Video shows anti-mask ‘Karen and Ken’ harassing dispensary patron with conspiracy theories

'You're breathing in your own secretion; you know what secretion is?'

Nov 10, 2020, 11:07 am*



Kahron Spearman

A viral video on Reddit shows “Karen and Ken” anti-maskers in a Florida dispensary harassing a patron with unsupported babble about wearing a mask. 

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The video starts during an argument inside a Fluent cannabis dispensary store in Fort Myers between an unmasked "Karen and Ken" couple, another unmasked man, and a masked man.

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Ken tells the masked man to "shave (his) beard. Air's coming out the side: You can see it."

The Ken starts to tell him he was in the military and was going to describe the sealing of a mask, but both are dismissive of each other's ideas on the mask.

Another patron, unmasked, joins the conversation, and the three unmasked people begin spewing baseless claims based on conspiracy theories.

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"You're breathing in your own secretion; you know what secretion is?" he asked the masked man. Then, Ken tells him he would be at high risk for throat cancer because of the mask. The Karen speaks up and says he could get bacterial pneumonia.

But then she realizes she and everyone else is being filmed and demands the videographer to stop the camera. The video stopped after she insisted.

So where did these unfounded conspiracies about masks causing pneumonia come from?

"Excessive use of face masks causes fungal and bacterial pneumonia," tweeted Jessi Melton, a conservative business owner and conspiracy theorist, who lost her the Republican primary for the state's 22nd Congressional District. The bogus post from June had thousands of retweets before it was removed.

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For the record, the "Ken and Karen" are both completely wrong. Aside from numerous studies vouching for masks' efficacy concerning bacterial loads, actual experts have debunked myths about negatives in wearing a mask.

Davidson Hamer, an infectious disease specialist and professor of global health and medicine at Boston University, told AP: "There's no evidence of masks leading to fungal or bacterial infections of the upper airway or the lower airway as in pneumonia."

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Hamer also explained to the AP that, theoretically, bacterial growth could occur if someone wore an already contaminated mask "with moisture and became moldy." 

"I don't know why anybody would do that. Theoretically, it could happen, but it's highly unlikely with just typical mask use."

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*First Published: Nov 10, 2020, 11:06 am