Aubrey Huff said he’d rather die from coronavirus than live in fear and wear a mask. The former big leaguer — who played in 40 games as a Detroit Tiger in 2009 — said this wasn’t a selfish position and that this “is a thing to try and free America so (Americans) can freely breathe.”
Retired baseball players espousing anti-science conspiracy nonsense and coating it in a misguided sense of patriotism wouldn’t normally be worth addressing. But Huff’s video went viral this week on Twitter — 1.5 million and counting.
Huff’s post was condemned, rightfully. But also, not suprisingly, cheered. And that’s a problem.
It’s not about him so much as how many folks he represents, folks who feel they’re somehow losing rights and freedoms by being forced to strap a piece of cloth over their nose and mouth while they push a grocery cart or walk into a restaurant.
Before we go any further, please know that the Centers for Disease Control still recommends wearing a mask, whether you have symptoms or not. The basic premise is that even asymptomatic people can spread COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization, which didn’t recommend masks until last week, also backs them now. Its earlier stance was aimed at avoiding a run on masks in some poorer countries that might mean fewer masks for frontline health care workers. In other words, the organization based its stance on risk factors, depending on the country.
Are masks perfect shields? Of course not. But they help. The latest science backs this up.
Why then, does Huff — and so many others — think wearing a mask makes him un-American, anti-Christian and weak?
I’m glad you asked.
Actually, so is he.
“For me, I’m not a sheep,” he said in a video he posted Wednesday, addressing the response to his initial video Tuesday. “For me, I know just as much as any of these (expletives). Nobody knows what’s going on. So, I’m going to use my gut feeling, my common sense … I have the Holy Spirit in me. And I truly believe unless you have the Holy Spirit in you, you are unable to discern lies and truth.”
Great. He’s not a sheep. He knows as much as the world’s epidemiologists. And he likes to rely on his gut and common sense, which is why he tweeted that the pro-mask crowd should “take your #coronavirus mask & stick it where the sun don’t shine.”
I’ll leave that right there. Though, for context, I’ll add this, from the introduction to his self-published autobiography, “Baseball Junkie,” released in 2017:
“I was an absolute scumbag for the most of my life … ”
Apparently his penance is to espouse anti-science, anti-women venom. (On his Twitter bio, he makes sure to note, “I support Toxic Masculinity.”)
Again, this wouldn’t be so troubling if he were just howling at the moon without a megaphone. But he’s got one, because he could once hit a curveball, and he played for two World Series champs in San Francisco.
And now he’s using his megaphone to advise us to stop wearing masks … because of freedom?
“We are in a country right now where it’s good versus evil. And I love Jesus Christ and I believe he wins in the end,” he said Wednesday. “But us Christian Americans, we can no longer turn the cheek. We’ve got to start fighting back. When that doorbell rings we’ve got to grab our whips, and if it’s evil personified at that front door, it’s time to start whipping them out of our temples.”
Evil wears a mask, I guess, because Huff is convinced Jesus would not have worn one.
That we are here, arguing against the opinion of a majority of scientists and doctors, is partly why cases are spiking in parts of the country. The idea that we’re losing our freedoms is also partly to blame.
But we are not losing our freedoms. We’re simply being asked to think about other human beings, just as we do when we stop at a red light.
Huff is still free to drink as much beer as he wants. He’s free to sleep in as late as he wants. He’s free to wear Buzz Lightyear pajamas, to flip his baseball cap backwards, to invest in stocks — or not.
He’s free to study, to read People Magazine, the Bible, to buy a cabin in the woods, set up his empty beer cans on a log and fire away at them with an AR-15.
He’s free to leave his home, drive from California to Maine and back while stopping along the way — in some states — to purchase a bag of weed, fill a pipe, and smoke until he passes out.
He’s free to say what he wants where he wants (with a few exceptions, like yelling “Fire!” in a theater) and not worry about police arresting him.
He’s even free to film himself, his opinions, post them on social media and further expose the dark, selfish and misinformed impulses roiling our country at the moment.
Don’t want to wear a mask?
As he put it in his message to those at high risk of COVID-19 complications, “Fine. Stay home.”