Lance Bass Blows the Whistle on Fake "Mask Exempt" Cards

It's tearing up his heart

Time to gloat. Two weeks ago, in a post written by my husband, Brenden Gallagher, he and I predicted that The Dixie Chicks would change their name both in advance of their upcoming album, and to be woke. Well, that happened today. They are now “The Chicks” which is a superior name to Lady A. Maybe The Chicks read Going Downs! Today, I’m having Brenden write a guest post, below!

I also want to remind you that my webinar for Black writers on cold-pitching for freelance writing is next Tuesday.

Finally, I was really heartbroken by the story of Elijah McClain, the 23-year old Black boy in Aurora, CO, who was killed in 2019 when police injected him with a lethal dose of ketamine, all because they didn’t like how he was dancing on the street, listening to music in his headphones.

Freaks like me and you have the right to dance on the street! Nobody deserves to die, because they’re “being weird.” The Police have used alternative (non-boring) behavior to justify murder for centuries - they did it with gay people, they did it with artists, they did it with women, they do it with Black people and people of color all the time. Hell, there’s even a part in the HBO show, We’re Here in which drag queens Bob, Shangela, and Eureka have the police called on them in Twin Falls, Idaho, because they are just walking down the street in their drag costumes. That show was filmed in 2019!!

Today, take action for Elijah McClain - the bottom of this article contains several ways to donate, sign petitions, or call representatives.

The Freedom to Get To Get Your Waitress Sick 

By Brenden Gallagher

Hey everyone! It’s Brenden again. For those of you who don’t know, I am Claire’s husband. I am also the official Going Downs “Rural Correspondent”, which in turn makes me the official Going Downs conservative values correspondent. 

Today, I am going to talk to you about freedom. 

I’m sure that many of you saw Lance Bass tweet about people coming into his business with fake laminated cards claiming they are “exempt from” wearing masks in public.

The first question we all had was, “What exactly is this business?” Internet sleuths speculated that Bass was referring to the make-your-own-cocktail startup he created with Jax Taylor. 

Further investigation proved that he was talking about his restaurant, Rocco’s, in West Hollywood. Thanks to friend of the newsletter and film festival aficionado Drea Clark for the info (She is a must-follow for film fans on Twitter).

Another individual, @thecrazypman noted that Rocco’s WeHo hosted the armed Sheriff’s Department during the Civil Rights protests earlier this month. 

Here’s Lance at his brick and mortar, Rocco’s WeHo.

But the second question was, “Where the Hell did these cards come from?”

No, I don’t mean, “Who made these cards?” The answer to that is, “Some asshole who cannot spell ‘poses’ (they wrote “posses”) and went to the trouble to create something called the ‘Freedom To Breathe Agency.’”

But, the more interesting question is how you become the kind of person who would fake a disability just so you don’t have to wear a mask at Buffalo Wild Wings. 

From the very beginning of the pandemic, American conservatives of the sort that would have joined the Tea Party in the aftermath of Obama’s election have argued that being asked to wear a mask or being denied their favorite consumer experiences during the pandemic is a violation of their freedom. 

The American concept of freedom is extremely individualized. It’s worth noting that countries that view freedom collectively have far fewer COVID deaths. Communist Vietnam has 0 COVID deaths. The social democratic government led by Jacinda Ahern in New Zealand has 22 deaths as of June 12. Nordic countries with a strong socialist tradition have better than average COVID results (with the exception of Sweden, who went with a misguided “herd immunity” approach).

Of course, the US Constitution’s vision of freedom didn’t involve the guarantee to have a 19 year-old serve you a blooming onion while you cough a deadly disease in her face. The freedoms the Founders had in mind were things like speech, assembly, and press. As recent protests have demonstrated, these freedoms are limited more than we like to admit and were never meant for BIPOC folks and women, but at least these freedoms were about something more than buying scented candles at a Pier 1 Imports going-out-of-business-sale. 

From the very beginning, America has put corporate interests ahead of personal interests. After all, British and Dutch trading companies settled America in the North and slave plantation owners and their descendants have dominated Southern politics throughout US history. From the start, Americans have confused a restriction of unfettered consumption with government overreach and confused spending money with freedom.

Just look at some of the viral videos that have come out of conservative areas of the country in the time of COVID. A woman in Ventura County, CA (yes, even deep blue California has its conservative enclaves) compared wearing masks to slavery in a public comment. She railed to bemused city council, “I protest face coverings. I am a healthy American. I used to be free.”

A Florida woman (who likely believes in the conspiracy theory known as QAnon) suggested that masks and social distancing are setting the stage for a crackdown by the surveillance state and 5G. 

While these videos are certainly unhinged, they are coming out of nowhere. They are part of a modern conservative movement that conflates the displacement of private business power for the public good with a march towards authoritarian communism. Republicans like Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon set the stage for this line of thinking during the Cold War, and it has continued despite the collapse of the USSR.

When social democratic France refused to go along with America’s misguided wars in the Middle East post-9/11, Republicans renamed french fries “freedom fries.” This moment also saw a slew of misguided consumer protests such as destroying Dixie Chicks CDs and buying Tim McGraw albums featuring songs about putting a “boot in the ass” of terrorists.

When Barack Obama moved healthcare away from a strictly free market-based system with the Affordable Care Act, he was accused of starting “death panels.” When Obama suggested limits on certain semi-automatic gun purchases, rumors spread that jackbooted thugs would walk door to door taking weapons from households. 

Individually, these conspiracy theories sound like their own little unique insanities. But considered together, we see that America’s particular brand of individualized consumer capitalism has consistently prevented the country from making better choices about public health and led to some of the funniest viral videos ever to grace the Internet.

And they have also made Lance Bass very upset. 

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