Every Country Has Anti-Mask Assholes, Even Hong Kong

Gif: Andy Au/Facebook

Hong Kong has been a leader in the fight against the novel coronavirus, with just 1,589 cases and eight deaths, despite sharing a border with mainland China, the location of the first covid-19 outbreak back in December of 2019. And while some of Hong Kong’s success can be credited to most people wearing masks, even Hong Kong has assholes who don’t want to wear one—like this 27-year-old man at McDonald’s who physically assaulted a worker on Tuesday who had asked him to put on a mask.

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Video of the assault was uploaded to Facebook and shows a man who entered a McDonald’s in Tuen Mun without wearing a mask, according to the English-language news outlet Coconuts Hong Kong. The man gets into a verbal altercation with one of the McDonald’s workers before he steps behind the cashier’s area and begins punching the worker repeatedly. The worker falls to the ground and the assailant then starts kicking him.

The anti-mask idiot was reportedly arrested Tuesday night and has been identified as having the last name Cheung, according to Coconuts HK. The McDonald’s worker was taken to the hospital and treated for his injuries.

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In an entirely different incident, a 55-year-old man in Hong Kong slapped a security guard at a Hong Kong discount store on Tuesday, according to local media. The man was asked to wear a mask before he got violent and has also been arrested.

Similar scenes are playing out all over the world, with several fights going viral in the U.S., but these assaults in Hong Kong are a good reminder for Americans that a handful of anti-masks idiots haven’t caused the U.S. to have the worst outbreak in the world. Every country has these jerks.

The U.S. has the worst outbreak in the world, with over 3.4 million infections and more than 136,000 deaths, because it has horseshit leadership.

Top health officials in Hong Kong told the public back in January that everyone should wear a mask, as Gizmodo reported at the time, and roughly 98% of people in that region wear one when going out in public.

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Meanwhile, top health officials in the U.S. spent the first few months of the pandemic insisting that masks were not only useless, they might actually do more harm than good. The theory, which has since been discredited as irrelevant, was that people fiddle with the masks on their faces, creating a new point of contact that could potentially infect the mask wearer with coronavirus. Any danger from that is far outweighed by the danger of walking around maskless, especially in indoor environments with a significant spread.

Many western countries have since come to accept that masks help slow the spread of the virus when everyone wears them, particularly because people can have the disease and not even show symptoms. The full degree to which that kind of infection, known as asymptomatic spread, is contributing to the pandemic is still debated, but it’s absolutely not zero.

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Currently, 72% of Americans are wearing a mask “always” or “very often” when they leave their home, according to the latest figures from Gallup. Just 14% of Americans report “never” wearing a mask outside their house.

Illustration for article titled Every Country Has Anti-Mask Assholes, Even Hong Kong
Screenshot: Facebook/Andy Au (Fair Use)
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While the anti-mask crowd in the U.S. might indeed be larger than average—aided by top political leaders such as President Donald Trump who help spread misinformation about the coronavirus—a bad attitude against masks isn’t unique to America.

Viral videos have popped up in traditionally mask-friendly places like Taiwan, showing people who are actively hostile to masks, to say the least. In France, a 59-year-old bus driver was even brutally attacked by men in their twenties for asking them to wear masks. The driver eventually died in the hospital. And there have been numerous reports from countries like Sweden and Britain of people socially ostracizing mask wearers, and sometimes even assaulting other pedestrians simply for wearing them.

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CDC Director Robert Redfield said on Wednesday that the virus could be controlled in the U.S. within 1-2 months if more Americans started wearing a mask.

“I really do believe if the American public all embraced masking now and we really did it, you know, rigorously [...] I think if we can get everybody to wear a mask right now, I really do think over the next four to six, eight weeks, we can bring this epidemic under control,” Redfield said, according to ABC News.

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But Redfield’s attitude is similar to the one the White House prefers: a theme of personal responsibility that doesn’t explain how the government can manage this public health crisis. Instead, Trump says the virus will simply “go away” and that America only has so many cases because it’s doing more testing—a claim that’s not true.

Masks are an absolutely vital tool to help slow the spread of the virus. But masks alone aren’t going to eradicate covid-19 from U.S. shores. Only a combination of mass testing, contact tracing, and smart public health policy choices—supplemented with masks—will help the U.S. defeat the virus.

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Wear a damn mask. But demand that your government does more to control the spread. There’s literally no other way out of this.

Matt Novak is the editor of Gizmodo's Paleofuture blog

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DISCUSSION

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NovemberAjax

I’ve tried reasoning with a few people who refuse to wear masks and it’s just a lose-lose all around. They’re so entrenched that it is impossible to engage them in even the most basic discourse. All I get back is the GOP/Trump/FoxNews talking points/lies/gaslighting, spouted verbatim. (The current favourite is “You know most of the virus gets in through the eyes, so masks are pointless”, which I’ve heard eight or ten times now, verbatim.).

They just can’t think for themselves any more and have become so reliant on lies delivered in soundbites that conversation - meaningful discourse - has become impossible.

Once people become this polarised and entrenched and won’t even engage in conversation, there’s really no hope.

How are we supposed to try to help people understand, or educate them, when they flat refuse to demonstrate any cognitive dissonance? I can’t decide if it’s a mental problem or deliberate ignorance, so I’ve all but given up. You can’t fix stupid, but you can certainly make the personal choice to stay away from these people.