As neighboring Nashville has recently announced a mask mandate, let’s hope that Nashvillians and Williamson County residents don’t respond the way some of the residents of Palm Beach County, Florida reacted when their local government was preparing to vote on a mask requirement. I watched the video of the many head-scratching statements and mind-blowing accusations spewed in the public forum at the PBC commissioners meeting.
The County Counts
First of all, having lived in Palm Beach County, where I served as an assistant pastor for nine years, I’m not terribly surprised by any news of craziness coming out of PBC. Embarrassed, yes. Surprised, no.
Secondly, in truth and fairness, Palm Beach County is a very large county. As residents of Williamson County, Tennessee, we think our county is large, with its 584 square miles. Palm Beach County has 2,383 square miles. Williamson County would fit inside Palm Beach County like a motorcycle in a 3-car garage. Palm Beach County alone is larger than Rhode Island or Delaware.
Williamson County has an estimated population of 240,000. Palm Beach County tips the scales at 1.5 million. My point is that it’s not vital to have a huge population in order to have a remnant of citizens with unusual and extreme positions and beliefs… but it helps. I know Palm Beach County to be overwhelmingly filled with sane, brilliant, and friendly people.
Nevertheless, just as my former home county showed us how to keep an entire country on hold for election results with dimpled and hanging chads, several PBC residents are now giving the country a lesson in how to sound completely unhinged into a disinfected microphone.
Here are some actual quotes from the open-mic night… with a small topping of commentary.
* “You’re not God, and since masks are harmful, where there is risk, there should be choice. You’re removing our freedoms and stomping on our constitutional rights by these communist dictatorship orders. If you do vote to mandate masks in the workplace and public schools and stores, the death of many will be on your hands.” (Now we’ll know who to blame for all the deaths caused by wearing a lightweight cotton or paper mask.)
* “Keep listening to the TV brainwashing you from birth. Keep listening to conditioning messages in your local stores while shopping, just like Fidel Castro did over loudspeakers in Cuba.” (I bet there are subliminal messages and backward masking in those Barry Manilow songs playing through the speakers in Kroger.)
* “And they want to throw God’s wonderful breathing system out the door. You’re all turning your backs on it. Can you prove that it’s good for people to breathe carbon dioxide over and over and over again? God made it so that we would breathe in fresh oxygen, to go to our body, to every cell in the body. It has to have that to make energy. When you wear a mask, the nose is cut off, the mouth is cut off. And you’re breathing carbon dioxide over and over and over again. You’re not getting the fresh oxygen that God intended. You’re sending carbon dioxide to every cell in the body, polluting it, especially the brain.” (Speaking of not getting enough oxygen to the brain…)
* “We will get together and do a citizen’s arrest on every single human being that goes against the freedom of choice, OK? You cannot mandate… knowing that the mask is killing people… We, the People, are waking up, and we know what a citizen’s arrest is. Because citizen’s arrests are already happening, and every single one of you that’s obeying the devil’s laws are going to be arrested. And you are going to be arrested for crimes against humanity.” (Citizen’s arrest? Am I the only one remembering an episode of the Andy Griffith Show right now?)
* “In the beginning, God formed man out of the earth and breathed his breath in him, and he became a living soul. Where do you derive the authority to regulate human breathing?” (Is this a bad time to mention my using an air tank when scuba diving?)
* “What happened to Bill Gates? Why is he not in jail? Why is Hillary Clinton not in jail? Why are all these pedophiles that are demanding you all to listen to their rules, why are they not in jail? Oh, is it because you’re part of them? The deep state is going down, and if any of you are in the deep state, you’re going down with it.” (Dang it, I should have known Bill Gates was somehow responsible for the coronavirus. I bet we’re all going to have to buy a Microsoft Surface 3 laptop and download Microsoft Windows 10 to get the vaccine. This is a conspiracy against Mac users.)
* “It is appalling that each and every one of you sitting up there as human beings, part of the human race, the only race that we have, would suggest to muffle people, to put masks on your face to keep us from breathing oxygen, to get us to become sickly. There’s not enough [COVID] to make it a pandemic. This is a planned-demic.” (Bonus points for creating a new word, but points lost for suggesting that 2.5 million confirmed cases in the U.S. and 128,000 deaths does not constitute a pandemic.)
Perhaps the most memorable line was delivered by a woman who stepped up to the microphone and said, “I don’t wear a mask for the same reason I don’t wear underwear. Things got to breathe.” (I’m smart enough to not comment on that one.)
Ramon Presson, PhD, is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Franklin, TN, and the author of several books. He has been a weekly newspaper columnist in the Nashville area for over a decade.