Dehumanization is “the psychological process of demonizing the enemy, making them seem less than human and hence not worthy of humane treatment.” – Michelle Maiese, Emmanuel College Philosophy Department Chair.
Humans don’t want to harm other humans. David Smith, the author of Less Than Human: The Psychology of Cruelty, explains dehumanization as a way to overcome natural inhibitions to harm other humans. Smith writes, “Dehumanization is a way of subverting those inhibitions.”
Councilman Kai Hagen straddled the line of dehumanizing language and behavior. He felt comfortable confronting a perfect stranger for violating his personal code of “mask wearing equals morality.” The unmasked stranger obviously lacked a sufficient “morality” for Mr. Hagen leaving him open to attack.
County Executive Jan Gardner keeps dehumanizing those who don’t wear masks through her “Show the Love” campaign – “By wearing masks and physically distancing ourselves, we are protecting our community. Let’s show our love for all of Frederick County.” The language she is using is meant to modify the public’s behavior. She wants you to mask up and “show you love your neighbor.”
She’s also placing the public in danger by doing so because the language she uses changes how the public perceives those who don’t wear masks. Someone who once was your friend is now seen as an immoral sub-human trying to kill grandmas everywhere.
Ms. Gardner isn’t the only one. It’s common practice now in commercials, smart phones and PC login screens, the beginning of sporting events and even on the daily news – “Stay safe. Wear a mask. Show you care.”
We are beginning to see attacks on non-mask wearers more frequently. Case in point is the elderly woman in the video below believing she is within her rights to attack an innocent woman and her very small children for not wearing masks in a store. In her eyes they are clearly “less than human” and behaving “immorally.” In the end she wishes death on toddlers.
Dehumanization is a process that starts with language and usually ends with violence as in the video below.
Dehumanization is the calling card of “Cancel Culture.” They throw around words like “racist”, “bigot”, and “homophobe.” These words are meant to dehumanize their opposition so that others will become comfortable with mistreating them. Bullying is meant to silence the victim. Dehumanization is a tool used frequently by those who don’t have facts to back up their positions. They rely on the mob for this.
Right now Frederick County and most of the country is comfortable with dehumanizing “language.” However, some have moved beyond language to dehumanizing and violent “behavior.”
In the beginning when the “experts” said don’t wear masks, they were following science. When they changed their guidance and recommended wearing masks, they were following politicians.
At best the science is inconclusive on whether wearing one will protect the public at large. We do know they have been politicized. That alone should be why everyone refuses to wear them. The more important reason is the longer they are worn, the easier it is for sides to be drawn. Mask wearers = good. Non-mask wearers = evil. It won’t end well.
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Links to mask use studies:
Annals of Internal Medicine – June 24, 2020 Masks for Prevention of Respiratory Virus Infections, Including SARS-CoV-2, in Health Care and Community Settings
National Library of Medicine – February 15, 2010 Mask use, hand hygiene, and seasonal influenza-like illness among young adults: randomized intervention trial – “Neither face mask use and hand hygiene nor face mask use alone was associated with a significant reduction in the rate of ILI (transmission).”
National Library of Medicine – April 2010 Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions on URIs and influenza in crowded, urban households – “There were no significant differences in rates of infection by intervention group.”
US National Library of Medicine – November 17, 2010 Surgical Mask to Prevent Influenza Transmission in Households: A Cluster Randomized Trial – “In various sensitivity analyses, we did not identify any trend in the results suggesting effectiveness of facemasks.”
US National Library of Medicine – April 22 2015 A cluster randomized trial of cloth masks compared with medical masks in healthcare workers – “This study is the first RCT of cloth masks, and the results caution against the use of cloth masks. This is an important finding to inform occupational health and safety. Moisture retention, reuse of cloth masks and poor filtration may result in increased risk of infection.”
The LANCET – March 11, 2019 – Facemask versus No Facemask in Preventing Viral Respiratory Infections During Hajj: A Cluster Randomized Open Label Trial – “Facemask use does not prevent clinical or laboratory-confirmed viral respiratory infections among Hajj pilgrims.”
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