To The Editor:

From the reports on the Waitsfield Select Board meeting, not only in my view did they fail to make the correct ruling for the sake of health and safety in Waitsfield, but someone engaged in what I call character assassination, which I learned is a “no, no” at group meetings, official or informal; no name calling.  Thank you to the two dissenters for voicing a different view. Even if a select board member did not call someone a communist, it is character assassination to call mask wearing communist, which was used in a pejorative way, given the large number who believe it is important to wear masks for the health and safety of themselves and others in this community, hardly a political viewpoint, except to the extent health, safety and welfare is political and has always been balanced with the First Amendment’s free speech provision. I think even past U.S. Supreme Court justices who were strong First Amendment proponents had thoughts, such as “You cannot shout fire in a crowded theater.” 

Mask wearing may not be perfect but it is a necessary and helpful approach along with safe distancing to protect against the COVID-19 aerosols (the little bubbles from respiration to which the coronavirus attaches). I for one am not prepared to ignore the medical, epidemiological and science people who I have listened to on university and medical school webinars and whose learning and advice is not from any particular government or other organization, although I do believe the organizations that foster the use of masks and safe distancing are correct. 

I am thankful to Fred Messer for promptly coming out with his emergency-declaring stating that masks should be worn along with safe distance. Waitsfield, in particular, of all the Mad River Valley towns should mandate masks inside and outside and safe distancing as we are the main shopping and business services area for all The Valley towns with the two major groceries and more stores and businesses than any other town in the Mad River Valley. All MRV residents (not only visitors) come to Waitsfield/Irasville to shop, dine, go to the farmers’ market, get business services including the shops and services in the historic town at Bridge Street (but big thank you Warren and Fayston for your boards’ rulings). There also should be concern for businesses who want to ask nonmask-wearing people to leave or not come inside suffering liability, if one of those people chooses to bring action against such shops and services.  Please select board meet again and change your ruling.

Carolyn Heft