Monday, May 18, 2020

Asking the unthinkable question


The wholesale erosion - or even flat-out denial - of our civil liberties and constitutional rights during the coronavirus lockdown has (not for the first time) raised vitally important questions.
  • To what extent should we allow our government to do this?
  • To what extent should we be prepared to acquiesce, to knuckle under, before we take a stand and say, "This far and no further!"?
  • How should we resist when the intrusion into our rights becomes too great to bear?  Must we restrict ourselves to fights in the courts, which may well result in a verdict proving us right, but in the meantime - until that verdict is issued - will result in our having to endure those intrusions?  Or are we entitled to take physical, dynamic measures to resist oppression?

Let's set the scene first.  Carol Brown lays it out.

We have become part of a mass scale human experiment in government control and it turned out that stripping away our freedom wasn’t all that difficult. Under the guise of concern for our health and well-being, tyrants came out of the woodwork.  Our Constitution, our Bill of Rights, and our lives are being destroyed as the left solidifies and expands their oppressive powers. We’ve been herded around like cattle, threatened, isolated, confined, silenced, and arrested. You name it, it’s happening.

. . .

We’ve been told who can work and who can’t ... We’ve been physically and verbally harassed, threatened, fined, detained, arrested, jailed, and/or placed in forced quarantine ... Stay home. Do not go out. Do not earn money. Do not pay your bills, feed your family, maintain your credit rating, live your life. Do not make a single move without permission from the State or you will be punished.

Do not dare go to church. They have been shut down, some threatened with permanent closure. Even services that maintained social distancing were not tolerated ... Religion cannot thrive in a totalitarian state, as the state must reign supreme.

. . .

In several places, our right to protest has been stripped away as has our right to promote protests ... The Bill of Rights has been set on fire and tossed off the top of a skyscraper as a police state rushes in ... The government will hunt you down, find you, and force you and other members of your household to stay in your home, even if there’s no food in the house. The quarantine cycle could leave an entire household locked up for weeks and weeks on end, with no end in sight as we are essentially placed under house arrest. Strategies for how to identify people who’ve met certain criteria have been discussed, including government issued armbands.

. . .

And while the lust for power underpins this shocking spectacle, it’s wrapped up in the guise of “safety.” Who could possibly question a doctor in a white coat touting such an idea? No good totalitarian regime would be without its idealized worldview to sell fools down the river.

And so we’ve sailed, as our economy has collapsed, Americans have been controlled, law enforcement has complied, and people are bombarded with fearful messages every hour of every day – messages riddled with distorted information and lies, from bogus models to inflated mortality rates and everything in between ... When nations go to war, they do so to defend their culture and way of life. Instead, we are destroying ours.

. . .

So far, the police state has been a wild success.

There's more at the link.

If you want a classic example of the above, just look at Illinois Governor Pritzker's latest insanity.  He's going to make criminals out of anyone and everyone who dares disobey his dictatorial edicts.  Will the people of Illinois stand for it?  If they do, they've strayed far from the path our Founding Fathers laid out for us . . .

There have been some - pitifully few - law enforcement officers and agencies who have taken a stand, and refused to participate in this mandated assault on our constitutional rights and civil liberties.  However, the statists simply don't care about this.  They go right on riding roughshod over the "little people" they despise, even as they rule them.  Witness how the Virginia governor and legislature have ignored (and openly expressed contempt for) the more than 90% of Virginia counties who have opposed their drive to restrict gun rights.  Despite many counties declaring themselves "Second Amendment sanctuaries", despite thousands of gun owners demonstrating at the Virginia capitol, the powers that be went ahead and passed most of their anti-gun agenda into law.  The balance is likely to follow before long.  They were completely unfazed by the opposition;  in fact, their determination was probably strengthened by it.  "We'll show these deplorables who's boss!" appears to sum up their attitude.

What's more, our acquiescence in such administrative, executive and legislative overreach appears to be evidence that they can get away with it.  Apart from a few demonstrations, where has been the public outrage?  Where has been the mass civil disobedience that such overreach should call forth?  Where has been our signers of a modern Declaration of Independence who will pledge their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honors to stopping such overreach, no matter what the cost?  All those things have been conspicuous by their absence.  No wonder the statists are emboldened!

The news media and social media are, of course, solidly behind the statists.  Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are actively censoring any views that oppose the mainstream, no matter how expert or authoritative the person espousing those views may be.  Dissenters are de-platformed, de-monetized, denigrated and denied the ability to propagate their views.  If those views are too well grounded in fact to be contradicted, they're simply ignored, as if not talking about them will somehow magically make them go away.

It's no coincidence that most of these offenses against our rights and liberties have occurred in left-leaning states and cities.  Matt Taibbi, no conservative, explains why.

Democrats have lately positioned themselves as more aggressive promoters of strong-arm policies, from control of Internet speech to the embrace of domestic spying ... Democrats clearly believe constituents will forgive them for abandoning constitutional principles ... In the process, they’ve raised a generation of followers whose contempt for civil liberties is now genuine-to-permanent. Blue-staters have gone from dismissing constitutional concerns as Trumpian ruse to sneering at them, in the manner of French aristocrats, as evidence of proletarian mental defect.

Nowhere has this been more evident than in the response to the Covid-19 crisis, where the almost mandatory take of pundits is that any protest of lockdown measures is troglodyte death wish. The aftereffects of years of Russiagate/Trump coverage are seen everywhere: press outlets reflexively associate complaints of government overreach with Trump, treason, and racism, and conversely radiate a creepily gleeful tone when describing aggressive emergency measures and the problems some “dumb” Americans have had accepting them.

Again, more at the link.

Sadly, many applications to the courts to overturn executive overreach have been delayed, tied up in legal red tape, or even denied by activist judges who are entirely in sympathy with statism versus constitutionalism.  A shining exception is Texas Supreme Court associate Justice Jimmy Blacklock.  In a recent decision, he stated flatly and emphatically for the majority:

“The Constitution is not suspended when the government declares a state of disaster.” In re Abbott, No. 20-0291, 2020 WL 1943226, at *1 (Tex. Apr. 23, 2020). All government power in this country, no matter how well-intentioned, derives only from the state and federal constitutions. Government power cannot be exercised in conflict with these constitutions, even in a pandemic.

In the weeks since American governments began taking emergency measures in response to the coronavirus, the sovereign people of this country have graciously and peacefully endured a suspension of their civil liberties without precedent in our nation’s history. In some parts of the country, churches have been closed by government decree, although Texas is a welcome exception. Nearly everywhere, the First Amendment “right of the people to peaceably assemble” has been suspended altogether. U.S. Const. amend. I. In many places, people are forbidden to leave their homes without a government-approved reason. Tens of millions can no longer earn a living because the government has declared their employers or their businesses “ ‘non-essential.’ ”

Those who object to these restrictions should remember they were imposed by duly elected officials, vested by statute with broad emergency powers, who must make difficult decisions under difficult circumstances. At the same time, all of us—the judiciary, the other branches of government, and our fellow citizens—must insist that every action our governments take complies with the Constitution, especially now. If we tolerate unconstitutional government orders during an emergency, whether out of expediency or fear, we abandon the Constitution at the moment we need it most.

Any government that has made the grave decision to suspend the liberties of a free people during a health emergency should welcome the opportunity to demonstrate—both to its citizens and to the courts—that its chosen measures are absolutely necessary to combat a threat of overwhelming severity. The government should also be expected to demonstrate that less restrictive measures cannot adequately address the threat. Whether it is strict scrutiny or some other rigorous form of review, courts must identify and apply a legal standard by which to judge the constitutional validity of the government’s anti-virus actions. When the present crisis began, perhaps not enough was known about the virus to second-guess the worst-case projections motivating the lockdowns. As more becomes known about the threat and about the less restrictive, more targeted ways to respond to it, continued burdens on constitutional liberties may not survive judicial scrutiny.

Ideally, these debates would play out in the public square, not in courtrooms. No court should relish being asked to question the judgment of government officials who were elected to make difficult decisions in times such as these. However, when constitutional rights are at stake, courts cannot automatically defer to the judgments of other branches of government. When properly called upon, the judicial branch must not shrink from its duty to require the government’s antivirus orders to comply with the Constitution and the law, no matter the circumstances.

More at the link.

I, for one, am not prepared to see the Constitution ignored or abandoned.  I swore an oath to support and defend it against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and that oath had (and still has) no expiration date.  By that logic (and it is logical), those who ignore or trash the Constitution in their statist decrees and dictates are its enemies.  That means it's incumbent on me not to merely tolerate, temporarily, their excesses and overreach until courts can rule on the subject - particularly when we can't be sure the courts will rule as the Constitution requires.  Instead of tolerating, I need to take action.  The question is . . . what action?  To take up arms against, and violently resist, the duly and Constitutionally elected government and its officials - whether local, state or national - is by definition a criminal act.  However, it's well in line with the Declaration of Independence, which preceded the Constitution and precipitated the American Revolution.  That's a dynamic tension which may have to be resolved before too long.

I blame a great deal of the inaction of the American people on the abolition of civics education in American schools and colleges.  Even the Atlantic, a very left-wing, progressive source indeed, observed in 2016:

While there surely are many varied causes for the current American political situation, one among those is the relative ignorance of basic American history, scientific, technological knowledge, and what some refer to as “civics” among a large sector of our population. It is testimony to the failure of the country’s education system that a high percentage of the voting-age population is simply ignorant of basic facts—knowledge that is necessary to act reasonably and rationally in the political process.

. . .

James Madison put the current dilemma clearly in focus almost 200 years ago, when he wrote in an 1822 letter to W. T. Barry: “A popular Government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy, or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.” The American people are not doing this today, and the results are evident in the cracks appearing in the country’s democracy.

More at the link. Bold, underlined text is my emphasis.

The problem, of course, is that statist administrations don't want people educated in civics.  Their poisonous intrusion into and effective trashing of Constitutional rights couldn't be done if the electorate were more aware of the limitations on their power.  Remove that awareness, and overreach becomes much easier.

So . . . what do we do?

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

God forbid that a new civil war should be brewing . . . but I have a feeling in my water that one may be on the horizon.  I will not be ruled as a slave, licking the feet of dictatorial statist masters.  I will not allow my Constitutional rights and liberties to be ignored, trampled or taken away.  That's my bottom line;  and I'm old enough, and have little enough to lose, that I'm willing to insist on it, no matter what the cost.

What's your bottom line?  And how far are you prepared to go to insist on it?

This would be a good start . . . but I don't think it goes far enough.

The 2020 elections in November aren't far away.  Will the American electorate vote for statism, or freedom?  Subjection, or liberty?  We're about to find out.

Peter

22 comments:

TheAxe said...

Sorry Peter, but I'm nowhere near heading to the barricades. Regardless what one Texas judge said, western governments have had broad quarantine powers for plague under common law going back to the Romans. The courts have found this repeatedly along with that the constitution covers the common good in these situations even when individual rights are impacted and this is a temporary thing not business as usual. I forget the cases names but I saw them somewhere related to the 1918 outbreak. I know there's much of the country that sees this as dumb but I'm in a hot county where my local emergency room is at 200% capacity from all the cases.

As for Virginia pushing through gun restrictions, it's hard when the state is turning purple from DC and the traditional gun owners are getting swamped by a bunch of carpetbaggers who are making safe D districts and don't care about rights. I don't see an easy solution for the people down there but I hope they can fight for their rights better than we have here in MD.

Steve Sky said...

To add to the list of Governors sneering at the Constitution & Bill of Rights, we have LA Gov. John Bel Edwards saying, "People need to worry less about their rights, and more about the right thing." What is the "right thing", and who gets to decide? Also, where is the "right thing" defined in the Constitution or Bill of Rights.

H/T http://pawpawshouse.blogspot.com/

Aesop said...

Explain to the class why Mary Mallon should have been free to cook and serve food in perpetuity, using the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Show all work.

I'll be over here when you're done.

Have their been, and will there be, anynumber of jack@$$ical overreaching unconstitutional overreaches and plainly idiotic decisions because of this pandemic?
Absolutely.
Is that any basis or rationale for throwing out the baby with the bath water?
Absolutely not.

Pandemic rules, quarantines, and plague law supercedes the Constitution, having been in place going back thousands of years prior to it, and forming the basis of English Common Law upon which our entire system of jurisprudence is founded.

The Constitution, including the BoR, is not a suicide pact.

Now, let's talk about an incomplete education on civics from that basis, shall we?

Beans said...

Aesop, back at you. Show your work proving the Local, State and Fed Gov are allowed by the Constitution to suspend all constitutional rights for whatever reason.

Here's the thing.

Yes, Wu Ping Cough or the Kung Flu or whatever looked like it was going to be BAD. And, in some minor circumstances under certain parameters it was. Thanks to jackwagons like Cuomo and DeBlasio and the other leftist governors and mayors who ordered active Corona-Chan patients into nursing homes. Yeah, slick move there, slick. What a way to ensure that your city/county/state medical subsidies are reduced rather quickly, just as DeBlasio had stated he wanted to do (cut care to those 75 and older.)

But, by the time impeachment was over, dead, and grumblings about Impeachment-The Next Chapter were heard, solid medical evidence from cruise liners, South Korea, Hong Kong and here was out that LOCKDOWN wasn't needed, wanted, or the way to go. Yet the CDC and NIH and others all said so.

So we locked down. And... except for some very specific circumstances, within a month lockdown was shown to be not medically needed. Same with masks. Same with 6' rule. Yet we persisted in the kabuki theater as actual deaths and active cases built up almost exclusively in nursing homes and long-term care facilities because 'WE MUST KEEP THE HOSPITALS CLEAR.' So what did we get? Increased deaths in nursing homes while we get videos of empty hospitals, hospital staff enacting 'The Last Supper' in full PPE, staff practicing and performing complex dance moves in full PPE for YouTube video hits and also demanding being called Heroes for doing their damned jobs. Sure, there were places being blasted by legions of the almost dead, like, suspiciously, those places with large numbers of refugees from New York City and those nursing homes and long term care facilities, but for the most part, nada. Few cases.

Now we are looking at bankrupted hospitals due to no elective surgeries AND people staying away from them because of a virus that's less deadly than the normal seasonal bug, even counting all the deaths of asymptomatic people who have died from other causes as CORONA DEATH (like the guy with blood alcohol level of .55 but asymptomatic with corona antibodies so CORONA DEATH REEEEEEEEEEEE!)

Yeah. No.

AG Barr has already stated, weeks ago, that infringements on constitutional rights just because are illegal and will be prosecuted.



As to sensibility. Mary MuffinMaker can stay at home, not making any money, owing money on her MuffinShop for rent and taxes and go bankrupt, or she can try to make money to cover her debt. So what are the STATESTASI doing? Arresting her? No. What they are doing are pulling her permits, cancelling her licenses, and shutting off power and water. For what? For not bending over and licking the boots of those who think they are better than her? Who go and get haircuts from their hair people while yanking permits and licenses from those who stand up to them? For wanting to go out for a walk and get some fresh air, but aren't allowed to by people who... go out for a walk and get some fresh air? For questioning mask rules enacted by people who don't ever wear the masks, either correctly or incorrectly?

MUH BUTTHURTS is not a reason to deny anyone their constitutional rights of free speech, self defense, not to have government jack-booted thugs do jack-booted things and so forth.

Uncle Lar said...

Some of y'all just don't get it.
Extreme measures during a crisis? Sure, tell us what the experts recommend and mostly we'll do our parts.
Them that don't, well maybe they'll get sick and suffer the consequences, but go all jackboot Nazi on us and we automatically resist.
Not to mention that all those so called "experts" look to have gotten more wrong than right.
Masks? Maybe they help or maybe not, I've heard both arguments, neither with enough data to be convincing.
Everyone shelter at home? Looks like that was ass backwards. High risk of course need to take precautions, but young healthy probably should have stayed at work and just refrained from visiting the grand folks for a bit.
And it's not just the virus thingy either. Look at how our justice system was weaponized into a partizan bludgeon to attack an honored General, entrap him, and blackmail him into a bogus guilty plea, then try to hit him with perjury because of that plea.
Or that scum sucking judge in Texas of all places throwing a salon owner in jail for a week simply because she refused to bow to his authoratah.
And a governor who required by force of law that virus infected people MUST be allowed back into nursing homes thus ensuring thousands of deaths in those care facilities. While at the same time thousands of intensive care beds remained unused. That SOB is a murderer pure and simple.
What can I do? Not a hell of a lot, I am pretty much a nobody. But I have a long memory and I do get around a bit. So should I ever find it in my power to invoke some retribution on those I consider abusers of the people, well, let's just say that I doubt I shall find it in me to hesitate. These people so eager to bully those under their power are almost inevitably themselves guilty of any number of sins, and a word in the right ear, an anonymous tip to the right reporter, a host of other little things, might just accumulate into enough to bring their mighty castles crashing into rubble.

Uncle Lar said...

Beans, I like the way you think.
And you beat me to the punch by at least a click and a half, so good job!

Eck! said...

I'm with Aesop.

First I will say the author you quote is asserting cases he has
not substantiated and is arguing for extremes when public outcry
is better expressed through less confrontational channels.

While we see power asserted for emergency and public safety they
are legal to the point, if not being abused are assumed as permanent.

Also absolutist thinking, IE: trash the Constitution and your the
enemy has no bargaining only an incite to anarchy. Democracy is
based on enguaging, negotiation, and resolution.

Those that squawk most loud get this from me... Did you vote for that
person, Why? If you didn't not vote for that person did you vote at
all? The last is most important, Are you resident of that place?
If the latter, you have no dog in that fight and shut up. Your role
an agitator at best and promoting a vile cause. Also go home and tend
to your own town/City and state.

Its that all? Not by a long shot.

The rules are still:

Speak out and protest loudly, we have the soap box. That
also means speaking responsibly and in a productive ways.

The ballot box, if they fail, or usurp the rule of law and
social contract, Vote them out of office and remember their
names.

The one we have reserved for the most extreme cases is
the cartridge box. It is and likely would be a one way
application. As such it is reserved for the most dire
and extreme of cases. Its not to be treated lightly as
its first tenet is the responsibility of putting your
life and likely others lives on the line.

Its not a game and the unthinkable question has no color
or side. It has the larger component of live or die.
It is always bet with your life and the livelihood
of others.

The first lesson of civics is that our founders in all
wisdom also were sober in realizing that failure would
result in their being brought to trial as traitors and
being hung en-mass. Their family names would be
considered a synonym for traitors.


Eck!

Aesop said...

It doesn't work like that, Beans.
If you really want your post properly fisked, I'll be happy to oblige, but not here.

Meanwhile, you've yet to explain the egregious unconstitutional miscarriage of justice regarding Mary Mallon. Because it wasn't one.

There goes the entire rhetorical underpinning of an otherwise beautiful rant.
"Facts are stubborn things." - John Adams

Tom in NC said...

Emotional topic, obviously. My position at this point is let's see how that ballot box works out in November and then revisit if the tyranny continues unabated. I am much more worried that people in the previous administration have been trashing people's rights and committing crimes including, possibly, sedition and not being held accountable because they happen to be of a certain protected class and party. That is nothing new, but the ideal case is that the party promulgating all this crap, which happens to be the one also exhibiting the more authoritarian governance, gets their ass handed to them in November.

Peter said...

To Aesop and other objectors, I quote from Judge Blacklock's ruling:

"all of us ... must insist that every action our governments take complies with the Constitution, especially now. If we tolerate unconstitutional government orders during an emergency, whether out of expediency or fear, we abandon the Constitution at the moment we need it most.

Any government that has made the grave decision to suspend the liberties of a free people during a health emergency should welcome the opportunity to demonstrate—both to its citizens and to the courts—that its chosen measures are absolutely necessary to combat a threat of overwhelming severity. The government should also be expected to demonstrate that less restrictive measures cannot adequately address the threat."


Therein lies the rub. Most of the measures implemented against COVID-19 have now been shown to have been cosmetic window-dressing, achieving very little. Places that did not lock-down have had very similar infection rates to those that did. Statistically, the lock-down did not slow or stop the spread of the disease. Masks did. Widespread testing and quarantining of those infected did. Most other measures did not - in fact, some made it worse, such as sending infected patients into nursing homes. I'd call that manslaughter.

As for Typhoid Mary; that's a good example, Aesop, in that constitutional measures WERE adopted. She was repeatedly given the option to find a different occupation and/or to live in a situation where she was not a major risk of infection to others. Every time, she broke out of the limitations LEGALLY imposed on her, and went back to cooking and spreading typhoid. Her eventual lifelong confinement was imposed, not because she was a carrier of disease, but because she insisted on living in such a way as to spread that disease. It's not nearly as cut-and-dried as you seem to think.

I absolutely agree that governments have the power to impose restrictions for the public good. However, when it is clear that such restrictions are NOT for the public good, but only pious (or impious, as you will) window-dressing, that agreement ends. That's where I think we are right now. Continue measures that are demonstrably effective? Sure. Continue window-dressing? Oh, hell, no!

That's where we differ, IMHO.

Mark said...

Patrick Henry didn't say "Give me liberty, and give me your death".
The facts are, that the USA's response to the coronavirus has been bungled, and nearly 92,000 of your citizens have paid the price for this. There have been many causes, but amongst the most critical, the unwillingness to temporarily curtail personal freedoms for the greater good of all, has resulted in death and infection rates much, much higher than other countries.
As an example, Australia which a large country geographically, who also has a federal system of government, large cities, similar demographics and lifestyles, etc has a population that was willing to "knuckle down" for a couple of months for the good of all. The results are clear, Australia has a per capita infection rate 1/25th that of the USA, its per capita death rate is 1/70th that of the USA. Despite a rate of testing 14% higher than the USA, most states have reported no new cases for several weeks.
Australians are no less free than our friends in the USA, but we are more focused on the good of everyone. There have been no gun-toting protestors threatening our legislatures, there has been an economic price, there has been inconvenience, there has been disruption, but tens of thousands of our citizens are alive that wouldn't be so if we valued our temporary, selfish loss of personal liberties over the lives of others.

Jerry said...

What I'm afraid will happen is we will see a resurrection of the pre WW1 anarchists who went around attempting to assassinate leaders. I'm not condoning such activities but when political change becomes impossible by normal means this is next. I expect our aspiring socialists believe that they would never be the target of such actions.

Innocent Bystander said...

Judge Blacklock's ruling, quoted above by Peter, is the correct answer.

There were several things wrong from the recent government actions: First, they were not voluntary, second they were incorrect, having been based on wildly incorrect information, third, they were applied with no consideration given to local conditions, fourth they were implemented as a "day late, dollar short" corrective action to decades of government malfeasance and incompetence.

A great deal was unknown about the CCP virus, but as more became known government failed to correct its aim to modify the trajectory. The CCP virus' properties were sufficiently reasonably similar to other respiratory as to raise strong questions about the health threats to the most susceptible - the elderly, the immune compromised and those with cardiac or respiratory issues; this was not done, as evidenced by the death rate among nursing home residents.

NYC, with its population density which requires "close quarters living" and high human density transportation systems, was, and is, a very different environment from the great majority of America; this was ignored.

America was, and is, and will be for some time, bound to suffer economically and socially from its being obligated to China on such a grand scale. This was, and is, a direct result of the government-created tax and regulatory environments which make it unfeasible to econimically operate in the United States, and which encouraged overseas investment to avoid U.S.-created complications.

And, last but quite certainly not least, the United States Constitution, and the constitutions of the fifty states, are not suggestions or a wish list - those documents are the bedrock foundation upon which the statutory structure of the United States, and its fifty independent subdivisions, are based. With no foundation, not only cannot there be a solid structure above, there cannot be any structure at all.

Government, rightly, reserves special powers for acting in emergency situations; those powers, however, must be limited in scope and duration, and justified by the conditions which warrant them.

Government is an extremely blunt instrument, incapable of flexibility or rapid adjustment in the immediate, and as such much be extremely careful with its implementation of such special powers as the Constitution, and the citizens, grant.
That did not happen in this case; it became we had an "us versus them" situation.

It remains to be seen what the future brings; undoubtedly, distrust in, and disregard of, government will increase. What that brings can be either orderly and healthy change or radical change manifested through other means. Government can acknowledge its errors, examine its procedures and institute corrections with the involvement and assistance of the citizenry, which would be the preferred course; the alternative is application of an equally blunt instrument, direct and indiscriminate citizen action.

Daosus said...

@Mark: Australia also has a much smaller population and lower population density than the US. Admittedly, it has the same clustering effect, where a lot of the population is gathered up in cities, but there is nothing like NYC in Australia. And NYC is about half of our death count right now.

Also, we are worried about people at risk of death. I happen to be one of them. But we are also worried about the 200+ million civilians killed by their own government in the past century. We are not worried about our liberties because we "just wanna be free, man." We are worried because if liberty is taken away, governments have historically not been kind to their populations.

We must balance these two worries, because if the US explodes in war, it will be bloody. So we point out where government over-reaches and try to push back so that the bureaucrats slow their advance and the day when enough people decide that they won't be governed is pushed further into the future.

Mark said...

@Daosus Thanks for your response, but apart from Australia having a smaller population and NYC being big, your other figures are incorrect. Firstly, you will notice that I used per capita figures (not the total figures) for comparison between Australia and the USA regarding the death and infection rates.
Secondly, Australia is the most heavily urbanised country in the world with 89% of its population living in cities or urban areas, the USA by way of comparison is 84%. So, given urban areas are the most affected, comparing the overall population density is a meaningless measure when assessing the rate of spread and potential impact of a pandemic.
Thirdly, Sydney with a population of 5.3m and Melbourne with 5.1m would rank as the 7th and 8th largest US cities (after Philadelphia). So, whilst they aren't comparable with NYC (which is responsible for about a third of your deaths, not half), it is possible to compare these 2 Australian cities with similar sized US cities such as Dallas, Houston, San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle etc and it shows infection and death rates far in excess of our experience. For instance Seattle (which is a smaller than Sydney) has had 12 times the number of deaths, and other US cities of comparable size have similar or even worse rates.
So, I go back to my original point, liberty comes with responsibility. It's not only about personal freedoms, it's also about our responsibility as a community. Should my decision to ignore temporary restrictions be allowed to result in the death of someone else? As the figures show, this is exactly what has happened in the USA.
Regarding the comment regarding "200+ million civilians killed by their government", I'm not certain where this comes from. Stalin and Chairman Mao would be proud of this outcome.

BFR said...

I am just an amateur at these things so I will probably not rise to the erudition of others.

Nonetheless, and I could easily be wrong, but when I research the principles of quarantine, it invariably restricts the liberties of those who are sick, not those who are not.

Lepers were instructed to remove themselves from the general populace, and to loudly announce their condition to warn others. I distinctly remember, during the 50's, contagious illnesses being dealt with in the aforementioned manner. Those who had contracted a contagious illness were required to stay at home, and their residences had signage on doors announcing that the house was quarantined.

It seems that we have moved from that model to herding all of the non-ill into their houses, while the identity of those who are sick is kept under lock and key while bowing to the idol named HIPPA.

Aesop said...

"It seems that we have moved from that model to herding all of the non-ill into their houses,"

And this is where every single person yammering for "muh ConsteeTOOshun" gets it wrong:

Tell my who these "non-ill" are, when
a) a ridiculously large percentage of those infected with COVID-19 are asymptomatic carriers,
b) when testing has barely reached above 1% of the entire country's population, and
c) the COVID swab tests produce an unreliable number of false negative results, and the antibody test produce a 20% rate of false positives, besides
d) multiple people infected and then supposedly clear of the virus later turn out to be infectious again, after previously testing negative for it.

You cannot point out one single person in the entire country who is "non-ill" than can Stevie Wonder fairly judge the winner of a painting contest.

Other than those wee little flies in your ointment, yes, let's by all means, quarantine only the sick, and free only the uninfected.

I will march in you parade, wave your banner, and subscribe to your newsletter, one minute after you explain to the class how you can tell the one from the other.

Go.

I'll wait over here while anyone cares to take a whack at that problem.
TPTB still can't figure it out after three months of trying.

None of that excuses any number of idiocies and overreaches of one side in "never letting a crisis go to waste to advance their statist fascist agenda, spend and lockdown the nation into insolvency, and expand the government.

Neither does pointing out that they're doing exactly that in any or many places justify hiring Stevie Wonder to decide who's sick, and who's ill, and pretending - tinfoil millinery screwed down tightly to the tops of your ears - that this is a non-existent illness with non-existent consequences. That ship has sailed, whether you like it or not.

Unknown said...

I was actually shocked to see all of the people here who were quite willing to hand over their constitutional rights without a word of complaint, " for the greater good" or some such reason. That we will have ended up with perhaps 100,000 people dead at the end of this all is a tragedy. That Americans are so willing to toss aside the very freedoms that millions fought and shed blood and lives over, because some elected and non elected officals say so, is an even greater tragedy.
Our freedoms, starting with those protected by the bill of rights, are non negotiable and are not subjected to, in my case here in Michigan, the whim of a single person deciding to take them away. My freedom and rights are inalienable, God given, and cannot be suspended without a trial before a court of law.
The people who have responded here seem to be willing to merely give up their rights because some person who is not a medical doctor or a scientist, who gets their information from a fallible person, says they must give them up. In my case, I have chosen to not give up my rights, and have not quarantined. The rules that have been put into place have been arbitrary, capricious, and without any real basis in science. 6 feet apart, to stop the spread? Why not 7 feet, or 5 feet? The fact is,they simply have no idea how much of a distance, or no distance at all, might be useful. The mask wearing, again, arbitrary at best. I hear prominent health officials saying that it does no good, as well as some who say that you must have a certain type of mask for it to be effective. Yet our governor says you can just wear a cowboy mask, like they did on television programs of the 1950's. Where is there any truth or science in that?
If you look at the statistics of those who are dying in states, you will see that the majority of the deaths are taking place among those who are over the age of 80. So unless you have some other co morbidity, it seems like you are just as likely to die from other causes as you are Covid 19 induced death. Yet we don't see any orders telling us to not drive a car, which reliably kills over 30,000 people each and every year. Imagine how many deaths the government could save if they simply outlawed automobiles. People say that is ridiculous. I say that telling people to self quarantine is ridiculous. Even more so, because while we have no constitutional right to drive a car, we have rights to allow us to move freely about, without interference from the government.
There was a time when our constitutional freedoms were important to us, and were worth fighting for, and even dying for. For some of us, that time has not passed, and never will. Sadly, I see that for some, safety is more important than freedom. As Ben Franklin said, I fear that you will end up with neither.

pigpen51

J-Vo said...

Good stuff, but to those commenters who are submitting what amounts to an essay or even a thesis .... too much to read and predictable. Why not make a short sweet to the point comment that other will actually read.

Or ... how about injecting a bit of humor just to keep the reader awake.

Just sayin' ...

Otherwise, I do agree with most of what I have taken the time to read here.

Revolution may be required in the very near future ... your basic freedoms are being taken away as we sit and watch. That is not the America I remember.

towser said...

Great Post Peter,

For what it is worth, I agree with you. Your post and the comments here inspired a post of my own here: https://thelibertycoalition.org/blog/2020/05/24/are-lockdowns-constitutional/

Short and sweet, I have to ask - not you but those dissenting, by whose authority can our Constitution be suspended?

"Towser" (If I MUST comment via a Grrrgle account, then it will be this one. I'd prefer to simply use my own name/url but so be it.)

Unknown said...

Towser,
I propose that under no circumstances can our constitution be suspended. At the very least, our Bill of Rights is given to us by our creator, or if you prefer, by the fact that we are human beings, and is not up for discussion, but they are inalienable, and merely protected by the constitution.
The founding fathers had just fought a war against an unjust tyrant. That they included the 2nd amendment was no accident, and it was not for hunting or home defense against Native Indian tribes, or such. The main reason was to be able to abolish an over restrictive federal government. Even back then, the founders feared the long reach of the federal government above all else.
FDR, during WWII,interred over 130,000 Japanese/Americans, in concentration camps,for the duration of the war. Scholars have since decided that it was totally unconstitutional,and so to is this latest lockdown,that has been foisted upon a citizenry of Americans, made up of those willing to go along to get along, and also Patriots, who refuse to bend their knee or their neck to the tyranny of political despots. And it is upon this rock that many of us have decided to stand, and to not move, to perhaps save freedom, so that our children and grandchildren may live freely.

pigpen51

towser said...

pigpen51,

We are in complete agreement on this.

Towser