It's uncomfortable, it's restrictive, it's uncool, it's totally unnecessary, and now the damn government is forcing me to wear one ... sound familiar?
That's because the exact same complains about masks in 2020 and 2021 were made decades ago — when Americans were forced to wear seatbelts. A resurfaced NBC News report from 1984 shows that government mandates — even ones designed to keep people alive — were never popular.
"It is a new seatbelt ordinance," the newscaster reads in the 37-year-old clip. "If the town council gets its way, seatbelts will be mandatory for everybody riding in the front seat of a car through Richland."
"I don't wanna, I'll have to detour the town to get to Kalamazoo if they pass the seatbelt ordinance," one old-timer indignantly tells the reporter, "for I don't use a seatbelt."
"I wouldn't wear my seatbelt," another stubbornly replies. "If I get caught, I get caught, I guess."
An exasperated Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Chris Miller listed off to the outlet at the time the excuses he heard from the non-compliant on a daily basis. "I hear 'it's uncomfortable', 'it wrinkles my clothes', 'it's not cool'," he sighed.
One very disgruntled Timothy Dougal, who just got a ticket for not wearing one, told the reporter: "There's no freedom no more. If you don't want to wear it, that's you choice."
The footage was dug up by Trevor Noah's "Daily Show" team this week, as he applied the same point about vaccine mandates.
"Hmmm.... sound familiar?" he wondered after airing the clip. "All the complaints about seatbelts back then are the same things you hear now about vaccines... I mean except for the clothes, that's a very rare side effect of the vaccines."
Seatbelts, incidentally, are believed to save around 15,000 American lives every year. According to the CDC, 22,697 drivers and passengers were killed in vehicle collisions in 2018; among the victims aged 13-44, more than half were not wearing seatbelts at the time.
"A mandate might be the only way to get the vaccine numbers up," Noah argued, introducing the clip, "but that doesn't mean people are going to go along easily. Any mandate, no matter how much it seems to make common sense to some people, is gonna make other people really mad."
"And it's not just the vaccine; this has happened before, you realize that right? There was a time in America when a lot of people refused to wear seatbelts. And when the government finally stepped in and said you have to wear a seatbelt — boy did they get pissed off."