I am the grocery shopper in the house, mostly because I enjoy it. I even enjoy going grocery shopping in foreign countries, because it’s interesting to see what other people consider to be normal food. Familiar and normal are different, after all.
Here in the Age of Lockdown, the local grocery store is pretty much the only place I go anymore. Sometimes I make it to other shops, occasionally I’ll feed Lauren’s chickens out at our friend’s barn, and once in a while I go into Home Campus to do things I can’t do remotely (a surprisingly small percentage of my various jobs, really), but for the most part my world has narrowed to a path that runs from my house to the grocery store and back.
For a long time the mask-wearing rate there was about 60% or so, but this has improved markedly since the governor here imposed a mask mandate. Yes, the GOP legislature in Wisconsin – a body that has not passed a single piece of legislation in over six months and yet still insists it has the right to draw a paycheck (don’t you hate people who live off your tax dollars and do no work?) – has spent much of this year suing the governor in an attempt to prevent any state authority from doing anything to help the people of Wisconsin during the current plague, but for the most part people here in Our Little Town have figured it out. Since the mandate went into effect I’d say the compliance rate at the grocery store has hovered around 95% or so.
This tells you two things.
First of all, it tells you that at least here this is not considered a partisan issue. Given the realities of a divided electorate, a 95% compliance rate is a clear sign that both Republicans and Democrats have figured out that the virus doesn’t give a damn about your politics and will kill you no matter what you believe. This is, strangely enough, somewhat heartening.
And second, it tells you that even with that there are still a few people who insist that their personal inconvenience is more important than your life. People who think that having to comply with a basic public health measure is somehow a violation of their rights. People who don’t understand how science, Constitutional law, or basic morality work.
Invariably, those people have a Gadsden flag emblem on their person somewhere.
It’s on their hat. It’s on their t-shirt. It’s on their jacket. It’s tattooed on their forehead. Somewhere, somehow, it’s there. The overlap between people with that emblem and people without masks is almost complete.
This is why I have come to regard that emblem as a Moron Detector.
It was, at one point, a symbol of the American Revolution – a declaration by American patriots that they would stand in their own defense against a Crown bent on denying them the traditional rights of Englishmen. Whether the Crown actually intended to do anything of the sort is something of an open question of course – up until the mid-1770s it was not really all that clear that either side understood what the other was trying to do and only after the shooting started did the lines harden that way. But at least that was the symbolism as it was intended.
It doesn’t mean that anymore.
Now it is used almost exclusively by people who regard themselves as the center of all creation, who see their own personal wishes and conveniences as being paramount over all other concerns, and who don’t see the irony of using a Revolutionary symbol of community strength as a cover for making narcissistic threats to the common good.
Someday the rest of us will have to reclaim that symbol and turn it back into something we can be proud of. This may take a while, though.