I can’t say I agree with French Enlightenment thinker Voltaire on much, but you have to admit that for an ardent critic of Christianity, the ol’ deist had some wit about him.
In fact, Voltaire’s vestigial religiosity is responsible for one of my favorite quotes: “I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: ‘O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.’ And God granted it.”
I’ve made more than one prayer and I don’t know that I’ve used this language, but I can’t say I haven’t had some luck in this department. Sure, I’ve woken up to plenty of bleak mornings over the past year and change — particularly as the most ridiculous of these enemies now resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., and you get the feeling someone has to remind him of this fact every morning.
Yet, there’ll always be men like James Akers to bring a little sunshine into my life, Voltaire-style.
Akers was, before this past Monday, just another resident of Dripping Springs, Texas, unknown to the rest of the nation. According to the San Marcos Daily Record, he’s lived in the town, just west of Austin, for 15 years and has a child in Dripping Springs High School.
He’s in favor of mask mandates in local schools. According to the Austin American-Statesman, the district is currently recommending masks for both students and staff but isn’t requiring them.
Akers decided he needed to make a point. So he stripped off his clothes. Because, why not?
“I do not like the government or any other entity, just ask my wife, telling me what to do,” Akers began, taking his jacket off. “At work, they make me wear this jacket. I hate it. They make me wear this shirt and tie. I hate it.”
Off came the shirt and tie. And then his undershirt, too.
Texas Dad Strips Down to Swimsuit at School Board Meeting to Make a Statement About Masks https://t.co/u9Y5bHacyq
— People (@people) August 26, 2021
“On the way over here, I ran three stop signs and four red lights,” he continued.
“I almost killed somebody out there, but by God, they’re my roads too. So I have every right to drive as fast as I want to, make the turns that I want to. I got over here to the school today, and the parking lot was full, and I decided I was going to park wherever the hell I wanted to — which, in this case, happened to be a handicap [spot].”
And then he took his pants off.
“It’s simple protocol, people,” Akers said as officers began approaching him. “We follow certain rules for a very good reason.”
Board of Trustees President Barbara Stroud ended Akers’ minute-and-a-half of speaking time by noting, “I believe you’re a swimmer but if you wouldn’t mind putting your pants back on for a comment that would be appreciated.”
(A spokesman for the Dripping Springs Independent School District told People magazine that Akers was wearing a swimsuit at the time of his demonstration. That means there’s a good chance he actually planned this whole move in advance, rather than being overcome by the enthusiasm of the moment.)
As far as I’m concerned, if middle-aged bald men with a yen for the nanny state to step in and do their bidding want to strip to their underwear during local government meetings, I’m an ardent proponent of this. They can show up in their swim trunks (with a snorkel and goggles), for all it matters. Why should anyone else have to make the argument they’re not rational when they can make it themselves, after all?
If a stripping parent is, however, a strong argument for school mask mandates in your book, here are two numbers that refute naked-weird-man logic: 0.8 and 385.
The first was, as of Monday, the 7-day moving average for the case fatality rate for COVID-19 in the United States, according to Our World in Data. That meant 453 cases and 3.1 deaths from COVID per million Americans.
The establishment left is panicking over the current uptick in COVID cases.
Here are the facts:
The past few days have seen the case-fatality rate drop. On Monday, the moving-avg case fatality rate in the US was 0.8%, with 7-day-avgs-per-million of 453 cases and 3.1 deaths. pic.twitter.com/LSgRsxvnD5
— Michael Austin (@mikeswriting) August 24, 2021
These were the operative numbers when Chippendales wannabe James Akers decided the situation was so dire that he needed to compare the danger to people who show up to work mostly naked or speed through red lights. None of these comparisons were apt, of course.
In the first case, although I don’t know of any studies that have been done, I’d wager people who show up to work mostly naked have a greater than 0.8 percent chance of ending up on the registered sex offender list. The same can be true of people who run stop signs and red lights — the chances you’re going to kill people are far higher than 0.8 percent.
For those interested, as of Saturday, the case fatality rate sat at 0.92 percent on Saturday, 0.12 percent higher than it was Monday. Despite the rise, naked people in the office or those who act as if “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City” were a driver’s manual and not a video game remain far more dangerous.
And keep in mind, the case fatality rate is for all individuals who test positive for COVID-19. That’s where the other number comes from: 385. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data as of Wednesday, that’s the number of confirmed COVID fatalities in the U.S. involving individuals between the ages of 0-17 since the start of the pandemic. That represents 0.006 percent of all COVID-19 deaths.
Those are the hard numbers. As for the long-term developmental and mental health side effects from children wearing masks in school despite the low risk of contracting the disease and dying from it? Earlier this month, our country’s de facto COVID czar, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said “hopefully, this will be a temporary thing, temporary enough that it doesn’t have any lasting negative impact on them,” according to National Review.
“Hopefully.” One way to avoid finding out is the hard way that there is a “lasting negative impact” would be not imposing mask mandates where there’s demonstrably no need.
Unfortunately, most of those who who want our children to mask up despite the dearth of hard science that looks at the long-term developmental effects aren’t as self-evidently ridiculous as James Akers.
Every once in a while, though, a man like him will come along and remind us all how preposterous all the panic is.
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