In a recent viral video, masked shoppers at a grocery store in Staten Island, NY yell and scream at a fellow shopper who was not wearing a mask. They scream at her to leave and there don't seem to be any store employees in sight.
While many praised the actions of these shoppers and thought it was more than appropriate for them to shame someone who came into a grocery store without a mask on, others didn't feel that they handled the situation appropriately. The video has sparked a huge discussion about whether or not it is OK for us to police each other's behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The video, which was originally posted to Twitter by @McauleyHolmes, has nearly 7 million views, 19,000 retweets, and 110,000 likes after being up for less than two days. It has garnered tens of thousands of reactions from people who think these shoppers were well within their rights and others who believe they acted inappropriately.
In a follow-up tweet, McAuley, hoping to spark productive discussion, asked, "Should people engage in this type of social pressure to enforce mask wearing or social distancing as a community?"
Many believe they should, that social pressure works, that this is how things get done if people won't listen to their leaders. It's worth noting that New York governor Andrew Cuomo mandated mask-wearing in public places where it is impossible to stay safely socially distant back on April 17, according to Newsweek.
That would include trips to the grocery store. In a place like Staten Island, which has been hit so hard by the coronavirus, you can sort of understand when people react emotionally to those who aren't taking the simple step of wearing a mask to keep others protected.
Actor Jeffrey Wright retweeted the video, writing, "Staten Island is NYC's most conservative borough. 56.05 percent voted for Trump in 2016. Population of 476,143 people and almost 800 confirmed COVID dead to this point. Extrapolated over the U.S. population that's about 550,000 dead. So nah, they ain't having it."
Even though many understood the shoppers' position, some weren't so sure this yelling and screaming was the right way to go about it. Even McAuley, who posted the video, told Heavy he has "mixed feelings" about it.
"From what I can see in the video, it seems there aren't employees of the store involved in removing the shopper," he said. "Obviously private businesses have the right to refuse service to non-mask wearers, but a group of shoppers is different." Still, he understands why people, especially people in a place like Staten Island, would feel so strongly about wearing a mask in public.
"Does no one see how this behavior is every last drop as bad as the unmasked people berating journos and others WITH masks on???" writes one Twitter user. "If the act in question would be unacceptable from those with whom you disagree, it's not right for you to do it, either."
In other words, does the end justify the means? Because their goal is, ostensibly, "good" (get the unmasked person to leave and prevent anyone in the immediate vicinity from being harmed), is it OK that they screamed and chased and bullied her away? What do you think?