• Morgan Fagg

Are masks a form of torture?

Updated: Aug 31, 2020

(Published in the Athlone Topic)

Masks are a form of torture and nobody can say they aren't

Nobody can tell me that masks aren’t a form of torture and I can prove it.

Masks have been used as a method of torture for centuries and I know this because I have seen masks on display in a medieval torture museum in Toledo in Spain.

Before you think I am an anti-masker or someone who complains about the need to wear masks during a Global Pandemic, let me set the record straight and say that complaining about PPE as a form of torture is akin to saying stepping on Lego is tortuous.

Nowhere inside the Museo de Tortura in Toledo will you see a form of PPE even though we can all imagine those scary Venetian doctors' masks used during the plague.

Inside the museum, you will find many disgusting and horrible devices that were used to inflict pain, cause severe discomfort, and to kill. For example, there is a very large saw that I saw which would have been used to cut someone in half and before I torture you any further with details, let’s look at some definitions of torture.

Coming from the Latin word tortus, the past participle of torquēre. The word implies to twist (and to torment) and that is exactly what people are doing with the truth when they say modern masks are torture.

We are twisting the truth and that cannot be denied.

tor·ture (tôr′chər)


1. Infliction of severe physical pain as a means of punishment or coercion.

2. Excruciating physical or mental pain; agony: the torture suffered by inmates in the camp.

3. An experience or cause of severe pain or anguish: "Just to watch them handling thick woolen winter coats in that heat was, for me, a torture" (Arthur Miller).

tr.v. tor·tured, tor·tur·ing, tor·tures

1. To subject (a person or animal) to torture.

2. To bring great physical or mental pain upon (another). See Synonyms at afflict.

3. To overwork, misinterpret, or distort: torture a metaphor throughout an essay; torture a rule to make it fit a case.

(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016)

You will see two variants of the word, one as a noun and one as a verb and the latter points out that torture can mean to overwork, misinterpret, or distort.

We are distorting the facts and misinterpreting all available information that suggests that Masks are the best form of defence against this virus when social distancing isn’t possible.

Let’s look inside the Museo de Tortura in Toledo and see all the sharp grusome objects on offer which are made of iron, rope, and wood and remember that iron can also be heated up.

I am talking about disgusting objects like an Iron Maiden, the Rack and the saw that I discussed earlier and let’s imagine modern-day torture that we all saw in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We can pull out people’s nails, we can deprive them of sleep and waterboard people but we cannot compare them to the need to wear a mask right now in this moment and time.

Inside this museum, you will find masks but you will also find novelty necklaces and what I mean by that is, people were chastised for their actions and might be forced to wear a necklace with large wooden dice to show that they were a gambler or large wooden masks for other purposes of humiliation.

Nowhere in that display of gadgets and spikes and torture devices will you see a Venetian doctor’s mask because PPE, personal protective equipment isn’t a form of torture.

Historically, there was a poor man forced to wear a mask in prison whose identity remains unknown, this happened during the reign of King Luis XIV and inspired Alexandre Dumas to write the fictional story, The Man in the Iron Mask but if you are wearing a mask today, please don’t think of it as torture, think of it as a disguise like the one you wear on Halloween and proudly say, I am Iron Man because we all know that frontline staff are superheroes and it is time for us all to assemble with masks or socially distance ourselves at home and please avoid all those anti-mask protestors, like the plague as they have assembled in large numbers without taking the necessary consideration that is needed in 2020.

Masks are a form of torture but you can’t mask the fact that an N95 is both a weapon and a shield when most people feel so vulnerable.

Stay Safe everyone and wear a mask whenever possible

Not to put too fine a point on it but there is torture and then there is death. Wear a mask.

(An edited version of this story appeared in the Athlone Topic on August 27th)

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