By Joshua Weigert
April 11, 2020
Yesterday, I was stunned to see a video of a man in Philadelphia being forcibly removed from a bus because he was not wearing a face mask. There is no actual law enforcing people wearing face masks, but that didn’t stop law enforcement from manhandling him off the bus. It was a totalitarian and authoritarian move. I then read and watched more and more videos and articles of governors and mayors enforcing strict decrees infringing on the rights of their constituents. It seems surreal. America, where freedom and liberty is absolutely paramount, is now a land where citizen’s rights are being chipped away all in the name of security.
Why was it necessary for ten police officers to remove a man because he wasn’t wearing a mask? Why didn’t the police just give the man a mask? If his crime was not protecting himself and others by not wearing a mask, why would then ten police officers come in close proximity to this man? This video looks eerily similar to videos coming out of Wuhan, China in January. Will we see more and more of these sorts of authoritarian acts? What if people refuse to take a COVID-19 vaccine? Will they be thrown off buses like this man? What if our cities partially reopen for commuting to and from work? If you’re caught going to a place you’re not “authorized” to go, will this happen to you?
Then you have Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear who, on one of the most holy weekends on the Christian calendar, will send law enforcement officers to churches and write down the license plates of the church goers to enforce a mandatory quarantine. Now, I do not think churches should have in person services during this pandemic, however, it’s hard to argue that this is not religious persecution. If we set the precedent that governors can force churches closed in the interest of public safety, then we will have some serious issues in the future if a true authoritarian does come to power.
In Arkansas, a twelve-year-old girl was playing basketball on a court near her home when law enforcement arrived and cut the hoop. They cut the hoop in order to enforce “social distancing”. The girl was playing basketball by herself. According to the girl’s mother, the court is never in use and is largely ignored by the city. The girls mother said they “used their own money to purchase a net for the basketball hoop, since it was missing. Her husband also dug a drainage canal to keep it from flooding, and regularly cleaned it of debris” (1).
Meanwhile in Michigan, Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who is being looked at as a potential Vice-Presidential Candidate for Joe Biden, has banned the sale of “non-essential” goods. Many baby goods, including baby car seats, are to be banned from sale. Even worse, vegetable and fruit seeds are banned from being sold as well. How is it possible for a governor to ban the sale of seeds to produce your own food? This is the type of authoritarianism that would make the Founding Fathers roll over in their graves.
Lastly, the mayor in Greenville, Mississippi banned all church services, even “drive-through” services. The police have been ticketing church-goers $500 for showing up to the services. These people are sitting in their cars. What possible issue can arise from this? Instead, police officers are forced to go car to car ticketing these people, literally creating the risk of spreading coronavirus.
It feels as though 200+ years of liberty and freedom is all being tossed out the window because of one pandemic. We have states where the liquor stores are open, and the churches are forced to close. We have states where you are even banned from being outside running by yourself on the beach/park, or even in your own car somewhere.
This is what the Founding Fathers feared. This is what many conservatives feared would happen if a crisis occurred. When do we say enough is enough? When do we start to not comply to these totalitarian measures?
We need to seriously consider how much more of this is acceptable.