July 28, 2020 10:30:50 AM
Forty-three years ago, I worked at Peterbilt Motors in Nashville where I was one of a dozen college students hired for a summer job program. I worked with four other college students in the factory's maintenance department, where we were generally disliked by the union workers who considered all of us to be "smarty-pants."
One day, one of my fellow students was in the maintenance shop and absently picked up a piece of angle iron one of the union workers had just finished welding. He yelped in pain, dropping the piece of still-hot metal.
The union men had a good laugh.
One worker: "It musta been hot, huh?"
Another: "Nah. It just don't take him long to look at a piece of angle iron."
I am reminded of that story by the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors' posture about a proposal for a county-wide mask requirement, which is to say they are handling it like it's hot.
In the first week of July, the cities of Columbus, Starkville and West Point implemented mask requirements, as did the Oktibbeha County supervisors. It seemed a forgone conclusion that the Lowndes County supervisors would follow suit.
Yet in two meetings the supervisors have picked up the proposal and just as quickly put it down.
On Monday, they decided to ask Gov. Tate Reeves to add Lowndes County to the group of 29 counties he has placed under a mask mandate through executive orders, to which he responded, "While I appreciate them asking me to do it, they certainly have the ability to be the bad guy, too."
The supervisors have the ability. What they lack is the nerve.
The spin the supervisors are putting on this is that there are "liability" issues to consider that somehow don't apply to all of the other local governments.
But the argument is not entirely without merit.
The supervisors are liable, all right. They're liable to get criticized.
Beyond that, it's a hard argument to make. I am not aware of any instance where masks have spontaneously combusted into flames, maiming the wearers, for example.
I really can't think of any real health hazards associated with wearing a mask, aside from wearing a mask while making an unauthorized withdrawal at a bank teller's window.
But there apparently remains a stubborn belief in some parts of Lowndes County that there are other risks.
For example, did you know that the carbon dioxide particles of people most devoted to defending their personal liberties are far larger than those of the general population, who are all probably socialists anyway? Unlike everyone else, these people's carbon dioxide particles are so large they get trapped in the mask, which means they are breathing their own deadly carbon dioxide fumes, which they mysteriously produce in roughly the same quantity as plugging a rubber hose into the tailpipe of a car in a closed garage.
Talk about killer breath, huh?
Another worry is that wearing a mask prevents liberty lovers from getting rid of their COVID-19 particles. So they keep breathing their own COVID-19 particles until the COVID-19 particles finally get fed up and decide, "Look, if you're not going to let us go, we're gonna stick around and make you sick."
So now they're breathing both COVID-19 and carbon dioxide.
If it ain't one dang thing, it's another.
Finally, there are some who say certain medical conditions make mask-wearing dangerous to their health.
There are two known conditions to which this applies: Longus Diritium (chronic stubbornness) and Ignorantiae Paranoia (irrational fear caused by ignorance).
The Lowndes County supervisors are taking all of these factors very seriously.
They find themselves simultaneously being too careful and not careful enough.
They're handing it like it's hot.
And although we know we shouldn't, we can't help but laugh.
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is [email protected]
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