That is the Shakespearian question facing Americans today.
Tragically, the question no longer emanates from science but from politics. Those who mask are considered by many who don’t mask to be either “politically correct” or somehow associated with the Deep State apparatus (whatever the hell that might be).
In essence, the increasing social perspective is that those who mask are politically “liberal” and those who do not mask are politically “conservative.”
That is the new “cultural war” raging in America today—a tragic time when a deadly virus is killing off hundreds, sometimes thousands, of Americans each day.
America has always been at war with itself from its very Founding: settlers versus Native Americans, English patriots versus rebellious colonists, slave holders versus abolitionists, Northern patriots versus Southern traitors, segregationists versus integrationists, war hawks versus peace doves, and Democrats versus Republicans.
The Founding Fathers actually planted the seeds of internal war and strife within their Bill of Rights that was ratified in December 1791—constitutional rights that applied only to white male landowners, no one else. In other words, white men who owned land were the only Americans who could govern and make decisions about the future of the nation.
It would take 76 years before the constitution’s 14thAmendment was ratified effectively applying the Bill of Rights to all the states and to every person residing in them.
It is the 14th Amendment that gives every person in this country the right to wear a mask when and where they want.
The great thing about the 14th Amendment is that it gives the unmasked an equal protection right to walk freely about in our society without any facial covering.
However, the police powers enjoyed by every state in the Union permit restrictions being placed on constitutional rights in order to protect public health, safety and morals. For example, to protect public health, the states can regulate the production and distribution of food and drugs; to protect public safety, the states can regulate transportation with vehicle driver’s license and highway speeds; and to protect public morals, the state can forbid nudists from fornicating on Main Street.
Put simply, states can impose, either through executive orders or legislative enactments, requirements that masks be worn in designated situations during a “public health crisis”, such as public businesses, job sites, medical delivery systems, and any place where more than a certain number of people congregate.
Within this legal framework rests the right of business owners, such as grocery stores, restaurants, bars, entertainment venues, etc., to impose mask requirements on people entering their business establishments.
You might say the “to mask, or not to mask” question comes down to this: those who wear masks are honoring both their legal obligation and social duty to protect public health and safety. Those who do not wear masks believe their individual “rights” exceed the common good.
I wear my mask in public (or whenever I have contact with anyone other than my wife) for my own personal safety and to protect public health. I do not interact with folks who do not wear masks in public unless there is a good ten to twelve feet between us. My mask is not worn in defiance of anyone personally or politically, but to anyone who does not like my mask wearing, let the mask stand as a clear, unequivocal middle finger to them.