“You can’t arrest someone for not wearing a mask!” exclaims one observer toward the end of the video. As is seen here, police can, at least in Logan, Ohio. Whether or not that arrest holds up remains to be seen, but an even better question arises — is mask defiance a good reason to taser someone? And what does all this struggling and shouting do for suppressing COVID-19 transmission?
Or maybe just more basically … isn’t this insane? Via Third Base Politics, and NSFW language included:
A Marietta City Schools parent has been detained and arrested following noncompliance with state mask mandates during an eighth-grade football game at Logan this evening according to MCS Athletic Director Cody Venderlic.
“I’m grateful that it didn’t happen in Marietta, but it saddens me that it was Marietta that caused it in Logan,” said Venderlic. “As athletic directors, we’ve talked about this too and the biggest challenge about dealing with visiting fans is people behave much better at home than when they’re on the road.” …
MCS Board Member Doug Mallett is also seen in both of the videos, rising when the woman appears to have been tased by the police officer administering the arrest.
‘It escalated pretty fast into an ugly situation, he tased her pretty fast,” said Mallett. “I didn’t see where she was putting anybody at risk, I guess that’s a Logan rule. It depends on interpretation, it’s a state rule, but I thought there was some wiggle room if you have health issues. I tried to stay out of it until he got the taser out.”
It escalated fast, but there’s blame on both sides for that. The enforcement of the mask mandate may have been heavy-handed, but police have the authority to detain people for violations of the law. Resisting arrest leads to escalating force, including tasering when that resistance becomes physical to the point of obstruction. The proper action for the woman would have been to comply with being detained while objecting, and have an attorney work it out afterward.
With that said, and acknowledging that the school had informed everyone of the requirement to wear a mask, let’s look at the actual risk this woman presented. There wasn’t anyone outside her family “bubble” within six feet of her breath; in fact, it doesn’t look like there was anyone within twenty feet of her until the police officer approached. Besides that, this game was played outdoors, where transmission risk is minimal anyway. Masks make sense indoors or where participant density is significant, but in this case the transmission risk from woman was likely zero. A request to put the mask back on should have sufficed, or even a ticket requiring a fine, but what transpires in this video exponentially increased the risk of transmission. How did that serve the public good that the mask mandate is supposedly serving?
This comes at a time when we are having massive debates about policing, and this is an ironic display of how mandates can create bad outcomes in law enforcement. If we want less intrusive policing, we should have fewer intrusive laws and emergency mandates. Masks might be a rational choice for a mandate in a pandemic, but the imposition of them has felt much more like political pandering without any thought as to their enforcement consequences. This video puts those absurd consequences on full display.
And with that, here’s an exit question: shouldn’t the police be wearing masks, too? Watch the clip carefully to see who is and isn’t wearing masks, a point not lost on the witnesses in the stands.