In the midst of the pandemic, a small piece of cloth has incited a nationwide feud about public health, civil liberties and personal freedom. Some Americans refuse to wear a facial covering out of principle. Others in this country are enraged by the way that people flout the mask mandates.

Bob Palmgren tried to be polite – at first. He told a customer he had to wear a mask inside his restaurant, RJ’s Bob-Be-Que Shack in Mission, Kansas. The customer, a man in his forties in a Make America Great Again (MAGA) cap, had flashed a gun and said that he was exempt from a state-wide mask requirement. He said that he could explain the exemption in the law to Mr Palmgren.

Mr Palmgren, a former

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