Straight, No Chaser: Who was that masked man?

Rob a bank and blend into the crowd (photo: Pixabay)
September 20th, 2020 5:00 am| by Stephen Gadd
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We all know the drill by now. You’re waiting at a bus stop and the bus hoves into view: cue rummaging in bag to find mask. Of course you should spray your hands with spirit first and not touch the mask, but most people don’t.

Then follows an increasingly uncomfortable bus ride on which your constricted breathing reminds you that you ate too much garlic the night before and your glasses steam up from your hot breath. You end up getting off the bus feeling faintly nauseous.

Stand and deliver
Mask-wearing is the new norm in Denmark on public transport and people seem to have taken to the new rules with surprisingly little resistance – this despite DR’s Detektor revealing that 87,400 people will have to wear masks to prevent one person being infected with the coronavirus. This is based on a figure of 250 people across the entire country being infected.

Statistics are tricky things. We all know that statistically flying is much safer than travelling by road, but if you’re the one on the jumbo going down, that doesn’t really matter much. Likewise, although statistically there is an infinitesimally small chance of hitting the lottery jackpot, people still argue “someone has to win and it could just as well be me”.

Do as you are told
Despite all this, by and large Danes are very obedient when the government or other official body produces guidelines or issues instructions. There is a high level of trust amongst the population that these authorities have our best interests at heart and that it is best to do what they say.

Contrast that with recent events across the Atlantic. Due to the way it evolved as a country, the US has a long history of anti-authoritarianism, while personal freedoms are prized above what Europeans regard as the common good. This line of reasoning could be the reason corona is still pretty much out of control there.

Outlandish conspiracy theories also seem to gain more traction ‘over there’. The massive emphasis on personal freedom lends credence to the idea that experts should not be trusted; they are probably pushing their own agenda, and one man’s view is as good as the next.

Off the beam
This is false and dangerous reasoning. For example, I’d very much like to hear the views of Woody Harrelson when it comes to acting, but just because he is famous I don’t think he knows much more than me when it comes to corona and how it spreads. He is but one celebrity who has been spreading the notion that 5G masts cause corona.

Other celebrities have hitched themselves to the ‘anti-vaxxer’ bandwagon, with some claiming that if you get vaccinated against corona, Bill Gates will insert a microchip inside you at the same time to keep tabs on you.

Grin and bear it
When looked at in cold print with any kind of critical eye, these theories are patently insane as well as very harmful. The anti-vaxxer movement has already led to falling rates of vaccination for measles and the resurgence of a disease that was more or less wiped out in the western world.

Call me one of the sheeple, but I’d much rather live in a country where the people feel the government, health service and health experts are here to help us. As onerous as mask-wearing can be, I truly believe it is ultimately for my own good (and the good of my fellow bus travellers).

Stephen Gadd


An Englishman abroad, Stephen has lived and worked in Denmark since 1978. His interests include music, art, cooking, real ale, politics and cats.