“Liberty or Death” Ideology is Dangerous

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.

Daily Life In New York City Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

The Statue of Liberty is seen behind refrigeration trucks that function as temporary morgues in Brooklyn.

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.

“Today, we’re on a razor’s edge between liberty and tyranny,” Knight said. “Fear isn’t the only thing that’s contagious, though. Courage is contagious. Be courageous. Defend the Constitution. The time is now that we the people take back the power and restore Virginia to her rightful place as a bastion of liberty.”
What utter nonsense.
There is so much bizarre foolishness there it’s hard to know where to begin deconstructing it, so let’s move on and come back to it. Instead, let’s look at what one of the Bedford County supervisors said in response. Quoting from the account by reporters Sarah Honosky and Shannon Kelly:

“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.

The supervisor is not a judge and the Bedford County Board of Supervisors is not a court. Actual judges in actual courts have instead generally upheld the type of restrictions on crowd sizes that Northam has imposed.
Knight goes on about how fear and courage are contagious. You know what else is contagious? Ideally by now you do. Knight prattles on about “tyranny” with no apparent understanding of what real tyranny actually is — or what a real contagion is. He seems to be arguing for the freedom to jam as many people together as he sees fit without any regard for the consequences — consequences that would impact some of the constituents he hopes to have. Apparently his “liberty” is more important than their lives. That self-centeredness is a useful thing for voters to know. Especially the families and friends of the 19 people in Bedford who have already died from the virus.
A few facts that apparently never made it before the Bedford Board of Supervisors: The county’s infection rate isn’t simply one of the highest in the state — it’s one of the highest in the world. If Bedford were its own nation — something that the nullifiers apparently wish it were — the county would be on a par with Colombia and Oman. No offense to Colombia and Oman, but that’s not exactly the company we ought to be keeping when it comes to measuring public health scores.

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.

“No shutdown” advocates likely say they’re being good conservatives. They’re not. Virginia’s rules — imposed by a left-of-center governor — are actually less restrictive than those in Australia and Great Britain, both countries run by proudly conservative prime ministers. (And Australia’s virus rates are far lower than ours). Conservatives can generally be counted upon to be in favor of a strong national defense. Here, the enemy is already among us and some want to do the very things that will further facilitate its spread. That’s not conservatism. That’s offering aid and comfort to the enemy.

Categories: CIVIL RIGHTS, coronavirus, EDUCATION, FREE SPEECH, gun control, Health Care, Issues, Local, National, pandemic, police, politics, RULE OF LAW

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