Governor Kristi Noem is gaslighting us, trying to say she never discouraged the use of masks in schools:
Governor Kristi Noem’s office is clarifying her stance on mask wearing among students, after a campaign email last week says she’s encouraging them return to school “without masks.”
A governor’s spokesperson calls the fundraising email “in-artfully written.” They say Noem believes if people want to wear a mask, that is their own prerogative. The spokesperson says she has—and continues—to oppose mandatory masking, but she has never discouraged wearing them [Lee Strubinger, “Noem Clarifies Mask Stance, SDEA Disappointed in Her Fundraising Push,” SDPB, 2020.08.03].
No, Kristi, you did discourage wearing masks. You sent out an irresponsible, public-health-endangering fundraising e-mail that said, “Governor Kristi Noem will not issue a state-wide mandate for distance learning, and is encouraging all families t osend their children back to school—without masks.” Far from inartfully drafted, that campaign e-mail was written to emphasize your anti-mask position, with an em dash, italics, and end placement. You don’t get to walk that one back. You discouraged masks in that e-mail, as you do every day by your bad example of never wearing a mask in indoor public spaces.
And as we should expect of statements from any high elected official, Noem’s written statement discouraging the use of masks now provides support for others who argue against masks in public debates. Check last night’s Rapid City School Board meeting, where the usual rightwing nutjobs enlisted Noem’s words to mask their own lack of real scientific evidence and advocate the sacrifice of children and teachers to their fantasies:
Two people gave a public comment referencing Gov. Kristi Noem’s recent campaign email discouraging masks in schools, which the state’s education association called political in a statement. Both Florence Thompson and Sherrie Nutter said kids will develop herd immunity to the coronavirus without masks.
Thompson, who is president of South Dakota Parents Involved in Education and a retired school psychologist, said “healthy people don’t need masks” and said “you can become unhealthy by wearing a mask.”
Nutter, who said she was a real estate broker in the Black Hills, said if there were too many restrictions on kids this fall, such as a mask mandate, it would have a negative impact on their mental health [Morgan Matzen, “RCAS Delays Vote on Back-to-School Plan, Mask Mandates Until Monday Meeting,” Rapid City Journal, updated 2020.08.05].
Governor Noem, you are discouraging the use of masks. Please stop. Please go on Twitter and Fox News wearing your mask, please tell people the best science says they should wear masks, and tell your nutter base to quit aping the stupid pronouncements from your office that endanger our health.