Mubei Li, APMA 2020, China
A video of a group of maskless people parading through a Target store in Florida in the USA went viral on social media last September 2020. In the video, one of the protesters can be heard saying “If you want to wear a mask and think (it) makes you safer…that’s absolutely your right, 100%. Just don’t force me to wear a mask…because it’s my right not to wear one.”
While the protesters’ reasons for not wearing masks may technically be valid, this also violates other people’s rights. Not wearing masks can—and does—worsen the pandemic. They could be the one spreading the virus, easily transmitting it from one person to another. The virus can be transmitted even if the carrier is asymptomatic.
If too many people need hospitalization at the same time, this places enormous stress on the medical system. This also places people with other medical conditions in danger, as health systems become overwhelmed, resources overstretched, and health practitioners overworked. Thousands of frontline medical workers across the United States work round the clock without appropriate protective personal equipment, placing the health workers themselves at great risk as they try to do their jobs of saving lives.
What’s worse, these “anti-maskers” are simply not satisfied not wearing masks themselves, they try to push other people to do the same. They take to social media and other digital platforms to spread disinformation, misguiding audiences with their selfish, irresponsible and baseless claims. There is evidence that suggests wearing masks helps prevent the virus’ spread.
According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.” The UDHR also reminds us that, while we all have rights and freedoms, these rights and freedoms are not absolute; they should not infringe on and violate the rights and freedoms of others.
These anti-maskers, as members of society have a responsibility not only protect themselves, but also to protect other people. Unfortunately, do not seem to take this into account. They fail to understand the connections and differences between their rights and freedoms and their responsibility to others
The behavior of anti-maskers shed a light on how certain politicians in the U.S. lead and manipulate public opinion. As leaders of U.S., as duty bearer in this rights system, their lack of leadership and words and deeds against science have directly resulted in this situation, with seven million infected and over 200,000 dead. What’s worse, the world as a global community, also suffer from their inaction.
In conclusion, the claims of anti-maskers are against science and human rights. They not only fight against science, they also violate other’s rights just because they think they only of their individual so-called freedom.
*The contents of this opinion piece are solely those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the view of the either Global Campus of Human Rights Asia Pacific, the universities under it, or the APMA program.
Photo from CNN.