Freedom Foundation

Freedom Foundation lawsuit alleges mask edict violates free speech, compels ‘virtue signaling’

Thurston County’s “invasive,” “coercive” and “unprecedented” directive requiring residents to wear a surgical mask or equivalent in public places has been challenged by a lawsuit questioning not only the necessity of the order, but also the science on which it was based.

Filed in Lewis County Superior Court on June 17 by the Freedom Foundation on behalf of four county residents, the action targets the so-called “Face Mask Directive” issued on May 27 by acting Health Director Diana Yu, ostensibly to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Under the rule, everyone aged 4 and older is required by law to wear a face mask when in the presence of other people. According to the unelected, unaccountable Yu, the directive — which has the force of law — will remain in force until COVID is no longer a threat.

In other words, forever, since viruses are never completely eradicated.

Thurston County has a population of nearly 300,000 people. Of those, 197 have contracted the Novel Coronovirus, or COVID-19, meaning a person in Thurston County has a 0.067 percent chance of contracting COVID-19.

To date, 173 of those who’ve tested positive for the disease have recovered, leaving 24 still infected.

In any case, there is scant and contradicting evidence to suggest wearing face masks does anything to reduce transmission of COVID-19.

The four residents represented by the Freedom Foundation argue that by requiring them to wear face masks, the government is essentially compelling them to support junk science in violation of their freedom of conscience.

Further, they say wearing masks has now become a “virtue signal” rather than a real safety precaution.

Compelling free individuals to wear face masks forces them to espouse support for the scientifically unsound lockdown measures and the draconian government intrusion into citizens’ daily lives.

The Washington State Constitution prohibits compelling individuals to speak against their conscience.

Yu attempts to mollify her critics by noting that she issued the directive to “educate, encourage and persuade individuals to wear face coverings.”

If this were true, however, she would have cited the science that supports wearing cloth face masks rather than a directive coercing people to wear them.

Moreover, failing to comply with local health orders is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $100 fine. Health Officer Yu’s claim that she won’t enforce her Face Mask Directive is simply a red herring.

Then there’s the issue of public opprobrium and being ostracized by those in your community. By announcing that masks are required, Yu gives license to county residents to publicly scorn, or privately tattle on, their neighbors.

This isn’t just a fictional slippery slope. I have been yelled at by a large, brawny man at the local QFC for not wearing a face mask.

I was at least six feet away and was not speaking or coughing and, most importantly, I have tested negative for COVID-19. As a pregnant woman, this confrontation left me shaken and embarrassed for simply following my conscience.

The Face Mask Directive is the definition of government overreach. When “obesity” becomes the next cause célèbre, will the Health Officer require everyone to run two miles a day? At least jogging has already been proven to lower obesity rates.

The Freedom Foundation hopes to put an end to the unjust Face Mask Directive, and at least give Thurston County residents a little more air to breathe.