A couple of weeks ago on the NC State subreddit, there were rumors about an anti-mask protest at Talley Student Union. Naturally, I clicked on the link and read most of the responses. Thankfully, this protest never happened, but the comment chain led me to an interesting website called “The Free Pack.”
The Free Pack is a student-run publication not affiliated with NC State Student Media. Its website says The Free Pack is, “a conservative news publication lead by NC State students. We cover political opinions, sports, guns, and more.” The online newspaper has published some… interesting articles with headlines such as “When Good Men Do Nothing,” “Lies, Damn Lies, and BLM” and “Campus Carry for North Carolina.”
However, the ones that caught my attention were titled “NC State’s Ridiculous COVID-19 Policies,” “Masks Mandated… What’s Next?” and “Wake County Young Republicans March Against Mask Mandates.” After reading these articles, I noticed two common themes: one is downplaying the pandemic, the other is believing COVID-19 restrictions, like mask mandates, are an arbitrary infringement on our liberties.
There is a lot that I could point out, such as the number of people that have died from COVID-19; how infectious the delta variant is; how masks greatly reduced the spread of diseases in general; how North Carolina public schools require their students to receive certain vaccines and the government has previously implemented policies that are stricter than mask mandates for public safety.
But, I want to discuss their beliefs on liberty. From reading these articles, the writers are concerned about how the mask mandates could lead to a slippery slope of more restrictive measures. I think most people are against the government needlessly implementing policies that restrict our freedom. But the problem with this is not wearing a mask or protecting yourself from COVID-19 actually infringes on other people’s liberty.
A popular political theory in most modern governments is the social contract theory. It basically states that some people have to give up their personal freedoms to ensure that other people’s liberties are secure.
While this theory was originally designed as an unwritten rule between citizens, these ideas have heavily influenced policy. Most laws in the government are designed to keep the public safe and protect their liberties, the COVID-19 measures are a perfect example of that.
It may seem obvious, but being ill can inhibit people’s freedoms. Being ill, whether it be acute or chronic, can prevent us from partaking in certain daily activities, whether it’s being bedridden, unable to climb a flight of stairs and even death.
While it is true that college students are less likely to die from COVID-19, especially if they are vaccinated, that statement isn’t true for everyone. So far, about 66% of the Wolfpack is fully vaccinated, meaning almost a third are at high risk. And people can still get infected even when they are vaccinated, albeit rarely. One of my friends caught COVID-19, even though he is fully vaccinated.
Some can’t receive the vaccine for medical reasons like allergies or they’re immunocompromised, and NC State is a huge campus. We are constantly interacting with people outside of college and could risk spreading the disease even further.
Frankly, your right to get sick should not infringe on my right to stay healthy. Unironically, we live in a society, and the goal of a society is to look out for and protect each other. This means that we sometimes have to sacrifice our personal freedoms to protect other’s liberties. Wearing a mask in certain public spaces and limiting indoor gatherings is a reasonable sacrifice, especially when over half a million people have died from the disease in the U.S. alone.
Even though I lambast these types of articles, I do sympathize with these authors in a way. I don’t like wearing a mask. I miss attending large in-person events at NC State like PackaPalooza. And I can’t stand Zoom University. I wish things would return to normal. But unfortunately, that will never happen, at least not any time soon.
But, we can gain more control of our lives by wearing a mask, social distance, and getting vaccinated. By doing so, we can lower the number of cases and turn COVID-19 into something like the common cold. Yes, it will still be here, but at least we will have our lives return to somewhat normal and ensure people can get the necessary care and treatment.
As long as we are being responsible and getting vaccinated, we can end this pandemic. While it is a cliché at this point, we are all in this together. This means, get your crap together, or the pandemic will last an eternity.