Some say “it could never happen here. We have a Constitution that protects us.” But panics such as we are witnessing right now over a pandemic have the power to unleash unchecked government power. Lest we forget, it was major events and panics that created such people as Hitler, Mussolini, Mao, and Stalin as stains on human history.
Already, state and local governments across America are using the pandemic coupled with the media’s panicked complicity to slowly eat into your Constitutional rights. For example, the right to assemble has been greatly scaled back in every state as many have enacted no gatherings greater than ten people. In Governor Abbot’s declaration in Texas, thankfully he realized that although infringing on the right of assembly, another part of the First Amendment involves religion and he left them out of the state’s emergency order. Of course, many churches were ahead of the game with online services, or seating arrangements that guaranteed the health of parishioners.
Meetings greater than 10 have been banned across the country. You ever wonder what happened to those Hong Kong protesters waving American flags and demanding freedom? You will not see too many Yellow Vest protesters on the streets of France these days. Nor will you see people standing with placards outside the White House protesting any number of things. In fact, the only “free speech” you see these days are the lies spouted by the press, but then again, that’s freedom of the press, not speech. Ironically, that press freedom allows the media to suggest that the speech of the President be silenced, restricted, or left to the “medical experts.”
Quite chilling is how this panic has affected Second Amendment rights. In Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania, people have been denied their Second Amendment rights as the government has ceased issuing gun permits. Gun owners have been warned that carrying a gun for their own safety will end up in arrest and confiscation of their firearms. The attack on the Second Amendment has run the gamut of ideas. Some have furloughed their background check personnel which delays gun sales indefinitely. Some have claimed that their emergency powers grant them the right to ban gun sales altogether. In California, local liberal leaders have determined that gun stores meet the definition of “non-essential.”
This is occurring, ironically, as local jails and prisons are releasing convicted criminals back into the general population. On March 17, officials in New York suggested the immediate release of many high-risk criminals to prevent the spread of the Wuhan virus even though the virus has yet to be detected on Rikers Island. In Philadelphia, courts are closed until April 1st (at least) to stop the spread. Little reported is the fact that the Philadelphia Police also are not arresting those involved in crimes of theft, drug offenses, or prostitution. Apparently, New York City, Philadelphia and others want to create a mythical Gotham that will eventually need their Batman to clean up the mess they are creating.
According to several reports, the US Department of Justice is asking Congress to allow the Attorney General to suspend court proceedings. This would suspend “any statutes or rules of procedure otherwise affecting pre-arrest, post-arrest, pre-trial, trial, and post-trial procedures in criminal and juvenile proceedings and all civil process and proceedings…” So much for that Constitutional right to a speedy trial. Apparently those well recited Miranda warnings are tossed out in a pandemic. Jeff Charles covered some of this here.
The Left is all big on privacy rights in the Constitution. It is what their penchant for abortion is built upon. But they are eerily silent when it comes to privacy rights and a pandemic. For example, there is nary a sound about efforts by the government to encourage Google and Facebook to share cell phone information on the movement of people all in the name of tracking and tracing a virus. Medical privacy is also on the firing line. In New Jersey and Pennsylvania, officials are trying to balance a patient’s personal privacy against the public’s “right to know” during a pandemic.
Your right to earn a living is actually protected under the Fifth Amendment since you cannot be denied property without due process of law, and the obligation of the government to compensate you for a taking. Yet, that is exactly what is happening across the country with shut-down orders, curfews, or stay-at-home orders. The political and professional class safely in their work-at-home environments fail to see the hardships experienced by working people. That means no compensation, wages, revenues, substitutions, or opportunity. The government’s role should be fostering the “pursuit of happiness,” not the pursuit of binge-watching shows on Amazon Prime.
This writer is quite aware of the measures put in place and the proffered reasons for them. Understanding the need to stress basic standards of hygiene and self-quarantine in some cases is one thing, but need it encompass putting our Constitutional rights in quarantine? Many people do not remember a pre-9/11 world. For the sake of safety and national security, some basic freedoms were voluntarily surrendered in some form or another. The current state of affairs does not bode well for a post-Covid-19 America.
At no time other than the present has anyone suspended civil liberties because of a pandemic, many much worse than the current. And it was not as if our Founders were unaware of pandemics and plagues. Many lived through worse and under worse conditions.
Hopefully, in a post-Wuhan virus America, we will not resort to some version of George Orwell’s 1984 using a pandemic as an excuse. To prevent a 1984, look to 1776 upon which the events of 1787 are based. Otherwise, the events of 1787 will have been for naught.