Instigator / Pro
7
1592
rating
15
debates
70.0%
won
Topic

THBT Mask Mandates Should Remain Indefinitely

Status
Voting

Participant that receives the most points from the voters is declared a winner.

The voting will end in:

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DD
:
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HH
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MM
:
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SS
Parameters
More details
Publication date
Last update date
Category
Health
Time for argument
One week
Voting system
Open voting
Voting period
One month
Point system
Four points
Rating mode
Rated
Characters per argument
20,000
Contender / Con
4
1791
rating
395
debates
67.22%
won
Description
~ 2,008 / 5,000

This house (pro) believes that mask mandates should remain indefinitely. Masks are not only a tool to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but also a tool to prevent the spread of the common cold, the flu, and many more.

Mask mandates: The requirement to wear a cloth/disposable mask in public spaces when there is no good reason not to (i.e. you can take your mask off while eating, drinking, if you have certain medical conditions, etc...). Does not necessarily mean mask mandates exactly in the way that have been implemented throughout the COVID-19 pandemic (For example, Kindergarten to grade 4 students and teachers could potentially be exempted to help children learn facial cues).
Indefinitely: Without a definite ending; remaining in place until there is no longer a need, there is a more effective method, and/or previously unknown a reason to stop due to any sufficient negative comes to light.

This debate will assume that disposable masks are provided to public spaces by the government either for free or are covered by a relevant tax credit and are freely available to anyone at those public spaces who does not already have a mask on their person at that time.

Burden of proof: Pro must prove that there are good reasons for mask mandates to remain in place that outweighs the reasons not to. If pro cannot provide any reasonable affirmation of the resolution, the resolution falls and pro has not met their BoP. However, in light of any reasonable affirmation of the resolution that is even mildly convincing, con must present reasons the resolution should fall that, on balance, the combined reasons the resolution should fall are more convincing than/outweigh the reasons the resolution should stand in order for con to meet their BoP. If the combined reasons the resolution should stand as presented by pro are more convincing/outweigh the reasons the resolution shouldn't stand, pro has met their BoP.

Criticism, suggestion, and clarification in the comments are welcomed and appreciated!

Round 1
Pro
Table of Contents:

1. Introduction
 1.1 Resolution/Model
 1.2 Burden of Proof
2. Constructive Arguments
 2.1 Limiting The Transmission of Sickness
 2.2 Protecting The Vulnerable
 2.3 Living With COVID-19


1. Introduction
I thank RMM for accepting this debate and hereby bring forward the resolution THBT that mask mandates should remain indefinitely.

1.1 Resolution/Model
Mask mandates - "The requirement to wear a cloth/disposable mask in public spaces when there is no good reason not to."
Indefinitely - "Without a definite ending; remaining in place until there is no longer a need, there is a more effective method, and/or previously unknown a reason to stop due to any sufficient negative comes to light."
Public space - "Any space that any individual of the age of majority is free to enter under certain conditions (payment, being fully clothed, not causing a disturbance, etc...) that don't exclude/include anyone based solely on who they are, which can reasonably be expected to have a considerable amount of people in close proximity; a government institution and/or space open to the public with certain conditions."

This resolution assumes masks are available for free to public spaces and those entering a public space covered by the government. This resolution also does not inherently require mask mandates to look just as they do in most countries during the COVID-19 pandemic due to the subjective definition of 'good reason not to.' A 'good reason not to' generally refers to acts that are necessary (you can't eat or drink with a mask on), a situation where the inconvenience outweighs any conceivable benefit (you don't need to wear a mask if you're walking through a park with nobody around for a mile), or there is an evident, greater benefit from doing otherwise (not having mask mandates in K-4 to let kids learn facial cues).

1.2 Burden of Proof
Standard burden of proof. Pro must provide greater reason the resolution should stand than the reasons con provides that the resolution should not stand and vice versa. Failure for pro to provide any meaningful affirmation of the resolution constitutes a failure to meet their burden.


2. Constructive Arguments
In my speech I will be presenting three constructive arguments:

#1: Limiting The Transmission of Sickness
 - Before the COVID-19 pandemic, society, in exchange for the ability to live our lives and participate in society, accepted a certain degree of transmission of sicknesses like the flu and the common cold. It's unreasonable to ask people to never leave their house, inevitably leading to transmission.
 - Societal acceptance of transmission is based on the condition that the avenues for transmission that we allow to exist can not be reasonably avoided to a sufficient degree. It's unreasonable to maintain social distancing in times of normalcy, but it's reasonable to wash your hands after going to the bathroom.
 - Masks wearing is reasonable and sufficiently prevent transmission.

#2: Protecting The Vulnerable
 - Some people have weak immune systems or are chronically-ill. Every time they get sick, it not only represents a significant amount of time spent recovering, but also represents a much more severe illness than most would experience that has the potential of ending their life in some cases.
 - As a result of this, certain people are forced to regularly endure severe sickness and the risk of death in order to be functioning members of society or to even participate in society at all.
 - Masks will not completely prevent the transmission of illnesses, but they will limit their spread and potentially save the lives of thousands every year. Moreover, it would lead to a world that is more hospitable and livable for the most vulnerable. This is especially necessary in light of declining herd-immunity due to rising vaccine hesitancy.

#3: Living With COVID-19
 - COVID-19 is more than likely going to continue spreading and mutating into the foreseeable future. At this time, eradicating COVID-19 any time soon seems unlikely.
 - Even if COVID-19 becomes endemic, infects fewer people, or kills less of those infected by it, building upon arguments #1 and #2, masks should continue to be worn to ensure COVID-19 does not mutate into a super-virus and to avoid unnecessary deaths caused by the pandemic.

2.1 Limiting The Transmission of Sickness
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, society, in exchange for the ability to live our lives and participate in society, accepted a certain degree of transmission of sicknesses like the flu and the common cold. It's unreasonable to ask people to never leave their house, inevitably leading to some degree of transmission. Societal acceptance of transmission is based on the condition that the avenues for transmission that we allow to exist can not be reasonably avoided to a sufficient degree. It's unreasonable to maintain social distancing in times of normalcy, but it's reasonable to wash your hands after going to the bathroom.

We must keep in mind that our actions can lead to the deaths of people. This is not just a statistic, it is someone with a family, friends, hobbies, memories, and consciousness taking their final breath. Sure, you getting the flu might not be bad. Sure, you might really need to go into work. Sure, your colleague getting it might not be that bad. Sure, your colleague's mother getting it might be risky, but they should be okay. But when your colleague's grandmother gets it? Our choices, in that scenario, may very well be the indirect cause of their death.

It's important I say that, in the above scenario, it's not as though somebody decided "this thing at work is so important that I don't care if I have to kill someone for another day's worth of working on it." Humans have neither the mental and emotional capacity to think through if every one of their decisions may lead to a domino effect where they could hurt someone else, but nobody has the time either. If your boss asks "can you come into work today?" You have 30 seconds at most to decide if you are going to risk spreading your cold to your colleagues and to give an answer, and you must make that decision in the face of all the other pressures in life that you have (fear of not being able to eat if you don't work, fear of losing your job, fear of making your coworkers work harder due to your absence). That grandma's blood is not on the hands of anyone who decides to go to work, but nobody would disagree that said grandma having even just one more day of being alive is better than the alternative.

Nonetheless, our actions can hurt other people. I will expand upon the necessity to protect others in my second argument, but this puts into perspective the situation this resolution is about. Is any given risk of hurting someone else large enough that it justifies doing what is required to prevent it? Mask wearing is not a very daunting task and represents very little inconvenience to most people. Two years ago, you could make the argument that it is a substantial annoyance to avoid a risk with so many dominoes that need to fall before that risk becomes a reality that it's hard to comprehend what each domino actually means, but that's not the case anymore. People have gotten used to wearing masks; many people even feel weird when they aren't wearing one. Mask wearing can lead to a threefold reduction in the amount of virus breathed into the air in people who have the flu or a cold, and due to the fact most infections occur due to being in close-contact with somebody for a very short period of time, that is a monumental reduction

This is just like washing our hands to prevent the spread of germs. To roll up your sleeves, turn the water on, wet your hands, get soap, thoroughly scrub your hands, wash the soap off, and dry your hands takes a minute at most, and the result is that you aren't spreading fecal bacteria on everything that you touch (and, if you enter the bathroom, fecal bacteria is unavoidable). According to the CDC, even such a small task can lead to:

  • 40% less diarrhea-inducing sickness
  • 58% less diarrheal illness in those with compromised immune systems
  • 21% less colds
  • 57% less absenteeism due to gastrointestinal illness in school children
  • Many other benefits related to reduced proliferation of germs and fecal bacteria
If somebody asked me "Hey, would you be prepared to spend, at most, a few minutes every day so that over half of the people who would otherwise shit themselves sideways by 9:45 or your money back are able to, y'know, not do that?" I would say yes before they even finished the sentence even if just because otherwise I very well might, many times throughout my life,  be in that 58% of people who would have to deal with that.

In summary, mask wearing is completely reasonable and does not cause a large inconvenience disproportionate to the risk it prevents (due in some part to already having widespread adoption due to the COVID-19 pandemic) and is capable of preventing transmission of respiratory illnesses. I surely hope we all wash our hands so we can reap the benefits of preventing the proliferation of germs and fecal bacteria (if you asked me if I thought hand-washing should be mandated most of the time, I'd say yes). With that fact in mind, mask wearing is a similarly effective method of preventing different kinds of illnesses and are similarly easy to implement, and due to the fact we should protect other people when we can easily do so, therefore masks should continue to be worn and should be mandatory in most cases.

2.2 Protecting The Vulnerable

Some people have weak immune systems or are chronically-ill. Every time they get sick, it not only represents a significant amount of time spent recovering, but also represents a much more severe illness than most would experience that has the potential of ending their life in some cases. That grandma mentioned in my first argument? Imagine if they were a 20 year old, fit, healthy person with a condition that lowered their white blood-cell count. Some may be prepared to accept a grandma dying as the result of the spread of the flu because, if the flu can kill them (just as it kills 52,000 people yearly), then almost any sickness could and they will inevitably get sick eventually. That grandma already lived their life and their death at that age is natural. But a 20 year old is different.

A 20 year old has not had the chance to live their life. A 20 year old might not have finished college yet, might not have had a sexual partner yet, might not have had the chance to take care of their parents in old age as their parents took care of them, might not have had the chance to make the world a better place with their presence. The flu causes hundreds of pediatric deaths every year, many in children with no risk factors.

Chronically-ill people, even in cases where they don't die, should have the ability to live their lives unrestrained by the burdens of illnesses like the flu and cold. We may not be able to see this world through all the way, but it is critical to building a fair and equitable world that we do these easy little things that will make their lives easier. Even if not for them, just protecting other people from having to deal with the suckiness that is the common cold and protecting the economy from the lost GDP due to absenteeism and avoiding making ourselves have to work harder to make up for sick colleagues who can't come into work in exchange for such a minor inconvenience seems like a worthwhile exchange to me.

This is especially necessary in light of declining herd-immunity due to rising vaccine hesitancy. With fewer people getting their annual flu shot year by year, these measures become more and more necessary.

Due to the imperative to protect vulnerable individuals, mask wearing should be mandated.

2.3 Living With COVID-19
I'm kind of tired, so I'm going to make this part quick.

COVID-19 isn't going anywhere more than likely. We've all seen the headlines, so this isn't new information to us (I would hope). The more the disease spreads, the higher the chance it will mutate into a more deadly/transmissible virus and the more people have to die or deal with the potentially debilitating consequences of Long-COVID.

Upon COVID-19 becoming endemic, measures like social-distancing and capacity limits may no longer be necessary. Both of these have their own consequences (inconvenience, lost GDP, worsened mental health, lower chance for social interaction, less chance to exercise, etc...), and so when said consequences become disproportionate to the degree of transmission that they prevent and the risk said transmission brings with it, it makes sense to remove these measures. Mask wearing does not cause these consequences, since it amounts to no fundamental change in one's way of life other than in putting a piece of fabric on their face.

Mask's are harmless pieces of apparel that can avoid these pitfalls while still meaningfully preventing the spread of COVID-19 and ensuring people stay alive, don't need to deal with years-long Long-COVID, and that COVID-19 does not mutate into a significantly worse virus by preventing it from spreading in the first place. Even in the event COVID-19 becomes endemic, mask wearing will still speed up the process and save lives in the meantime.

For the need to prevent the spread of COVID-19 so we can ensure it does not have the opportunity to mutate again and to save lives, mask wearing should be mandated into the foreseeable future. If masks were not mandated, not as many people would wear them, and that's why I am arguing not just that masks are good, but that mandating their usage in most cases is a necessity.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Vote pro.





Con
I won't rebuke Pro's case (though partly it's inherent) nor supply sources, I will state concepts expand the reasoning and all fact collision happens Round 2. This helps both me to be more concise this Round and voters to easer see the 'meat' all in one Round.

1) Oppression requires very good reasoning, freedom requires only slightly sufficient reasoning.

It is not clear that Pro of this debate understand the significant imbalance in how things need to be justified. If I make a rule/law/policy oppressing you, I should have a very good set of reasons why, ironclad even. Alternatively, if I as a leader allow you to do something, unless there's an outrageous reason why the freedom harms others significantly, I ought to not oppress.

I get it, Covid is that harm in Pro's eyes. I'm not rebutting this Round, just explaining. I want Pro to agree or disagree to this imbalance in Round 2.

2) Psychological distress: awkwardness, frustration, lack of expression-reading, atmosphere of fear.

Everybody being mandated to wear masks creates several layers of psychological distress that aren't there in a maskless society so long as that society has achieved sufficient vaccination and hygiene-practise levels.

It's not just about the lack of ability to see faces while we speak (a significant psychological factor in interactions that social media addiction and lockdown already are causing issues with). It's the fact that you have to constantly be on guard and fear 'shit, did I forget my mask at home' when walking towards a shop or anything. It's not the same as 'did I forget my wallet/keys' because this is a thing that you only are using because you're forced to in that environment. Even if we say it's like wallets and keys, that's not a policy, you just need them. Perhaps ti's similar to forgetting ID when going to a club. However, that has a very solid reasoning behind it, such that the oppression is justifiable.

3) All of the arguments Pro comes up with or has come up with most likely will apply far better to a vaccine mandate policy.

As for the few who can't vaccinate due to health reasons or who completely refuse, they are unfortunately going to have to be extra careful, the law cannot save literally everybody at all times at the sake of freedom of all others. We wouldn't literally make being a clown illegal for people with phobia of clowns, you catch my drift?

Round 2
Pro
1. Intro
I thank my opponent for his response and will go directly into my rebuttals. I'll keep it concise and avoid building any more constructive arguments for the sake of fairness as much as my own laziness lmao.


2. Rebuttals
2.1 Oppression
I would agree with pro's assessment that oppression requires more justification than freedom as a matter of principle. There are a plethora of reasons this is the case, but as we are in agreement, I see no reason to go very deep into explaining why this is true.

Two important caveats:
  • 'Oppression' is a very emotionally-loaded word. I don't think it's at all fair to say that mask-mandates are oppression in the way the word is typically used. Henceforth I will refer to this as restricting freedom for the sake of security/health.
  • Restricting freedom does not always require significant reasoning, it just requires reasoning that is sufficient and proportional to what said restriction entails (i.e. mandating mask-wearing requires reasoning greater than the inconvenience and restrictions of freedom that entail).

2.2 Psychological Distress
Regarding awkwardness and social consequences: I do not see any consequences of mask-mandates causing these things to a degree that outweighs the justifications for mask-wearing, namely those about saving lives. I will admit that there will be a certain degree of awkwardness and social consequences as a result of mask wearing and the inability to read expressions therein, but this is not as large of a problem as my opponent may want to portray it as in the next two rounds.

Take the example of students: Students will not be doing the bulk of their socializing in-class. The majority of socializing occurs during lunch and after-school, both of which are situations where students are free to leave the school grounds and take their masks off (as many often do). Places like the workplace could also be exempt.

Regarding the atmosphere of fear: Unless my opponent wants to claim that washing your hands has created a culture of fear around avoiding cholera, then I don't see particularly much reason to believe that such is the case with mask-wearing and COVID-19. Yes, there are things like a person's keys, wallet, and phone which may lead to being on your guard and fearing "shit did I forget my wallet" as my opponent admits. Yes these examples are not mandated, but they are effectively necessary.

You basically require these items to leave the house anyways, it's just that you need one to perform an effectively necessary function (paying with your wallet, getting back into your house) and the other is legally mandated. Both of these will cause the exact same fear and being on your guard because the need to have these items before leaving the house is similar in consequence if you forget to do so. With masks, you're told to leave and maybe fined or banned from a particular premises for repeat violations. With your wallet, you can't spend any money and don't have any ID on you. With your keys, you need to spend one to two hours waiting for a locksmith to get you back into your house or just go through the inconvenience of pseudo-breaking into your own house.

This fear already exists and I see no reason to believe it would be exacerbated by mask-wearing, especially as wearing a mask makes it incredibly easy to be certain you didn't forget it. Moreover, these same fears already exist with much greater severity with things like "did I turn the oven off?"


2.3 Vaccine Mandate Alternative
  • Many of my arguments apply to things other than COVID-19.
  • Not everyone can get vaccinated.
  • Prevention is better than protection.
  • You can still get debilitating long-COVID even if you're vaccinated.
  • Less transmission gives COVID a lesser chance of mutating and rendering vaccines less effective.
  • "The law can not save literally everybody" is true, but it's missing the point. We should still try to save people's lives by implementing reasonable measures where possible because of the intrinsic value of human life.
  • Both of these things can exist simultaneously. We can have a world with mask-mandates and a vaccine mandate at the same time because, again, mask-wearing applies to more than just COVID-19. Moreover, I would actually encourage doing both. Pointing out that this is a better alternative is thus irrelevant because the alternative is non-contradictory and can be implemented simultaneously without taking away from the efficacy of either, thereby maximizing effectiveness. Therefore this in no way disproves pro's position nor brings the debate in con's favour.



Con
Forfeited
Round 3
Pro
I forfeit this round as to give my opponent an equitable chance to present a case.
Con
I would have to appeal to emotion to win this and then it would be total coinflip.

This topic is one of those ones where it's way more imbalanced in a formal debate than you first think.