The Return of the Reichsstatthalter

(AP Photo/Adam Beam)

I have not mentioned Reichsstatthalter Andy Beshear (D-KY) much recently, in part due to my refusal to pay for a subscription to the Lexington Herald-Leader,¹ a newspaper I used to deliver when I was in junior high and high school, a newspaper in serious financial trouble as a McClatchy property, and one which is likely to be soon owned by the same company which owns and publishes the National Enquirer. Getting only a couple of ‘free’ articles a month, I don’t normally click on its Twitter links.

But I used one of the ‘free’ stories as my source for the return of the Governor of Kentucky to his Reichs Governor status:

Beshear mandates masks statewide. 333 new Kentucky coronavirus cases and 4 deaths.

By Alex Acquisto² | July 9, 2020 | 4:48 PM

The wearing of masks to protect against the spread of COVID-19 will be mandatory at 5 p.m. Friday in Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear announced Thursday after noting the state’s new number of infections has lifted out of its plateau and is on the rise.

The governor announced 333 new cases of the novel coronavirus, pushing the statewide total to at least 18,245. Four more people with the virus have died, bringing the death toll to 612.

“Folks, we are still in a battle, and it is not going away,” the governor said. “We have a dangerous and deadly virus out there, and we are now seeing a regular increase in cases in Kentucky.”

“It’s no longer a question: a mask helps to stop the spread,” he said. Wearing a facial covering “is no longer voluntary. It’s mandatory. It’s time to get serious.”

Beshear’s executive order mandating masks in most public places, and public-facing businesses will last at least 30 days but can be renewed. The order exempts those with a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask and children age 5 and under.

Sorry, but f(ornicate) him!

Yes, it’s both wise and polite to wear a mask when around the public, and I have (mostly) been doing so, but the Governor of Kentucky does not have the authority to mandate that people do so.

To those who oppose his executive order, Beshear said, “A decision to not wear a mask, you can think there’s some liberty component, but any of that ends when you put the health and safety of someone else at risk.”

Yes, there is a “liberty component,” in that the state, whether acting under the Reichsstatthalter’s order alone or under a law passed by the General Assembly, does not have the right or authority to force this. Herr Beshear seems to think that the rights and liberty of free American citizens is somehow not all that important, when American people and American soldiers fought and gave their lives to secure the blessings of liberty for us.

“Folks, wear a mask. It’s not a drill,” Public Health Commissioner Steven Stack said. “This is the biggest infectious public health threat that our species has faced in over a century. All we’re asking you to do is a simple act of kindness.”

Dr Stack just doesn’t get it: as long as you ask Kentuckians to wear a mask, there is no problem with it. Asking people to do something falls under your freedom of speech. But when the state tries to order people to do something, then yes, there is a problem with it, a huge problem.

Up until now, Beshear and Dr. Stack have strongly recommended that Kentuckians wear masks, but they haven’t been required. Governors in more than 20 states have in recent weeks have also mandated that masks be worn in public, including in Ohio, Texas, North Carolina and New York.

Beshear said whether Kentucky has to re-shutter businesses will hinge on residents’ willingness to follow the order. “We won’t have to shut everything down as long as we wear a facial covering,” he said. “It’s all going to come down to whether we are willing to do it.”

That’s just it: many people have been willing to wear masks, “willing to do it” when we were asked to do so. Some people, some people like me, will be far less “willing to do it” to comply with an authoritarian dictate and an illegal order.

Herr Beshear stated that his decree would be enforced by local health departments, and that those who violate his orders will first get a warning; fines could follow if there is “chronic refusal.” But while local health departments could send staff out to supermarkets and the like, they do not have police officers of their own, so it’s not like they can patrol the streets and stop pedestrians. Neither the Herald-Leader article nor the Reichsstatthalter’s decree mention the use of law enforcement agencies in enforcement.

I suspect that many county sheriffs and their deputies would politely decline to take any action against individuals resisting the order, though some in the larger counties might do so. The article noted that enforcement actions would be more probably enforced against “businesses who (sic) don’t enforce the mandate among employees,” and chronic refusal could lead to the business being forcibly shut down.

This creates a real conundrum for people who care about individual liberty and personal freedom. It makes perfect sense to wear a face mask in the situations listed by the Reich Governor, but complying with the order makes it appear as though you are one of the sheeple. There are two very contradictory things to do:

  • Wear a face mask where appropriate, to protect the health of others and of yourself; and
  • Refuse to obey an illegal, authoritarian order to resist unconstitutional infringements upon your freedom.

Where does the conservative, where does the libertarian fall in this? My wife is sixty years old and a registered nurse; she is very much a proponent of wearing masks, and always asks if I have one in my vehicle before we leave to go somewhere. She has (probably) not heard of Reichsstatthalter Beshear’s Führerbefehle as of this writing, but she would want me to support it, for her protection as much as mine; she would view my refusing to wear a mask to protest the governor’s unlawful decree as endangering her. Were I single, I would instantly cease wearing the mask; standing up against unconstitutional orders is more important than the slight risk I would contract COVID-19.
¹ – The Lexington Herald-Leader has one, and only one, redeeming value: its coverage of University of Kentucky sports. As a UK graduate, yeah, this is important to me, but fortunately, there are other sources. I noted, last month, just how out-of-touch the Herald-Leader is, and has been, with its declining readership.
² – How much trouble is the Herald-Leader in? The reporter’s bio at the bottom of the story stated: “Alex Acquisto covers health and social services for the Lexington Herald-Leader and Kentucky.com. She joined the newspaper in June 2019 as a corps member with Report for America, a national service program made possible in Kentucky with support from the Blue Grass Community Foundation. She’s from Owensboro, Ky., and previously worked at the Bangor Daily News and other newspapers in Maine.” Translation: at least part of Miss Acquisto’s salary is being paid by someone other than the newspaper.
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