Evan Vucci / AP
Sunday, June 28, 2020 | 2 a.m.
“Stupid is as stupid does.”
Forrest Gump had no problem understanding the concept. So why is it that so many Republican leaders are having difficulty comprehending the fact that people — some of them — actually do stupid things. Over and over again.
Couple our American right to be wrong as often as we choose with a cultlike refusal to believe that the COVID-19 virus is really bad news for the health and financial well-being of our country, and it is easy to conclude that some very vocal members of the Republican Party bear an outsized responsibility for the death and destruction that is being visited on the United States of America.
Why do I say this? Because it is true.
How many more times do we have to listen to some of these Republican governors — Florida’s, as an example, comes to mind — who refuse to accept the fact that wearing masks, socially distancing and washing hands are the very least we can do to help our fellow Americans live through the coronavirus pandemic.
For some crazy reason, the health emergency that everyone in the country is facing from the COVID-19 pandemic has devolved into a political war of wills. As in: Will we or won’t we wear a mask in public in order to protect ourselves and our neighbors from this health scourge that has already laid claim to one-fourth of the entire world’s death toll?
And this is all in a country that has only 5% of the world’s population.
I have no idea why so many Americans think they are tougher than the virus to the point where they don’t believe that they have to wear masks. Even when they are told that wearing masks protects their friends, neighbors and loved ones. Likewise, I can’t fathom why Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, in the midst of a spiraling out-of-control infection rate in his state, refuses to require mask-wearing in public places.
Oh yeah. I do have an idea. The person who is supposed to lead this nation refuses to wear a mask. He refuses to believe the virus is real. And he refuses to even mention the fact that he has completely blown the country’s response to the pandemic. And he’s blown it not only in the first instance but in every instance thereafter.
And DeSantis, for one, doesn’t dare do what he knows is best for Floridians and all those with whom they come into contact. Because he doesn’t dare cross President Donald Trump publicly, out of a cultish devotion or fear of reprisal, or both. Even Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas is waking to the fact that COVID-19 kills and is moving his state to a more enlightened status.
But DeSantis chooses to do stupid. And, by Gump’s definition, that makes him stupid.
Contrast Florida’s response to that of Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak. When it became clear after slowly reopening our state and our tourist industry that social distancing and voluntary mask-wearing was not getting the job done, Sisolak took a much-needed decisive action. And the rest of the state breathed a sigh of relief.
Now everyone has to wear a mask in public.
The question is, why isn’t that mandate uniformly applied across the country?
It’s because in some places, there are Gump-minded geniuses who demand their individual rights and liberties to infect the rest of us as they choose. The common refrain goes something like this: “We have a constitutional right as adults to make these decisions for ourselves without government-enforced compliance.”
To them, the answer should be, “No you don’t. Your right to be stupid extends right up to the point where it impacts my right to be safe.”
We can’t speed on the highway because speed kills — other people. We can’t shoot weapons into crowds of innocents because bullets kill indiscriminately. And we can’t rob banks because that is stealing other people’s money.
The point is that we have laws proscribing actions that most people would agree are stupid and destructive and should not be necessary in a world where adults make the right decisions on their own. But they don’t.
Just look at the grown-up people who do not wear masks in public, do not believe that the virus is deadly and do not believe anything that Trump doesn’t tell them.
Regardless of what science, the medical community and every health official on the planet says, there are people who do stupid for the dumbest reasons.
Sisolak should be considering a mandate against people traveling to Nevada who may threaten the health and safety of our residents. And he should start with a blanket refusal to allow anyone here who comes from a state that does not adhere to proper medical standards.
No shirts, no shoes, no masks? No service.
Nevadans are not stupid, so we shouldn’t have to accept the risk to our health from anyone who does stupid. We can start with Florida — for example.
Brian Greenspun is editor, publisher and owner of the Sun.