Editors’ Note: Excerpted from the Roanoke Times, December 1, 2020.
Kingsport, Tennessee, is an hour’s drive, about 50 miles, from Wise, Virginia. Kingsport is the site of Ballad Hospital, which acquired a refrigerated truck as a temporary morgue to house COVID-19 fatalities. Current data demonstrate that the infection rate of the virus is one American every 3 seconds. Every 29 seconds the virus produces a death. Several Virginia counties have voted, in response to deeply held feelings, to ban masks, social distancing, and stay-at-home recommendations. Deaths and infections are not feelings – they are facts. Having declared itself by resolution a Second Amendment sanctuary, one county has added the title of First Amendment sanctuary. The resolutions also admonish that no county funds are to be spent executing either gun controls laws or the COVID-19 restrictions. Do those caveats against tax expenditures include no funds for county residents who are infected by the virus? Should VDOT install road signs leading to these jurisdictions, advising “Travel at Your Own Risk: No-Mask Jurisdiction”?
The Roanoke Times editorial makes this point most elegantly. We at VoxFairfax endorse this editorial wholeheartedly, and bemoan the absence of social responsibility that gives rise to these protests. A claim of individual liberty is not absolute. Life or Liberty slogans are just slogans.
Can the government tell you when to shut off your lights?
If it did, would that be considered tyranny?
Heck yes! I have the right to keep my lights on whenever I want! You’ll have to pry the light switch out of my cold, dead hands!
OK, but what if we were at war? During World War II, East Coast cities routinely had blackouts at night to thwart either German submarines lurking off-shore, or, less likely, German bombers. Even Detroit, a city nearly 600 miles inland but home to factories vital to the war effort, had blackouts.
Was that tyranny? Or was that patriotism? Ideally, we can all agree it was the latter, right?
So how can we explain the nearly 100 people who showed up at the Bedford County Board of Supervisors last week to oppose Gov. Ralph Northam’s latest restrictions on crowd sizes as a way to slow the spread of coronavirus? Among them was Isaiah Knight, who is challenging incumbent Kathy Byron for the Republican nomination for the House of Delegates. He brought a “no shutdown” resolution for the board to adopt that, according to The (Lynchburg) News & Advance, called for arresting Virginia state troopers and health officials who enforce the governor’s order.
“District 6 Supervisor Bob Davis raised the topic [Nov. 23], encouraging the ‘nullification’ of what he called an ‘unconstitutional and illegal decree’ from Northam pertaining to crowd size restrictions, saying the mandate violates the First Amendment right of peaceful assembly.”
Really? Really?? Nullification? Are you serious? It’s 2020, and here’s an actual elected official trying to channel the ghost of John Calhoun from the 19th century (as if that worked out so well). The supervisor is free to object to Northam’s restrictions. But they are neither unconstitutional nor illegal, no matter how much Davis may wish they were. By Davis’ logic, fire code restrictions on how many people can fit in a building should be unconstitutional, too. Don’t they violate the right to peaceful assembly? Safety? Don’t talk about public safety! I want the liberty to pack the house!
Northam’s restrictions . . . are neither unconstitutional nor illegal, no matter how much [one] may wish they were. By [this logic, fire code restrictions on how many people can fit in a building should be unconstitutional, too. Don’t they violate the right to peaceful assembly? . . . Actual judges in actual courts have . . . generally upheld the type of restrictions on crowd sizes that Northam has imposed.
Bedford County’s infection rate isn’t simply one of the highest in the state — it’s one of the highest in the world.
For comparison purposes, Canada — a country next door, a country very much like our own — has an infection rate about one-fourth that of the U.S. Why does Canada have one of the lowest infection rates in the world while we have one of the highest? Quite possibly because Canadians have been far more serious about the virus than Americans have been. This absurd protest before the Bedford County Board of Supervisors stands as an example of why we’re so sick.