Super fastidious but mask averse

Shaun Walker, the Guardian‘s man in Moscow (again), tweeted yesterday:

Quite odd how Muscovites, who in normal times are super fastidious about hygiene (washing hands regularly, avoiding dirt etc) are mask averse.

600 Covid cases a day in Moscow and maximum 25% of ppl in busy metro carriage wearing masks.

Luckily, I’ve been able to avoid using the underground in the rush hour for I don’t even remember how long. Wearing a mask sounds like a good idea even without Covid-19, just to avoid getting the common flu. With Covid though, it’s critical that everyone wear masks, not just 25% (although it’s still better than nothing).

Two commenters remarked that the non-masked commuters must have been the same Russian types who would fear icy drafts from open windows and drinking cold water in hot weather. Same or different, I don’t know and, frankly, I wouldn’t care to find out.

Another commenter, based in “Stockholm for now,” poured out his pseudo-libertarian objections:

If you could live in a society that accepted risk as a price worth paying to live like free people, or a society where life is daily managed by technocrats promising the illusion of apparent safety, which would you choose?

So it’s business as usual in the comments. I wouldn’t care much for the freaks if only the unprotected got the virus. Wear no mask, take the risk, get the disease, OK. You asked for it; you got it. But of course it doesn’t work remotely like this. Mask-haters drive up the risk of infection for everyone, including the most vulnerable.

It’s one of those rare situations where the government merely amplifies the voice of common sense, inevitably distorting it in the process. One could claim with some reason the Russian public always mistrusts the government but this mistrust is illogically selective. I’m tempted to make a facile and tasteless comparison to the Cholera Riots of 1830-31, when crazed crowds attacked doctors and government officials, accusing them of spreading the disease intentionally.

I could even imagine a mass anti-Putinist movement founded on some harebrained idea, like the government irradiating people with Covid-19 from 5G cell towers. Would I join it? Sure, why not?

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