In reading Fred Hartman’s opinion column (Fort Bend Herald, Friday, April 24) supporting Lina Hidalgo’s mandatory mask order in Harris County, two thoughts came to mind. First, I wondered if Fred had read George Orwell’s last book, “Nineteen Eighty-Four” (published in 1949). If not, maybe he could spend some of his at-home time reading it. “Big Brother” was the country’s leader, and he attempted to maintain total control over the population: their jobs, their homes, their leisure activities, and even their thoughts. Does Fred see any parallel between the mask order, punishable by a $1,000 fine, and the events of “1984”?

Second, I wondered how many other edicts from “Big Sister” would Fred support.

— An outlawing of cigarettes, since they are known to be hazardous to health?

— A limit of one cola or one beer a day since large quantities of either are unhealthy?

— An order limiting every county resident to a maximum of 25 pounds over their recommended weight?

— A ban on motorcycles and ATV’s because many people are killed and injured while riding them?

— An order banning travel by vehicles occupied by only one person?

— A 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew for all residents so everyone can get eight hours of sleep?

— Mandatory exercise periods outside the home every day, monitored by neighborhood captains?

Every item on this list is supported by one group or another, all for our personal or societal health and well-being. However, it is not the job of our elected officials to mandate such “good ideas” under penalty of a fine. Instead, they should make the appropriate recommendations and attempt to educate their constituents to make better choices.

I choose to add my voice to that of Sheriff Nehls in criticizing the overreach of Judge Hidalgo.

Gene DeBons

Richmond

Editor’s Note: Mr. Hartman did not support Hidalgo’s mandate that Harris County residents wear masks. He criticized Sheriff Nehls for labeling Ms. Hildalgo “un-American” and “a communist.”

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