Monday, May 20, 2024
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Maskless – and now jobless


LIKE me, you may have thought that being ‘cancelled’ was something that happened only to public figures whose opinions strayed outside the increasingly narrow limits of acceptable discourse. Then coronavirus came along and I have found myself, a prestigeless forklift driver, being cancelled for not conforming to the new normal.

My former employer recently demanded that all staff wear face masks, the must-have accessory for the thriving anti-liberty, anti-dignity lobby. When I mentioned that I was mask-exempt I was summarily suspended, subjected to a disciplinary process and dismissed.

Those of us who are disheartened at being relegated to the status of cattle and made to wear muzzles on the threat of being denied access to polite society by Boris Johnson’s terror cell in government have thankfully been granted exemption. If being forced to have your face covered with one of Boris Johnson’s nappies causes you severe distress, you are exempt from wearing one. No doctor’s note or medical certificate is required to demonstrate this, only your word.

It should be obvious to any civilised person that the dehumanising effect of covering someone’s face can cause distress. I am surprised more people aren’t severely distressed at such a prospect of degradation. Perhaps the real risk of being treated as a second-class citizen and regarded as dangerous distresses them more.

If I venture out to endure the miserable experience that is visiting a supermarket my face-covering exemption is respected, even if I am challenged by zealous security guards who think I should be made to wear a badge. Asking ‘Should I perhaps wear a yellow triangle?’ is met with a blank, ignorant, stare. I must not allow myself to loathe these people. We must pray for them.

Similarly if I visit the pharmacy or a doctor I am left to go about my business with my face free of government propaganda. So I had every reasonable expectation that my employer for the last six years would treat me similarly. But no. Merely asking whether the company recognised exemptions on the grounds the government has issued them has led to my dismissal.

From the warehouse floor where I used to work, politics is something that happens on the radio or in my earpiece being discussed on the Spectator podcast or by Laura Perrins when she graces the Delingpod. Even Brexit, the decision made by the British people to become an independent, self-governing nation state again, is inconsequential in effect to me while I stack boxes on pallets and load them on lorries.

But last year coronavirus appeared and now all of us are affected daily by the political decisions taken by government who have reduced us to the status of feral dogs. Despite remaining at work during the entirety of 2020 and rarely venturing to a pub or restaurant before lockdown, I have been unable to avoid the radical transformation of our society.

This country has now become a place where pregnant women can be denied food in a hospital canteen which now, thanks to ‘efforts to combat coronavirus’, serves only staff, as I discovered when my then pregnant wife tried to eat something after six hours  having emergency scans. I was barred from being with her in the hospital, of course, and unable to take her food myself.

The country has become a place where fathers are made to leave their newborn children, unable to see them while mothers recover from childbirth. We’ve become a country where GP surgeries send mothers with their hungry infants outside in the rain to feed them rather than have them burden an empty waiting room with their potentially infected presence. Everything is set aside in order to ‘combat the virus’, including our humanity.

It is not just a national issue, of course. Thanks to the discontinuing of liberty the world over, my son has yet to meet his grandparents who live abroad. I fear he never will. These are just the effects government policy has had on my family – I do not doubt that others have had far more harrowing experiences.

Still, even in this new normal of fear and hysteria where all concerns are passed over for the sake of coronavirus, where university students can be told they must wait before evacuating in the event of a fire, I expected reason and decency to prevail. I wouldn’t have believed you could be considered unworthy of employment because you object to being treated like a muzzled dog. Decency has died.

Maybe my incredulity was unwarranted. When the BBC broadcast unchallenged statements such as Professor Hugh Montgomery’s telling the nation ‘Anyone listening to this who doesn’t wear their mask – they have blood on their hands’ and even promoting it on Twitter, maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that employers feel empowered to fire people with mask exemptions.

Perhaps I can expect to be lynched next?

As part of the new normal we have also discovered that politics is completely fraudulent. Where are all those people who supported EU membership because they said freedom of movement was paramount now that we have all been confined to our homes? Or said leaving the EU would trash the economy? Where are all those cheerleaders for Gina Miller in her case against the government and applauding the demand that it obey the law now Simon Dolan attempts the same? Where are those who warned incessantly that Donald Trump and Nigel Farage were demagogues trying to instill irrational fear in people in order to capture power by presenting themselves as saviours? 

It is clear now they were not motivated by any of their claimed principles. They never had any to begin with.

Where are those who claim to champion the rights and conditions of workers over the oppressive capitalist corporations? I fear they will be with the other lot.

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Joe Audritt
Joe Audritt
Joe Audritt worked as a forklift truck driver until he was sacked for not wearing a mask. His twitter handle is @JoeAudritt.

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