Reading time – 3:31  .  .  .

We all know that there are many people who refuse to wear a mask or social distance or wash their hands frequently. Each of them has his/her reasons, including  seeing these safety and health measures as government overreach, they don’t appreciate the danger, they’re angry about the intrusion on their liberty or they think it’s a hoax, a conspiracy. Here’s some clarity about those conspiracy believers.

From Anne Applebaum’s new book, Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism (read this book):

“The emotional appeal of a conspiracy theory is in its simplicity. It explains away complex phenomena, accounts for chance and accidents, offers the believer the satisfying sense of having special, privileged access to the truth.” (page 45)

I get that there is a sense of power and control in embracing conspiracy theories. So, I offer a “Well done!” to the cable blatherers, the talk radio babblers and the online conspiracy promoters for their excellent job of willfully stoking reality denial and hatred. Their work is powerful and it has an impact far beyond the TV and radio ratings and online Likes: it threatens all the rest of us.

We declare that we honor our front line troops, the nurses, doctors, techs, EMTs, ambulance drivers and the rest of the folks who are fighting this war against pandemic. We’ve seen the hospital scenes, watched the personal videos and get lumpy-throated in empathy for these people. We see that these heroes work absurd hours. They live with death all around, feeling they’ve failed, even as they are powerless to stop it. But I wonder if that honoring of these people is true for all of our mask refusers and deniers, especially the conspiracy types.

Click me for the story from The Onion.

It seems to me that the conspiracy embracers and the rest who refuse to do those 3 simple things to help to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are more than a danger to those nearby. They hasten the spread of infection that horribly affects those same front line people by putting more sick people into their already over-maxed hospitals. It dumps more hard, overly-demanding work on top of already exhausted medical staff. It dishonors them in that way, even as over 1,000 of our front line medical people have died working to save others from this horrible disease.

That’s why I have some judgments about the conspiracy types and even for the rest of the people who knowingly refuse to do the 3 simple things that can help us all:

First, it’s clear that they put themselves and their individual rights above the rest of us.

Second, the harm they do makes circumstances far worse for people who have lost their jobs, whose kids can’t go to school, for our elderly trapped in nursing homes and for everyone who wants their life back. They push national recovery yet farther away into the future.

Third, it dishonors and penalizes the very people they themselves will meet when they show up at a hospital ER barely able to breathe, because our front line medical troops will nevertheless be standing by to serve them.

Click me for the full story.

In an insightful opinion piece in the New York Times last weekend entitled, “How To Actually Talk to Anti-Maskers” author Charlie Warzel makes the how-to of that conversation both clear and obvious. Even better, it has application for your conversations with any who are foolish enough to not agree with you.

It has to do with what Mom told you: be respectful, courteous and listen to others. And as you listen, just seek to understand how they feel and why they believe as they do – not preparing to tell them all the reasons they’re wrong. That’s because the instant you try to persuade them to your superior view, you’ll have nothing but confrontation. The only thing that changes that way is that each is even more entrenched in their bubble, certain that those who disagree are idiots. We remain polarized, perhaps even more so than before. Remember that each of us thinks we’re right and justified in the opinions we hold.

It can be most satisfying to be reactive – believe me, I know about this and sometimes I’m conscious and able to resist my knee-jerk behavior. When I fail,  I get a momentary rush from being “right.” Then not much good happens for anyone.


We have a very dangerous virus in America. It’s been in the newspapers, on TV and radio and clogging the webisphere since February. Because of that you already know that the U.S. has just 4% of the world’s population but it has spawned about 25% of its coronavirus infections and deaths. That’s happening right here in our first world, advanced medicine country even as we’re proud to be the leader of the free world.

Have you ever wondered how the rest of the world sees us, and specifically how we’re seen as we mishandle this pandemic? The New York Times brought the story of the virus in America to people around the world and video recorded their reactions. You need to see this.

When you go out, wear your mask and social distance. And wash your hands a lot. If you won’t do those things, please stay away from me. And everyone else.

Here’s a behavioral take on this from Paul Krugman.


Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so

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The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.


Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
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4 Responses to Judgment
  1. Jim Nathan Reply

    Saw this from a friend’s grandson who lives in Pakistan; seems appropriate to share with some of the audiences who say it is their right to do whatever they want:

    It’s not about you!!

    Let’s say you woke up with a terrible cough, a fever, and severe body aches. Immediately, you rush to the doctor and unfortunately, you’re diagnosed with COVID-19. For the last two weeks, you’ve been unaware that you were infected and you’ve ignored “the rules.” You’ve gotten together with some close friends for pizza, had a few people over, even visited a park and a beach. You figured, “I don’t feel sick. I have the right to keep living my normal life. No one can tell me what to do.”

    With your diagnosis, you spend the next few days at home on the couch, feeling pretty crappy; but then you’re well again because you’re young, healthy and strong. Lucky you. But your best friend caught it from you during a visit to your house, and because she didn’t know she was contagious, she visited her 82-year-old grandfather, who uses oxygen tanks daily to help him breathe because he has COPD and heart failure. Now, he’s dead.

    Your co-worker, who has asthma, caught it too, during your little pizza get-together. Now, he’s in the ICU, and he’s spread it to a few others in his family, too–but they won’t know that for another couple of weeks yet.

    The cashier at the restaurant where you picked up the pizza carried the infection home to his wife, who has MS, which makes her immunosuppressed. She’s not as lucky as you, so she’s admitted to the hospital because she’s having trouble breathing. She may need to be placed in a medically-induced coma and intubated; she may not get to say goodbye to her loved ones. She may die surrounded by machines, with no family at her bedside.

    All because you couldn’t stand the inconvenience of a mask; of staying home; of changing your familiar routines for just a little while. Because you have the right, above all others rights, to continue living your normal life and no one, I mean no one, has the right to tell you what to do.

    #SocialDistancing = It’s not about YOU!

    #WearAMask = It’s not about YOU!

    #StayHome = It’s not about YOU!

    #GetTested = It’s not about YOU!

  2. David L. Lindgren Reply

    Jack, you mentioned “reactivity” which has become a national virus. I was watching yesterday to the hearing with A.G. Barr. Whatever one thinks of him, the reactivity to him was disgraceful. And we all need to hunker down and observe what “pushes our buttons”. We have major systemic problems which won’t be solved from one party or one school of thought. I really believe that we just need to get behind, not in front of Biden, who can stand for someone that can be trusted. Our trust level right now is seemingly at an all-time low. There is a process that needs to be revealed. Answers will come once we begin to master the process of just really “serving the greater good”.

  3. Daniel F. Giallombardo Reply

    As usual your comments are spot on. However, there is one group I believe you failed to mention. The group is (are) those who wish to remain willfully ignorant of what goes on around them. They revel in their ignorance and ridicule those who seek knowledge.Those who believe that what they see on TV is the real deal and anyone who disputes them is obviously out of touch with reality.Those who don’t wear masks, or conform to necessary health protocols are well represented within this group and they are by far the nosiest when it comes to anyone who DOES wear a mask and urges it on others.