In response to
this misguided piece
I emailed him this rebuttal to his so-called proposal.
Date: Sun, 31 May 2020 08:47:48 -0500
Subject: sorry, misleading the public
I'm someone you never heard of, from the Boston area, which has
no bearing on what I say here.
I feel it necessary to comment on your CNN opinion piece of 22-May,
and ask you to reconsider what you've set forth. You have conflated a
few things that are not related to each other under a broad brush of
"societal norms", where in fact some of such "norms" actually hurt us.
First, we must understand where I'm coming from. I'm a barefooter, who
avoids wearing shoes for health, mobility, and other personal reasons.
Sure, it's a little unusual but there's no harm in it, quite the
contrary. The lifestyle is slowly growing in popularity and better
recognition -- I'm certainly not the only person who has realized the
inherently harmful nature of typical modern footwear. Take a look at
the website barefooters.org and read some of the many reasons that
letting our feet roam free and unconstrained makes us better humans
in many ways.
The discriminatory signs you reference are just that -- discrimination,
which started in the sixties/seventies after establishment owners were
no longer allowed to serve or exclude by race or other irrelevant
characteristics of the public. It NEVER had any basis in fact, just
fake news from the beginning. If you're a historian, you should be
able to understand where this came from. The "no shoes / no shirt /
no service" meme which spread so widely (even without help from an
internet!) was thought to be cute by some at the time, but it's not
cute, it's just nasty and unwelcoming. It's *in*famous, and it's
upsetting that you went and celebrated it. Do you celebrate what
has our cities in flames right now? Like it or not, those old signs
are part of the same syndrome. And of course it never had anything to
do with "health code" or the presence of food, that's a long-standing
lie -- you can verify that for yourself with a couple of simple
Face masks, on the other hand, have solid scientific reasons behind
their use to mitigate virus transmission risk, as you've liberally
linked to. Not only is masking up to enter a store a "small price to
pay", it provably helps prevent our paying the much larger price of
potentially fatal illness. But that has absolutely nothing to do with
footwear, and subjecting myself to the discomfort and clumsiness from
shoes simply on someone else's arbitrary directive *is* an unacceptable
barrier for some of us.
In fact, numerous papers and official advice warn that coronavirus
particles remain viable for several *days* on the materials that most
shoes are constructed from, whereas on ordinary human skin they are
generally inactivated within an hour. Do you wash your shoes before
you come back into your home? It is a lot easier to disinfect our
*feet* the same way we do our hands, and in fact I personally do just
that with an alcohol sanitizing solution before I even get back in
my own car to bring the groceries home.
So by lumping shoes and masks into the same sentences, you are helping
to mislead and misinform the public, the same way that's been done
for years -- to the detriment of our well-being and inclusivity.
Promulgating such nonsense is harmful. Avoid shoe-wearing, much like
avoiding tobacco or excess drinking, ultimately leads to better health
in many people who adopt the lifestyle. Being barefoot is our bodily
autonomy that harms absolutely no one else, whereas being barefaced is
a completely different matter. You are not helping public acceptance
or clarity by promulgating more of the typical nonsense. Our community
has been fighting this uphill battle for years, and the rhetoric in
articles like yours can set those efforts back by years on the basis
of utter falsehoods.
Quite a few high-profile corporations have realized that moving to more
welcoming, inclusive policies and removing those old unfriendly signs
is simply better for business. Wal-mart, Target, Walgreens, Dunk's,
the list goes on -- you generally won't find any statements about a
customer's appearance at their doors anymore, for good reason. The
employee who voices some sort of objection is acting only on their
own misinformation, not corporate directive, and simply needs to be
You would do well to not simply dismiss this, but give it the thought
(and maybe background research) it deserves. I would strongly suggest
posting a followup article expressing a retraction of how you've mixed
up the concepts, and to perhaps even acknowledge the truth that leaving
the shoes at home has benefits that may surprise people. I wear a mask
to protect your health; you can reciprocate by not marginalizing how I
protect mine. In today's situation, it's even more important for us
to keep our facts straight and not yield to groundless fear.