OPINION — Funny how differently people react to being told they can’t go to work, or school, or church, or the monkey rodeo, or whatever it is they’re having to stay home from. Introverts are loving the isolation, happy they don’t have to make excuses to avoid being out and about, where it’s all peopley. Extroverts are chomping at the bit, wanting this whole virus thing to be over with. The rest of us don’t know whether to complain or binge all nine seasons of The Office on Netflix.
The kids may be bearing the brunt of the lockdowns, which are currently keeping most people in their houses in 42 states. The other eight states are advising precautions, but haven’t issued any shelter-in-place orders. Yet. But schools everywhere have closed, and students are being educated at home, if they’re being educated at all. And parents everywhere have begun to regret all the rude things they’ve said about teachers over the years. Trying to control your own brood is bad enough. Imagine having thirty of the little angels to deal with at once.
Many teachers, as usual, are going above and beyond the call of the paycheck to help their students, sometimes driving to their houses and teaching them through plate glass windows using dry erase boards. One student at a time. Tell me again why teachers don’t need a raise.
To help the kids cope with the new reality, some elementary teachers and school administrators in Kansas City, Kansas organized a parade, hoping to get the kids excited about their distance learning curriculum, but the local police stopped the parade and told the teachers to go home. Kansas governor Laura Kelly had decreed no one was allowed to leave their homes for any nonessential purposes, and the parade was deemed unnecessary. The KC police were just obeying the command of Queen Kelly.
The same kind of thing is happening all across the nation. A man was fined $1,000 for surfing at Manhattan Beach near Los Angeles recently, because the beach had been closed. A paddle boarder was fined in Malibu, and 22 people were cited in San Diego for watching the sunset. None of these people were near anyone else, and their actions didn’t put themselves or others at risk in any way. The same can be said of a woman in Pennsylvania, who was fined for going for a drive in her car, alone.
These people live in different areas of the country, are of various ages and occupations, yet they all have one thing in common: none of them broke any laws. The activities they were engaged in were all perfectly legal, but someone in a position of authority decided they shouldn’t do those things. And the police, as the enforcement branch of the local and state governments in question, obeyed the illegal and unconstitutional orders of their superiors without a pip.
Maybe no one wants to admit what’s going on in America today, but it has a name. It’s called martial law. The only reason it’s not being identified that way so far is because the National Guard has not yet been called out to enforce the rules set in place by politicians, but that may not be long coming. I guess it’s all fun and games until someone opens their front door ‘unnecessarily.’
Now, before you start dragging out the crayons and writing me spittle-flecked letters telling me how these unconstitutional laws are for our own good, let me save you the trouble. I know they’re for our own good. I understand that the politicians supposedly have our best interest at heart. I agree that limiting human contact will help curb the spread of the virus. My complaint is not that we shouldn’t stay home, it’s that being forced to stay home is against the law, and an abridgement of our liberty.
William Pitt (the elder) once said, “Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.” The U.S. Constitution contains no caveat for any natural disaster, plague, cataclysm, or virus. Curtailment of freedom, even when employed for the good of the people, is still curtailment of freedom.
Government officials proclaiming citizens must stay home, with no legal basis for the order, is akin to gun control by confiscation, which was perpetrated when hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. Government is supposed to serve at the will of the people, not impose its will on the people. If we can be controlled by fiat during a crisis, we can be controlled by fiat when there isn’t one. Once we set a precedent of obeying illegal mandates, regardless of the reason for them, we’ve abdicated authority over our lives to someone else. Sure, social distancing is a good idea, but it’s a heinous order.
The state has no more right to order us to stay home than it does to require us to wear safety belts when we drive. Of course we should wear them, all the time, but the state has no right to force us to, just as the state has no right to make us wear a harness when we hunt from a treestand. My safety is my own responsibility, and no one else’s. Obedience for safety’s sake is a dubious refuge, at best. If our founding fathers had valued safety above freedom, we’d be British today.
The great majority of us will survive the current pandemic. The question is whether our constitution will survive it. At present it seems doubtful . . .
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