James Funt Talks Mask Culture in COVID World on KYW Newsradio
Philadelphia –April 23, 2020 – Partner James A. Funt of Greenblatt, Pierce, Funt and Flores, LLC was a featured guest this week on “Flashpoint,” a weekly show produced by KYW Newsradio where area business and community leaders share their perspective on how local and national news issues affect Philadelphians. The program discussed the impact of the mandatory masking order for Pennsylvania that went into effect on April 19th. While employees and customers of businesses are now required to wear facial coverings to curb the spread of coronavirus, the question is this: can those same facial coverings have a negative impact on behavior? Funt, a noted civil rights attorney, was joined by psychotherapist Amy Morin and Philadelphia City Council member Isaiah Thomas. Funt was asked about the legality of enforcing something like this. “Certain civil liberties are being curtailed, for sure,” he admitted, adding that “this is being done in a larger context of providing safety for all citizens… to protect everybody.” Morin’s perspective was of the psychology of masks – both the perception on individual behavior and the perception of others wearing them. She explained that for some, wearing of masks is not simply compliance with a law, but a sign of control and of purposefully taking an action to prevent the spread of the virus. She also pointed that there can also be a downside: when the face of a human being is not seen, they become more of an object than a person. Just as when one exhibits road rage directed at another car, the act is because we “forget there’s a human being behind that barrier and treat them differently.” Thomas noted that some Philadelphians feel such differences on two levels: “Philadelphia is the poorest big city in the entire country,” where the necessity of purchasing masks for entire families – often at a premium surcharge due to the demand – can be a burden. He added that, for many young black men, it falls into a perception issue. “We’ve been taught to not wear masks and hoodies [and] this is contrary to everything we’ve ever been taught,” Funt offered that there is still a tremendous amount of personal power in the choice to comply. “Yes [the law has] limitations, but this is still by and large a voluntary thing. By being denied entry [into a store for not wearing a mask], that is your choice,” adding that this is “an opportunity where we are all in this together, working toward the common good. We’re all doing our 320 millionth part to try and prevent the spread, to keep our collective health together and to reopen the economy.” To listen to the full program, click here. James A. Funt has spent his entire career helping those who have been the victim of discrimination. His work includes blue collar and white-collar criminal defense, civil rights issues, and plaintiff employment discrimination matters. Founded in 1996 as an aggressive criminal defense law practice, Greenblatt, Pierce, Funt and Flores, LLC has grown into a full-service law firm offering individuals assistance in virtually all areas of criminal, employment, personal injury, civil rights, and family law. The firm has three offices in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Visit gpffstaging.wpengine.com for more information.