In March, Governor Tony Evers instituted a ‘safer at home’ program for all of Wisconsin. It is based on advice coming out of the guidelines issued by the White House Coronavirus Task Force and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Until recently that was pretty non-controversial and Wisconsin is only one of the majority of states that are in this type of lock down. States with both Democratic and Republican governors. And stay at home and social distancing plans have been successfully implemented in other countries. Too bad we haven’t had the success that they’ve had in Germany for instance.
Depending on the polls you look at Wisconsinites support Governor Evers ‘safer at home’ policy from 70 to 85%.
Obviously this program is economically severe for most of the small businesses in the state and hundreds of thousands of employees who are losing their jobs and their healthcare as well. For many in the middle class and lower this will be a disaster period and will take them a long time to catch up financially. But the lives and safety of their families, friends, and communities were paramount.
Well then the governor extended the program’s end date from April 24th to May 26th, and the wheels seemed to come off. A program that has been accepted as legally and Constitutionally sound has now become an illegal intrusion into peoples’ lives and businesses.
In comments on another thread, Nemo has pointed out, people feel that the right to assemble is being violated. But all of our rights are limited. Even the rights to assemble. And a rule of thumb has been your right ends when it infringes on the rights of others. And there is obviously a right to safety for the community here…one that is certainly at risk if the right of assembly were left wide open. I wish that weren’t true, but no one should have to fear for their very life because someone else needed to socialize in a large group.
So did the protesters who assembled along Bluemound Road in Brookfield last week have a right to freedom of assembly? Well, yes and no. In general, that would be true except there is a state of emergency in Wisconsin which rules against that. So in this case…no they didn’t.
Now if you said that they were practicing ‘civil disobedience’ to protest a law or rule that they object to…that would make more sense to me and I would understand that. We have along history of civil disobedience in this country. But there is a flip side to that coin. You have to accept that you are in fact being civilly disobedient and accept being arrested or fined or paying some type of civil penalty. From what I’ve seen and read, I don’t think that is the prevalent mindset. The link Nemo provided, people are being arrested for violating the ‘safer at home’ orders as they should be. Fortunately for the protesters in Brookfield, all the police did there was remind them to stay on the sidewalk…they could have ticketed them or arrested them instead.
People need to take this seriously. This is a literal life and death situation that we face. And not just the life and death of the protesters directly but quite possibly those they don’t even know but may meet in their daily lives and that they transmit the disease to. Not every carrier has symptoms which is what makes this disease so difficult to corral.
More recently Governor Evers released his ‘Badger Bounce Back Plan’, that is once again based on guidelines out of the White House and uses medical and scientific milestones rather than a random calendar date to start opening the state again.
The faster that we can start to reach those metrics the faster we can open the joint. But until then we need to follow the directives and keep everyone safe and healthy. There is still the rule of law involved here (until see below).
This Friday will see another round of protests in Madison. We’ll see how those go.
And Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald have filed their case against the governors emergency rules with the Wisconsin Supreme Court. We’ll see what passes muster there as well.
And one last reply to Robert Dohnal’s comment on my previous post. He suggested that the protesters in Brookfield could be compared to the patriots at Yorktown and the GIs at D-Day. Bullshit. That is a totally belittling of their efforts on our behalf. Those patriots knowingly put their lives in harm’s way to protect their family and nation. The didn’t put those same people at risk by their actions. The protesters in Brookfield, and those in Madison on Friday, are putting their families, friends, neighbors, and communities at risk for their own selfish reasons. If you want to compare them to a Revolutionary War historical figure, might I suggest Benedict Arnold?
One last thought…this is how safe it is out there: