I had an awkward moment today.

Today I had to refuse the first in-person meeting in over a year.

Reason? Because the building in which it was held had a policy that everyone who enters wears a mask, and submits to a COVID test.

This was, sadly, a condition of entry I could not accept, and therefore, on principle, I had to politely decline. I didn’t explain why, it wasn’t the forum, but I had to be consistent with my principles.

“But it’s just a mask! But it’s just a test! But it’s just to keep people safe!”

“But it’s just…”

“But it’s just” …the phrase that took good family men, and slowly, but surely, turned them from being ordinary policemen, into people who would shoot pregnant women in the head.

Please don’t give me, “But it’s just…”.

I think I have had enough of “But it’s just…”, and its manipulative sophistry, for one lifetime. Words designed to trick you into compromising your principles, little by little, and to accept and normalise the unthinkable.

So no, I refuse to comply. No more. I refuse to wear a political symbol, and submit to medical testing in order to have a bloody meeting. Is this a trivial thing? Yes (although not to me). Would it be easier to just go along? Yes. Will this cost me in the future? Almost certainly.

But the devil in “But it’s just”, is that it really is so easy to compromise on the little things.

“But it’s just for three weeks to flatten the curve”, “But it’s just until the rates come down”, “But it’s just a vaccine”, “But it’s just a vaccine and a booster”, “But it’s just until we vaccinate the vulnerable and elderly”, “But it’s just until we vaccinate the over 50s”, “But it’s just showing your papers to enter a nightclub”, “But it’s just showing your papers to go to a restaurant… to travel… to shop… to work”, “But it’s just government mandated medical procedures”.

The point is, the holocaust didn’t begin at 8 o’clock on day one with death camps and German showers. No, it was a gradual process of capitulation to authority, innocent compromise after innocent compromise. Each compromise building on the last, making it ever easier to submit to the next. Each one, in context of those preceding, seemingly reasonable. Each one having a conveniently reasonable rationalisation.

When they came to liquidate the Warsaw ghetto, the excuse was the Jews were carrying Typhus.

This is why it is so important to resist authoritarianism the first time it appears, no matter how trivial the imposition, no matter how reasonable. Nip it in the bud, because each compromise made now makes it exponentially harder to resist in the future.

Perhaps I’m being silly. Perhaps it could never happen here. I hope you’re right.

But consider what a year of operant conditioning has done to us. What do we consider normal and reasonable now?

House arrest. The government shutting down private business on a whim. The government telling you who you can see, and what you must wear. In many parts of the world there’s medical apartheid, in others, the Government, like many Soviet dictatorships in previous decades, won’t allow you to leave.

Australia, a supposed free country for God’s sake, is building literal concentration camps, and many in the population think that this is reasonable.

“But it’s just a mask…”

No, it’s not. It is another compromise on the road to Hell.

It is the compelled loss of your bodily autonomy. It is a political symbol, a tribal symbol, and a sign of your subservience. It is a signal to others that silently says, “This is normal, and I agree with it”. Nothing to do with “keeping people safe”. Look at the met gala, or the G7 conference for proof of that! Preening Capitol elites, drinking and kissing and laughing. Maskless. Being served the finest libations money can buy, by rank after rank of anonymous, muzzled, Avox slaves.

When the mask mandates first came out, I’m sorry to say that I caved. I wore the rag in the shops, so as to be left alone, even though I knew the mandate was bullshit. Even though every part of my being was screaming that it was wrong. I made an excuse that I was rebelling in my own way by not covering my nose, or wearing my skull snood.

But these were excuses.

I was a coward.

My grandparents fought literal Nazis, but when tested, I couldn’t even stand up to this weak tea authoritarianism? Pathetic. All I did was point and splutter, and I hate myself for it.

I kowtowed.

This is what they want from us. To normalise our servitude. To train our compliance. This has nothing, whatsoever, to do with “Stopping the spread”.

“But it’s just a test…”

No, no it’s not. It is your tacit approval, your consent that requiring people to undergo medical testing to go about their day to day lives is in any way normal or acceptable. It is your agreement that an organisation which implements these requirements is acting properly.

So, no. Never ever again. I would rather lose a job, or end up in jail, than lose respect for myself again in that way. For sacrificing my principles. For knowing I’m doing the wrong thing.

So, no. No. More.

No, I won’t wear your political symbols.

No, I won’t take your tests.

No, I won’t let you compromise me, inch by inch, and make me do that which I know is wrong.

I won’t let you use me again.