In the Before Times, if you walked into a bar and asked for a case of corona you’d end up with 24 bottles of Mexican beer.

If you’re committed to risking your health by drinking in an enclosed public space, I suppose you’ve also got to commit to doing it without precautions. You’re not going to drink through a straw extending out from underneath a mask, right?

And you’re not going to socially distance. That would defeat the purpose of going to a bar in the first place. If you’re out for a night at the pub in the middle of a pandemic, you’ve already made peace with the prospect of contracting the ‘rona.

I ask this question sincerely, though: Do these people truly understand that … they can infect others if they get sick? Listening to some of these bros talk, you would come away believing that infection is a purely personal choice which each individual is entitled to make for him or herself. The idea that they might be vectors of transmission to vulnerable people in proximity to them at a grocery store or a dentist’s office, say, seems nowhere on their mental radar.

“You don’t have a right to infect me. You don’t have a right to infect my daughter. So wear a mask,” said Andrew Cuomo last night, reminding the anti-maskers shouting it’s my right! that other people have rights too. But I don’t get the sense that the guys in the clip are being selfish and saying, “I don’t care who I infect.” I get the sense that it just hasn’t occurred to them that they’re at risk of spreading the disease beyond themselves.

Do they know that people are most infectious when they’re pre-symptomatic? Or are they thinking that unless and until they have a dry cough they’re okay to be out and about, mingling with others?

The Atlantic has an interesting piece today about how stay-at-home orders might have backfired. It was written not by an epidemiologist or a virologist but by an economist, someone who understands how human beings grapple with choices. The message from state officials that people should just stay home because anything else is risky may be well intended and even true. But, she says, forcing that sort of stark choice on the public may lead people to bust out in reckless ways. Like, say, with a pandemic pub crawl sans precautions.

When people are advised that one very difficult behavior is safe, and (implicitly or not) that everything else is risky, they may crack under the pressure, or throw up their hands. That is, if people think all activities (other than staying home) are equally risky, they figure they might as well do those that are more fun. If taking a walk at a six-foot distance from a friend puts me at very high risk, why not just have that friend and a bunch of others over for a barbecue? It’s more fun. This is an exaggeration, of course, but different activities carry very different risks, and conscientious civic leaders should actively help people choose among them.

Stark messaging may also discourage people from taking reasonable precautions. Public-health officials tell people to wash their hands and wear masks. But because the above-the-fold message is “Just stay home,” people may struggle to understand the purpose of these other pieces of advice. If the only truly safe thing to do is stay home, then how should I think about the mask suggestion? Is it a futile gesture, like putting a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound?

The vibe I get from the pubgoers isn’t that resistance is futile and therefore it’s time to breathe deep those viral particles and hope for the best. The vibe is more “I’m young enough not to have to worry about this,” with little thought for what sort of chain of transmission they might be starting.

I’ll leave you with this video from Japanese TV.