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It's a mask, not a catheter

Florida State plays football in a 79,560-seat stadium, about 20 percent of which — because of COVID-19 concerns — was occupied last week when the Seminoles played Georgia Tech. Theoretically, 18,000 derrieres spread across 80,000 seats ought to have fit into acceptable measures of social distancing.

And yet there were the FSU students, shoehorned into the student section, few of whom wore masks, at least when television cameras panned the crowd.

Perhaps it was the best evidence yet as to why FSU is rarely confused with Yale. Still, does it take a returning champion on Jeopardy to understand that, you know, we're in a health crisis? How many times do Dr. Fauci and officials from the Center for Disease Control have to recommend mask-wearing before it's a good idea?

A more cynical fellow might just ask: Why are people so stupid? But then, that's a more cynical fellow. A more measured chap such as yours truly simply wonders when individual autonomy became more sacrosanct than social responsibility.

I mean, it's a mask. Not a catheter. Now THAT would be invasive and uncomfortable. But this? It's a mask. Batman wore them all the time.

"These facemasks are the important, powerful public health tool we have," new CDC director Robert Redfield told the U.S. Senate on Thursday. "I might even go so far as to say that this facemask is more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine."

Redfield is only a virologist who graduated from Georgetown and served in the U.S. Army medical corps as a colonel for 19 years. What would he know, anyway? Why listen to him when there's always conjecture and something you just read on the Internet?

I understand that college kids aren't necessarily paragons of responsibility. They are intoxicated by newfound freedom, test boundaries and have more boundless idealism than Pfizer has little blue pills. If it were only college kids, perhaps we could dismiss such heedlessness as youthful idiocy and have university and stadium officials actually do their jobs next time.

Ah, but this is an epidemic amid a pandemic. There are people — not the majority, but enough — who have turned mask wearing into a hissing contest, again trotting out the fallacious "slippery slope" argument.

As in: Make me where a mask and ... where does it stop? How long till we're no better than Russia under Stalin?

Loosely translated, the slippery slope fallacy happens when a person makes a claim that one event leads to another event until there's some ghastly conclusion. Each foray in the faulty logic becomes more and more improbable.

One online educational website describes slippery slope thusly: "If we enact any kind of gun control laws, the next thing you know, we won't be allowed to have any guns at all. When that happens, we won't be able to defend ourselves against terrorist attacks, and when that happens terrorists will take over our country. Therefore, gun control laws will cause us to lose our country to terrorists."

Thinking members of society may roll their eyes at that. But some people honestly think that way. I know somebody whose basement is filled with freeze dried food in the event the government shows up at his door. He can barricade himself and live down there. I'm not kidding.

Heck, there was a priceless photo on social media Thursday of a protestor at the gathering for Gov. Ned Lamont holding a sign that read "liberty or death."

Death?

Holy Hyperbole, Batman.

Liberty or death?

The aforementioned cynical fellow might reappear to suggest that "death" happens when a compromised individual gets COVID from an asymptomatic carrier who wasn't wearing a mask. But then that would require the carrier to understand societal decency before he or she launched into The Life And Times Of The U.S. Constitution.

I've said this before and I'll say it again: If the framers knew we'd morph into this mess, they'd have thrown themselves into Boston Harbor and not the tea.

College football goes for Round Two this weekend. Some stadiums will allow fans. Others won't. Here's hoping the cameras show more responsible people this weekend than last.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro

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