U.S. Attorney General William Barr listens to concerns raised about public safety in rural Alaska during at a roundtable discussion at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium on Wednesday, May 29, 2019, in Anchorage, Alaska. Barr did not take questions from reporters in his first public appearance after former special prosecutor Robert Mueller spoke to reporters after resigning at the completion of his report into Russian interference into the 2016 election. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)
The imposition of so-called lockdowns by governors and mayors in relation to the Wuhan virus scare has produced a bumper crop of totalitarian stupidity that only a few months ago would have made you the subject of public ridicule, and rightly so, had you even suggested that it were possible that such things were possible in the United States. Over the weekend, I posted about this alarming trend in The Wuhan Virus Regulations Have Nothing to Do With Your Safety and Everything to Do With Your Freedom
This is an extended quote:
Across the nation, state and local governments have used the Wuhan virus scare to take draconian measures to curtail civil liberties. Some states, like the fascist paradise of Gauleiter Gretchen, have forbidden the sale of garden seeds and child passenger safety seats as non-essential. She has forbidden Michiganders from traveling from one residence in the state to another residence. Over Easter, states and municipalities across the country directly banned religious services. Not merely services in a church, but services in a parking lot. Curfews have been imposed because, I guess, viruses are more active at night. California is filling in skate parks.
California is filling their skate parks with sand to make them unusable amid mandated lockdown.
There is no scientific or medical rationale for this.
This has nothing to do with a virus.
This has nothing to do with protecting people.
This is about power.pic.twitter.com/jXEaiPUk2e
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) April 18, 2020
Neighbors are encouraged to narc on one another.
Neighbours pinned this note on a sick, elderly woman’s front door after her daughter dropped off some groceries.
You can see how easily men like Stalin and Hitler achieved their aims. pic.twitter.com/WcyUinpDIy
— karen ricks (@karenricks) April 18, 2020
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) April 18, 2020
The Governor of New Jersey had the mourners at a Jewish funeral beset upon by police (stop me if you’ve heard something like this in a history class) and some were arrested. When questioned, he said he never considered the Bill of Rights in giving his order:
Tucker Carlson asks New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy where he got the authority to nullify the Bill of rights when he banned religious services in his state:
"I wasn't thinking of the Bill of Rights when we did this… The science says people have to stay away from each other." pic.twitter.com/DPQ5d2DFl2
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) April 16, 2020
The police department in Raleigh, North Carolina, has taken upon itself to declare that protests are a ‘non-essential’ activity.
David Harsanyi, writing in National Review, chronicles other examples:
The criminalization of movement ends with ten Philly cops dragging a passenger off a bus for not wearing a face mask. It ends with local Brighton, Colo., cops handcuffing a father in front of his family for playing T-ball with his daughter in an empty park. It ends with three Massachusetts men being arrested, and facing the possibility of 90 days in jail, for crossing state lines and golfing — a sport built for social distancing — in Rhode Island.
None of these policies, none, not a single one, make you safer or prevent the spread of the virus. They are nothing more than government-ordained virtue signaling. It is not sufficient that you don’t become infected with Wuhan virus or that you observe a correct treatment protocol if you are infected, you must do it in the correct way and you can’t be allowed to enjoy anything while the mandated lockdown period goes on. To be effective, the policy must make you as miserable as possible. What all these policies have in common is that they are calculated to impress upon you that your ability to move, to shop, to travel, to work, to wear what you wish, to engage in legal activities, to congregate, to worship or just to f*** off a bit are all dependent upon some level of government deciding that no emergency exists.
Now that we’ve eliminated a good swath of the Bill of Rights with barely a whisper from the citizenry and with total cooperation of the media, ostensibly to protect us all from virus, do you really think government, having learned this lesson, is going to stop using this power any more than a tiger who has tasted human flesh is ever going to forego it again?
There are no signs that this epidemic of morons will stop bothering us. A mother was handcuffed for playing with her child in as vacant park because it isn’t sufficient that we not be a danger to someone else, we must be miserable and screwed with in the process to truly appreciate how heroic our government is.
🚨 BREAKING 🚨
Mother arrested in Meridian, Idaho for letting kids play in park
This has gotten out of control
Stop arresting free Americans for being outside with their families
— Rogan O’Handley 🇺🇸 (@DC_Draino) April 22, 2020
(Read Betsy Vauhn’s post on the subject for more details Home of the Free? Idaho Mother Arrested, Handcuffed for Letting Kids Play in Park [Watch])
There have been some bright spots both of courage and commonsense. In Kentucky and Kansas federal courts have ruled that state lockdown orders forbidding even ‘drive up’ religious services are unconstitutional. A federal appeals court, backed by the Supreme Court, made Wisconsin hold its primary election according to law and the state legislature in that state are going to court to try to knock down large portions of the Democrat Wisconsin governor’s Trotskyite wet dream:
Wow. The Wisconsin legislature has sued the state over the lockdown: pic.twitter.com/8lxc7s6ize
— Alex Berenson (@AlexBerenson) April 21, 2020
But for civil liberties to survive in this nation, the federal department charged with the protection of those liberties must step up. That would be the Department of Justice. To its credit, the DOJ seems to be moving against some of the worst offenders. Last week, the Department of Justice intervened in a lawsuit filed by a church in Greenville, MS, where the local thuggery was handing out citations that could result in $500 fines for people in locked cars in a church parking lot listening to church services. (Read SisterToldjah’s A Mississippi Mayor Dug in on Banning Drive-In Church Services, but Then Bill Barr’s DOJ Stepped In.)
Yesterday, Attorney General Bob Barr was on Hugh Hewitt’s radio program to discuss the abuse of power by governments under the guise of protecting us from ourselves. (See my colleague Nick Arama’s Bill Barr: No, You Don’t Lose You Constitutional Rights Because of the Virus Emergency for some other parts of the interview.)
HH: Now Mr. Attorney General, I have noticed that some local officials have been very quick to use their authority to target specifically communities of faith in a way that distinguishes the rule set for them as opposed to other organizations. And I think that’s one of those blunt instruments. Have you noticed that yourself? Should they be on notice that, and well, in my view, I don’t know what your view is, that that violates the Free Exercise Clause?
WB: Well, you know, we did more than put them on notice. We filed a statement of interest in a case in Mississippi where they were discriminating against religious practice and the putting restrictions on religion that they were not putting on commercial activities that had all the same features. And we filed a statement of interest, and I understand that the government has pulled back from those restrictions at least to some degree so far. And I issued a statement pointing out that whatever measures are placed against religion have to be placed against all comparable commercial and other activities. You can’t single out religion for special burdens.
HH: And…go ahead.
WB: And it’s not just religion, though. You know, I think as we go forward, you know, I personally think that given the uncertainties involved at the beginning, the President’s initial approach of a period of time to bend the curve were appropriate. But I think we have made a lot of progress in bending the curve, and I think we now, as I say, have to fine tune these things. I think we have to make a distinction between orders that tell people or principles that say you know, you have to keep your distance of 6 feet, you should be washing, you should be wearing PPE when you’re out and about. Those are fine, because I think those, you know, arrest the transmission from person to person. But blunter instruments that say everyone has to shelter in place, to stay at home regardless of the situation on the ground, or you know, you shut down a business regardless of the capacity of the business to operate safely for its customers and its employees, those are very blunt instruments. And I think you know, as I say, I think we have to adapt more to the circumstances. The President’s plan does that. You know, I also think that we have to give businesses more freedom to operate in a way that’s reasonably safe. They know their business. They have the capacity to figure out, as the Marines say, “improvise, adapt, and overcome,” how to conduct their business in a way that’s safe. I think we have to give businesses that opportunity. The question really shouldn’t be you know, some governments saying well, is this essential or not essential. The question is can this business be operated safely?
This brought about on a pandemic of the vapors from NeverTrumpers, left and right.
I'm old to remember when the Justice Department didn't spend its time trying to get Americans killed. https://t.co/WKttrE9rYc
— Binyamin Appelbaum (@BCAppelbaum) April 21, 2020
Even here, I think Barr is not stringent enough. If you want people to stay 6-feet away from you, walk around with a freakin pole extended and ring a bell, like a Medieval leper, to draw attention, but screw a government regulation that tells me I have to do it. But, as a starting point, it is a good thing. No government has the right to shutter a lawful business because they think the service provided is not essential. If the business provides an income to the owner and wages to employees, it is essential. If the public decides the risk of going there outweighs the benefits, then they can stay away. I hope Barr realizes that by opening the “reasonably safe” rat hole for petty tyrants everywhere, he’s effectively eviscerated civil liberties. For a guy like Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, it is impossible for a business he disapproves of to be “reasonably safe.” Keep in mind, this is a place that has literally closed skate parks because the virus is attracted to skateboards or something.
Not only is this good policy, this is good politics. It is becoming more and more obvious that some states are deliberately juicing their Wuhan virus death statistics as a way of playing victim and getting more federal cash while, at the same time, using it as a way to crack down on activities they don’t approve of. In Hagerstown, MD, a woman who is part of a group that holds a prayer vigil at the local abortuary was threatened with arrest for standing on a sidewalk 15-ft from the nearest person (full disclosure, I know the person involved).
Representing a pro-life sidewalk advocate who was threatened by Hagerstown, MD police with a $5,000 fine for being on the public sidewalk outside an abortion clinic with one other person, separated by 15 feet. #ProLife #FirstAmendment pic.twitter.com/h8P4CL2yPu
— @ThomasMoreSoc (@ThomasMoreSoc) April 17, 2020
More and more people are seeing that this virus is nothing that it was cracked up to be and are calling bullsh** on these arbitrary and ineffective regulations. The realization is coming to not just those of us on the right but to people, like skaters in California, who wouldn’t ordinarily be considered conservative. As more and more people seeing that the rules that are being inflicted upon the rest of us simply do not apply to the Democrat elite:
— Page Six (@PageSix) April 21, 2020
There is nothing lower than this – testing positive for Coronavirus and then violating quarantine and still going out, like George Stephanopoulos and Chris Cuomo have been spotted doing: https://t.co/mJysJuT4th #coronavirus #Quarantine
— MARK SIMONE (@MarkSimoneNY) April 18, 2020
You can argue polls all you want to, but there is literally no political downside to having the Department of Justice do its job and rein in the worst impulses of the petty men and women who would attempt to treat a free people who happen to be their employers how to live.