By Sherman R. Frederick
Battle Born Media
While we all do our time under house arrest (you can call it the “stay-at-home” order if it makes you feel better), may I suggest a group contemplation on how utterly easy it is in 2020 to suspend “inalienable” American freedoms.
The Declaration of Independence is our aspirational document that identifies our three inalienable rights: “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” In case you have not looked it up recently, “inalienable” means “not capable of being taken away or denied.”
Yet, in the Age of Coronavirus two of those inalienable rights have been instantly suspended under the belief it is the only way to preserve the first — life.
I get the big picture. I understand why governors have done what they have done. Not sure I’d do anything differently given the circumstances. Nevertheless I am bothered by how quickly fundamental rights can be swept aside with the snap of a coronavirus finger.
The right to peaceably assemble went out the window on Day 1. Groups of 10 people or more were banned. The National Guard and local police are now being used to enforce this rule. It extends to funerals, weddings and religious gatherings. Easter as we know it is canceled.
Small businesses are being obliterated by the government’s coronavirus actions, which I think can make a compelling case for an illegal “taking.” More to come on that as the months go by.
A pastor of a mega-church in Florida was arrested by the state for holding church services.
Gun stores in California were targeted for shut down during the coronavirus emergency order.
That’s brought a lawsuit from the National Rifle Association. Filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the suit alleges:
“Municipalities who target lawful gun stores for closure aren’t promoting safety — by weaponizing their politics to disarm you and your loved ones, these shameless partisans are recklessly promoting a gun-control agenda that suffocates your self-defense rights when you need them most.”
Gun opponents fired back: “In this time when we all need to sacrifice to flatten the curve and stop this pandemic, it is disturbing that the NRA won’t budge from its overriding purpose — to increase gun industry profits at any cost. There is no constitutional right to spread coronavirus while shopping, for guns or anything else.”
Yet, California deems it a constitutional right to spread coronavirus while shopping for pot at a marijuana store, which remain open. Go figure.
Look, I’m not inviting you to get lost in the rhetoric of the gun debate. Nor am I making a point of how uneven the “stay-at-home” order is being applied (though I think much of it makes no sense) I’m asking you to think about what it is to be free. Has all that talk about inalienable rights we learned in civics class been just meaningless fluff that disappears when a new virus we don’t understand breaks out onto the world scene?
Or, are there basic rights — inalienable rights — that the government can never, ever take away, even in an emergency?
At the risk of getting all sci-fi on you, imagine that health officials determine that people over 50 who get the virus should not get ventilators because their survivability rate is lower than people younger than 50.
Would you be alright with a government mandate that denies care based on age? (We’re almost there, folks.)
Or, if we find certain racial groups, genders or sexual preference groups become more susceptible to the virus, are you then okay with rounding them up to protect the rest of the population?
Google “FDR” and “Japanese internment” and ask yourself: “Is the good of the hive always right?”
I’m looking forward to a robust discussion. Email me at email@example.com. I’ll publish selected responses.
MESQUITE LOCAL NEWS
So, when will the Mesquite Local News return in print? We’re planning for the last week in May. I’ll keep you posted on our website.
A FEW MORE THINGS …
In the new stay-at-home order, my car is now getting three weeks to the gallon. I’m starting a social network for chickens as a way to make hens meet. The difference between a well-dressed man on a bicycle and poorly dressed man on a unicycle is attire.
Oh my, those were horrible. I apologize. I’ll let myself out.
Be well; avoid soreheads and see you next time around.
Until then, here’s your motivation for another week of house arrest.
(Sherman R. Frederick is a longtime Nevadan and owner of Battle Born Media, a publisher of newspapers in Nevada and Northern California. You may reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)