The Mask Monologues

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S1: We have a favor to ask. Our partner is conducting a survey and would be grateful for your help in answering a few questions. It’ll take less than 10 minutes of your time and your participation helps support our advertisers. Please go to podcasting survey dot com to complete the short survey now. Thanks.

S2: The following program may offend those who say fudge instead of another F word. It may also offend those who say fudge. When asked to rank their top three desserts. It’s Thursday, July twenty third, twenty twenty from Slate’s The Gist. I’m Mike Pesca. Donald Trump was interviewed last night on Fox by Dr. Marc Siegel. Trump was not taking his chances with any old Fox host who might hold him to say, account. Oh, no. This was Dr. Marc Siegel who said this about Trump’s leadership on the Corona virus early on.

S3: Are you impressed by that? The number of Americans who’ve got that much confidence in the Trump administration? Absolutely, Lou. I think that the task force that the president put together and his leadership on this has been tremendous.

S2: That assessment was offered 10 days after Trump said these words.

S3: Now, the virus that we’re talking about having to do, you know, a lot of people think that goes away in April with the heat as the heat comes in. Typically, that will go away at April.

S2: Siegel is applauded Trump every step of the way and was therefore the right man to conduct this interview about a very vital medical subject gripping the country’s attention, which is the president’s lack of dementia, or should I say the president’s repeatedly stated lack of dementia? Yes. At issue is the president’s terrific brain. Because the president keeps returning to that issue, he must think it’s a big electoral winner for him. I mean, imagine a president who doesn’t have early onset dementia. It is the dream of Alexander Hamilton. It is why he authored all those Federalist Papers and didn’t give away his shot to one day found a country led by a man who’s not insane or muddle brained King George. The second wasn’t sane, by the way. And so here we are today, 43 presidents later led by such a good man with such a good brain that he needs us all to know how good a brain it is. Keeps bringing it up in interview after interview last night, he did so with an actual doctor with credentials that I just cited, impeccable ones, meaning he loves Trump. But also to remind you a little bit more about Marc Siegel. He thought the Corona virus was a great big ball of hype. Here he was on March 6th.

S3: I’ll test the flu. I’ll test the corona virus to calm fears. And people are going to start to get the idea that it’s not that widespread.

S2: Siegel was privy to a different test yesterday as the president detailed the difficulty of the cognitive test that he was administered a while ago. I gave you this test, a version of this test. What Trump called the hardest parts of this test on the show a couple of days ago, I read some actual words that are actually read by a doctor to a patient who might have, say, Alzheimer’s. And those words are Face Velvet Church, Daisy Green. Now, the point of it is that they’re random words, not obscure words, but words unrelated to each other. In fact, I want to let you know that I am so dedicated to this idea that the words be unrelated that I saw on the official test. The last word was red and not green. And I changed it for the gist version of the memory test. I changed it to Green because I thought that Red was too associated with red velvet cake. Thus perhaps skewing the results, such as my dedication to the process and adjudication of you, the listener, as non demented. That is why I ask you to recall those words. Can you. Can you do it? Those words, they were face Velvet Church. Daisy Green. The president, by the way, tweaked the test in the discussion that he had with Dr. Siegel like a memory question.

S4: It’s like you go person, woman, man, camera, TV show. They say, could you repeat the show? Shakya Such person. Woman, man. Camera. TV.

S2: OK, so in this case, it was an unrelated words. It was notably things in Trump’s direct line of sight. So 20 seconds after the clip I just played, when Trump busts out the same sequence and you go person, woman, man. Camera, TV, it’s not quite as impressive as the actual test because I’m recalling the words he said he was just going down the line. There’s a person. There’s a man. There’s a woman. Camera, TV. Bap, bap, bap, black. I don’t know if I got him in the right order. I wouldn’t have got his high marks as Trump, by the way. All of this. This impressive world beating demonstration of non dementia. You know what it does? I think it sets Trump up pretty well after the presidency. Now, there is a downside, which is that he won’t be able to put forward a diminished capacity defense if the Manhattan district attorney or FDNY brings charges. I guess somewhere out there in gangster heaven. Vincent the Chin Gigante is saying, no, you’ve got to start muttering and shuffling around in a bathrobe early on. Can’t do it at the last minutes of fungo. But should Trump be stripped of his assets and forced to raise money? He will now have the option of touring the country as Donald Trump and his feats of intellect and memory prowess.

S5: Marvel as Donald Trump remembers five words in order as he repeats the same story about having a friend who doesn’t go to Paris anymore, as he conflates the notion that windmills kill eagles and also cause cancer, as he invents on the spot different things that a dog can do, like get fired. There was Trump you and Trump Steaks, Trump Casino and now the Trump traveling show of medical marvels and mental feats in which the former president will prove himself to be the greatest country. The history chronicles the amazing Trump gain at a fairground or Reddit channel near you on the show today.

S2: Well, we’re not done with the category of impassioned but perhaps ill informed people across America. Citizens have been asked and sometimes mandated to wear masks. These requirements often come at the local level and as such are overseen by county boards that blessedly allow for public comment. Many of these comments tend to be extreme. But how extreme? How insane, how unhinged, how. Out there for the rest of this show, I will be joined by Trump cast host Virginia Heffernan as we play examples of citizens engaging in the right to be heard on the issue of why masks are a huge lie, means of control or sinister plot. We shall analyze and judge them and offer you the definitive answer. Who refused to wear it best? Virginia Heffernan unmasked. And up next.

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S7: Some people like the unpacking videos, some people like the ads. I like the Asmar back cracking videos, but there is a new video trend that’s sweeping the nation. Crazy people who don’t want to wear masks. Now, the most popular genre of this is people in commercial spaces objecting to being told to wear a mask or even seeing masks. I’m not as into that as the public comment section of city council meetings. Public comments. They never let you down. I’ve been casually collecting a few of the greatest hits of people who want to tell their elected officials. Damn it, we don’t want to wear a mask, but I don’t know how to rank them or which ones are better than others. So what I thought I would do is invite on someone who I think shares my passion. I hope she’s Virginia Heffernan. She is the host of Trump Cast on this, the Slate podcast network. Hello, Virginia.

S8: My Kellow. I do share your passion for this and so much else.

S7: Public comments are usually good, but public comments when the commenter is so clearly wrong and trying to kill you while talking about liberty. I don’t know. There’s something just chefs kiss about them.

S8: Love it so much. And yes. And I listened to Brian Larra to see exactly how to appreciate public commenters because. Yeah, you can’t just shut him out. You can’t block comments. I feel like. Right. A public disservice.

S7: And yes, a subtle thing. And in a couple of the clips we’re going to play, you’ll hear the elected official. And it is just like the throwing the G T.O. that’s going 90 in. In reverse. Quickly on the highway as some frothy mouthed anti masker is done with his or her comments. And then the beleaguered elected official tells us your time is up. Thank you for participating in our democracy. So what I’d like to do is let’s let’s hear some, but also let’s try to rank them. But I think we have to discuss criteria first. So I just kind of wrote down a couple notes, a couple of categories that they should be judged on. And I don’t want to be too formal about this, but what I was thinking of is I want to judge these based on their passion, the passion of the speaker, the plausibility of the misinformation, I think points off if it sounds plausible. So the more whack a do, the more I will give it credit, the bells and whistles. So someone just talking. That would be one thing. But, you know, if they bring any extra sound to elements to it, including vocal, I want to give them some extra credit and then a general, an unhinged ness that I think should be rewarded. Is there anything else I’m missing? Do you think?

S8: I mean, it is. It’s a hit. It’s histrionics. This is this is scenery chewing and a horses scenery destroying when they tear apart the displays. It is not a naturalistic method acting kind of thing. Operatic output. We’re talking a big stage commedia dell’arte kind of thing. You want to see big you don’t want to see them taking a moment to reflect. None of that, right? Nothing subtle, nothing filmic, nothing verité.

S7: Big, right. You know, I was thinking maybe I mean, just informally, what I was doing is I say to myself, OK. If after you heard this person, if someone leaned over to me, if I was in the council, someone said, you know, she just got out of a mental institution. How shocked would I be on a scale of one to five, one being ha. That’s unexpected to five. Yeah, I’d be surprised if she were allowed to use a fork without a cork in it. So that’s that’s a little back of the envelope calculation I’m doing as well. Okay. I think that’s good. I think that’s really right. Yeah. Let’s jump right in. Let’s hear the first person. This is all. I’ll set the scene.

S9: We go to West Palm Beach, Florida, trying to get the people to train then. So when the cameras, the five G comes out right there, they’re gonna they’re gonna scan everybody. We gotta get scanned. We gotta get temperature. The kids have to go to school with masks. Are you insane? Are you crazy? I think all of you should be in a psych ward right now because none of you none of you know what the hell you are talking about. This is insane. I mean, you want to open this meeting with a prayer to God. I prayed to the devil because God is not listening to that prayer, because all of you are practicing the devil’s not. What happened to Bill Gates? Right. He’s not in jail. Why is Hillary Clinton not in jail? Right. Oh, of all of these pedophiles that are demanding you are to listen to their. Why are they not in jail? Oh, is it because you’re part of them? The time has expired.

S10: Going into the deep state, you’re going. How do we do that? Yeah. Everything that had maybe that fluoride in the drinking water, but almost everything. What are your favorite moments?

S8: Okay. When when a person lands on 5G, it just there’s there’s a lot of say the balls are in the air. The balls are in the air. It could. And different play. It’s like a you know, it’s like a Pungo chip, you know, began to everybody because they like we’re focusing too much on aerosolized virus and we really need to focus on sanitation. And, you know, she might be on a track of talking about hygiene and prevention of the pandemic. But, no, she lands on those words and they just to me, they’re like a major chord. Five G. Mm hmm. We just got it says five G, your home. You’re just you’re in a comfortable place where nothing is true. And you don’t have to. You don’t have to. Your brain doesn’t have to work the way it is in in the very beginning. And by the way, I know we’re just listening to audio. But anyone who hasn’t seen this clip, she does not look like you think she looks she looks like she could be, you know, like a decent DSA candidate in, you know, for Congress. I mean, she’s like a great looking, great looking young woman, woman poised, looks very much college educated and she gets angrier and angrier and. But only when the point is only when the words. And number five G come out. Do we know who we’re dealing with?

S7: You know, but you’re I think you’re skirting the question, which is why isn’t Bill Gates in jail?

S8: Well, that’s it. So here. So here’s where I don’t know, Mike, if if you can follow me here. But it is a and of complex arguments. I have. But let me just summarize it with the words the devil, because when the devil comes in, once we’re in church lady territory, like, oh, yeah, maybe that’s Satan. Yeah, it’s it’s, um. It’s kind of all bets are off like the Pyncheon pinch in his Steria is over and we’re just into those like that all all purpose syllables. Satan the devil.

S7: I like, you know, I liked her, I liked her. Heck to hell transmission to hell transition which occurred within within the same sentence. I think we’re right next to each other. You could tell that she was trying to keep it together by saying the proper heck, but then she just had to let loose. And I think maybe saying hell triggered within her satanic imagery and it was just too much. She says, hell, she realized they give it prayer to God. And I don’t even know if she has a Bible thumper. But just the rich irony was too much. She had to point out she didn’t say, I think you are in league and legion with Beelzebub. She just rhetorically said, if you’re gonna say, God, I got to throw it out there. I just. Oh, it. In terms of intellectual consistency during league with the devil.

S8: Yes. Right. I know she doesn’t mess around and she and. Right. And she she’s you know, it is it it’s nice to see also like the that the form of the English sentence and the and the kind of ups and downs of oratory are still in place even when even when the dots being connected are, you know, blue to the planet xenon, you know, and but that she sounds like someone she sounds like someone giving a Mr. Smith goes to Washington speech, you know. That’s right.

S7: If you took if you took this issue and you made it into some something related to, say, global warming, you could change. She could say you’re praying to God. Well, I don’t think God would appreciate what you’re doing to his planet. It’s a devilish intent. And instead of five G’s, she might be saying Exxon. And instead of why is it Bill Gates in jail? She might be saying the Coke Brothers. So you could actually take the tone in the argument and make it. Well, if it weren’t insane, you could make it saying if you just did a little a word replacement, it would be tough. But it does it here to some sort of logic. If the actual facts of what you were saying weren’t 100 percent accurate. All right. Let’s go on to clip two and notes. You know, I think that was exhaustive, and yet we haven’t even touched the surface. But let’s go on to St. Lucie County, Florida. Odd that so many of these would come from Florida. Now, if you know any chance here. Yeah. If you know anything about the actual St. Lucie, her eyes were gouged out. But the miracle was that upon her burial, her eyes re turned. Huh. I didn’t know that. Let us see. Let us see if a new form of vision will be instilled by any of the following speakers. Here we go. Here’s this concerned citizen that is sick.

S11: We are being lied to. Our freedoms are being taken farther. And I will not be muzzled like a mad dog. I want to help my health destroyed because you have yet to figure out that truth.

S7: Oh, that was. That was short. That was sweet. And I wonder, Virginia, if Alex Jones didn’t exist, would we find the need to invent him? And would it be this guy?

S8: I mean, I think. Right. Either he’s got the gravelly voice, which makes you do sort of think that he might have respiratory problems that might come from yelling like this so often. But I like the muscles like a mad dog. So the psych ward, you know, Bandy Lee, the the Yale psychiatrist who’s who’s written. A lot about the president’s shortcomings. Mental and cognitive shortcomings. It really says that projection that when your brain slips, it slips into this kind of chronic projection, not like, oh, that’s subtle. You, Mike. You probably are telling me you’re tired. You know, I’m tired because you’re tired. No. Nothing subtle about it. More like you’re saying. I need to be muzzled like a mad dog means I need to be prosecuted like mad dog. I mean, who is acting like a mad dog? But, you know, he’s it’s a not a not a bad idea. And the other one with her psych ward, not about idea. She’s thinking about psych words.

S7: What you’re talking about, maybe it’s because your creativity ebbs away and you can’t think of other accusations besides just I know you are, but what am I.

S8: Yeah, that’s right. Right. I mean, your brain the brain does seem to contract during these thing. I know it does. For me, when I’m really heated, I, I turn to Klipsch weird cliches that I don’t you ever do this like. I mean, I’m not that you would ever get angry, but I mean at times possibly that you may remember from years ago being angry, I, I it’s something atrophies in me. I don’t have like Arias. Excellent arias, you know, kind of like with the kids. I’ll kind of repeat myself. In fact, recently I said to him, one of my mice, I said to my son, you need to go outside. You’ve got extra energy. You need to get your ya yas out. I never said it before in my life, you know what I mean? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Full of beans. What grandfather just said made me say that. Yeah.

S7: Maybe, maybe there’s an X and Y access of verbal expression and the x axis, his intensity and the y axis is, you know, creativity or verbal dexterity. I it’s very hard to be it’s very hard to be high on both.

S8: It is. It is hard. Yeah. Okay, let’s keep going.

S2: Okay. I’m against wearing masks. Speaker number three.

S12: I have the ability to do what I want when I want, how I want. This is our country, not your country. It is not your job to tell me what to do. Put on a mask. You want to give health risk and blah, blah, blah. Tell people, hey, this isn’t Thursday at home. Wear a. That’s all you can do. You want to start mandating people to wear stuff. Trust me. These guys finally know who I am because I walk around here with a 50. All right. I will order you day in and day out. I see any of you without a mask on. I will personally call the police on you. Just so that you get that feeling. Because if you guys can’t even abide by your own rules, then I’m going to sit here and order you, especially you. Coffee, especially you, Frannie. Frannie, you’re a pilot.

S10: Wow. All right. Wow. That leaves me want more like. Is Freddie a tyrant? What tyrannical axe has Freddie Freddie engaged in?

S8: Dale Carnegie. Use of their names, though. You know, like that generally. Yeah. He engages them. He feels he’s losing their attention. He’s already brought up the gun. That’s his. Yeah. You know, his big weapon. But his his which is his head quite literally. Yes. His house which is on this one. Interesting. Because he starts to go in to a moment of total clarity, if not to say banality a little bit into it. When he starts to say, you know, you can tell me stay home and and wear a mask. But that’s kind of all you can do. You can’t mandate it, which is something we all know is true. That’s what that’s what Governor Cuomo keeps saying. I can tell you to do this, but I can’t you know, I’m not I’m not putting people in jail or even ticketing people for this right now. And so you’re like, OK, we’re in this moment of sanity. Then all of a sudden he’s like, no, I’m losing my whole reason for being I have a gun. He does not want consensus, harmony, peace. He doesn’t want us to agree that, like, you know, that I don’t know. He just wants to pull out, at least rhetorically, his gun. And it’s probably more to wake himself up.

S7: I didn’t know that audit was part of the conspiracy theories store, you know, very, very fervent. Read it, Patriot, the Donald type, read it group word. But of course, I remember from a couple of years ago, there was the movement to audit the Fed, which are which people on, I guess, the libertarian right believed in. And I hadn’t heard audit in that use. But when he said not, I’ll be watching you or I’ll be monitoring you, but I’ll be auditing you. I wonder if that was by design. And that’s something that’s used a lot in those circles.

S8: Wow. Right. And I yeah. I don’t get the sense that he works for the IRS. No, I don’t see, you know, the green eyeshades.

S7: I don’t get audited. Maybe a scope.

S8: Is it. Oh, I had no. OK. So, you know, this is what happened to me with the. There’s a lot of playing catch up. Do you. But do you find this Mike Beebe. Stay on top of it with the. The the Trumps notorious call with the Ukrainian president. I can’t tell when people are going off the ledge because when he mentioned crowds strike in that and I read the transcript. I didn’t know that crowd strike was a pinwheel eyes tinfoil, a hat word. And so I was like, well, yet another thing I don’t know about in the world, and you have to stay on your toes about this vocabulary like idea, notice, audit. I didn’t notice audit. An audit does put him out of the norm. The Paul Ryan, any kind of half lettered Ayn Rand readers into their possible realm of, as you say that read it the Donald thread.

S7: Yeah, it goes from Paul Ryan to Ron Paul with the verb it. Exactly. You got one more shot. Yes. So the last one we’re going gonna leave the sunny climes of Florida for the sunny climes of Ventura County, California, where this lady does not like masks.

S13: I am not a terrorist. I am not antifa. I am not a sex slave that wears masks. I am not into sadomasochism and bondage. I am not a burglar. I am not a pandering politician like we see here and here and here and here.

S14: Hi.

S13: I’m a proud Trump Republican. Trump Republican yearning to be free again. Who are you? Victim or Victor? If you are offended by anything I have said by the masses of people that I am offended by the masses of people who do not question your wholesale slaughter of our constitutional and inalienable rights. Shame on all of you. Let liberty ring. God bless America.

S7: Land for America’s on for a while. I think she knows all our wishes.

S8: Wow ee. Well, she does not stutter. She doesn’t stutter. She, he, she. And she lets freedom ring that bell. It’s exactly the way that I thought liberty sounded. It’s a little here.

S7: Yeah. The Tinton ambulation of that particular battle a bit underwhelmed.

S8: Yes. You talk. But I have like I have like a man, a master thesis that I want to share with you. What do you think of this one?

S10: Wholesale slaughter? It’s like one of those things, like a jack booted thugs after the after to modify slaughter, which I believe is an absolute right. There’s no half slaughter, half measures when it comes to slaughter. Rita. Rita. Slaughter is the opposite, right? That’s right. Or like one of those slaughter your own cow parks that I went to as a kid and spoke slaughter. That’s right. Designers look fun for the whole family.

S7: Slaughter in slaughter. An experience. Your are you. When she says are you a victor or victim? I am. I wish I had the visual. I don’t know if she’s accusing the audience because it doesn’t seem to make sense. At one point she goes through what I would assume to be the commissioners pointing the accusatory finger. But then she asks, are you victim or Victor? If I had Victor, I’d take that option, right? Yeah. I don’t know what. I don’t know. She tried to do with that. Yeah, but tell me what you’re thinking about.

S8: Irving, this lady who who channeled Irving Berlin there at the end, the just sheer theatricality of all of these perform all of these Americans, all these performance really does. I mean, they are scenery chewing and they are making scenes. And this so this is my master thesis. It goes back to. The origins of reality television. Did you ever see? Did you see any of America, an American family, about the loud family on PBS? So, yeah, right. Was it. Yeah. 70S Show, where they just turned on fly on the wall, cameras on a family and the family under the cameras kind of fell apart. So there was a divorce and one of the the kids came out and, you know, the family sort of fell to pieces and the accounts given. And but but PBS got a lot of money to do this because it was like, you know, they were doing for American white, upper class American families what Jane Goodall and Goodall and everyone had done for other primates.

S7: Right. And until reality and until reality TV came along as a genre, it wasn’t even seen as that on ethical. But now, because we could. Yes. Place it in that canon or as an urtext, it’s like what the hell was going on? But for years, we’re just like, that was an interesting experiment.

S8: Yeah. Right. And it was there was something almost scholarly about it. And then there’s Fred Wiseman films and the verité films. OK, so Mrs. Loud, I can remember her first name, but after it said that the so that what came up for her and that people have said this on the on the seven up series too, that her the issue was that the cameras were around and they she you felt like you shouldn’t be boring when the cameras were on you. Even then they told you just be yourself. And so you couldn’t help wanting to make a scene, literally make a scene like contribute to the to the to the theater. So they weren’t burning film because you there were subtle pressure on you. You know, they weren’t they shot so much film. It was a zillion dollar, you know, on old film production. And so you knew that you were just wasting their time if you were just like chewing your lip or reading a book. And so you suddenly wanted to become more theatrical. Anyway, the money saved by people who decided to take it on themselves, not to just be, you know, be like the primates in the in the in the scene, but to actually show off to be theatrical personalities, that we would write their own scripts, do their own makeup, whatever. Then we come to The Apprentice. Then we come to reality television that, you know, this thing that started out as verité where they were just going to do whatever they were going to do. Now, all of a sudden, it turns out that you don’t even have to pay someone like the Tiger King or whatever. They’ll just act when the cameras are on. Right. And you have all this in public space, which is right. You know, these aren’t surveillance film and audio that we’re getting of these people. These are people being like Stepaside. Hold my beer. Clear the air. Bring the spotlight down on me. You know, take a close up. Here I go. I’ve written this speech and it is just bizarre that we live in a world where, like, you know, everyone has a camera and is ready to turn it over to all the people who are ready to put on a show.

S7: Yeah, we’ve conditioned the citizenry to act like this. And I’m gonna just turn the lens on ourselves. How culpable are we in giving these people a platform?

S8: Yeah. I mean, you mean but by putting our cameras on them by shit right now, putting them on your show by paying a lot of menu menu.

S7: I mean, let me I’ll ask I’ll answer a couple questions that I’ve been grappling with. One, are we judging. Yes, we absolutely are. Are we smug? Yes. Do we feel superior to them? Yes. Is there anything wrong with that? I think not. Yeah. And all of these people, in terms of their freedom and their personal freedom, they would I don’t know if they’d all agree. But it is true that, you know, your freedom to throw a punch stops at my nose. It’s a pretty apt metaphor because it’s not freedom not to wear a seat belt. Right. That’s us, maybe. Or a bike helmet or a motorcycle helmet. So that’s the libertarian argument. Like it’s my body. I could choose to put it in harms way, but the mask is putting other people in harms way. It does nothing for the wearer and lessens. And in ninety five and I don’t think these people that maybe the five G lady because she likes things with numbers in them, maybe she’d wear one. But in general they’re saying I’m my freedom is that I don’t have to do something to Projet to protect you. And that’s just a misreading of the classic libertarian line. The Libertarians would say, I don’t have to do something to protect me.

S8: Yes, it’s the don’t tread on me so I can cough on you logic.

S7: We have a winner. It is. I thought it would be. I’m not a burglar. It is. In fact. What the heck? What the hell, lady? Let’s go out on this stirring rendition of God Bless America. And I thank you, Virginia Heffernan, host of podcast and my guide as we unmasked the greatest mass grants of the last two weeks of twenty. Thank you so much, Virginia. Thank you, Mike.

S13: So, my sweet little.

S2: And that’s it for Today Show kind of a weird one. Kind of weird. We’re produced by a person, a woman, a man, a microphone and a TV. More specifically, Daniel Shrader, Margaret Kelly and executive producer of Slate podcasts, Alicia Montgomery. The gist. You know, when you’re insanity, froths over, leaving telltale flecks of spittle in the corners of your mouth. You know what covers that up? Well, here’s a hint.

S3: Have the mask right here. I carry and I will use it gladly.

S2: Come on. Is that guy going to self muzzle? Super desperate to prove. And thanks for listening.