Last week, the Bundestag finally passed the Infection Protection Act drawn up by Karl Lauterbach and Marco Buschmann. By the time these latest regulations expire, it will have been around 1,100 days to flatten the curve, and there’s no promise that we’ll be done even then. The law primarily empowers the federal states to impose mask mandates during the winter-tyre season, between October 1st and Easter. At the end there were some final, insulting adjustments: The federal government withdrew the general mask mandates for airplanes, in exchange for German-wide FFP2 masking requirements at healthcare clinics.
We have been doing this for a very long time now. That is pretty much the only observation I have left in me. We have had two-and-a-half years of recurring all-day masking regimens for schoolchildren. We have had two-and-a-half years of masking in the hallways of our offices, but generally not at our desks. We have had two years of masking on the way to the toilet at the pub, but not at our tables. We have had two years of non-sealing FFP2 respirators instead of surgical masks, although we’ve known since the beginning that SARS-2 is transmitted primarily via aerosols. We have had two-and-a-half years of masks failing every natural experiment that they’ve been put to, two-and-a-half years of masks serving as a pretence to ban protests, two-and-a-half years of social anxiety and unnecessary arguments with confrontational terrified old people, two-and-a-half years of mandated social isolation and anonymity, and it has all been for nothing.
This Science Following upon which we’ve embarked, has been a curious experiment indeed. It amounts to an abdication of our own sense and reason, in favour of some nebulous superordinate authority that is the only true source of knowledge about the world. For millions and millions of people, masks simply work even when they don’t, because The Science says so, and the mandates are necessary to prevent infections, even when they cannot, because The Science says so. Following The Science has turned us into a society of dead-eyed zombie lunatics, robbed of every last intellectual immune defence against absurdity. That might be the main reason that all of the policies ushered in under the banner of The Science are so blatantly ineffective, irrational and contrary to all evidence. Anything that makes sense doesn’t need The Science. People can be convinced of its importance in their own minds.
More and more, I cannot bear the masks. Their use is contrary to a healthy and normal social life. I will probably finally leave mask-fetishising academia over this, that’s how much I can’t stand it. Wearing a mask is participating in an antisocial hygiene virus cult. It’s been devastating for me to watch older colleagues, whose opinion and expertise I respect, succumb to this irrational superstition. The mask is always donned with a slight embarrassed aversion of the eyes; if not enough people are wearing them, a few of the less mesmerised might opt out. The girls like brightly coloured green and red masks. If only one of them is masked, another girl might don one in solidarity. The men in suits prefer the black ones, which they store in their breast jacket pockets with old receipts and pens. The old ladies all have white masks that they bought at their local pharmacy on the corner, which they also wear outside, and for all I know in the shower too. You’re not allowed ever to mention any of this, or comment on how unbelievably stupid it all is.
Masks are evil because they frame everyone as a potential vector of disease, and force the healthy to act as if they were sick. They are a reminder to keep several meters distance at all times, to sanitise your hands, and to engage in all the other stupid pandemic liturgies that evaporated this summer during our very brief mask reprieve. Masks are socially corrosive, and on top of that they’re ugly, they smell terrible, they’re physically uncomfortable, and—biggest of ironies for an alleged hygiene product—their daily use and re-use is just disgusting. But none of this matters, because Science.