Masks as security theater, starring Cooper and Cohen

I noticed during a previous (Oct. 15) press briefing this bit of weirdness from Gov. Roy Cooper and Mandy Cohen: “Cooper and Cohen donning and doffing masks going back and forth completely undermine their rationale behind the [mask] edict.”

What they are modeling is the silliness of the mask order that requires, for example, wearing a face mask from the restaurant door to the table. We are supposed to believe that any encounter, no matter how brief, even just passing on the sidewalk, from an unmasked person is potentially dangerous, especially if they are perfectly healthy. We are also supposed to believe that the virus knows to leave the seated diner alone, just as it knows to distinguish between political gatherings (a good rule of thumb: if it involves destruction of other people’s property, it’s safe).

Also, the mask is to prevent droplets, which we’re to believe is the mode of infection transmission such that any old household cloth, including dish towels, would effectively stop it.

Look at this behavior during yesterday’s press briefing:

No mask needed to speak, but …



… passing your coworker is unsafe.




Whoops. Forgot. Good thing we haven’t made citizen-snitches normal yet!


You know, that microphone has been sitting there the whole time absorbing droplets. I’m sure Cooper and Cohen don’t feel unwell — er, I mean they feel entirely asymptomatic. But that’s when they say a person is most dangerous! The whole rationale for strapping masks on healthy people depends on that nonsense belief.


Still, that’s a lot of time standing and talking — you know, forcefully exhaling droplets — unmasked at the same spot. It’s a relief they’re so safe in the three steps between the podium and the wall, unless one of them forgets to show the other “love” and “care” in that journey.

In short, this isn’t the behavior of people worried about a virus ready to attack them in a brief moment of unmasked sin. It’s performative — security theater. The greatest threat of the virus in the room, however teeny, is at the podium where they stand and speak for minutes on end unmasked. But they pretend and we’re supposed to believe the virus respects the person speaking at a podium.

I’m not kidding; it’s one of the exceptions in Cooper’s mask order:

C. Exceptions. This Executive Order does not require Face Coverings for—and a Face Covering does not need to be worn by—a worker, customer, or patron who: …

6. Is giving a speech for a broadcast or to an audience;

But patriotism!

Incidentally, the selection within the video was random, except that it is about the time where Cooper declared that “A mask is not political; it’s patriotic.” If he believes that, then he knows the mask order is redundant. He should have trusted people and let them retain the right to choose if they want to wear masks, when, and where.

Besides, Gov. Cooper well knows that North Carolinians will gladly and voluntarily engage in something they believe is truly patriotic, given that he vetoed legislation passed by the General Assembly that would have allowed people to enjoy Fourth of July celebrations, parades, and fireworks displays.

Jon Sanders / Director of Regulatory Studies

Jon Sanders studies regulatory policy, a veritable kudzu of invasive government and unintended consequences. As director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, Jo...

Reader Comments