This is a battle to be waged in many more places.
Date: Sat, Jun 13 2020 12:47:48 To: email@example.com Subject: you are misleading the public Greetings -- I am someone you never heard of, from the Boston area, which has no bearing on what I say here, but it needs to be said. I must object to your op-eds on or around 19-May to the Concord Monitor and the Union Leader, in which you seem to have confused reasonable health-protective measures with unrelated and misinformed suggestions. You are evidently not aware that the "shirt and shoes" line is nothing but decades-old discriminatory rhetoric that frankly reminds us of previous conflicted and upsetting times in our country. The phrase was not a "dubious response", it was precisely targeted and is still just as discriminatory as ever. By conflating that irrelevance with the well-founded mask guidelines from the CDC and others, you have just thrown more fuel onto the fires of divisiveness. It completely sends the wrong message, and trivializes the science of how we actually protect each other against the spread of COVID-19. First, please understand where I'm coming from. A small but nonzero segment of our society chooses to avoid wearing shoes as much as possible, for health and mobility and other personal reasons. Research has detailed the long-term harmful effects of modern footwear, so we don't need or want it. I have been a "barefooter" for many years, and know I'm a better person because of it. I routinely go hiking in the woods and climb mountains and stride confidently across rugged outdoor terrain and urban spaces alike, without any need or desire to encase my feet in something artificial. My feet are quite good at taking care of themselves as nature intended. I'll grant you that the lifestyle is not that common, but there's nothing wrong with it and it certainly does not harm anyone else. In fact, in more normal times I visit New Hampshire and happily hike the Whites and other recreation areas, all without footwear, and it feels awesome. It's my unique relationship with the granite of the Granite State, where I am faster and more surefooted on the trails than many of the shod people. I am also the person who motivated your own Tourism department to finish the job of removing the "shirt and shoes" signs from your highway rest stops. Hunt down Bob Vachon over at the BEA and ask him about that. 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. Choosing to forgo footwear is a simple human right, supported by thousands of years of evidence, and only makes us stronger. There is, however, a lot of old prejudice and false mythology against the practice, especially in the US. It is often an uphill battle to gain simple acceptance, especially here in the US where many years ago, human feet [of all things!] became politicized. Please google these words together: "shirt" "shoes" "service" "origin" and read about why the hostile, unwelcoming signs started appearing in storefronts back in the day. They followed the pattern of earlier signs and exclusions from the Jim Crow era. They never had any factual basis, and the excuses added later about "health code" or the presence of food or premises liability are long-standing lies. You can verify that for yourself with more simple searches. The only intent was to turn away "undesireables", notably blacks and hippies at the time, for no rational or scientific reason. It's textbook discrimination with racial undertones, which is hardly a connection you want to be making right now. The entire reactionary idea sprang from and represents the same underlying syndrome that has been tearing our cities apart -- exclusion and marginalization of "the other", for whatever arbitrary excuses can be dreamed up. This is not something to be celebrated or perpetuated as you have done. Face masks, on the other hand, have solid scientific reasons behind their use to mitigate virus transmission risk, and I'm personally surprised it took the CDC as long as it did to issue the guidelines now in effect. I am wholly in favor of masks for what they do, and we have seen the Schlieren gas-flow videos that support it. Your objection to the "reopen" rallies was spot-on, and we've now seen that problem multiplied a thousandfold in all the protests. But that has absolutely nothing to do with footwear, and enduring the discomfort and clumsiness from shoes simply on someone else's arbitrary directive *is* an unacceptable barrier for some of us. I suspect that the health experts on your Zoom call were discussing masks and sanitizer, not shoes. Recent official advice warns 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. Virologists have studied these things; there are papers on it. 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. Those old unfriendly signs are not nearly as common nowadays as you may think, and have disappeared from most business entrances over time if they were ever there at all. Quite a few high-profile corporations have realized that moving to more welcoming, inclusive policies is simply better for business. Wal-mart, Target, Walgreens, Dunk's, the list goes on -- you generally won't find any draconian statements about a customer's appearance at their doors, for good reason. Sometimes an individual employee might voice some sort of objection, but in such cases is acting only on their own misinformation, not corporate directive, and simply needs to be better educated. So by lumping these unrelated things together you are sending a badly mixed message, as if shirts and shoes and masks somehow combine into some kind of magic ensemble that wards off coronavirus. Promulgating such nonsense is harmful, and just sows more divisiveness into society. Someone undoubtedly thought that the wording was "cute" back in the sixties, but in reality it was never cute, it was simply unfriendly and bigoted from the outset. In factual reality, there is no point in demanding footwear inside a store, restaurant, or venue. It is unfair to establishments to suggest that they impose such baseless bias upon the public, especially if they don't support it to begin with. A letter to the Concord Monitor, dated 6/8/2020 entitled "masks and our personal germ bubble" from a Ms. Zeller, is a perfect example of how articles like yours simply confuse the public. In the letter she appears to believe that "now there is a law against entering stores with bare feet". That is completely untrue, and I suggest you ask your own state health department about that. When you endorse falsehoods in your official capacity, you do a serious disservice to a wide swath of the public. Perhaps you should contact the Monitor and reach out to Ms. Zeller and set her straight; it's the least you could do to help repair some damage. She also does not understand that routinely barefoot people do not get or spread foot fungus, as light and dry air is the best prevention. You would do well to not simply dismiss this, but give it the thought (and maybe background research) it deserves. I would earnestly suggest posting a followup article to the same outlets where your original piece went, expressing how these concepts should not be mixed up, 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 and outdated lies. Thank you for listening, if you got this far. I hope that if you succeed to the governorship you can keep "live free or die" and "follow the science" together at the forefront of your leadership philosophy. _H*