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Tribes of American 

Respiratory droplets. They're the little globs of moisture our mouths and noses expel when we're breathing, talking, singing, coughing, sneezing, wheezing, and in the case of most politicians, bloviating. Six feet social of distancing? Probably not enough! A sneeze can be expelled at 100 miles per hour and create 100,000 respiratory droplets. A cough: 50 miles per hour and 3,000 droplets. It's science, baby! You're welcome to your opinions, but facts are facts.

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You'd think this information would be easily understood and universally accepted. To protect others from COVID-19, we should do all we can to protect one another from the respiratory droplets we all expel.

In one corner we have people willing to wear masks to protect their fellow citizens and front-line workers; in the other, self-proclaimed "patriots" who are certain masks do nothing. To them, demanding they wear a face mask is tantamount to tyranny, and if you succumb to the social pressure to wear one, you're sheeple!

To the mask-wearers, refusing to wear a mask is irresponsible, rude, and potentially dangerous. It's a signal that you literally don't care about anyone but yourself. Which side you're on is predictably tied to your politics. Liberal? Mask! Conservative? No mask!

What amazes me is that even during a pandemic, our hyper-partisan, über-polarized tribalism is unshakable. The United States of America may be 244 years old, but a third of us have the maturity of a hissy-fitting toddler.

In this week's cover story, "Coronavirus split," we lay out the political divide, which according to Republican Party of SLO County Chair Randall Jordan isn't political at all.

"This is not a political thing. This is not a Republican-versus-Democrat thing at all," Jordan claimed. "This is a freedom question; it's a personal rights question."

Oh! Personal rights! You're basically saying you have the right to expel your COVID-y respiratory droplets on whomever you want, and people not being OK with that is taking away your right ... to infect others? Hmm. I'm running through the Constitution and Bill of Rights in my head and damn if I'm not drawing a blank on where you have the right to be Typhoid Mary.

Jordan thinks the shelter-at-home orders and forced "non-essential" business closures were also infringing on personal liberties.

"The punishment, I won't even say the requirements, the punishment that we are seeing with this shelter-at-home and the essential versus nonessential businesses—we feel that is way overblown for what is proven to be a very benign pandemic," Jordan said, without a hint of irony.

Hey Randy—can I call you Randy?—anyway, Randy, I'm guessing you don't know any of the 100,000-and-counting dead Americans who think the pandemic isn't exactly "benign." Maybe you should talk to their families? You can explain your "benign pandemic" theory to them. I'm sure they'd find it fascinating. Maybe you could get real close to them and sort of scream it at them like those nice protesters yelling bare-faced into the faces of front-line workers guarding government buildings.

Sweet baby Jesus! Can we literally not agree on anything? The no-mask brigade also wants to question the 100,000-death count, which The New York Times recently estimated to be under-counted by about 30,000. I saw one Mensa candidate spewing his anti-mask fart theory on Facebook that if you can smell a fart through jeans and underwear that's proof a cloth face mask can't protect anyone from COVID-19.

Dude. Duderino. The dudester. I think you're mixing up farting and sharting, bro. Let me break it down for you. When you fart, you're expelling a gas, called either flatus or intestinal gas, and when you shart, you're expelling liquid and solid fecal matter, sort of like big respiratory droplets, see? So when you wear jeans, you keep your shit in your pants, and when you wear a face covering, you keep your coronavirus-ridden respiratory droplets in your mask. Basically, when you refuse to wear a mask, you're saying you have a right to shit in my face. In fact, if you'd just keep your mouth shut (or your hands off the keyboard), people wouldn't even know that you're a total fricking moron.

Listen, put a damn mask on and quit being knuckle-dragging know-nothings whose maskless faces are telling everyone around you, "I can't understand the concept of respiratory droplets because there're too many syllables. I'm a fussy baby! I demand my right to be a big fat idiot. Oops! Did I just shart again?"

I get that this pandemic has been going on a long time and people are stir-crazy. I get the sentiment that "I'm not sick and I'm not scared so I should be able to go out and do whatever I want, and if you're sick or scared YOU stay home." I totally get it. You want a haircut. You want to gather in groups. You want to buy new jeans because of that shart stain. Can you try just a little to be part of the solution? When you're out in public around other people, can you put on a face covering?

It won't make you look like a sheeple; it'll make you look like a functioning, empathetic adult. Δ

The Shredder wears a mask because it's a luchador! Send comments and suggestions to shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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