Olympic beach volleyball gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings has apologized after making anti-mask statements, but is continuing to insist that “our freedoms have slowly been taken from us” amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Walsh Jennings shared an Instagram message on Monday, writing, “This is going to be a long post & it’s going to upset some people.”
In the caption, she went on to say she “had a little exercise in being brave” and “went shopping without a mask on.” Her actions go against the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to wear a face mask in public to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Since the onset of the pandemic, the illness has infected at least 6.3 million people and led to 189,961 deaths in the United States alone.
The athlete said she decided to forgo a mask after reading a quote that “shook” her — “This has not been enforced, it’s been consented to.” She also compared being asked to wear a mask to slavery, sharing a Thomas Jefferson quote, “I PREFER DANGEROUS FREEDOM TO PEACEFUL SLAVERY.”
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This is going to be a long post & it’s going to upset some people. My intention is NEVER to hurt or disrespect. Please know that. I am working my way through these curious times that have me questioning everything. I am wanting to lead & stand for my beliefs WITHOUT upsetting people but, per usual when one takes a stand, this is unlikely. If this hurts or upsets you, I am sorry. I am working through my thoughts & my way throughout the madness of 2020. I am wanting to be a light, an encourager of the strength + resilience within each of us and I aspire to be someone whom empowers others to take ownership of all sides of their lives. There is freedom & deep satisfaction in living this way. I want this for everyone. Here we go …. I had a little exercise in being brave yesterday & I’m still a bit edgy about it. I went shopping without a mask on 😬😳🤭 & this is why … I read a quote the other day that shook me – – THIS HAS NOT BEEN ENFORCED, IT’S BEEN CONSENTED TO. This statement woke me up & the truth of it has had me obsessing on the matter of how I can mindfully & compassionately stand up for my rights & for the freedoms our constitution has granted us all WITHOUT being reckless or putting anyone else in danger. We are all endlessly complaining about the restrictive & arbitrarily selective rules that we are being strongly “suggested” to follow & yet we are all consenting; Not much of a fight, just a lot of complaining & strongly disagreeing with this manipulation, but we keep consenting. It’s maddening. It has crushed our society, people’s livelihoods, our children’s spirits, & the fabric of our world. We have become a country & a world estranged from each other & it is more deeply unhealthy than any virus could ever be. I know people are getting sick & many have gone to Heaven. I have lived through a lot of loss in my family, in my life. I cherish life. I would never downplay the impact of a single loss of life. That is it’s own conversation & my heart goes out to all those suffering poor health, the loss of a loved one and the fear that the reaction to & media coverage of COVID-19 has created in your days. Cont. in comments ….
Many in the comments called Walsh Jennings out for her “dangerous” statements, including her own sister Kelli Mezzetti, as identified by USA Today and other outlets, who wrote, “You are better than this.” Walsh Jennings replied with, “I AM THIS.”
On Tuesday, Walsh Jennings shared another lengthy post apologizing, but stood by most of her initial statement and said that she doesn’t believe in “the efficacy” of masks, despite multiple studies that have shown they help curb the spread of the virus.
“To those I’ve upset so deeply, I am sorry,” she wrote in Tuesday’s post, before seeming to directly address her sister’s comment. “To those calling me dumb, selfish, privileged, bigoted, and racist and telling me that ‘you are better than this,' I fully acknowledge that addressing such an emotional, layered, nuanced and polarizing topic on social media was not the smartest thing.”
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My goodness gracious. To those I’ve upset so deeply, I am sorry. To those who are open to hearing where I am coming from, I appreciate your openness and civility. To those in agreement, I appreciate you expressing your views. To those calling me dumb, selfish, privileged, bigoted, and racist and telling me that “you are better than this”, I fully acknowledge that addressing such an emotional, layered, nuanced and polarizing topic on social media was not the smartest thing …. pages and pages could be written about every side of everyone’s opinion, yet I went for it because I am alarmed for my country – I am heartbroken for my children – I am devastated for every small business owner who has gone under or who is barely hanging on – I have seen so much conflicting and erroneous data from the experts – and on and on and on – I have researched and I have spoken with experts …. This is why I spoke my point of view. At some point we should all stop and take inventory of everything that has been thrown our way over the past months and the reaction/ to these things. If it sits well or well enough with you, great. If not, great. We should all carry on RESPECTFULLY living our virtues, standing up for our beliefs and doing our best to do no harm in doing so. I was not looking to do anything but express my belief that FREEDOM IS RIGHT WORTH FIGHTING FOR, and amidst the chaos, divisiveness, fear and undeniable emotion of these times, I believe we have to stay mindful of the FACT that our freedoms have slowly been taken from us with our consent. I feel each of the words I mentioned above (fear/chaos/divisiveness) are being intentionally stoked and we are becoming a country that I do not recognize. The comment section of my last post is a reflection of where we are at and it is …. tragic. I’m not quite sure when we became a world where a differing opinion equates to evil and hatred, but here we are. I am not advocating for people to stop wearing masks. I wear a mask most often. I don’t believe in their efficacy unless it’s of a certain caliber, yet I wear them. I am advocating critical thinking and civility. I am advocating personal responsibility. Cont. below
“I believe we have to stay mindful of the FACT that our freedoms have slowly been taken from us with our consent,” she continued, before adding that her view on masks is merely a “differing opinion.”
“I am not advocating for people to stop wearing masks. I wear a mask most often. I don’t believe in their efficacy unless it’s of a certain caliber, yet I wear them,” she said. “I am advocating critical thinking and civility. I am advocating personal responsibility.”
Walsh Jennings was once again criticized in the comments section of the post, though some agreed with her stance, including former NFL quarterback Brett Favre who wrote, “Amen!!!”
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