Readers should be willing to pay for the news they get

Jerry Moore

WATERTOWN — In an effort to avoid one illness, some people in the north country are wallowing in another.

A soldier stationed at Fort Drum and his family recently came under heavy criticism after standing in line at a Watertown business without wearing masks. Steve (he requested that his last name not be made public), his wife and 2-year-old son were waiting to buy some desserts at Cowlick Ice Cream on the evening of July 24.

In an article published July 31 by the Watertown Daily Times, Steve said he was unaware that he and his family members would need to wear face coverings once they arrived at the service window. So they didn’t bring their masks when they decided to make this trip for ice cream.

Steve, his wife and child were standing a safe distance from everyone else in line. He didn’t see any signs mandating face coverings on previous visits to Cowlick, so he didn’t believe his family needed them this time around.

While in line on July 24, though, Steve’s wife observed an alert requiring masks. Steve said he intended to ask about masks once the family ahead of them made their purchase. If the people operating Cowlick didn’t want to serve Steve’s family unless they wore them, he said he would understand.

But a member of the family standing in front of them took exception to their lack of face coverings. Steve said she complained about the situation and gave them a “mean look.”

Steve made a snarky comment of his own, which he admitted was inappropriate. The woman became verbally abusive, and Steve’s wife suggested they leave. As Steve was putting his son in a car seat, another member of the other family removed her mask and spit in his direction.

Cowlick Ice Cream owner Barbara Speary and her daughter, Jennifer Hilpl, didn’t believe that Steve and his family were treated well by these other customers. So they used social media to contact them. They offered Steve, his wife and son some gift certificates and a gift basket.

Hilpl witnessed the encounter after pulling into the shop’s parking lot. Members of the other family were “rude and nasty,” she said. It disgusted Hilpl to see people treat a family with a young child this way.

Speary and Hilpl made a gracious gesture. They wanted to do right by Steve’s family, and it reflects well on them as local merchants to care about the impression that something so ugly and unnecessary would make.

This incident highlights a disturbing trend in our society. Mind you, it’s an ancient phenomenon. But it has found new life in this health care crisis.

Many Americans have become divided — and combatively so — over the merit of wearing face coverings. Those who promote the value of masks are dumbfounded that this has somehow turned into a matter of debate.

And I join them in taking this stance. As I wrote last week, medical experts overwhelmingly support wearing face coverings (along with social distancing) as the best protection against spreading the coronavirus while out in public. The points made against masks have been thoroughly debunked; a reasonable argument opposing them simply doesn’t exist.

So members of the pro-mask faction have science and common sense on their side. There is no question they are telling the truth.

But some of them have crossed the line in advocating their position. While professing to care about our physical health, they express little concern about our civic health.

These people use the issue of donning face coverings to exert their sense of self-righteousness. This troubling urge often overcomes any interest they have in public safety.

Americans have always split over contentious matters — it’s in our DNA. And these divisions drive how we practice democracy. So disagreements over important questions are vital to our progress as a society.

Unlike in previous eras, however, we’re unable to function in so many crucial ways because virtually anything now becomes a topic of dissent. We take more comfort in belittling our perceived adversaries than we do in accomplishing essential tasks in spite of them.

Among the mask-wearing, holier-than-thou crowd are those who want to publicly bask in their self-proclaimed moral superiority. There’s ample evidence this will not lead to a productive result.

Many people giggled at tea party activists in 2009, demeaning them as teabaggers. They didn’t take these individuals seriously.

So what did those in the tea party movement do? They organized themselves and became the dominant force in Republican politics, taking control of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010 and the U.S. Senate in 2014. Gee, how did that work out for the Obama administration?

Many of these Republicans continued to face ridicule in the 2016 election, so how did they respond? They put Donald Trump in the White House. Gee, how has that worked out for our nation?

To influence someone’s behavior, we need to convey genuine concern for their well-being. If our only interest is in displaying contempt, why would we expect to get anything but contempt in return?

Jerry Moore is the editorial page editor for the Watertown Daily Times. Readers may call him at 315-661-2369 or send emails to

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rockloper, a regular contributor to the comments section on NNY360, was unable to post this comment about my column. I also couldn’t get it to post (just like rockloper, I was informed it appeared to be spam), so I’m adding it to the end of my column:

* * *


So let’s disect this one point at a time.

First and foremost I consider the woman’s action reprehensible and ignorant so this is in no way defending her actions. But it seems Jerry your defense of steve is more about your disapproval of spitting woman’s actions than it is of defending steve.

“Steve said he was unaware that he and his family members would need to wear face coverings once they arrived at the service window.” Has steve and his family been living under a rock the past 6 months? Everybody , yes everybody, knows there would have been signs requesting or demanding masks would be required. Do you actually believe steve’s defense? steve thought he could defy the nazi decree of wearing a mask period. Maybe steve is the one I saw in Walmart with his wife and child with no masks and purposely walking the opposite direction marked on the floors.

“He didn’t see any signs mandating face coverings on previous visits to Cowlick, so he didn’t believe his family needed them this time around.” When were steve’s last visits - last summer? In my family when we’re headed for a destination the first thing asked when we get in the car is “Does everybody have their masks?”

“If the people operating Cowlick didn’t want to serve Steve’s family unless they wore them, he said he would understand.” In other words if the employees of Cowlick were willing to take a chance and not require him to wear a mask he was too. Another example of living in a society where you tolerate irresponsibility that’s exactly what you get.

“Steve made a snarky comment of his own, which he admitted was inappropriate.” I see, do you know what this snarky comment was? steve claims it was snarky. Could it be that it went well beyond the category of snarky and was instead highly offense?

“As Steve was putting his son in a car seat, another member of the other family removed her mask and spit in his direction.” Gee, did anyone get out a tape measure and see if the spit landed at least 6’ away? Of course that statement is ridiculous but the point being was that gesture more symbolic than threatening?

“Those who promote the value of masks are dumbfounded that this has somehow turned into a matter of debate.” Not debate, politics, big difference.

“While professing to care about our physical health, they express little concern about our civic health.” I’ll side for physical health over civic health when it comes to my family, thank you very much.

“These people use the issue of donning face coverings to exert their sense of self-righteousness.” Really? Self-righteousness? Do you know why they call it the NOVEL coronavirus? Think about why. If I have a family member who has compromised health I don’t want some schmuck playing russian roulette jeopardizing my family members just because he wants to be an idiot.

“-it’s in our DNA.” Just curious which chromosome that’s linked to.

The rest of your editorial is actually off topic and not worth delving into other than saying it’s a bad analogy cause the political tea baggers didn’t make it far. Remember the young guns? LOL

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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(19) comments


Zeitgeist's diatribe of yesterday is dripping with irony. Its an article about self-righteousness and Z fell into the trap by calling the mask less guy a P--CK! Only a self-righteous P--CK would do that!


During this Covid time, for any number of reasons, an incalculable number of regular, ordinary, people on the planet arrived at businesses unprepared for "masks required" signs.

They took ownership of their dilemmas, sucked up their pain, frustration and inconvenience, departed the premises, secured masks at home or elsewhere, and returned for business.

Or they didn't secure masks, and didn't return.

They did not linger on the premises, devise plans to dump their mask dilemmas on store employees, hope or expect store employees to relieve them of them, and cause lots of drama and collateral damage in the mean time.

Store employees did not institute their' stores' mask mandates, nor are they authorized to permit diversions from them. Store employees are working! They're busy! Mask dilemmas are not among their duties! Over and over, the last several months, store employees, via the media, have pleaded relentlessly with the public to refrain from engaging them in mask dilemmas. "Please, please," they've pleaded, "kindly wear a mask or leave. We can't deal with mask dilemmas! Thank you for your cooperation. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts."


P_ _ck.

Worse than a jerk. A guy who loves to cause drama then acts like nothing's wrong. A guy who is purposefully rude, annoying and obnoxious. A guy who thinks he knows it all but, in reality, is worse than a stupid jerk.

And the ice cream store owner rewarded him!

Jerry Moore Staff
Jerry Moore

rockloper was unable to post a comment made about my column (I also tried but couldn't get the comment to appear; it told me it appeared to be spam). So I added the comment to the end of my column. Please review it. Thank you.

Mike from Casar

The poster child for self righteousness lecturing others is funny.. The same crowd that denies that hydrochloride works and who have stayed silent on Cuomo's assassination of over 7000 elderly in nursing homes..

She's back

Jerry, your last two articles were good, this one is not . Not only is the ice cream scandal not news or even interesting, but your interpretation is way off.

The Fact is, Steve was in the wrong not to wear his mask or even bother to bring it. To your credit you are the only one who has reported that "Steve" made a "snarky comment of his own which certainly exacerbated the situation.

The fact that Steve is active military is irrelevant. I doubt he was in uniform at the ice cream stand. So, to the other family was just one more mask defying man...possibly one of many that she may have run into that day.

Enforcement of the mask mandate which is designed to keep us all safe is difficult. Other than reporting the business or "steve" to the State authorities. Don't bother with the local sheriff as he may not "believe the law is "constitutional ( yes I mean Carpinella).

So enforcement lies in our shared sense of responsibility, and sense of community.

But as example after example of maskless customers (99.9% male) were being seen everywhere, and an increasing amount seemed to be following their example.

The fines and laws were strengthened ( mid July) as the law was not being followed. I have seen compliance increased but it was not due to "the angels of our better nature".

There is not a single business where the masks and social distancing are not required . Ignorance of the law is no excuse.

Jerry Moore Staff
Jerry Moore

She’s back:

A couple of points need to be made. To start, I’m not the first one to report that Steve made a snarky comment that he now regrets. This fact was initially reported in the previous news story we published when we interviewed Steve. And I apologize if my column inferred that Steve’s being a soldier was significant. I also don’t believe he was wearing his uniform and didn’t see this as relevant. I merely mentioned it to point out a fact.

Yes, Steve and his family should have brought their masks. Although Steve and his wife didn’t previously see signs requiring masks at Cowlick Ice Cream, we must always presume this now is the case. So I agree with you on that point.

However, for members of the other family to berate Steve and his wife like they did is incredibly rude. If one of them simply wanted to make a comment, fine. But to carry on like that in public, particularly when Steve and his wife have a young child in their presence, is unacceptable.

First of all, masks at Cowlick Ice Cream are not mandated until you walk up to the service window. Steve and his family were a sufficiently safe distance from anyone else, which means the risk of infecting other people is essentially nonexistent. You’re not required to wear a mask at all times outside. It’s only when you come into close contact with someone else that this requirement kicks in.

I could post dozens of photos of Gov. Andrew Cuomo inside a building with other people not wearing a mask. And he’s done this while lecturing the rest of us about wearing masks!

For these other people to discard the need to behave in a civil manner is very disturbing. This is a major problem in our society that needs to be addressed.

Thank you for your input.

Jerry Moore

Editorial page editor

Watertown Daily Times


She's back

I will agree that the "rules" for partly outdoor businesses are hazy.

I have "politely" pointed out to a few of the many, many, many people I have had to stand in indoor lines with that they seem to have "forgotten" their masks or did they fail to see the "mask required" sign on the door . Trust me they usually react more then self righteous . The string of vulgarities that left the mouth of one man who had his 8 (?) yer old boy with him were yelled at the top of his lungs... "Lick my cow" comes close.

Also Trump was not the TEA party's top choice.... He has nothing in common with them except his racism and xenophobia.


I think this is an excellent article. It does a nice job of connecting the righteous indignation of tea partiers and Trump voters (made so by the marginalization of the leftists) and their resultant enthusiasm. I would only disagree with the allegation that Trump hasn't been good for the country. Even under extreme duress from leftist investigations and continuous chastising by the liberal press he has managed to disrupt the swamp, confront trade issues, and build an economy that is good for all Americans.

She's back

You must not be Living in America.... Cause that ain't what is happening.

The Swamp is full of Trump Grifters and billionaire thieves.

He made a mess of Trade which has hurt farmers badly to the extent that he had to do a (so not tea party like) massive bailout .. and the mess he made was before the pandemic.


Memo to liberals: Not everything in the world has to do with race, but apparently the left’s obsession with identity politics tries to make it so.


Sorry,she's back, but Trump is CONSTANTLY berated by CNN, MSNBC, The View, NPR, yadayada... At least admit that those people who pretend to be journalists are on your side politically. Considering the battering he takes everyday I'm surprised his shoes are on the right feet. I am living in America, at least a version of it. Your left seems to have created an alter universe America and I don't want to live there.

The mess of trade was done before Trump by lazy, unpatriotic people who made money by giving away the store. Trump is working hard to fix what Clinton, Bush, and Obama broke. There is a simple "Living in America Explanation".

She's back

>>"Here are five ways Donald Trump has made the swamp even swampier.

1. He has packed his administration with former lobbyists and corporate executives. H

2. He and his family are personally profiting from the presidency.

3. He is catering to billionaires and corporations at the expense of the American people. In the fall of 2017, mega-donors shelled out more than $31 million in political contributions to Trump and Republicans. And in return, they got a massive $2 trillion tax cut. Not a bad return on investment. As Trump told his wealthy friends at Mar-a-Lago just days after the tax bill became law, “You all just got a lot richer.

4. He is using taxpayer dollars to subsidize his luxurious lifestyle. Since taking office, Trump’s golf trips alone have cost taxpayers more than $110 million dollars.

5. The Trump administration has been riddled with scandals and ethics violations."<<


When the left is whining about Trump you know it’s going to be a good day...

She's back

And since I know no one reads the links., an excerpt.

>>"Buffeted by a two-year trade war, followed by a disappointing — at least so far — trade deal and then a worldwide pandemic, there aren’t a lot of farmers, or rural communities, feeling flush right now. Worried farmers and business groups are urging the United States and China to fulfill their obligations under the first stage of the trade agreement, even as the coronavirus scrambles its assumptions.

"I'm worse off today than I was before the trade war," Stafslien said, “and I don’t see an end in sight.”

Whether it's in agriculture, manufactured goods or energy, neither country is on track to meet its obligations of the Phase One trade deal signed six months ago. Then, as soon as the deal went into effect a month later, the pandemic spread, and reduced demand for many agricultural products."<<


My rebuttal to this is being flagged as spam. It is not spam but a legitimate response. Are you now afraid to publish legitimate response?

Jerry Moore Staff
Jerry Moore

I’m not sure what you’re talking about, rockloper. The only other comment I have from you has been approved and appears here. If you submitted another comment that isn’t appearing, please let me know because it’s not in our system. Thank you.

Jerry Moore

Editorial page editor

Watertown Daily Times



Jerry why don't you do something really constructive and write an editorial exposing the sabotage of the US Postal service?


Maybe Jerry doesn’t write editorials on left wing conspiracy theories...


It's not a conspiracy theory.

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