Letter to the Editor: Haircuts and Rodeos

Dear Editor,

Is all the hoorah really about haircuts and rodeos?

Food for thought as a second wave of coronavirus appears imminent.

With the ongoing news-driven tsunami of daily distractions to which we are all subject, the further in depth we go – with discussion of rights, rodeos, riots, haircuts, and the constitutionality of militia involvement during times of law enforcement crisis – the further we stray from the genuine issue that spawned this spike of citizen concern.

No one really cares that Les Baugh made a conscious, public choice to supplement his feelings of manhood by taking a haircut in the midst of a pandemic. No one really cares that Les made a conscious choice to put himself in a theoretically “closed to service” barber chair during an active shelter-in-place order issued by a Democratic governor. No one really cares that Les chose to publish his disregard of executive policy on his Facebook page, and no one really cares that Les is willing to place his own health at risk.

What’s at issue, and what a voting electorate really should be concerned with, is the wisdom of Les Baugh’s choices, the potential repercussions of those choices, and the impact those choices should have in interpreting Les’ electability in 2022. As a career politician, he really should be concerned.

No one really cares that Sheriff Magrini allowed a Rodeo in Cottonwood’s Bobby Jones Arena during a shelter-in-place order. No one really cares that the participants in that rodeo put themselves at risk, denied the scientific advisement of social distancing, or put their loved ones at undue risk.

Again, the real issues here revolve around the wisdom of Les Baugh’s and Sheriff Magrini’s decision to support and enable social behaviors that ran counter not only to executive order from the governor’s office, but in direct contradiction of local expert public health opinion, and also in denial of best available scientific information at that time.

Here’s the real issue: both were in community-elected positions, both declined adherence to standing gubernatorial policy, and both denied expert public health opinion. This are the issues that should really concern us as we stand in face of a COVID-19 second wave, generally expected to be upon us in the coming months – perhaps sooner, if precautionary guidelines aren’t implemented and maintained.

Gov Newsom’s executive order that instituted the COVID-19 shelter in place order was based in best current scientific opinion – not ego, not constitutional interpretation, and not politics. The wisdom of establishing a county by county reopening schedule was based in scientific data and expert public health opinion – a measure instituted by careful, expert weighing of the benefits vs the risks of increased public exposure, best understanding of the dynamics of disease transmission, and supported by computer modeling of known factors that stood to support or deny the reopening process.

By thumbing their noses at – and openly refuting – Newsom’s executive order, and acting outside the expert recommendation of local public health officials, Supervisor Baugh and Sheriff Magrini may have enjoyed the momentary pleasure of implementing some minor illusion of local authority and control over their little corner of the burgeoning nationwide pandemic, but they also showed us how little understanding they have of pandemic dynamics, how little esteem they carry for the science behind an effective pandemic response, and how little regard they have for the public health.

The real issues all along have not been about rodeos, rights, riots, or haircuts. The real issue is having discerning captains at the helm that are willing to make the unpopular decisions based upon the best available information, regardless of the short term blowback. My suspicion is that this overstepping of authority will continue to haunt these guys till at least come ballot time in 2022. I, for one, intend to vote accordingly.

As I write, anarchists have reportedly taken over and created a police-free zone in Seattle. They are reportedly planting crops in preparation for a long term siege. Rough times ahead. For all of us.

In the meantime, follow the science, not just the politics. Our captains in this pandemic crisis – past and pending – have already shown us a decisive lack of concern for the public health along with a willingness to ignore expert evidence-based opinion. Be in charge of safeguarding your own health, be informed, and be vocal about your concerns – because no one else is equipped to better understand your well-being and your health needs than are you.

Bill Vercammen

Guest Speaker

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