st August 2020 at 5:58 pm

I am a carer and have 2 adults who depend on me to get them medicine and food. I think masks are stupid-I can hardly breathe in them but in times of war you have to obey the sensible rules ( blackout curtains ) and stupid rules ( changing the names of stations so noone knew where they were ) that some official dreamed up. Does anyone know of the case of Steve Stockman in America who seems ( according to American Thinker ) to be having a bad time ?

James Knight

1st August 2020 at 2:49 pm

People are and will be killed by the lockdowns. The experts don’t really understand how it is spread and there is no proof that masks work effectively as there is no proof the lockdowns are effective. The difference is the collateral damage for the former is off the chart, while a mask cost a few pennies and is a minor inconvenience.

The virus is very low risk to children but the lockdowns that trash the global economy will cause children to die. But being asked to wear a mask in a supermarket is what is causing the outrage. Seems to be 1st world outrage, like the outrage when Facebook is down.

Iwan Hughes

2nd August 2020 at 1:04 am

May I take it that you are not into dangerous sports?

James Gittings

1st August 2020 at 12:22 pm

Petition to repeal mask mandate in UK shops past 23,000. Please sign if you haven’t already (only UK citizens can sign this)

James Conner

1st August 2020 at 9:37 am

Boris is waiting until there are no reported cases of covid infection in a twelve month period. Until then we must all wear masks, stay 2m apart and tip the economy down the toilet, but at least we’ll all be safe… from covid.


1st August 2020 at 7:22 pm

Boris is also relying on people like this woman who posted this comment (about a week ago ) in another paper ‘Please can we just lock down. I know everyone just thinks about money the whole time but its the countries health which is at stake’ If this person is an adult its a wonder they manage to function at all as life must be really scary to them.

Angela Towers

1st August 2020 at 2:39 am

Articles like this are like 10,000 articles telling us about road rage.

Did you know that at various times over the past 50 years various people have attempted to kill someone following an argument triggered by, say, someone driving “too slow”.

The world is full of nutcases.

It is perfectly true that every now and again a man on train station platform will be pushed into the path of a train by a woman he has never met – but we don’t need 60,000 articles about it every week.

How many people in China? The more people the more likely it is that in the year 2023 two sisters will beat each other up in an argument over ownership of an inherited teapot.

Vivian Darkbloom

31st July 2020 at 10:45 pm

Anyway. Protests around the UK tomorrow, August 1st 2020.

London, Hyde Park, Speakers Corner, 1:00


Keep Britain Free

Steve Bird

1st August 2020 at 8:20 am

Yay! No mask! Be free! Now tell that to a nurse who wants to hook you up to a ventilator.

And if you can explain the myriad ways in which freedom of any kind is permitted in western society, I’d love to hear. Because practically every inch of planet earth is owned by someone.

Jerry Owen

1st August 2020 at 10:40 am

At least the nurse is being usefully employed.

jamie murray

1st August 2020 at 4:44 pm

There’s thousands of ways to end up on a ventilator, shall we stop planet earth from spinning for them as well? I avoid the news like the plague (ha ha) so the hysteria only mildly affects me, buts it’s obviously still out there, the hysteria I mean, not the slightly worse than the flu virus.

Frank Sutton

1st August 2020 at 12:51 pm

You’re obviously not meeting the regulation standard of fearfulness.

jamie murray

3rd August 2020 at 3:39 pm

Being fearful won’t make a jot of difference to the length of my life but it will to its quality, so why spoil the very short time we have in this earth fearing everything?
I only wish so many people weren’t so unbelievably gullible that they believe this is the Black Death, it really isn’t, what will people be like when something really serious hits?

Gareth Edward KING

31st July 2020 at 6:25 pm

Why the paranoia? Get a grip please! Look up most of northern Europe (except the UK and Ireland) and you’ll see muzzles aren’t worn. Berlin is the site tomorrow of a 500,000-strong demo against this monstrous hysteria. Spain’s a disaster that has happened, as the economy nose-dives, now that really is a problem, brought on as an own-goal by this atrocious government. There is no empirical evidence whatsoever for the mass wearing of these face-rags; none at all.

Vivian Darkbloom

31st July 2020 at 10:15 pm

“Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.”

Gareth Edward KING

1st August 2020 at 9:16 am

Vivian! You’ve lost me on your quote. Is it from some art-house film? The fightback begins! Berlin, London today, and Madrid this evening! Although things are so bad here it might actually be a little late. Have you read my pithy comments related to Cameron’s article from this week? I need to write a damning piece on this government. We’re headed for troubled waters. It’s no joke. July 1936 anyone?

Vivian Darkbloom

2nd August 2020 at 12:19 am

Gareth: it’s from the 1974 film Chinatown directed by Roman Polanski. It’s a remark that intimates a deep corruption beyond the immediately visible; I meant it as a cynical aside, a sort of wink to say that the problem is deeply embedded.

Basically, Jake Gittes – played by Jack Nicholson – is investigating a case in 1930s California which leads to him uncovering layers of corruption far beyond the ambit of his original brief. “Chinatown” is both a real place that has a significance in Jake’s past as a policeman and a symbol for this deep layer of corruption. I’ll say no more because it might spoil the film if you ever watch it.

The Covid crisis seems to me to be revealing layers of corruption in our societies in a similar way. On the surface there is the virus and for most people that’s as far as they go. Look a bit deeper and we see that media outlets are marching in lockstep with no substantial examination or reportage; they’re simply reproducing the talking points issued by governments and ignoring or deriding any contradictory account even though it might be entirely factual. Essentially, the media have become stenographers reproducing political diktats to what they imagine are a dumb and compliant herd. Below this level and largely unreported are the tech opportunists who see the New Normal as a way to restructure society both ideologically and to their own financial benefit. Humans as mere cattle to be tagged and monitored; screen learning and EdTech imposed on students; workers confined to their homes which have been repurposed as offices; personal data harvested as a commodity to be sold; shopping from home; destruction of physical retail and social empathy; tracking apps; abolition of physical cash in favour of digital money. It’s the height of naivety not to imagine that the five richest companies, which surprise surprise are all tech based, will not take advantage of what the Covid crisis offers them. I could go on but you know all this. It’s already being tagged as The Fourth Industrial Revolution with sinister apps to provide us with a spurious safety.

“Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown” says to me that the majority view as pushed by the politicians and the media is: just leave it, this is the way things are and it will do no good to stir things up. Well, you and I and others don’t agree but we are ploughing a lonely furrow at the moment. We’re saying that we don’t accept that this is how it should be, in the face of indifference from the public, dissembling from the MSM, and incompetence mixed with outright malevolence from the politicians.

Vivian Darkbloom

2nd August 2020 at 12:34 am

Part 2. Gareth: oh yes, I always read and appreciate your comments. Have you thought about starting a blog or getting a platform on independent media? It sometimes seems astonishing to me that highly literate and informed individuals such as yourself and many others, ordinary people, can cut through the crap and say it as you see it. To me, the mainstream media is dead if they are unwilling to explore fundamental issues on a multivalent basis. What’s the point if they’re all pumping out the same old narrative with variations based on their narrow political stance? What’s happening goes far beyond left-right binaries; this is not the time for political point scoring. This is a really serious existential crisis.

Your comments about the Spanish situation are totally on point. The country appears to be slipping back into the kind of fascism it “enjoyed” until the 1970s. In Britain we think we know about fascism. We defeated the Nazis, eh? It’s foundational to modern British culture that we won the war. Yet we seem unable to recognise it when it reappears in different clothes. Friendly clown clothes which promise to protect us from the absurdity that death itself can be vanquished, that we will live forever, that it will always be as it always was if only we comply and stay indoors and wear a mask as our betters tell us to. Well, you and I and many others will have to disabuse them. It’s clear that this is not going away. Three weeks just to free up the NHS, they said in March and now it’s August. What a joke.

Now look at the opposition to this hideous imposition. The Germans, as you say, raised a million dissidents, which is fantastic and heartening. I attended the Hyde Park protest and, whilst it has grown from previous manifestations, we’re talking about a few hundred; not to knock these valiant folk but it’s just not enough. A million is not enough. I marched against the Iraq War in 2003 with an estimated turnout of a million and it still wasn’t enough. I admire your optimism and I share it to an extent although I’m subject to bouts of melancholia so I can’t be entirely optimistic. But dissent is definitely growing. As I was chatting with some of my neighbours today they, surprisingly, shyly outed themselves as dissidents. Anecdotally, it seems that people are slowly waking up.

I refuse to accept the fatalistic metaphor of Chinatown.


Ian Wilson

31st July 2020 at 6:04 pm

I’m not sure i really get the point. Are you for or against them? Either way, you really need to just get on and enjoy your life. I find this whole mask debate very pointless – I have not, and will not, ever wear one.

James Knight

1st August 2020 at 2:34 pm

You don’t have to wear one. Just get somebody else to do your shopping or use click and collect.

David McAdam

1st August 2020 at 8:51 pm

I don’t wear a mask. I consider it futile to do so nor do I use click and collect nor ask someone to shop for me. I’ve survived typhoid and TB outbreaks without the need to endure a ‘lockdown’, distancing and a mask. I’m not denying the existence of the virus, it and other viruses are a part of life and will continue to be so. We can’t behave like this each time a new virus emerges.

Jonathan Marshall

2nd August 2020 at 8:12 pm

I do my shopping myself, I just don’t wear a mask. No-one has challenged me about it (possibly because I’m 6’1″, 17 stone and have – so I’ve been told – a somewhat forbidding appearance).

Jerry Owen

31st July 2020 at 4:35 pm

You are a little paranoid it seems.
Imagine Wembley stadium full, then imagine 14 people or so in that crowd. Yes, that’s how rare covid is. Then try and take the fact in that not all 14 will be contagious necessarily, and you may not catch it or if you do you may not know it.
The biggest danger to your child (congratulations) is likely to come from you in keeping it in dangerously sterile conditions, which could leave it’s immune system eventually unable to deal with run of the mill bacteria.

Steve Bird

1st August 2020 at 8:25 am

Absolutely right. There’s this bloke who lives in England, right? His address is 10 Downing Street, SW1. In fact, he is the prime minister and his name is Boris Johnson. Perhaps you’ve heard of him. Anyway, he also extolled the virtue of going to crowded events and stressed the importance of close contact to ensure freedom is upheld. But what happened to him, you ask. Google it.

Jerry Owen

1st August 2020 at 10:40 am

Steve Bird
What are you on about?

jamie murray

1st August 2020 at 4:52 pm

Jerry Owen
He’s saying first, that he believes Alexander ( I refuse to call him his cuddly pseudonym, I’ve never been fooled by the hair and the hooray Henry exterior, one look at the “bullingdon picture” with Cameron and Osborne is far more revealing than any public act) really had COVID (hmmm?) and secondly he’s obviously bought into the MSM/government narrative that this is the Black Death when quite clearly it’s not.

Warren Alexander

31st July 2020 at 4:02 pm

You’re more likely to get pregnant than covid walking past an unmasked person in the street.

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