WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 29: Fox News host Tucker Carlson discusses “Populism and the Law” meanwhile … [+]
On Monday morning, the question of masks to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus made the rounds on social media – but it was far from a debate. As with so many issues that have divided the country, the question of masks certainly lacks something akin to the middle ground.
It started after Fox News’ Tucker Carlson suggested Monday that it was “unacceptable,” “dangerous,” and even “illegal” for children to be forced to wear face covers outside. Carlson said viewers should report such sightings to the police or child protection services, although it is still recommended that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wear masks at all times.
The CDC encourages children over the age of two to wear a mask in public or around other people they do not live with. Health experts have also said the vast majority of children will be safe when the masks are worn correctly. However, Carlson made numerous dubious claims – including the fact that wearing masks can result in low oxygen levels.
Carlson also suggested that those who wear masks outside are “attackers” and that it is “our job to brush them back and restore the society in which we were born”.
The response on social media was quick – many called the Fox News host.
Democratic Coalition founder Scott Dworkin (@funder) has long been a vocal critic of Carlson. On Monday, he responded to the recent masking debate: “Tucker Carlson is an abomination. Wear masks, get vaxxed and have a good day.”
The sentiment was shared by conservative expert Bill Kristol (@BillKristol), who debated Carlson, writing, “The mask material is performative idiocy and demagogy. But the key phrase in Carlson’s ranting was, ‘It’s our job to restore society, we were born in. ‘ The destructive power of reactionary nostalgia triggered by real or imagined grievances should not be underestimated. “
NBC legal analyst Katie S. Phang (@KatiePhang) didn’t strike, writing, “Tucker Carlson went mad.”
There have been several calling the Fox News host with a similar chorus.
“If Tucker Carlson thinks masks are so bad, why is he wearing his hood so comfortably?” MeidasTouch pondered (@MeidasTouch).
Lawyer and writer Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) wrote, “Tucker Carlson says you shouldn’t be allowed to wear a mask on a crowded city street, even if he boldly wears his hood on set.”
The Lincoln Project (@ProjectLincoln) also noted, “Tucker Carlson urges viewers to openly harass masked children.”
Trending on social media
On Tuesday morning, Tucker Carlson was trending on social media alongside “masks” and “child protection services”. There were more than 12,000 tweets for the latter, with most calling Carlson and few agreeing that such a step was necessary.
“How does wearing a mask violate the rights of Carlson and his viewers? He urges them to reach out to people, call students at school, parents, child protection services? There is no end to this position of being in front of a camera and Causing problems that doesn’t exist? “Wrote @whatifisaidit.
New York Times columnist and writer Michelle Goldberg (@michelleinbklyn) added, “I wonder if people understand what can happen to you after a frivolous CPS complaint.”
There were some on Tuesday social media targeting not Carlson but the continued demands of wearing a mask outside.
Among those engaged in social media was the account for @ Moms4Liberty, which said, “Mothers watch our children struggle with masks every day. We are told that masking is required, necessary, and does not harm our children Parents, we’re being lied to. How do we know? Evidence. “
Author Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) was even more direct: “Don’t wear a mask.”
Mask debate on social media
As with so many topics, many on social media try to speak out on the subject of masks. The question is whether it is a debate or just each side that makes discussion points.
“Any place is a good place to share your point of view, opinion, and facts,” said Roger Entner, principal analyst at Recon Analytics.
“Everyone has an opinion and some even have two,” added Entner. “We have a problem when people just talk but don’t want to listen. We have a bigger problem when people say one thing and do another. You can learn a lot more from listening than speaking.”
An anti-social network
The platforms are essentially a digital soap box.
“Social media is no better or worse place for difficult conversation than traditional media. Civilians interested in frank debate can do it anywhere,” added Bob Jarvis, attorney and law professor at Nova Southeastern University. Rude people who are not interested in a righteous debate will wreak havoc whether they are in person or online. In other words, Marshall McLuhan was wrong when he said, “The medium is the message.”
But is it a dangerous speech?
“Carlson’s comment equating wearing masks with child abuse was outlandish and no sane person could take it seriously,” Jarvis said.
“Additionally, as the host of a Fox New Show, it’s now clear that Carlson says outrageous things every night to get ratings,” remarked Jarvis. I think these facts protect Carlson from incitement – or other criminal offense – and, if charged, protect him from conviction. To cross the boundary of the First Amendment, a speaker’s words must have the likelihood of causing impending lawless acts. While it is possible that a certain person could be moved to action after hearing Carlson’s words, I think Carlson would be on safe ground, arguing that he was merely expressing his opinion and frustration about the Biden administration and his words has, especially when viewed in the context of his show, were nothing more than exaggeration and not an actual call to commit criminal acts. “