Debate over masks being compared to that of smoking and seatbelts

The debate over whether or not masks should be mandated, and if they even can, is harkening back to debates over regulation of smoking and requiring seat belts. The difference between those and this new debate: they were changed through state and federal legislation. The mask debate is often being had in cities, towns and counties.

According to Pamela Seay, professor at FGCU, when people described wearing a seat belt when they were first required, it went something like this. “They were annoying, they got in the way, they cause problems,” she said.

When cigarettes were no longer allowed in public places. “People said if I have to, if this is what I have to do, I don’t like it.”

Some don’t want to wear masks.

“Not us. We will protect our rights. I will not wear a mask,” said one Cape Coral resident.

Someone else said, “How the heck are you gonna enforce that?”

But Seay says there’s something that many people forget when it comes to enforcing laws. “Your constitutional rights end where others’ rights begin,” she said. Seay added that the government does have the responsibility and power to keep its citizens safe.

Many believe this is just another case of the government overstepping and trying to control its citizens. “When people say this is for your safety, and they take away your freedom, it’s to manipulate you into giving things up you’ll never get back.”

“This is basically one step away from tyranny,” one exclaimed.

Ironically, this has been the origin story of many health and safety laws that we now appreciate.

Where does the so-called slippery slope begin and end? Seay said, “We’ve put children in car seats. Is that part of a slippery slope? Maybe? So far they haven’t put dogs in car seats.”

Another difference between the new mask debate and seatbelts and cigarettes? Hopefully one day, we won’t have to wear masks anymore.

“That might help allay some of the fears. It might not, but it might,” said Seay.

Reporter:Anika Henanger
Writer:Drew Hill
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