Economist Bob Murphy writes:

Dear David,

I hope you’re doing well. I was puzzled by your “Angry Bears” post. (If you find your answer might interest EconLog readers, feel free to reprint my email.)

I totally understand why certain libertarians would be upset at a busybody telling them to wear a mask on the plane, but it seemed odd to me when–if I recall correctly–you insisted that people attending your lockdown protest put on a mask. Were you the angry bear that day?

(I hope you are not reading hostility or smugness in my tone; I am genuinely asking.)


I did not read hostility into his question; I know Bob well enough to know his good will. The protest he was referring to is the one that I helped organize in May 2020 in Monterey.

And here’s my answer:

We didn’t insist. We asked.

But you missed the bigger point. We didn’t threaten any one with prison. By contrast, there was no doubt in my mind that if I hadn’t complied, she [the fellow passenger on the airplane] would have called the flight attendant. And twice in the previous 40 minutes the flight attendant had threatened passengers with prison.

There’s a huge difference between asking someone to do something when there’s no implicit threat of force behind it [our request that people wear masks to the anti-lockdown demonstration] and asking someone to do something when underling the request is a threat to call in someone [the flight attendant] who has already threatened the use of force.

So no, I was not an angry bear that day.