My "Masking is Viciously Ableist" Post Has Provided Inspiration! Thank you.
An open letter - "your post inspired me." May **you** also be inspired to speak out, protest - if at least to unmask with moral clarity!
One of the big reasons why I posted the original article on the vicious ableism inherent in the forever masking proponents was really to illustrate how *I* made the critical turn from being cowed and intimidated by those who “weaponize empathy” to being able to unmask myself in public places, finally, with a strong sense of moral clarity.
One of the things that’s really been extremely gratifying is to hear that my article has inspired others to reject this narrative of “mask because you care” and turn it back on them. Unmask because you care - because for the disabled, the blind, the sensory impaired, those with autism, developmental disorders, dementia, etc. - that’s not the world you want them to be forced to live in.
One of my early subscribers to “Life in Long Term Care Land,” Mary McCarthy, tells me that she read the article and was motivated to write the quoted letter to the governing bodies of her local Boston Public Library, protesting their masking policies:
Masking and the Public Library: An Open Letter
The history of libraries serving people with disabilities is long and distinguished. Libraries were often the first social or government institutions in many communities across the nation to recognize the humanity of people with disabilities and provide services to promote their rights and equality….”
“In 1897, when the Library of Congress opened its reading room for the blind, some public libraries, school libraries, and library consortia had already been building collections of materials in alternate formats for about 50 years. The establishment in 1906 of the American Library Association’s (ALA) first committee for services to people with disabilities cemented the national leadership of libraries in the struggle for inclusion of persons with disabilities…”
“These developments in librarianship occurred before people with disabilities had gained many basic rights in many other contexts, from the right to have an education or employment to even the right to go outside at certain times of day in communities that had what were known as ‘ugly laws’.”
“Ugly”: unwanted, unimportant, an unclean viral vector. That is how the Plexiglas and threatening masked, faceless figures of librarians make me feel at the ---- Public Library, a place I once cherished as a home away from home, an essential link to a community of neighbors.
Now, as I enter the library, I feel it for the first time-- can no longer escape the cruel ‘truth’ that only a couple of years ago I was able to brush off and cope with. I feel the full humiliation now. Invisible, old, deaf, partially blind. Helpless and alone. Handicapped and unwanted. I suppose it’s been true on some level for a long time, but now I know it and it feels each time like a punch in the gut. I know each time that any interaction with a librarian in a mask will be completely unintelligible, the sound muffled by fabric and Plexiglas, the faces and lips unreadable, unknowable. My incomprehension met with a shrug. Not a single smile greets me. The library has become, for me, a profoundly lonely and inaccessible place.
Abelism is defined as discrimination in favor of able-bodied people, and like racism and sexism, it can be systemic involving the perpetuation of systems and practices that effectively discriminate against the handicapped. As one gerontologist who serves nursing home residents put it, “I would say that the forever masking …crowd…are viciously ableist - as they are creating and perpetuating a system that keeps those with dementia, deafness, the developmentally and intellectually disabled, the communication disordered - perpetually confused, isolated, and cut off from the world around them. “
After nearly three years of circulation SarsCoV2 is no longer novel—it is fully endemic and it will be so for generations to come. It has joined four other endemic human corona viruses (HCoV-OC43, -229E, -NL63 and -HKU1), which also cause upper and lower respiratory tract infections. HCoVs are globally distributed and the predominant species may vary by region or year. Like all RNA viruses, corona viruses mutate rapidly and active infections ebb and flow with the seasons causing symptoms which range from mild transient colds to more severe infections. For eons humans have lived with, and evolved to handle, over 200 different respiratory tract pathogens--all of which are far too tiny to be effectively blocked with cloth or surgical masks or even respirator masks under ordinary conditions.
See this detailed review: https://www.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/2021-11/working-paper-64.pdf
As has been known for decades, the best systemic preventative against airborne respiratory pathogens is not masking but excellent ventilation, which the libraries’ spacious dimensions and new HVAC systems provide and which Plexiglas impedes. Now that almost everyone in the Boston area has some level of immunity to SarsCoV2, whether, natural and/or vaccine-induced (estimated 70-90%+), it is time to recognize masks and Plexiglas barriers for what they are--ineffective crutches that provide a false sense of security that mirrors the prevailing false sense of risk. I recognize that there may be frail and/or elderly library staff who have come to deeply fear going without a mask, but surely the library has a few healthy, brave and caring younger people willing on a daily basis to be the “public face” of the Public Library.
I beg of you to begin discouraging universal staff masking at the Brookline Public Libraries and implore at least some librarians to find the courage and compassion to welcome back library patrons, including the disabled, with smiles and friendly faces.
Thank you Mary!