In the 70s, when wearing a seatbelt had just been made mandatory, a wave of protests shook the country. People were outraged that the government was trying to control their bodies, claiming that it was for “safety”. After all, a seatbelt is uncomfortable, and why should I wear one if it will not stop the accident?
Despite the fact that wearing a seatbelt has become the norm, the complaints of “anti-seat belters” are sounding a bit too familiar. Every week since the beginning of summer, protesters have gathered in downtown Montreal to march against mandatory mask-wearing in public spaces, and the restriction of certain liberties due to the pandemic. For them, wearing a mask or not should be a matter of personal choice, made by the individual and not by institutions. Though protests are a necessary aspect of our democracy, there is something that is off about them. Officially, they were against mask-wearing, yet protestors walked the streets waving Trump 2020 flags, wearing QAnon shirts, and brandishing anti-vaxxer signs. This to me is deeply worrying, and not just because of the danger to public health that these maskless, not socially distanced protests create. The popularity of conspiracy theories and dangerously fake news is alarming, to the degree that one must question whether it is a failure of our education system, or simply an individual unfounded mistrust of the government, that causes so many people to refuse to believe established scientific facts.
Originally Published on www.bandersnatch.ca Vol.50 Issue 02 on Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020