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Abuse of Authority Front Page Opinions

The Real Chinese Virus: Rising Authoritarianism In A Pandemic World

In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, governments the world over are ramping up social controls and enforcing all kinds of “public safety” laws. Vocal support of the measures is one thing; the state using its monopoly on power to enforce them by any means necessary is another. Although many of us might be staying inside for our own good, personal reasons, effort can still be made to fight oppression and abuse of authority for the real greater good.

The truth is that the real “Chinese Virus” we’re facing right now isn’t the debilitating cough and fever sweeping the globe, but the subsequent massive rise in state sanctioned tyranny.

It starts simple enough – a direct self-isolation violation or someone losing it and going for a swim in the closed off hotel pool. And the response is all the same. Police are called (or were already present) and come in to deal with the rule breakers. At first it’s someone who will hurt others by leaving their home, or losing it due to the nature of this whole debacle and causing a panic to your fellow hotel-sheltered. It could even be some jackass who wants to be out to “catch ’em all” in Pokemon Go “because he has to” and then surprise, he gets arrested. But such is always the start of these tales, and the harsh response that those governing choose to take is then justified under the guise of the ‘greater good’.

It moves on from those cases, and lines continue to be crossed as people are faced with the so-called consequences of their actions. A woman is arrested for sitting on a riverside bench. A couple is fined for being too close while social distancing is in effect. Joggers are arrested. Lives are threatened. Even drones are dispatched to enforce what ought to be simple social activity advisement (something eerily reminiscent of Half Life 2). These occurrences continue to seem less and less absurd, and instead now fall in line with what you might begin to think are actual violations of civil rights. It begs the question: Is the right of association really being enforced?

Who is to say it is wrong for consenting able-bodied adults to associate as they please, fully aware of the risks and consequences? There is, of course, the risk of spreading it to others, but seldom is that risk not being analyzed by those around you anyway. Not to say I personally think people should gather. If it can be helped, they should stay at home and watch Netflix, HBO, or Hulu until the all clear rings out. However, perfectly reasonable interaction with others and the world is hardly an excessive demand from the healthy.

Take, for example, a small distributorship, which will likely see fewer than 10 bodies in the business at any given time of day. As it stands, if such a business wishes to stay open, it would be extremely understandable even if what they provide is something seemingly banal. Hindering people’s ability to move forward only further cripples the nation’s economy. Even if one might not agree with this kind of example, it should at the very least illuminate a discussion that should very well be had about this as legitimate concern.

With word, now, that police are even stopping people with out-of-state license plates, it’s at this point we realize whether we wanted, realized, understood it or not, we’ve been placed under extraordinary authoritative and controlling measures. With good intentions, to be sure, and with what seems to be good reason. However, these restrictions are moving beyond a supposed ‘necessary’ evil to what may very well constitute abuse of authority. Authority is being expanded, not only in America, but abroad, which is quite concerning given the proclivity of such violation citations or arrests being seen in other nations. Even in some states, the problem is rising all the same. We’re hardly special, even if we can at least guarantee that there really can’t be a national quarantine.

“They didn’t come for me” is a phrase so old they wrote a short story based around it for high schoolers to read in Freshman English. It’s easy to look from the sidelines as people are dealt with. However, taking action or saying something are the efforts needed to keep power in check. With traffic violations down (and thus revenue), the police need every reason they can to generate income to make up for it. Diligence will be necessary to counteract increased crackdowns on liberty, for any reason, from the government.

Let’s not become like China.

 

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