I understand the feelings of people who are screaming about their freedoms being trampled, and angry about the effect shuttered businesses haven on our economy. I really do. Few industries are hurting more than mine, which depends on all the others to keep it afloat.
I expected attitude adjustments when things started opening back up, but I was wrong. Some people believe their "freedoms" allow them to berate, threaten and even kill people who say society is reopening too quickly, or who wear masks in public. The bullies are cretins who have no clue what "liberty" means. As my husband says, "Your freedom stops at the end of my nose." I would now add, "at the end of my nose, plus 6 feet." I have other things to say to "freedom fighters" who have no respect for any viewpoints but their own. Not that they read newspapers, but on the off chance that someone shares my ramblings, I'll speak directly to them.
1. If businesses do not want to open yet, that's their choice. You do not have a right to throw a brick through the window just because you can't get what they're selling.
2. You may not feel comfortable wearing a mask. Neither do I, but I do so out of respect for others. Stop attacking people who are following protocols recommended by educated scientists, rather than politicians whose only concern is their own re-election.
3. Your "freedom of speech" allows you to ridicule people who are following protocols. However, it makes you look foolish, and others will remember your behavior. You can ridicule the media, too, but you do not have a right to demand they allow you to say whatever you want in their forums. Standards of decency are not censorship. We are not government agencies; we are private businesses. As long as we don't lie, show bias, or deny you access to information that is rightfully yours, we can and do set standards that prohibit you from personally attacking private individuals. Criticizing public officials is another thing, but even so, you cannot lie about them.￼
4. You may believe this virus is a hoax, and you have a right to make yourself look silly by saying so. But remember there are people who are fighting for their lives at this very moment. Yes, you should be able to express the opinion that the economy should be reopened, too, without being assailed.
5. Many of you are saying, "If you're scared, stay home." It is not fear that drives most concerns; it is respect for the vulnerable. Many of those staying home are suffering economically, like you. They just have a different way of reacting to the crisis than you do. I suspect it is you who are afraid. I wish those who wear masks would steer clear of you, rather than confront you. They're wasting their breath and endangering their welfare because of your belligerence. You should respect their choice to follow protocols - and a choice it is, because there's no law in place to force it on them, or you. The constitutionality of a law would be questionable.
6. The stores you enter, and their owners, have a right to deny you entry for refusing to wear a mask or follow arrows for one-way aisles, just as they can if you show up without a shirt or shoes. They also have a right to refuse to let you bring your gun onto their premises. If you're one of those who thinks the Second Amendment is an absolute right, you are woefully uneducated about what the framers had in mind. Businesses belong to their owners, not you.￼
7. Public spaces like courthouses and capitol buildings don't just belong to you; they belong to the rest of the public, including those who don't want to be exposed to the virus. I do empathize with those of you who say politicians who reopen everything else ought to open their own domains as well. And I find it ironic that politicians who allow guns in public parks ban them from their own statehouses. But since they are under such threat now from people on the extreme ends of this crisis, you should try to consider what drives their decisions.￼
8. If you live in a city where protocols have been established, you can criticize the politicians, but think twice before you demonize. I know most of the people on the crisis team in our city, and I can tell you they are agonizing over these matters. How would you like to have to choose whether to err on the side of life based on health concerns, or life based on economic ones? What makes you think you're smarter than all these folks? Got news: You're not.
9. If you really care about the economic viability of your community, stop putting your own selfish needs first. If you care about the businesses, whether you go into them or stay home, you will support them in whatever way possible. That may mean buying gift cards for later use. If all you do is say a kind word to these devastated business owners, that's better than nothing.￼ Personally, I will do business with the ones who are keeping their chins up valiantly, instead of constantly griping about their predicament.
10. ￼Stop nitpicking. You wouldn't believe the emails we get from people calling us incompetent or greedy, so I can imagine what community and business leaders are putting up with. Don't yell at a store owner because toilet paper isn't available. Don't demean a cashier for wearing a mask. Don't tell your stylist you won't wait in your car until it's your turn. Don't utter a word of negativity toward a health care worker or I will call you out. And if you must criticize a newspaper - ours or anyone else's - think before you send a hateful email condemning a typo, or an error, or because you couldn't an article free It's easy to make a typo on a smartphone. You have not walked a mile in our shoes. If we made a mistake, let us know and we will fix it.￼
I feel better. Maybe next week, I'll write about farts in church - or something else less serious.