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March 29, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – Last summer, in that hazy period between the first and second “waves” of the coronavirus when we thought life might go back to normal, I flew with my family to Alberta for work. My little girl was not yet three years old, but the airline required she wear a mask, anyway. As you can imagine, this was difficult for her. She was two. The novelty of having a cloth mask wore off swiftly, and she disliked that it impeded her breathing and was uncomfortable. Still, she kept it on for over two hours before pulling it down and fiddling with it. Even the stewardesses commented on how “good” she’d been.

Sitting next to us was a middle-aged woman who, although the lower part of her head was carefully swaddled, managed to convey her intense disapproval by glaring at us vigorously (I might have smiled at her, but I was wearing a mask). She appeared to be one of those people weaned on a pickle and whose face had never quite recovered. She finally snapped, demanding that our child be masked as this two-year-old was obviously a real risk to her life and health. I was informed that I should “know” better. I have never come so close to losing my temper on plane in my life, and hope I never get that close again. She ended up storming into the aisle to get away from my plague-spreading child and her irresponsible parent, dumping a coffee all over the ground in the process.

It bears mentioning here that the World Health Organization (which ping-pongs about in its advice but is still taken as gospel by the sorts of people who lose their temper at little children on planes) recommends that children under the age of six not be required to wear masks, both because it is difficult for them (as anyone who knows anything about children knows) but also because children are less likely to spread COVID-19. The European Union requires that children age six and older wear masks on planes on this basis; England requires masks for passengers age 11 and up; and New Zealand, with its notoriously onerous restrictions, set the age at 12.

All of that aside, the coronavirus has driven some people crazy and made them cruel. Social media is swamped by stories of people who have apparently tasked themselves with carefully monitoring the behavior of others. In a time when so many are miserable and stressed, these heroes in hazmat have decided to make everyone feel worse. Unmasked children, it turns out, are dangerous. Elisha Krauss of the Washington Examiner noted that she was called carless “for not putting a mask on my 3.5 year old outside on a hike.” Journalist Jade Jackson noted that a non-verbal four-year old and his parents, with a doctor’s note, were booted off a plane because the boy couldn’t wear a mask.

There have been frankly gut-churning videos of families evicted from planes and other spaces because their child or children – not the parents – could not wear a mask. Often these are small children. There is no reason – again, not even according to the World Health Organization – for children to wear masks. There are many, many reasons children should not wear masks. But while COVID enforcers race around harassing people to “save lives,” they manage to do so without compassion, humanity, or basic decency. Their behavior is frequently so disgraceful I frequently wonder if they are simply bothered by smiling children. Why else would the presence of a happy little girl incur so much irrational ire?

In a time where lies seem constant, perhaps the biggest one we’ve been consistently told is that “we’re all in this together.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Most people – most families – are struggling along, attempting to do their best. But some, like the middle-aged woman next to us on the plane and other likeminded joyless paranoiacs, are managing to make all of this even worse than it already is by berating parents, scaring children, and trying to deprive a fear-filled world of the faces of happy children. They should be ashamed of themselves.

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Jonathon Van Maren is a public speaker, writer, and pro-life activist. His commentary has been translated into more than eight languages and published widely online as well as print newspapers such as the Jewish Independent, the National Post, the Hamilton Spectator and others. He has received an award for combating anti-Semitism in print from the Jewish organization B’nai Brith. His commentary has been featured on CTV Primetime, Global News, EWTN, and the CBC as well as dozens of radio stations and news outlets in Canada and the United States.

He speaks on a wide variety of cultural topics across North America at universities, high schools, churches, and other functions. Some of these topics include abortion, pornography, the Sexual Revolution, and euthanasia. Jonathon holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in history from Simon Fraser University, and is the communications director for the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.

Jonathon’s first book, The Culture War, was released in 2016.