This week my eldest son said he had been harassed by someone in the street. He was happily walking along, minding his own business, when a man started taunting him. He asked if my son was sick, if he wasn’t feeling well. He wanted to know what his problem was, and why he was wearing a mask.
In Alberta right now, the rate of Covid-19 infection is very high and most of us are being very cautious. We are wearing masks, working from home, not gathering with more than ten people outdoors, and not gathering indoors at all. Our provincial government has been forced to once again declare a state of emergency such that further restrictions are in place for schools, gyms, performance facilities and so on. Several areas of the province are hot spots with far too many new cases of infection. Sixty-two percent of cases now are of the new variants and our hospitals are overwhelmed.
When we leave the house, we wear masks and we expect most other people to do the same. It comes as a puzzlement, therefore, to be harassed in the street for doing what seems logical, socially appropriate, and necessary. It made no sense to me for anyone to criticize a complete stranger for doing the right thing.
Until today, that is, when I read about Tucker Carlson. Early last week he told his audience to harass people for wearing masks. Now it all makes sense. My son’s experience is Tucker Carlson’s fault. The man who repeatedly gave my son a hard time, was doing as he had been told by a Fox News star.
Bear in mind, though, that we live in Edmonton Alberta Canada, and a long, long way from the United States and wherever Tucker Carlson lives. While he merrily propounds his extremist views to his gullible viewers, his message goes much further than he might imagine. Now it has reached us. I can keep his awful television station out of my home, but I can’t keep its impact off my streets.
To make matters worse, he has instructed his viewers to tell parents of children wearing masks that they are child abusers. Child abusers! Can you imagine? If anyone says anything remotely like that to a parent in my presence I will lose my mind. How are we supposed to counteract this nonsense? It is a form of mind control that is now threatening us even on the sidewalks of Edmonton Alberta, 622 km (380 miles) from the U.S. border.
I used to think that Fox News was a threat to rational debate. Now I realize it is worse than that. It has become a threat to normal social interactions, not only in the United States but in Alberta, too.