By Douglas V. Gibbs
Author, Speaker, Instructor, Radio Host
I suffered a head injury while serving in the United States Navy. As a result of that injury, for reasons the Veteran’s Administration are still trying to figure out, I get dizzy or go into an episode of vertigo when my mouth and nose are covered. Therefore, I cannot sleep under the covers, I knock out quickly when on the operating table, and I can’t wear a facemask or face shield while everybody else does during the current COVID-19 pandemic. So, when I walk into a business or building and tell people I cannot wear a face covering due to a medical exemption, I am dead serious.
Despite the fact that the CDC has stated masks are ineffective against the coronavirus, for not wearing one restaurants have denied me service, two shoe stores where I live refused to let me in, I have been kicked out of various other stores (from a Bi-Mart in Oregon to a Wal-Mart in California, and all kinds of marts in between), and one let me fill my cart and then refused to allow me to check out (Trader Joe’s). One restaurant told me I could eat at their establishment, but since I would not wear a covering for about 15 feet to my table (and then I would be allowed to take it off once seated) I must be served outside (Carnitas Express, on Madison in Murrieta). Even the VA demanded that I wear a facemask into the medical facility for my appointment to, you know, determine why I can’t wear one. After forty-five minutes of haggling at the entrance, they finally allowed me to be wheeled into the back entrance without wearing a face covering, where, once at my appointment, my doctor wore double the coverage (a mask, and a shield) during the appointment to protect herself from my maskless face.
Systemic discrimination does exist in America. Treating people like they are second class citizens does exist in America. The prejudice, however, is not pointed at persons because of the color of their skin, or their ethnic origin. The bigotry is against those who don’t wear a facemask.
Now, the alleged president-elect, Joe Biden, has declared he will make the unconstitutional facemask rule a federal requirement. No more will someone like me have to suffer from local threats. Now, my health condition will become a federal crime. I will be shunned as an enemy of the state, with federal penalties awaiting me should I sojourn outside my home without a face covering. I will be scorned by the obedient comrades as they look down upon me through their self-righteous face coverings that do nothing other than make them feel like they are doing something to keep themselves safe from a virus that over 98% of people not only survive from, but are asymptomatic from. Their mask does nothing to stop the tiny virus, but it makes them feel safe because the government said so, so they wear them, and they demand that everyone else does, too.
I cannot work unless I wear a mask, and I cannot work because as a public speaker I need people to gather in groups. I cannot buy or sell because nobody will let me into their establishment. I cannot pray with my fellow Christians because my church has been forced to close its doors. I cannot complain about it because social media bans my cries for help. I must be silenced, I am told, for my message is not acceptable even though my message says that I should not be treated as if I am a lesser citizen because of my disability.
I signed on the dotted line to serve in the military, which means I was willing to die to fight for the liberties of a country filled with persons I may never meet. As a result of my service I cannot wear a face covering. As a result of my willingness to lay down my life for everyone’s liberty, I have a disability that is unacceptable. Therefore, for my service to my country, the result is that I must be treated as a second class citizen.