Hyperbole & Public Health

Below are my comments for last Monday's SCASD Board meeting on the Health and Safety Plan. My remarks came on the same day that my son and I visited the Oregon Holocaust Memorial.


I commend the Board for your thoughtful, cautious, and scientifically sound approach to keeping our children safe and learning in person. Our community is fortunate to be served by volunteers and staff willing to make difficult decisions.

Lately, a vocal minority have been calling on the State College Area School District to stop masking children now and in the future. This group has tried to justify their opposition to masking and vaccination by invoking the Helsinki Declaration and sprinkling their speech with references to Nazi laws.

The Helsinki Declaration -- developed in 1964 by the World Health Organization as a “statement of ethical principles to provide guidance to physicians and other participants in medical research involving human subjects” -- has nothing to do with the current COVID vaccine situation, because no one is being subjected to medical experimentation in the United States. And for the folks who allege a serious human rights violation against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of Food and Drug Administration: you have recourse. You can file suit in a United States Court that you or your children have been treated as inhumanely as the children from St. Vincent’s Orphanage in 1908, the Tuskegee Airmen from the 1930s through the 1970s, or the Jews in Germany in the 1930s and '40s. Then, if this ill-informed minority’s allegations win a case, the Board should take that seriously.

More disturbingly, the comparisons between wearing a mask to Jews wearing a Star of David during the Third Reich are full of falsehoods and are a morally repellent appropriation of the victims of the Final Solution. You have been free to go to restaurants, sporting events, and movies, attend graduations, fly on airplanes, send your kids to school to learn in person, play summer sports, swim at the pool, marry who you wish, and vote. You are not victims of a genocidal regime.

At the end of the day, the District and all public institutions must be invested in the health and well-being of the public. For those of you who are concerned about you and your kids’ mobility, wear masks and get vaccinated if you are of age.

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