Masks em­bolden peo­ple to act dif­fer­ently

Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend - - Editorial Page -


A. Barton Hin­kle’s col­umns are among my fa­vorites, but I think his opin­ion in his Com­men­tary col­umn, “Free the Rich­mond Four,” is wrong.

In ad­di­tion to be­ing cow­ardly, and just plain creepy, wear­ing masks makes nor­mal hu­man in­ter­ac­tion im­pos­si­ble by block­ing our abil­ity to read vis­ual fa­cial clues. Wear­ing a mask may also change the wearer’s be­hav­ior; anonymity may em­bolden a per­son to act in so­cially un­ac­cept­able ways. There’s a rea­son why crim­i­nals, vil­lains in hor­ror movies, and shamans in re­li­gious rit­u­als wear masks — it strikes fear in oth­ers.

Can you imag­ine Ma­hatma Gandhi, Nel­son Man­dela, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., or any of the suf­frag­ists, wear­ing a mask to a protest?



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