Even as I’m about to write this post, I have to say in full disclosure that I have debated mightily whether to even bother saying anything about this whole Tucker Carlson kids with masks comment. And believe me when I say, I don’t want to. I don’t especially want to give any more attention to anything this outrageous and egregious. I know there is a whole industry of saying incendiary and irresponsible things to get attention and I hate feeding it. In this case, the guy’s own network maintains in court that what he says is so ridiculous that it can’t be accepted as fact or truth. The world is full of loudmouths, he is one of those loudmouths, and my general policy is to ignore that kind of thing.
Also, it is not my desire to wade into politics, but this is precisely the kind of example of the kind of thing I feel like defined the last year or so. Things that shouldn’t have a damn thing to do with politics suddenly become political. And because as I’m in the process of writing my retrospective book of our time in the age of COVID, I’ve taken occasion to talk about this issue a few times, I feel like I have to say something about this nonessense. Sigh. So here it goes.
For those who haven’t heard, Tucker Carlson said to a camera on a TV show that people watch that wearing masks outside is ridiculous and then went a few trillion steps further and said that if you see kids on a playground wearing masks, you should call the cops and child services on the parents. It has encouraged lots of backlash and today I heard noted leftie commie liberal Bill Kristol say it was one the worst things he’s ever heard someone say.
I work pretty hard at being a decent dad, and it’s good to know that in the eyes of Tucker Carlson and any of his fans who are not privy to the FOX News legal department’s stance that everything he says is unbelieveable nonsense, and a judge’s ruling that “any reasonable viewer” wouldn’t believe anything he says, I am apparently a child abuser.
Now as a savvy media consumer and one who realizes the power of outrage on both sides of the political spectrum, I figured maybe I should hear this clip before jumping to conclusions. I know that often this kind of thing is exaggerated for clicks. Maybe it was taken out of context or blown out of proportion, like the recent rash of news stories about Joe Biden’s plans to take away everyone’s hamburgers, which according to Fox New’s own retraction this week, is 100 percent made up. I presume Wimpy from Popeye was behind the whole thing.
Anyway, I listened to the clip and not only had Carlson not been taken out of context, what he said was actually much worse than I originally thought. He said parents having their child wear masks was the same as a parent physically beating their child in Wal-Mart. Same thing. But possibly different, I suppose, than beating a child in Target, because that place is for elitists.
He not only said the police should be called, he further said you should keep calling the police until someone shows up. You know, because I’m sure the first 37 times you call the police to report a kid wearing a face covering that we’ve all been wearing regularly for the past year, the police would probably hang up and say they have much more important things to do.
But seriously, is this where we are now? My following CDC guidelines, which say that unvaccinated people, which include all children, should wear masks in crowds outside, means I’m abusing my children? It’s one thing for a drunk guy on a street corner to say that, but a person was allowed to get on TV and say this, and still have a job the next day?
If you don’t believe that COVID is a problem and 600,000 Americans are dead in a vast conspiracy to make Donald Trump look bad, that is nifty. Good on you. If you believe masks are for suckers, cool. Don’t wear them. And tear the cellophane off me, because I am a sucker. It’s one thing to say I’m a dum-dum-head for wearing a mask or that I’m a nervous nelly of a parent because I have my kids wear masks. Lay on the insults, baby, I can take them. But to raise this to the level of threatening my family over our health and safety choices? Yeah, that’s pretty far over the line. It’s also pretty rich that a guy who claims to be all against government and for individual liberty is now pushing the idea of having the state seize the children of people who don’t agree with you.
There are those of us who do believe what scientists and infectious disease experts recommend over the advice of random hucksters and pillow manufacturers. If we’re being overly cautious, fine. I’d rather be wrong in the direction of safety. My kids and I do wear masks in public places. Sorry if that bugs anyone. We will continue to do so in crowded outside situations as long as CDC guidelines say we should. For example, we were at the playground the other day, and for most of the time we were there, we were on our own and not wearing masks. When other children arrived, who I will note were also wearing masks, we put our masks on for both our safety and theirs. It’s respect and caution. Even my kids get that and do it without complaint.
I could go down a deep, deep rabbit hole here because while I find much of the culture war nonsense to be simply exasperating, this particular comment is deeply offensive and inherently dangerous. For gods sake, I already have to be worried about going into grocery stores or any public place with my kids for fear of being shot, and now I have to worry that some yahoo is going to call the cops because my family and I choose to follow basic CDC guidelines in the middle of a pandemic.
Of course, I know my opinion doesn’t mean much, but where does this go? When will stop turning every tiny thing in life into a signet of political affiliation? Will kids’ car seats suddenly become political and those of us who use them will be judged because hey, how many kids die in cars anyway?
Is there any chance of bringing down the temperature a little? I’m exhausted. We’re all just trying to get through this hellish pandemic and the great irony is that all the resistance to masks and vaccinations will just make it take longer and longer and longer. The more the virus is allowed to spread, the greater the risk of variants and the harder it will be to wipe it out. And I guess we’ll have more of this kind of junk to look forward to along the way.
I hesitated to write anything about this, meant to write a few sentences, and now I’ve gone and gotten on a soapbox. Oh well. If you’re still here reading this, I’ll end by saying PLEASE for goodness sake, get vaccinated and play it safe just a little longer. I know this is the pits, but we’re so close. The end can be in sight if we all work together. Despite popular rumor, those of us who wear masks don’t love it. Masks suck, but getting sick sucks a lot more. I’m really tired of the steamed up glasses, but steam makes me think of breathing on my own, something I would very much like to continue doing.