Editorial: Anti-maskers, stop with the tantrums

Anti-mask and anti-vaccine protesters attend a roundtable where education stakeholders and public health officials gathered to discuss the start of the 2021-2022 school year with Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont at Highland Elementary School in Cheshire on Aug. 25, 2021. The discussion focused on ways to maintain safe, in-person instruction for students and faculty.

Anti-mask and anti-vaccine protesters attend a roundtable where education stakeholders and public health officials gathered to discuss the start of the 2021-2022 school year with Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont at Highland Elementary School in Cheshire on Aug. 25, 2021. The discussion focused on ways to maintain safe, in-person instruction for students and faculty.

Dave Zajac / Associated Press

We’re all under stress from the pandemic. But that’s no excuse for appalling behavior in public. Adults don’t need to throw tantrums at school events.

So please calm down, anti-maskers. You are bad role models for kids when you scream at meetings instead of using your inside voices.

We get that you don’t like Gov. Ned Lamont’s order requiring schoolchildren and staff to mask up, even though that’s meant to protect them — and you — from the vicious virus that is killing people.

However, loud, nutty accusations aren’t the way to win converts to your cause.

One of your members shouted “Criminals! Every single one of you are criminals!” at a back-to-school panel on Thursday. The panel, held at a Cheshire elementary school, included a dozen school and state leaders such as Gov. Ned Lamont. There were young children in the audience too.

The protesters were yelling as Deidre Gifford, acting commissioner of the state Department of Public Health, was trying to explain mask guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “If I could ask that we could show a little decorum?” pleaded Jeff Solan, superintendent of Cheshire schools, who moderated the panel. “This is a reflection of how we can’t have a civil dialogue.”

Sadly, there was no dialogue, just more eruptions from the audience. The meeting ended quickly, but not the incivility. It continued outside, with more shouts and gestures at the governor’s car.

Shame on all those who acted like bullies at the meeting.

Such nasty attacks are a common sight in some other states, but it’s a shock to see them in Connecticut, the Land of Steady Habits. We’re such a polite place that public officials simply withdrew while getting hollered at Thursday. In contrast, spectators at the hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in Washington were thrown out for interrupting.

Those who consider Connecticut’s mask mandate an abuse of government authority have an ally in Florida’s governor, who bans masks and vaccination mandates. It’s not hard to guess what’s happening with Florida’s Covid rate as a result. The Sunshine State averages more than 21,000 COVID cases daily, twice the rate of the rest of the nation. Major hospitals are out of morgue space. Connecticut averages 600 daily.

You don’t need a math degree to figure out which state is trying to protect its children and teachers.