Tucker Carlson — who previously accused liberals of weaponizing language and creating "drama" by accurately describing the January 6 riot as a violent insurrection — is now saying that it is "child abuse" to give children face masks. "Your response when you see children wearing masks as they play should be no different from your response to seeing someone beat a kid in Walmart," Carlson said in a Monday night segment of his Fox News show. "What you're looking at is abuse. It's child abuse. And you are morally obligated to attempt to prevent it."
He advised his viewers to call the police or Child Protective Services if they see a child wearing a mask outside. If they see a masked adult, however, he thinks they should take a different approach. "The next time you see someone in a mask on the sidewalk or bus path, do not hesitate. Ask politely but firmly, 'Would you please take off your mask?'" he said. "We should do that. And we should keep doing it until wearing a mask outside is roughly as socially accepted as lighting a Marlboro in an elevator. It's repulsive."
Needless to say, wearing a mask is not dangerous or abusive, and it is much more invasive to approach, question, or call the police on a mask-wearing stranger than to follow the CDC’' guidelines about a disease that has killed over 3 million people. But this isn't Carlson's first time spreading misinformation about the virus, masks, and the vaccine. In an April 13 segment, he wondered why vaccinated people have to continue wearing masks.
"If the vaccine is effective, there is no reason for people who've received a vaccine to wear masks or avoid physical contact," Carlson said. "So maybe it doesn't work, and they're simply not telling you that."
In a subsequent CNN interview, Dr. Anthony Fauci dismissed Carlson's argument as a "crazy conspiracy theory" and pointed to data proving the Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are all highly effective. But according to Fauci and other leading infectious disease experts, it's important to keep masking up because it is still unknown whether a vaccinated, asymptomatic person can unintentionally infect someone else. Scientists are also still looking into how well the vaccines protect individuals from several identified variants.
A federal official said that President Joe Biden is expected to unveil "interim public health recommendations" on Tuesday. Fauci also noted during a Monday virtual event that the CDC will release new guidelines "really, really soon," and these guidelines might indicate that it is safe for vaccinated people to go outside without masks.
But there’s a difference between Fauci or Biden providing specific scientific assurance of what's safe and Carlson going on an angry, politically motivated, and sensationalized rant. And although Carlson claimed that "masks are purely a sign of political obedience," it's important to recognize that our presidential administration is listening to science. And when it comes to COVID-19, the vaccines, and — yes — face masks, we should, too.