A Foreward to Dogma for Functionaries, 35th Edition, 2056

Among the many principles promulgated in Dogma, only one has appeared in every edition since the initial publication ordered in 2021 for instruction of Functionaries within the Ministry of Adamant Orthodoxy (MAO), Commonwealth of Pennsylvania: 

“To subjugate a populace, usurp control of the child.” 

In this brief Foreward, sanctioned by MAO, I wish to highlight the watershed moment that put this principle into practice. I refer to the compulsory masking of children in school.

Masking children has now been in effect for 36 years and, as this edition of Dogma explains, will shortly be reinforced in all public schools with the additional requirement of helmets and tinted visors to further obscure the identity of the child. No exceptions shall be granted. 

The number of masks that must be worn under the visor has yet to be determined, though at present only triple masking is anticipated, excepting Tuesday mornings and Thursday afternoons in classrooms, Saturdays throughout daylight hours on athletic fields, and certain holidays, when quadruple masking will likely go into effect. Heavier masking during any period remains at MAO’s hourly discretion.

Functionaries will already understand the necessity of masking children to promote safetyism across all demographic strata, not least assuaging chronic phobias of adults. What I would like to emphasize here, however, is the role of the mask in effacing the child. All insubordinate behavior–such as displaying emotion, speaking freely, and drawing a deep breath to restore composure and stiffen resolve–is effectively suppressed. The child submits and becomes a compliant citizen under MAO’s benevolent watch.

All insubordinate behavior–such as displaying emotion, speaking freely, and drawing a deep breath to restore composure and stiffen resolve–is effectively suppressed.

Birthing people and their companions capitulate as well. MAO long ago quashed insurrectionist organizations operating under such names as “Parents & Kids United,” “Gasping!” and “O2 Now.” Eliminating those cells of sedition honed the essential methods set forth in Dogma, foremost the abolition of dissent and the propagation of fear. 

Younger Functionaries may not recall the constraints on coercion which once prevailed. Following the discovery of the virus we now know as the Canis Major variant, the predecessor of MAO amounted to nothing more than a public-health bureaucracy. Only with difficulty could MAO dictate to the now defunct body once known as the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Although MAO held considerable sway over the media, it had not yet seized them outright and put them to full use as a unified office within MAO’s Counter-Malinfo Division.

MAO did not always operate as it does today: almighty but amorphous; its officers never seen but rather identified by letters signifying their academic pedigrees; its pronouncements broadcast repeatedly at every site of commerce, production, and re-education.

For some time, therefore, malinfo slipped out—notions that children rarely suffered upon infection by the virus, for example, or that the chance of their harming anyone was vanishingly slight. Enlisting tractable journalists to anathematize a rogue member of their trade only rallied his followers as he compared attempts to block the virus by means of commonly used masks to installing chain-link fences ahead of a wind. Subversive language, e.g., “snot-rag,” was brought to the attention of policing authorities, but measures were not yet in place to prevent it from persisting underground.

There nevertheless emerged a learning as to the uses of perpetual panic. For although the predecessor agencies of MAO were unable to control communication entirely, they convinced the multitudes that stark fright must be felt by all if any were to survive.

Fortunately, the virus, still circulating, has evolved. There was an Alpha variant, a Beta, a Gamma, a Delta, and so on through the entire Greek alphabet before the nomenclature converted to names of constellations. (It appears that Canis Major will be rapidly supplanted by Canis Minor.) Hence manifold opportunities to re-incite anxiety in the dutiful and shame slackers who no longer masked up to signal their virtue and their keen attention to fashion.

Still another learning was crucial: keep the burden on children. Today in schools the young remain strapped into their masks even as surveillance cameras spot their bare-faced elders crowding into shopping malls and raving at celebrity bashes. A full inventory of child-sized helmets, fitted with chin straps as well as visors, will soon be available for statewide distribution.

It is incumbent upon me to say in closing that MAO has recently noted back-sliding in the oversight of children during hand-washing at home. A 20-minute wash by the child with a state-licensed anti-microbial solution is henceforth obligatory before any contact with mask or helmet. Functionaries will be made available for in-home instruction.


Deputy Assistant to the Deputy Assistant to the Associate Director

Messaging Section

Counter-Malinfo Division

Ministry of Adamant Orthodoxy

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Harrisburg, PA (self-sheltering)

September 2056 

Richard Koenig is the author of the Kindle Single No Place To Go, an account of efforts to provide toilets in Ghana during a cholera outbreak.

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