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Letters to the Editor: Every L.A. neighborhood needs a ‘mask cop’ like Charles Dirks

Charles Dirks raises his cane and points to his face from the side of the road to remind a motorist to wear a mask
Charles Dirks reminds a motorist to wear a mask to protect against the spread of the coronavirus.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Charles Dirks has my heart. Although he’s 81, and I just turned 48 this week, his public health campaign in Northridge of haranguing anyone in public without a mask embodies the swirl of emotions that this pandemic has unleashed in me.

I haven’t become as bold as he is yet, but I share the desire to applaud every mask wearer I encounter. I feel a not-completely-rational kinship with them, often thinking, “I can’t see their face, but I’ll remember the dog they’re walking and give them a big hug when this is all over.”

Conversely, an animus bubbles to the surface when I see an unmasked person. Like the feeling of connection I get when I come across someone wearing a mask, this opposite extreme is also a bit irrational. The bald-faced pedestrian quickly becomes the person on whom I place my disgust with all that is selfish and science-denying in this society.

Thanks to Dirks for reminding me that I’m not the only one invested in strangers’ behaviors, and that my feelings aren’t (completely) irrational.

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K.J. Ward, Hollywood

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To the editor: The last thing anyone needs is a “crotchety old man” shouting at us to wear a mask in the safety pod of our own cars. Is life not already stressful enough these days?

Sorry, I can’t condone “haranguing” people to do things that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not told us to do.

Dirks should mind his own business. He is helping no one and nothing.

Joselle Gilvezan, Winnetka

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To the editor: I wish Dirks lived in my neighborhood. The other day, I was called a “Fauci lover” for wearing a mask.

Near my home at the entrance to Griffith Park, there’s a large sign asking visitors to wear masks. The biggest violators by far are the bicyclists followed by joggers and even some walkers.

It may not be the law for cyclists and runners to mask up, but isn’t it about common sense and consideration for others, especially in the great outdoors?

Lynne T. Jewell, Los Feliz

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To the editor: My applause to the Northridge man urging people to wear masks.

Some have argued that masks should be voluntary, because “it’s a free country.” This is a democracy, not an anarchic society.

We have to drive on the right side of the street. We don’t say that everyone gets a free choice. That would be dangerous. We stop for a red light. We don’t quarrel about it. You can’t break into a stranger’s house or set it on fire.

Living in a free country doesn’t mean everyone does whatever they want. Healthcare experts have said wearing masks and social distancing are the best ways to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Lake Nofer, Woodland Hills


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