No playing at Beacon Hill Red Apple. You must wear a face mask in this place.
No playing at Beacon Hill Red Apple. You must wear a face mask in this place. Charles Mudede

If you go to the Wikipedia entry for Seattle Freeze, you will read this: "During the COVID-19 pandemic, Seattle was the first major U.S. city affected and began implementing social distancing measures earlier than other regions. The Seattle Freeze was cited as a factor in the pandemic's slowdown by late March."

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So, this is a thing. The Seattle Freeze. It can receive a pat on the back for the growing number of days Seattle has experienced zero COVID-19 deaths and a falling infection rate. Fine. I leave it at that and move on to the matter at hand, which concerns another famous Seattle attribute: Passive-aggressive behaviors.

Here is the bad news. Lots of people refuse to wear face masks inside of businesses like supermarkets, cannabis shops, and convenience stores, despite King County's May 18 directive to wear face coverings in such places.

As Lenin once said: What's to be done? If a business is not going to enforce the directive, who will? We know the police are out of the question. So, it must be up to the mask-wearing shoppers themselves. They must let their dissatisfaction known verbally to the person who has decided to reap all of the benefits of mask-wearing without making a contribution—i.e., to not wear a mask.

Now, recall that black man who told a white woman in Central Park to leash her dog? Let's consider him for a moment.

His name Christian Cooper, he is into birds, and, by way of a Washington Post interview, he introduced many people to an important word.


I don't think there's an African American person in America who hasn't experienced something like this at some point. I don't shy away from confronting the scofflaw when I see it. Otherwise, the park would be unusable - not just to us birders but to anybody who enjoys the beauty.

The word is "scofflaw." Its meaning is made clear if it's split in this way: "scoff" and "law." The first part means "to despise and count as nothing." Though the meaning of the second part is apparent to any standard English speaker, I want to change its substance a little. Let's make its meaning closer to a rule that's not enforced but is legally coded. A person who purposely pushes an old man to the ground and walks away as the victim's head bleeds is a criminal. He has broken the law. A person who walks about with their dog not on a leash is a scofflaw. He is scoffing the rule.

New Yorkers have no problem putting their foot down when it comes to scofflaws. This is what happened with Chris Cooper in Central Park; and what happened with shoppers in a Staten Island store. They told a new kind of scofflaw—one who refuses to follow the rule of wearing mask in an indoor public setting—to "get the fuck outta here."

But what about Seattellites? How should they deal with their coronovirus scofflaws? In the words of the New Yorker Christian Cooper: "[D]on't shy away from confronting the scofflaw."

But the problem is Seattle prefers to be passive-aggressive in situations of this kind. I have seen many non-masked people in supermarkets and corner stores. They are always in the minority, but no one says a damn thing about the utter rudeness of exposing people to a deadly virus while not being exposed to it because everyone else is wearing a mask.

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I do wear a mask. All of the time. When I see a scofflaw, I let them know I'm not having it. Wear a bloody mask. But other mask-wearers passive-aggressively see me as causing the trouble. This kind of thing needs to change, particularly in a time of protests.

Those rightly demanding the structural transformation of American policing on our streets must do all they can to keep safe: wear masks, wash hands regularly, go get that test. Those not protesting can help the Black Lives Matter movement by also being as safe as possible, which means wearing a mask in public settings.

We must all do are part to end racist policing and defeat a virus that has killed thousands of Americans, a large number of whom are black.

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