Does Libertarian Theory Preclude Compulsory Mask Wearing? No.

Dear Wes:

All I am saying that there are IMAGINABLE circumstances in which compulsory mask wearing would be justified. Such a compulsion cannot be ruled incompatible with the libertarian NAP per so. There MAY be exceptions to this general rule.

Best regards,


From: Wes Baker

Sent: Thursday, September 10, 2020 8:27 AM


Subject: Dress codes

Dr. Block,

I always get a kick out of you correspondence on Mr. Rockwell’s blog.  It’s almost like Dear Abby for libertarians!

Let me jump straight in.  I think you’re missing the point, re:  masks and the resistance to them both on private and “public” property.  (Do we need to go into why I have “public” in quotation marks?)

1. My thoughts are mostly anecdotal, but I would suggest 99.99% of masks worn by the public are purely “dress codes” enforced on them by state or corporate edicts.

2. Here’s why.

a. There is only one mask, the N95, made by 3M and worn by US medical professionals, which has been shown to have any, substantive, mitigating effect on aerosols. These masks must be personally fitted. They come in sizes.  For instance, you could not properly wear one with your beard.  It would have to be shaved.  I do not have any figures, but by observation and anecdotal evidence, 99.9% of all publicly worn masks are not of this make or model.

b. Of the ones worn by the public, they are worn improperly.  They are not ‘donned and doffed’ properly.  On the contrary, they are continually touched.  A touched mask is worse than useless:  it’s a germ and viral vector.  I suspect the infectious disease and public health “officials” know this – the behavior is everywhere.  I would suggest the mask orders are simply a Machiavellian plot.  The public is given some fictitious ‘agency’ to fight off ‘evil vapors’, the result is:  1. control, 2. ‘ease communities toward herd immunity’.

So, if I’m anywhere near the truth – and I’d like to see the contrary argued in a court of law with rigorous scientific proof – the result is purely a dress code.

Dress codes are fine.  I regularly eat at a restaurant, mask-less mind you, where a jacket and tie are required.  The proprietor does not check the thread count of my jacket, nor the whether I have a seven-fold, Italian silk tie.  He simply wants a certain ‘look’ in his establishment.  Fine.  In fact, that’s part of the attraction for me as a patron.

But other, explicit, claims are being made by the state, private and corporate mask requirements.  The claim is of public aerosol protection.


1. If the mask orders are truly meant to be efficacious for all, shouldn’t the landlord equally require a fiber/make inspection of the mask and its proper wearing while on his property?

2. If one must wear a mask to a room, where folks can congregate mask-less, shouldn’t that room be negatively ventilated?  The same applies to a dining table in a restaurant.  What of the wait staff who are required to enter that ‘bubble’?  Should said landlord be required to encapsulate them in biohazard suits since one party is mask-less?  Selling tickets on a cruise ship implies the vessel is whole.  A gaping hole at the waterline near the starboard forecastle hardly constitutes a good-faith transaction by the ship’s owners, no?

Finally, I have a mask.  My wife crocheted it for me.  Would this mask, pictured below, constitute a good faith effort on my part to comply with landlords’ dress codes?  The color and weave are obviously intended, and let me tell you, it goes well with a 220-thread-count morning jacket!


Wes Baker

Annniston, Alabama


8:36 am on December 18, 2020

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