“Forced masking” is a profoundly more serious issue than credited amid the paranoia overtaking so many health officials, politicians, and much of the public, including PC-driven newspapers. In typical “means justify ends no matter the cost” reaction, fear is driving ignorance of long-term consequences and brushing aside the sinister peril of expanding governmental power under the guise of “saving us” from some immediate panic.

It’s but a small step from forced masking to forced dietary restrictions, seizure of arms, restrictions of expression, movement, and like totalitarian decrees. Seat belt laws and similar unconstitutional overreaches are nonsensical rationalizations, and public shaming is a nauseous practice of tyrannies and dictatorships.

Inability to resist the frightened herd, to step back and rationally avoid deeper consequences will haunt us long after this pandemic subsides. Alarm has been raised over dangerous religious restrictions, yet the very idea that the government can forcefully demand or interfere with something as personal as what we put on our faces seems unmentionable and shows how far down the slippery slope we’ve slid.

Can Americans remember “Give me liberty or give me death,” or does a coronavirus suddenly nullify that kind of commitment to freedom, even when labeled “neighborly,” “charitable” or “for grandma”? Trampling freedom always begins with small things, grows insidiously, and when lost generally remains so.

Paul Sharp, Salt Lake City