Up until this week I would have given Governor Grisham a solid A for her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. That all evaporated when she started talking about face masks.
Whether you think face masks help or don’t help, the governor’s mishandling of this one issue is a lighting rod of detraction that New Mexico does not need. Grisham announced this week that every New Mexican would be required to wear face masks when in public. Then she stated that she would not have law enforcement enforce this order. She stated that she expected “positive peer pressure” from citizens to get everyone to comply. Of course, she didn’t define positive peer pressure and that is going to cause problems.
Grisham compares the resistance to wearing of face masks to the use of mandatory car seats for children, air bags and seat belts. This is where she is wrong.
When laws were passed requiring car seats and seat belts they were strongly (and they still are today) enforcement by police officers. The fines for not having your kid in a car seat or for you not wearing a seat belt are hefty and they force compliance. Air bags were forced upon car makers by the federal government. If you wanted to make and sell cars in America, you had to comply. This was the appropriate action.
What Grisham has done is issue a mandatory order and then dumped the enforcement of it on all of us, when it is her responsibility. Just look at this New York Times column and you will see the coming storm of problems she is creating by dumping enforcement on “positive peer pressure”. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/15/us/coronavirus-masks-violence.html
Businesses are required to have their employees wear face masks, that’s good and easily enforced. But what happens when someone goes into a business without a face mask? What is an employee supposed to do when a masked shopper confronts an unmasked shopper in their store? Grisham says businesses are not required to enforce this order on shoppers, but employees are going to be forced into this position by her “positive peer pressure” statement. It clearly shows that Grisham hasn’t shopped for years and has not seen pictures of Black Friday.
Positive peer pressure is going to lead to conflict between citizens and that conflict will certainly turn violent in some situations. We either have a rule of law that is enforced by police or we are just a bunch of face mask vigilantes taking the law into our own hands because Grisham knows how ugly this is going to be and wants to distance herself when someone is beaten or killed because they weren’t wearing her mandated face mask.
Grisham needs to either retract her statement of having citizens enforce her face mask rule, or order law enforcement to enforce it. She issued the order, she owns it. She needs to clearly state what a business should do, or not do, if someone without a face mask enters their store. She needs to clearly state what she expects citizens to do, or not do, when they see someone who is not wearing a face mask.
Just like the face mask that hasn’t been cleaned in days, Grisham needs to clean up this mess before New Mexicans start taking the law into their own hands and violence starts.