Something Has Got to Give: Law, Liberty, and Coronavirus

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Em Carpenter

Em was one of those argumentative children who was sarcastically encouraged to become a lawyer, so she did. She is a proud life-long West Virginian, and, paradoxically, a liberal. In addition to writing about society, politics and culture, she enjoys cooking, podcasts, reading, and pretending to be a runner. She will correct your grammar. You can find her on Twitter.

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130 Responses

  1. Avatar Al
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    says:

    When this subsides, we as a nation, and in the individual states, need to have a thoughtful discussion centered on disaster preparation and what should be the appropriate scope of the curtailment of civil liberties in future events.Report

    • Avatar Philip H
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      says:

      a thoughtful discussion? Did we have that after 9/11? Or Katrina?

      Of course not. We aren’t a thoughtful nation. on a good day we are reactionary, and this isn’t necessarily a good day.Report

  2. Avatar Kristin Devine
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    says:

    This is a wonderful piece, and you said what is in my heart too. Thank you for writing it.Report

  3. Avatar Aaron David
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    says:

    Well, now I don’t know what to do this AM. I was going to write a similar piece, but you have said it very nicely.

    Somewhere we became a nation of scolds. And the idea of social-distancing to flaten the curve went seriously sideways when it became shelter-in-place:

    “Colorado man handcuffed for playing T-ball with daughter in empty park”

    “Young Girl Plays Basketball Alone, City Takes Hoop As Part Of ‘Social Distancing’”

    “Gov hits reverse: No motorized boats allowed under stay-home order”

    That last headline is another one refering to actions taken by that Feckless Cant (to paraphrase Samanta Bee) Michigan governer, who also banned people travelling to summer homes, homes that are in less congested areas and doing it by being in small groups in self-contained cars. Petty tyrany has become the order of the day for many of the governers, and the fruits of bureaucratic morass can be seen at every turn.

    Anger and disgust are my new Easter colors. And by the way, were is the ACLU in all of this?Report

    • Avatar InMD
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      says:

      And by the way, were is the ACLU in all of this?

      They’re into social justice these days, not civil liberties that might at some point be exercised by the wrong people.Report

      • Avatar greginak
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        says:

        Well they are still still defending and fighting for people on death row, police surveillance, immigrants, prisoners and stuff like that.Report

        • Avatar InMD
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          says:

          They still do some good but there’s plenty of evidence out there that they’re picking and choosing cases based on the sensibilities of their donor base and new lawyers indoctrinated in intersectionality. There are certain fights over principle, especially post Charlottesville, they can’t be expected to take up.Report

    • Avatar Pinky
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      says:

      (I forgot to put on my glasses. I was staring at that “Colored man handcuffed…” headline for a full minute trying to process it.)Report

    • Avatar DavidTC
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      says:

      who also banned people travelling to summer homes, homes that are in less congested areas and doing it by being in small groups in self-contained cars.

      Um…restricting people from _randomly moving to new communities_ is a pretty important way to keep the spread under control.

      There’s actually been several reports of groups of rich people descending small vacation communities, which don’t expect them this time of year, and they’re assuming there’s no virus there…and, of course, one of them brought it with them, and now everyone’s sick, and those communities have very small medical facilities.

      Like, maybe before people complain about a specific restriction, they should actually go check if there’s a reason for it? And restricting travel is pretty obviously a good reason…the only reason we haven’t restricted it more is that it pretty hard to define where people are ‘supposed’ to be to start with, so it’s hard to know when they aren’t. But saying ‘Do not visit your summer home’ is objective enough to enforce.Report

      • Avatar Kristin Devine
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        says:

        Because there’s always a reason for it, that’s the problem. There’s always an emergency, a foe, a crisis, that must be dealt with by violating civil liberties. That’s why it has to be sacrosanct that civil liberties aren’t violated except under very tight strictures, because when the rubber hits the road, it will always make sense to violate them to a whole lot of people in that moment.

        And I say this as someone who is the recipient of rich outsiders bringing the virus to their backyard.Report

      • Avatar Dark Matter
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        says:

        My summer home is like 10 miles away from my winter home. We go there in the daytime and still sleep at “home”.

        My general impression is the governor is virtue signalling on the subject of equality. Her AG tweeted something to the effect of not listening to rich white people while poor blacks are dying. So whites are confined to one house just like blacks are.

        The governor is angling for Biden’s VP spot. That also explains her firing up a pissing match with Trump a few weeks ago and so forth.Report

        • Avatar DavidTC
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          says:

          My summer home is like 10 miles away from my winter home. We go there in the daytime and still sleep at “home”.

          I…don’t know what you think a summer home is, but normally summers homes are in a climate that is at least _slightly_ different. That’s part of the premise of being a summer home, it’s somewhere that has a better climate in the summer than your normal place.

          However…no, you wouldn’t be able to do that in Michigan, because you weren’t allowed to travel between residences.

          And _you shouldn’t have been_. It serves literally no purpose besides upping the spread of disease, and…you may argue that it’s the exact same people at both places (Which the state has no way to check)…but…even if so, you’ve got to buy gas, and stock up the other home, etc, etc.Report

  4. fillyjonk fillyjonk
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    says:

    The idea that lottery tickets are still considered “essential” and seeds to grow a garden are not tells you where the priorities of the state government are. (Okay, maybe the argument was, like beer and weed, there are people addicted to gambling who might get violent if deprived? I don’t even know. But I think it’s probably “hey a revenue stream” instead)

    The cynical and paranoid side of me is wondering if, like with the whole mask advice, they’ll decide “Hey everyone with a plot of land should be growing a garden to take some of the pressure off of farmers” at a time when (a) no viable seeds can be obtained and (b) it’s too late in most locations to even plant a garden.

    I haven’t been able to get much fresh fruit and vegetables with only going shopping once every 10 days and having to prioritize stuff that “keeps” and I can tell you, my digestion is….reacting to the change. (Without going all TMI). Even frozen is difficult to get now.

    I also wonder what’s gonna happen in a few months if people cannot purchase clothes for their growing kids? I suppose they go online for that, but with the rumored “failure” of the USPS….this could shape up to be a clusterfish of the first order.Report

    • Avatar Philip H
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      says:

      in most states “essential” items seem to take one of two tracks – things rich white people want and things sold by large corporations. Seeds are, by both those rubrics – a threat to agro business.

      Our initial list of essential businesses in MIssissippi were drawn up by the state chamber of commerce. That’s not a group known for looking out for a wide swath of societal interests.Report

  5. Avatar Rufus F.
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    says:

    I wonder if they’re banning the sale of seeds as some sort of protectionist measure now that everyone and their brother wants to grow their own food all of a sudden.Report

  6. Avatar gabriel conroy
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    says:

    There are tow points on which I differ from this piece. The first is when it says that what’s going on is “not American.” We have had plenty of scares and intrusions (justified and not) on our civil liberties in our 200+ years of history. It’s also “American” in that the state and local governments are playing a big role in how this shakes out. (Even in the Civil War, WWI, and WWII, which were “federal” projects, state and local governments played a pretty big role in managing things.)

    The second point: any widespread anti-pandemic campaign is going to overshoot or undershoot. It’s never going to hit the sweet spot where, for example, we’re allowed to buy seeds but not allowed to buy weather vanes, etc. (I’m not sure I’m really differing with the OP on this point. It seems that Em recognizes it. But I just wanted to highlight it.)

    Those points aside, I mostly agree with the sentiment and fears expressed. I do worry about what will happen a month, three months, three years from now. These types of regulation, I fear, can be sticky, even after the immediate threat is over. I fear there may arise a “health security state” in the same way we once saw (and still see) the “national security state.”Report

    • Avatar Chip Daniels
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      says:

      I too, used to use that phrasing- “This is not America”- until it was pointed out to me that for all of our history, for a very large number of people, “This” whatever it was, was in fact America.

      The way I experience America is one thing, but it’s entirely different than the way other people experience America.

      Just like, for every example of a seed restriction, we an point to counter-examples of beaches crowded with Spring Break partiers, or Easter services at churches.

      All these things are America, and like you say, America is both over and undershooting the response.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq
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      says:

      I’m in agreement. The federal, state, and local governments have heavily interfered with American life during times of war and disease in the past. This only feels different and un-American because very few people have living memory of those times. The people alive during World War II were too young at the time to really have a firm idea of the rationing, etc. Since everybody forgot the drill and most of the decades pass World War II were times of plenty, people find themselves saying that this is un-American.Report

      • Avatar CJColucci
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        says:

        There are a few people still around who were alive during the 1918 flu epidemic, but they were too young to remember it then and are too old to remember it now.Report

  7. Avatar Oscar Gordon
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    says:

    If my neighborhood FB group is any indication, the majority is A-OK with whatever restrictions the government & their chosen experts decide is necessary to protect us from whatever crisis is at hand.

    Because of course I life in an affluent neighborhood where no one truly wants for anything.

    This is why I have little faith we will ever have meaningful police reform.Report

    • Avatar Aaron David
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      says:

      Someone mentioned that this is just a snow day for the chattering class, and once those dollars start to be threatend, and only then, will this be put behind us.Report

  8. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    Here’s my kinda stupid question: was a law passed?

    Like, how can you make Kroger’s stop selling seeds? Does an executive order have that ability?

    I can understand executive orders telling stuff under the executive branch to do/not do things… but shouldn’t you have to, you know, pass a law saying “don’t sell seeds” if you want to ban Kroger’s from selling seeds?Report

    • Avatar InMD
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      says:

      The unfortunate answer is that they can until some other branch of government with requisite authority decides they can’t. And don’t hold your breath for that.Report

      • Avatar Aaron David
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        says:

        Again I ask: where is the ACLU?Report

        • Avatar Pinky
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          says:

          It’s going to take a few years for all this to pass through the courts. And even then, some of the decisions won’t be what you, I, or the Founders would have called “constitutional”. And some of the rulings will be so general or so narrow that they won’t apply to the next big crisis. But it’ll be more coherent. I’m actually more concerned with legislative overreaction. Congress or state houses could write things that would cripple us next time.Report

      • Avatar gabriel conroy
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        says:

        Another answer is that elements of this, when enforced, will create test cases that in a few years’ time will eventually wend their way into SCOTUS, and we’ll get piecemeal answers precedents that will only set the goal posts for the next executive to claim he/she is acting legally.Report

        • Avatar InMD
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          says:

          Exactly right and it’s why we have to think bigger about where our priorities are as a polity. Oscar mentioned the policing issue for example. Part of the problem is that people (in general, not talking about anyone here) are always expecting some watershed SCOTUS decision where everything is just made right. It’s never going to happen that way and there are some actually decently compelling reasons that it can’t and probably shouldn’t.

          The only plausible path involves a lot of hard political and cultural work at lower levels of government. This includes making the case for a stronger civil infrastructure which in itself might make knee-jerk executive action harder to justify.Report

          • Avatar Aaron David
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            says:

            And this is why I keep knee-jerking about the ACLU. I know very well what you said, that they have falling into the pit of Social Justice and all its zero-sum fallacies, but someone needs to step into the void that they left behind. The Michigan governers office needs to be slapped with a suit posthast, Colorado police need this, along with the mayor of Louisville and all the other groups pushing way past what is constituionally acceptable (and I really don’t care about anything else when it comes to law at this level.) And even if they lose in court, the parameters need to be set.

            Otherwise totalitarianism wins. And we can’t have more PATRIOT act BS.Report

    • Avatar gabriel conroy
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      says:

      I don’t know the answer, not even for the state I reside in. But I suspect it depends on the state or locality. It also might depend on the concept of “police powers [assumed to be] reserved to state an local governments.”

      Not being a legal scholar and, evidently, not having done much research into the matter, I suspect we’ll find that there are customary rules/laws/doctrines that permit these orders and sometimes statutes that permit these orders. I suspect we’ll find some of them permit the executive to do so on their own initiative, and others don’t.

      A correlative issue might be enforcement. My memory is suspect, but when the governor of Sangamon issued his shelter in place order, he claimed at a press conference that police could arrest people only after attaining a cease and desist order from a judge. (He may not have limited that claim to arrests….he might have also said fines, too, required such an order.)

      (None of that addresses the issue of whether the executive can ban sales of seeds.)

      In other words….I don’t know answer to your questions, but they’re good questions.Report

    • Avatar PD Shaw
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      says:

      A law was probably passed. States have police powers and the legislatures have long passed laws stating who exercises these powers (i.e., governor, state and local public health departments, and/or local units of government), what the range of powers may include, how long these powers may be exercised, and in some cases what kind of judicial review is available.

      There is probably not a law saying in a state of emergency, seeds shall not be sold, but there probably is a law that states that the Governor has authority to regulate the use of buildings and roads as he sees fit.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq
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      says:

      There isn’t a need to pass a law because the Supreme Court long recognized that the federal, states, and long governments have quarantine powers without question. The quarantine power was recognized by the same Supreme Court that struck down a lot of progressive legislation during the early 20th century. If you go the CDC website, you will find that they base their quarantine powers in the Commerce Clause of the United States constitution. Essentially, no law needs to be based because quarantine powers belong to the government.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird
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        says:

        The Supreme Court found this? Do you have a case you can cite?

        (The Commerce Clause. Of course. General Welfare!)Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq
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          says:

          Jacobson vs. the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird
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            says:

            Okay, let’s look at the case… hrm. It’s dealing with vaccinations (you’d think it’d be used to deal with the antivaxers)…

            While I can easily see how

            More broadly, Harlan ruled that Massachusetts was justified in mandating vaccination: “there are manifold restraints to which each person is necessarily subject for the common good”. While Harlan supported such restraints, he also warned that if the state targeted specific individuals or populations to unnecessary restrictions, the court might have to step in to protect them.

            Could be used to defend a quarantine, I’m also seeing significant differences between a vaccine and house arrest.Report

          • Avatar PD Shaw
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            says:

            We may be talking about different things, but that case specifically addresses the constitutionality of a statute: “The Revised Laws of that commonwealth, chap. 75, 137, provide that ‘the board of health of a city or town, if, in its opinion, it is necessary for the public health or safety, shall require and enforce the vaccination and revaccination of all the inhabitants thereof, and shall provide them with the means of free vaccination. Whoever, being over twenty-one years of age and not under guardianship, refuses or neglects to comply with such requirement shall forfeit $5.'”

            From my point of view, a law was passed. At least one of the laws the Governor of Michigan appears to be executing is Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945 (pdf)Report

          • Avatar DavidTC
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            says:

            I’m not sure that’s it. Forcing a vaccine on someone is different than quarantine powers…admitted, it’s _more_, so the idea that government has the forced-vaccine powers and not quarantine powers is somewhat dubious…but it’s not the same thing.

            From what I understand, government have a nearly-unlimited magical quarantine power, that isn’t spelled out in the Constitution. It’s like how there is no right listed to Habeus Corpus (Just that it mysteriously ‘can’t be denied’ except under certain circumstances.)…it’s something that was considered so fundamental to law that it actually wasn’t written down. The last English pandemic was in 1666, aka, about a hundred and ten years before the founding of the US.

            Like a lot of powers weren’t listed, in fact. I mean, the entire reason the US constitution has all sorts of rules about imprisoning people for criminal violation isn’t to give it that power…the government was _assumed_ to have that power. The founders wanted to lay out very specific rules for when and how that _existing_ power could be used. Where the executive couldn’t just declare people guilty and lock them up.

            But they didn’t lay out any rules for quarantine, despite also assuming the government has that power. Mostly because the quarantine power has never really been misused, at least not that I can think of. I’m sure it has, but…apparently any examples were not enough to convince them to restrict it.

            Individual involuntary commitment has been misused, but that’s a different power. (And they didn’t lay out any rules for that either, although maybe they should have.)Report

    • Avatar Kristin Devine
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      says:

      I said it on Twitter and I was only barely joking, but the anybody tells me I can’t buy seeds the five finger discount as act of civil disobedience will start to occur.

      I have a very strong suspicion this is a side effect of having massive corporations in charge of everything. Ma and Pa’s General Store would still happily sell you seeds in a 1918 quarantine, with a wink and a smile, in 2020 Krogercorp wouldn’t dare run afoul of their buds in the government.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird
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        says:

        If I had the confidence that this would get people to agree that there are bounds to what the government could do, I suppose I’d be happier.

        I, instead, suspect that this will be seen as a reason to give the government even more power.Report

        • Avatar InMD
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          says:

          It probably will, but this is where I think some of that determined cultural and political work comes in. I mean, why, fundamentally is this happening? There’s no evidence that our supply chains are at a breaking point yet. It’s happening because too many people live paycheck to paycheck and are looking to hedge against disaster or a cheap way to supplement resources.

          If the above wasn’t the case we probably wouldn’t have the gatherings used to justify the crackdown. At the very least closing this type of retail wouldn’t seem nearly as threatening as garden centers would be what they are most of the time, hobby shops.

          Now whether we can ever get to a place politically where we can think long term is of course an open question but I think it’s a much more realistic avenue than, say, hoping for the courts to step in.Report

  9. Avatar Chip Daniels
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    says:

    I’m not terribly upset over a stupid restriction on selling seeds, but Em’s larger point is valid, that in times of crisis authoritarians see an excuse to grab power.

    I remember the same conversations after 9-11 and the Patriot Act, where our protests were always drowned out with cries of fear and suspicion.

    I would use the same argument now I used then, Franklin’s adage of exchanging freedom for security, but I’ve come to a different sort of understanding of that now.

    The cure for citizen docility in obeying an authoritarian is usually assumed to be a spirit of defiant independence- essentially declaring “You’re Not The Boss Of Me!”

    But that protest- “You’re Not The Boss Of Me!”- is itself an expression rooted in fear and suspicion. It sounds childish because it is used by children who are powerless.

    Fear and suspicion are weaknesses used by authoritarians to seize power. Because authoritarian regimes don’t oppress everyone; They normally only oppress some hated outgroup within the nation, and rely on fear and suspicion of outside forces to keep the outgroup from forming bonds of solidarity with others.

    In an environment of trust and camaraderie a foolish regulation or overreach can easily be cured, but not in an environment of fear and alienation.Report

  10. Avatar Saul Degraw
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    says:

    There are lots of issues going on:

    1. The big one is that almost everyone in the the “Western” hemisphere has no knowledge of living in a pandemic of an infectious disease. We think of pandemics/outbreaks belonging in Africa for diseases like Ebola.

    2. As LeeEsq has pointed out numerous times, the quarantine power is one of the most traditional police powers given to the government. The Supreme Court has at numerous times ruled that the quarantine power belongs to all levels of government from a town/county to the Feds.

    3. For every action where someone claims that someone is being absurd for labeling something non-essential (like the gardening center), there is going to be someone who abuses the privilege and tries to argue that they are essential when they are not. The example that comes to mind is Hobby Lobby and as far as I can tell, the companies employees did not like being told they were essential and to come to work. It looks like they finally stopped resisting this week though.

    4. Americans are generally distrustful and also seemingly incapable of the methods needed to keep government and the economy up and running. This includes wide-spread and tackable contact tracing (possibly through cell phones which 25 percent of the country lacks) and testing tens of millions of people a day. Ezra Klein was good on the implausibility of plans from AEI, CAP, Harvard, and noble-winning economist Paul Romer: https://www.vox.com/2020/4/10/21215494/coronavirus-plans-social-distancing-economy-recession-depression-unemployment

    “The CAP and Harvard plans both foresee a digital pandemic surveillance state in which virtually every American downloads an app to their phone that geotracks their movements, so if they come into contact with anyone who later is found to have Covid-19, they can be alerted and a period of social quarantine can begin. Similarly, people would scan QR codes when boarding mass transit or entering other high-risk public areas. And GPS tracking could be used to enforce quarantine on those who test positive with the disease, as is being done in Taiwan.

    To state the obvious: The technological and political obstacles are massive. While similar efforts have borne fruit in Singapore and South Korea, the US is a very different country, with a more mistrustful, individualistic culture. Already, polling shows that 70 percent of Republicans, and 46 percent of Democrats, strongly oppose using cellphone data to enforce quarantine orders….

    I’m not here to say that this, or anything else, is impossible. But it is light-years beyond the kind of political leadership and public-private coordination we’ve seen thus far. Who is going to spearhead the effort? President Donald Trump? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi? Bill Gates? Who is trusted enough, in this country in this moment, to shape this? And even if they could pass it, can we build it, and do so quickly? Force adherence to it, and quickly? Are we really going to deny tests to anyone who refuses to download the surveillance app? And what about communities with less digital savvy?

    The alternative to mass surveillance is mass testing. Romer’s proposal is to deploy testing on a scale no one else is contemplating — 22 million tests per day — so that the entire country is being tested every 14 days, and anyone who tests positive can be quickly quarantined. He shows, in a series of useful simulations, that even if the test has a high false-negative rate, the retesting is sufficient to keep the virus contained, and thus the country can return to normalcy rapidly. Of the various plans, this one seems likeliest to permit a true and rapid economic recovery.”

    Of course we are currently finding it really hard to test hundreds of people a day, getting to 22 million a day is quixotic.

    5. This might be a situation where the solutions are really horrible. We are crash the economy by lockdown and semi-draconian to very draconian measures to contain COVID or w can crash the economy by unleashing a pandemic that overwhelms the healthcare system. From what I’ve read and heard even mild cases of COVID (which don’t require ventilators) leave people essentially bedridden for two weeks (people seem to get improve or decline around Day 9 or 10).

    All this being said the economy/society will eventually need to reopen and proudly relatively sooner rather than later. Restaurants cannot survive on take-out alone. People will run out of entertainment options and begin going batty. People will miss their friends, relatives, and lovers and resolve will eventually break. People will not want to cut checks for tens of thousands of dollars just for on-line learning at college. Parents will want kids out of the house and back in school, etc.

    The question is when and how. The original stay in place was supposed to end last Monday or Tuesday for California. The new ending date is May 3, 2020. I can see it getting continued for another month. Maybe another 6 weeks but after that the social pressure will be too much. Courts will need to reopen again for cases and disputes. Small business owners will clamor that they need to reopen or lose everything. If the government seems unresponsive, I suspect you will see small business owners reopen and say that the fine is not as bad as the closure.

    Baseball apparently has a semi-plan to have all the times play in empty stadiums in Arizona. This strikes me as a plan born of desperation and a worry/knowledge that lockdown can continue through the summer.

    The other unknown is how the waves will work. Public health officials are expecting a second wave in cold weather. No one wants to relax restrictions and then need to clamp down again. So if and when things reopen again, I suspect that there will be restrictions on how many people can be in barbershop at one time. This will lead to more lines.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq
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      says:

      Covid-19 seems much more politicized than previous pandemics. I’m not sure that anybody was going out during 1918’s influenza pandemic to owe the libs. It’s also why we have social distancing die hards that believe we can and will maintain social distancing for twelve to eighteen months. I’m really shocked that nobody is thinking about morale or practicality on the public health side. Raise these concerns and you get dismissed.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw
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        says:

        Both parties were white people parties back then. Female suffrage was also new.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird
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          says:

          The “homogenous societies have more trust/collaboration in practice” arguments show up in the weirdest places.

          (I think that they’re officially okay to make if you phrase it sneeringly.)Report

        • Avatar George Turner
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          says:

          Woodrow Wilson et. al suppressed public knowledge of the 1918 flu, and he waited six months before mentioning it even existed. They actually told newspapers not to report on it because it would reduce turnout at political rallies, even as they were digging mass graves.Report

          • Avatar DavidTC
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            says:

            Yeah. The entire _reason_ it’s called the ‘Spanish flu’ is that American newspaper clamped down on news about it…and Spanish ones didn’t, so all the coverage was of this deadly new disease ravaging Spain…while it was ravaging the US worse. In reality, it actually seems to have started in America. Haskell County, Kansas, probably. (I bet they don’t have a plaque up.)

            Which, uh…sorta shows the true colors of people trying to call COVID-19 the ‘Wuhan flu’ or ‘Chinese flu’. Somehow accuracy doesn’t matter when it would be the US in the name.

            The funniest justification of this is people going ‘Oh, calling it the Chinese flu is racist, but it’s not racist to call the Spanish flu by its name’. Well…yeah, it sorta was racist, or at least xenophobic, and deliberately misleading. That kinda was the point of that name. We’re unlikely to rename the Spanish flu _now_, it’s in too many books, although most people now just call it the ‘1918 flu’. But that doesn’t mean we should start calling _other_ things by place names.

            Heck, even ignoring the fact trying to call it that is clearly being motivated by certain animus, the fact is calling it by the name of somewhere else makes people less likely to take it seriously, or put it in the right historic context later. A lot of people still think the Spanish flu was mainly in Spain! (And even dumber people think it mostly affected Spanish speakers, one assumes.)Report

          • Avatar Dark Matter
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            says:

            The “Spanish flu” didn’t start in Spain, lots of other countries had it before. However because of censorism, it looked that way.Report

  11. Avatar LeeEsq
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    says:

    There are many people who seem eager to use Covid-19 to remake society in their image. Sometimes this can be something really trivial. A lot of people are hoping that Covid-!9 ends the terrible form of greeting we call handshaking. I’m kind of surprised by how many people seem to hate it. Others want to use it to remake society and the world in drastic ways. Authoritarian regimes around the world are using this to increase their power. Hungary is the most notable example of this. Orban basically got full dictatorial powers from Hungary’s Parliament. The European Union is allowing this. The travel restrictions put in response to Covid-19 might last a lot longer than necessary. Same with the immigration restrictions. Republicans see this as a great opportunity to destroy the USPS and consolidate their power.

    There are also liberals and leftists that believe we can use Covid-19 to end free market capitalism or whatever else they hate about current politics and society. I’m wondering if liberal cities and states will keep up the restrictions on large scale public gatherings a lot longer than expected simply because they can. The Left doesn’t seem to really understand that the Far Right is in much better position to take advantage of Covid-19 than they are.Report

  12. Avatar Michael Cain
    Ignored
    says:

    Not too long ago I took a homeland security class while getting my Public Policy MA. The students were all 20-somethings, except for two of us old farts. The two of us still had one foot stuck in the 60s, I guess, as it was us against all the young people on exchanging civil liberties for promises of security. We were both appalled at how much they were willing to give up.Report

  13. Avatar Ken S
    Ignored
    says:

    Whining about alleged attacks on our liberties is also an American tradition. Let’s be honest. Being mayor or governor is a damned hard job right now; they are required to make decisions that they had no idea they would be making when they accepted the office. The choices won’t all be good ones, but erring on the side of public safety, even in ways that strike us as irrational, is generally the correct choice right now. Interpreting such decisions as “power grabs” is glib. I may be wrong, but I very much doubt that Gretchen Whitmer (to choose my local example) is enjoying her new powers; my guess is that she can’t wait to relinquish them. To assume otherwise without evidence is unhealthy. Franklin’s famous quote about security vs. liberty may be the dumbest thing he ever said.Report

    • Avatar gabriel conroy
      Ignored
      says:

      I tend to agree that framing it as “power grab” is mostly inaccurate, though there will always be exceptions (and I wouldn’t use the word “glib”). I prefer to see it more as, this crisis requires decisions to be made and things will evolve so that power will accumulate in areas that are dangerous for the future.Report

    • Avatar Em Carpenter
      Ignored
      says:

      I didn’t call it a power grab. But I think the examples I gave are nonsensical uses of power.Report

    • Avatar Slade the Leveller
      Ignored
      says:

      A conservative is a liberal who tried to grow vegetables.

      We’re all playing it by ear here, folks.Report

      • Avatar Ken S
        Ignored
        says:

        I’m not sure what the “report” button does, but I hit it when I meant to hit the “reply” button. Sorry.

        “A conservative is a liberal who tried to grow vegetables.”

        That would be persuasive if people who call themselves conservatives applied it consistently. The second sentence of Slade’s comment is on target.Report

    • Avatar InMD
      Ignored
      says:

      It’s a hard job they not only signed up for but fought tooth and nail to get based on self-assessment of their capabilities.

      Some level of incompetence and overreach is probably inevitable but doesn’t mean people need to sit back and excuse it. That so many do is the biggest reason infrastructure built for the crisis of the day never goes away, even after whatever situation justified it has long passed.Report

      • Avatar Ken S
        Ignored
        says:

        Some fought tooth and nail, not all. Don’t assume that government at all levels copies the inanities of the federal model. It is certainly true that “infrastructure built for the crisis of the day never goes away, even after whatever situation justified it has long passed.” I never meant to advocate submission, just perspective.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck
      Ignored
      says:

      What scares me here is how many people are willing to straight-up violate the Constitution based on some superior’s vague say-so.

      It’s not so much that a Governor would order the churches closed, or order house-by-house searches of vehicles with out-of-state license plates; it’s that dudes will roll out with The Full Authority And Heraldry Of The Law and actually do those things.

      Like, people keep pointing at that “reinterpretation” of the Milgram Experiment that supposedly debunks it, but what they don’t seem to get is that one in three people still pushed the button. Maybe you can’t talk someone into pushing the button if they don’t already think they ought to…but lots and lots of people think that they ought to.Report

  14. Avatar DavidTC
    Ignored
    says:

    It’s not as if they are dragging us out of buses if we are not wearing a facemask

    That’s nothing. I’ve heard of them dragging a man off a public bus for not wearing clothes, and at the time, as far as I could tell, there was no health concern at all!

    Huh. That’s apparently a different thing. Certain behaviors and manners of dress have always been required in public, but adding a facemask to them is a horrifically onerous requirement? Hmm. That seems a hard-to-support argument. Why are facemasks so much worse than pants?

    Is your complaint that not everyone has a facemask? Some people might be arrested due to inability to get one? Well, I would argue the police should be required to offer them first if they see without, or even come to people house on request and leave them one. But once we’re at the point of the police _dragging someone off the bus_, they have probably refused to put on a mask, the same way they probably refused to just get off the bus.

    And I say this as someone who trust trust the police not one bit, but…it’s entirely reasonable for the government to add an item of required clothing, especially since they’ve apparently only added it to the bus instead of general. At least _this_ is not targeted at any specific group.

    You know, plenty of places have _outlawed_ wearing face coverings in public except for a few specific circumstances, laws that can infringe on both freedom of speech and freedom of religion. And often seems to intended to target a religious group instead of being for ‘public safety’ like claimed. There are also places that have outlawed ‘baggy pants’, a law that is very clearly aimed at a specific social group that is very linked to race.

    But, hey, a law that says people must cover their nose and mouths with something (literally anything), that’s way too far. Unlike a law that says they have to cover their penis, that’s…some sort of objective ruling handing down from God, I think?

    The simple fact is…all laws about clothing are literally completely random nonsense that we, as society, have sorta communally agreed on, and have changed over time, a _lot_. They actually used to be a lot more prejudice and sexist and everything, women for decades literally were arrested for wearing pants and men for wearing dresses, and, people still try to use clothing laws to attack specific groups.

    This…on the other hand, is an entirely reasonable alteration in the law. It’s trivially easy to follow (The government has published way to fold a t-shirt into these.), it’s _needed_ right now, and it affects everyone equally. There wasn’t some favored group that was already wearing masks, and there wasn’t an unfavored group that hates the idea. There are a few places where the _extremely_ poor might need help with complying, and we should do that, in fact, we should go offer masks to homeless communities right now every without a law. But…wearing a mask is a fairly reasonable alteration in social norms of dress, and the government has always enforced some minimal level of that.

    Also…I have to point out the bus has _other_ rules. Like, my mass transit system, a government agency, forbids ‘Giving commercial handbills or flyers to the operator or passengers of a bus or rail car.’ something that obviously would infringe on the freedom of press if the government did it in general. Same with forbidding _eating_. And of course, the big one ‘Other disorderly conduct. This refers to actions that prevent customers and employees from comfortably using buses, rail cars, or transit facilities for their intended purpose.’ Like, even if there was some objection to the government requiring masks in general…they not only should require them on the buses, but, technically speaking, they probably already did if people not wearing one would make other people uncomfortable.Report

  15. Avatar Slade the Leveller
    Ignored
    says:

    Fortunately, for now, a federal District Court judge has issued an injunction against the Louisville, Kentucky mayor’s plan to prohibit the worship services, finding the mayor’s edict to be “beyond all reason.”

    That injunction is definitely carrying the cross. I wonder how the judge would have ruled if a mosque had been the plaintiff.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling
      Ignored
      says:

      It’s written by a Trump appointee and reads like Judge Judy. Never mind the pandemic; the survivors are doomed too.Report

      • Avatar George Turner
        Ignored
        says:

        The ruling went the way it did because Governor Beshear only applied it to Christians, not other similar mass gatherings, without offering any particular reason why Christian gatherings are more of a threat than the other types.

        It might be personal animus. The preacher who took over Beshear’s grandfather’s church was one of those nuts who decided to keep on holding church services until Beshear made an example of him.Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling
          Ignored
          says:

          Really, it didn’t apply to Jews and Muslims?Report

          • Avatar Em Carpenter
            Ignored
            says:

            Per the norm, George is not being quite accurate. Substitute “religious” for Christian and it would be closer to the truth.
            Here’s how it went:
            Kentucky’s Gov. Beshear issued an EO on March 19th that banned all mass gatherings. All. Mass. Gatherings. This specifically included “faith based events”. That order is here: https://governor.ky.gov/attachments/20200319_Order_Mass-Gatherings.pdf
            Last week, the mayor of Louisville took it upon himself to extend the EO to drive-up church services, which had been announced in advance of the Easter holiday. One of those churches, On Fire, filed for an injunction in federal court. The injunction was granted, because the drive-up prohibition is non-neutral, meaning that it was being applied to religious events and not analogous non-religious events (drive through restaurants A-OK, drive through church forbidden). The injunction order does not say anything about the mayor’s edict not applying to Jews or Muslims. The event that brought the controversy was Easter service, yes, a Christian holiday, but there is no indication anywhere that the prohibition (again, by the mayor of Louisville, NOT Governor Beshear) would not have applied to any other mass gathering of a religious nature.
            Here is the Court’s order.
            https://firstliberty.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/OFCC-v-Fischer-Order-Granting-TRO.pdf
            What Beshear DID do was announce that anyone who attended an in-person (not drive up) religious service over the weekend would be subject to quarantine for 14 days. This was something announced at a press conference on Friday, but no Executive Order as yet exists on the Ky state website to that effect.Report

        • Avatar Em Carpenter
          Ignored
          says:

          Mayor of Louisville, not Governor Beshear.Report

  16. Avatar Chip Daniels
    Ignored
    says:

    A bit off topic, but Anne Laurie over at Balloon Juice has a good discussion of the milk-dumping and why it’s sources are…complicated.
    https://www.balloon-juice.com/2020/04/12/pandemic-trouble-in-the-fields-stockpile/

    The TL;Dr is that the supply chains for retail stores are different than the supply chains for food service operations, and deal in quantities and units which can’t be easily converted to retail size, and the food they deal with (in this case raw unpasteurized milk) is very perishable and can’t just be stored until the supply chain is worked out.

    In short, its not a structural problem, so much as an unprecedented shock to the system which was never built to handle this.Report

  17. Avatar LeeEsq
    Ignored
    says:

    A militant atheist heavy metal fan friend of mine posted this article from Metal Sucks on Face Book: It basically states that health care experts don’t believe that concerts will return until Fall 2021 at earliest.

    https://www.metalsucks.net/2020/04/12/healthcare-expert-says-concerts-wont-return-until-fall-2021-at-the-earliest/

    When I read articles like this, I have to wonder what planet do these healthcare experts live on. I realize that they want to save as many lives as possible but Fall 2021 is a year and half a way at earliest. It could easily be two years. The idea that billions of people are going to put their lives on hold for that long is simply ridiculous. You are going to need a lot of force, maybe even Stalinist levels of dictatorship, in order to get people to comply. Yet, there seems to be people who believe we can and will do that.

    This isn’t just concerts, it is any large scale gathering of people. Theater, movies, conventions, club meetings, dances, bars, restaurants, etc. There is a lot of ask and very little give.Report

    • Avatar Aaron David
      Ignored
      says:

      Well, on the bright side, I just drove past a small concert in a cowboy/college town not one hour ago. It was outside, people were distancing but clearly having a good time. It is Easter, and somethings people just don’t let bother them.

      But, to your greater point, yes, many health care professionals say they want longer periods of social distancing and lockdown than what people are currently planning/hoping for. They are looking at this through one set of lenses, and thus missing the forest for the trees. There are a whole lot of moving parts to a society, and physical health concerns are just one factor. Economic health, mental health, moral health, all play parts in a decision to make sweeping changes and to get people to comply. And as I have said before, you need a lot of destruction to make people respond in a manner an epidemiologist would approve of.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        Total war is the only example of I can think of and even during total war, during conditions when the populace was directly exposed to hostility through bombings, etc., the governing class realized that they to do something to keep up morale. I take Covid-19 very seriously but the inability of healthcare experts to really understand that they aren’t being realistic is frustrating in the extreme.Report

        • Avatar InMD
          Ignored
          says:

          What’s going to force the end of it has nothing to do with morale or public health and everything to do with the millions of people not being paid. I suspect the healthcare people pushing for as much time as they can get with the unstated understanding that absent something like government paying salaries this will not last very long.Report

          • Avatar LeeEsq
            Ignored
            says:

            That too. Most people don’t have jobs that can be done from home, landlords and banks are going to want their rents and mortgages, bills need to be paid, etc. I still think that there are a lot of healthcare experts who really believe in long term shelter in place and a very drawn out reopening rather than a sudden rush because they believe Covid-19 to be that lethal.Report

            • Avatar Philip H
              Ignored
              says:

              probably. and they want their fellow Americans to survive this in the largest number possible.

              They have their work cut out for them.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq
                Ignored
                says:

                Wanting their fellow humans to survive in the largest numbers possible is why I think they are advocating for such drastic or even harsh measures. These aren’t really enforceable beyond two to three months in my opinion, especially without troops everywhere, but that is what they want. Their instinct is to save as many lives as possible.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy
              Ignored
              says:

              “I still think that there are a lot of healthcare experts who really believe in long term shelter in place and a very drawn out reopening rather than a sudden rush because they believe Covid-19 to be that lethal.”

              Sure. And teachers want schools to re-open ASAP because we know how our children are suffering as a result of their closures.

              Every area knows what makes sense for their area. What we need are leaders to find the balance between all that.

              We’ll see if they’re up to that.Report

  18. Avatar superdestroyer
    Ignored
    says:

    Why should Target and Wal-mart get to sell clothes or shoes just because they sell groceries while Kohls cannot because Kohls does not sell groceries.

    Drive by any Wal-Mart and it is obvious that there are too many cars in the parking lot and people are just bored and out shopping instead of trying to purchase enough food and drugs to get by for the week. Also, why is home depot selling flowers? Why are the nurseries open?Report

  19. Avatar Kazzy
    Ignored
    says:

    “You can’t let one person paddle board; if he paddle boards, we’ll all paddle board! It’ll be anarchy! But the optics of the police on the empty beach waiting to ensnare the Spicoli as soon as he came ashore were not good. Not comfortable. Not American.”

    Except.. that’s exactly what happens. And all those paddle boarders need to use beach access points and parking areas that are slightly smaller than the ocean.

    More than anything, what our various responses to the responses to Covid are telling me is that A) We all have different ideas of what is “essential, of what rights we should curtail and which we shouldn’t and B) These are aligned with our priors, just a different set of priors than we are usually accustomed to. This isn’t about left vs right or Dem vs Rep or Lib vs Con… it’s about individualist vs collectivist. Neither side is right or wrong, but where you fall along that spectrum seems to be the biggest determining factor in what new “rules” you find appropriate and which you find villanious.Report

    • Avatar George Turner
      Ignored
      says:

      The paddle boarders might park in the same parking lot, but they’re not all coming and going at the same time. Most probably never encounter another human in the parking lot. If you’ve watched a parking lot at a hiking area or minor state or national park, you’ll notice that people don’t encounter each other. A car pulls in, people get their gear and wander off into the woods. Twenty minutes later another car shows up and the same thing happens, all morning long. Then in the afternoon or evening the flow reverses, with someone walking out of the woods, getting in their car, and driving away.

      All the police need to do is make sure a party doesn’t start in the parking lot, but that would be true of all parking lots.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck
        Ignored
        says:

        Sure, it’s one-at-a-time now. What if everything wasn’t closed?

        Back when this started I observed that most of the shutdowns were for the look of the thing, but that it was still important to get the look right; to make a statement that this is serious, this is for real, this isn’t just Unplanned Second Christmas Break.

        Because if it’s Unplanned Second Christmas Break then everyone treats it like a big party, going over to friends’ apartments to hang out, sending the kids around to each others’ houses for playdates, going to the mall to walk around and goggle at all the closed shops.

        You’re right that selling seeds is not gonna spread the epidemic, but that isn’t the point. The point is to put up a big unmistakable sign in the social center of American Redneck Life that this is fucking real, that you really do have to stay home, that the authorities are taking this seriously and so should you.Report

        • Avatar George Turner
          Ignored
          says:

          Among the many complaints about Michigan’s governor is that residents can’t go to their vacation home in the north unless they first go to someplace like Chicago or New York, in which case it’s perfectly okay. You can’t buy seeds (or you face a $1,000 fine and 90 days in jail) but you can stand in line to buy lottery tickets all day long. Her recall petition already has a quarter million signatures.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird
            Ignored
            says:

            Yeah, it’s the lotto tickets that give the game away.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater
            Ignored
            says:

            Her recall petition already has a quarter million signatures.

            If it’s this petition, it currently has 156,002 virtual signatures, apparently from across the entire country. Being from Michigan doesn’t appear to be a requirement.Report

            • Avatar George Turner
              Ignored
              says:

              There was an earlier petition with 70,000+ signatures, but I think it was about something else she did.

              The Change petition is up to 158,006 signatures, coming in at a rate of about 4,000 per hour.

              The folks list their reasons they want her gone in the comments, which is nice.Report

          • Avatar DavidTC
            Ignored
            says:

            Among the many complaints about Michigan’s governor is that residents can’t go to their vacation home in the north unless they first go to someplace like Chicago or New York, in which case it’s perfectly okay.

            I’m having trouble figuring how that’s a complaint.

            Are they complaining that Michigan doesn’t have control over the behavior of people in the state of New York? Which seems utterly stupid as a complaint.

            Or are they claiming that that people should be able to directly go to their vacation home, in which case they’re idiots. No one should be going to their vacation homes…no one should be switching homes at all.

            The ‘vacation home’ communities sure as hell don’t want them coming:
            https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/25/nyregion/coronavirus-leaving-nyc-vacation-homes.html

            People fleeing to their ‘vacation homes’ have already infected several very small isolated communities with limited medical care. It’s huge rich-people privilege think they can flee from this because They Have Money(TM), and we might have an interesting discussion about the inherit abuse of their power in other circumstances (Why do they get to avoid the risk), except they _aren’t_ avoiding the risk…all they’re doing is risking the lives of other people.

            It doesn’t help that half of them seem to think they should still have staff coming in each day during quarantine.

            We, again, might be having a different conversation if they’d isolate, if they’d take long enough and care to make sure they weren’t infected _before_ moving, especially as many of them were world-travelers who got exposed _initially_, but the rules have _never_ applied to rich people.Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon
              Ignored
              says:

              Cite please. I’ve seen plenty of stories of smaller communities worried that urban dwellers will bring the virus with them, but not a crop of stories suggesting that it’s a widespread problem.Report

            • Avatar George Turner
              Ignored
              says:

              Apparently her rule about not going to vacation homes in Michigan only applies to people who are going there from a home in Michigan. It doesn’t apply to people from Chicago, Brooklyn, Milan, or Wuhan, who can come right in (if not for Trump’s international travel restrictions, in some cases).

              Folks in the petition’s comments are also upset that they can’t do any home repairs, which are illegal now, and it seems they might not be able to either mow their lawn or get their lawn mowed (I’m not sure on the particulars). But they can still buy liquor and Lotto tickets.

              There are also complaints that early on she suppressed knowledge of the outbreak and kept holding political rallies, but I haven’t looked into that. Other than being capricious and power mad, which some feel definitely applies, what she’s done is give herself the task of defining which daily activities are “essential”, and banned everything she deems “non-essential.” Since we all lead different lives, that’s a recipe for disaster. “Everything I do is essential, and everything you do that I don’t do is non-essential.”

              The public is seeing that as a ridiculously bad mistake, since the sensible criteria is “not excessively risky” instead of “essential”. Is buying a seed packet more dangerous than buying a fifth of tequila? Is planting a garden or painting the house more dangerous than standing in line at the grocery store with a hundred other people, taking money handled by a clerk who has already had hundreds of customers? Certainly not.

              She’s trying to tell everyone what to do, like she was micromanaging an intern, and all she’s done in convince almost everyone that she’s an abusive idiot. She’s made the mistake of not fundamentally grasping why certain types of activities need to be curtailed (excessive probability of transmission or a real risk of mass transmission), and instead went out in the weeds thinking that people shouldn’t do anything they don’t absolutely have to do. Those two ideas should not be conflated.

              The virus doesn’t care how essential an activity is because the virus isn’t horribly intelligent. You should be free to wander out in the woods and take humorous wildlife pictures for your Facebook page because the virus isn’t going to get transmitted that way. You should be free to do a whole lot of things that aren’t going to transmit the virus. But she doesn’t see it that way, I suppose because this is a crisis, by gosh, and during a crisis people act panicked and desperate!

              Down that path lies edicts like “There must be no laughing! And no Christmas ornaments!” She’s letting her emotions rule instead of her intellect, is looking at the problem as behavioral instead of technical (the mechanics of certain behaviors are causing problems, as opposed to the motivations behind those behaviors). This leads directly to nonsensical outcomes where planting your yard with empty whisky bottles is perfectly okay, but planting it with tomato seeds will land you in jail for 90-days.

              We don’t need to care why one person wanted tomato seeds and another wanted whisky, we just have to look at the extra risk in making the purchase. Similarly, there’s no logical reason why you should be free to cover your walls with bacon strips but not fresh paint.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                You are being too generous.

                She’s trying to be Biden’s VP. She was selected to give the Democratic response to President Donald Trump’s 2020 State of the Union Address. She is the national co-chairwoman of the Joe Biden 2020 presidential campaign. Michigan is a swing state. Biden is under a lot of pressure to have a woman for VP.

                Make a list of what would look good on Biden’s VP’s resume. Being a hard ass would be there, Biden is running on Mr. Nice Guy (which is traditional for a President). Dealing with the emergency firmly, and with equality would be great.

                She’s virtue signalling and doesn’t care about what happens to Michigan’s economy in 8 months because she’ll be in the White House.

                So lawn care companies need to be shut down even if one guy riding around on a lawn mower seems pretty naturally distant from everyone else. 2nd homes need to be shut down because she can’t care about rich white people complaining while poor blacks are dying (that’s close to a quote from her AG).Report

              • Avatar George Turner
                Ignored
                says:

                If Biden wants to pick the Wicked Witch of the West as his running mate, well, we’ll see how that works out for him.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                And I just found out she issued a order to the school system that any solutions they come up with to deal with the virus must be “equitable”.

                This nicely explains why the school system has been so slow to go online. The educational system is effectively on hold.

                If we can’t do the same thing for everyone then we’ll do nothing.Report

              • Avatar George Turner
                Ignored
                says:

                Captain Whitmer on the Titanic: “We can’t use the lifeboats unless there’s enough for everybody.”Report

              • Avatar Philip H
                Ignored
                says:

                many school systems found a way around this elsewhere by getting cell pone based wifi hotspots donated form businesses and or cell phone providers. Even in rural america this is not a hard technical problem to solve.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                Even in rural america this is not a hard technical problem to solve.

                True. And supposedly starting next Monday the schools will be getting serious about classes again.

                So fixing this only cost my kids (and all other kids who started with internet access) 5 weeks of schooling, but you need to have priorities.Report

  20. Avatar Urusigh
    Ignored
    says:

    It’s really difficult to not get sarcastic right now, but I’m trying. Is a Conservative just a Liberal who got mugged by the government? Maybe. It would be nice to think that at least something good might come out of this pandemic (a new public appreciation of civil liberties and the dangers of government power, maybe a conservative/Libertarian supermajority)…but I doubt it. For every lib who looks at the things Em listed and recoils, there seem to be several others who are saying “China handled it better, our government should be able to do THAT” and full-throatily embracing the big government authoritarianism. National disasters tend to reshuffle the deck politically. It looks to me like this might give us a generation that is less split left-right and more split authoritarian-libertarian. History isn’t particularly encouraging as to how that usually turns out.Report

  21. Avatar Chip Daniels
    Ignored
    says:

    One of the thoughts that has been running through my mind is how oppressive government policies can be a reaction to irresponsible behavior by the citizenry.

    To start with, all laws are largely self-enforcing. Enforcement of laws really only works when the majority wants them to work, and complies voluntarily. Drug laws and speeding limits come to mind as examples.

    When it appears the citizenry is refusing to comply with a law, governments have two choices- change the law or change the behavior.
    Sometimes changing the law is easily done and works out well.
    But sometimes the law is part of the essential service that form the core of what the citizens want government to do.
    Like public health and protection from crime and disorder.

    One of the favorite tactics of revolutionary groups is to create a disturbance, like blowing up a police station or bank, and then pointing to the resulting government oppression to fuel recruitment for the revolutionaries.

    What we’re seeing now is how governments are battling not just a pandemic, but also irrational and irresponsible behavior from people.
    In South Korea, one of the biggest early forces in spreading the virus were religious cults that deliberatly flouted the recommendations of social distancing and self-quarantining.
    https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/02/27/coronavirus-south-korea-cults-conservatives-china/

    In this sense, the deliberate actions of the religious cults were the equivalent of blowing up a bank, a public disorder action which forced the government to either back down, or become more aggressive.

    Not surprisingly, the Korean government chose the latter approach, and is now using anti-terrorism tactics to clamp down on those who are infected and not complying.

    Are all the reactions of various governments appropriate and measured, or hysterical and heavy handed?
    They are sometimes both, since government by its nature is heavy handed and imprecise.

    But the threat to liberty isn’t just from over eager governments, its also from irresponsible citizens.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon
      Ignored
      says:

      If the police were breaking up crowded block parties, or massive beach gatherings, you’d have a point.

      But the police in the US aren’t doing that, they are hitting lone paddle boarders, or a single family in an empty park, or people sitting alone in their cars watching a sunset.

      These are not irresponsible citizens.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels
        Ignored
        says:

        But…we ARE seeing churches defy the social distancing guidelines and deliberately gathering in large groups, provoking ever more restrictive police actions. We ARE seeing businesses trying to circumvent and thwart the goal of social distancing.

        But your point is taken that some of the measures are silly or an unreasonably overreaction.

        But that’s the point, that even in the best of conditions, government responses to disorder are ham fisted and imprecise.

        A free citizenry can tolerate the occasional overzealous policeman, just as a well ordered society can tolerate the occasional hooligan.

        But when hooliganism grows beyond some proportion, there is a tipping point where the government reactions become overly oppressive.Report

        • Avatar Em Carpenter
          Ignored
          says:

          And when overzealous policing grows beyond some proportion, there is a tipping point where the citizens’ response becomes overly rebellious.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon
          Ignored
          says:

          I’ve heard of a couple of churches holding service, and quite a few trying to find ways to keep to the spirit of the order, if not the letter.

          But I have not heard of a large number of instances of the populace violating the orders to not gather en-mass. Ergo, the police response seems less, “We must over-react because irresponsible citizens threaten our efforts to protect”, and whole lot more, “We must over-react so everyone Respects ‘R Authoritah!”.

          So no, your point is still in search of evidence. Police using the crisis as an excuse to go on a raging power trip is not that evidence. The inverse is true, however. In a time of crisis, the police need to be even more even handed, lest we hit the tipping point Em mentions below.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels
            Ignored
            says:

            It’s true that most of the citizenry is being responsible and sensible, just as it’s true that most state and local governments are being even handed and reasonable.

            So we’re really talking about the margins, the mega churches pursuing their cases up to the appellate courts, or government order that is silly, like this one about seeds.

            My point is that the remedy for overreach isn’t hooliganism or “You’re Not The Boss Of Me” tantrums.

            In this case, suppose we all agree that the ban on seeds is wrong; What should our response be?

            Brazen defiance, grabbing seeds and ripping down the tape?

            Or a measured campaign of networking, legal challenges, and political alliance-building?

            I think some Saul Alinsky Rules For Radicals is appropriate here; In that book he counsels that in order to be effective and not spiral into chaos and failure, rebellion needs, ironically, to be tightly disciplined and focused.

            That is to say, the “rebels” need to each have a high degree of obedience and trust in authority and cooperation, exactly the opposite of what the word commonly implies.Report

            • Avatar George Turner
              Ignored
              says:

              Well, in a couple months the seed ban won’t matter because planting season will be over. The population of deplorables will likely become refugees, fleeing to Canada or Illinois to avoid starvation. Article 54 of the Geneva convention covers the intentional destruction or removal of civilian sustenance, such as crops, livestock, agricultural areas, irrigation works, and, I would assume, seeds.

              2. It is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, such as foodstuffs, agricultural areas for the production of foodstuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies and irrigation works, for the specific purpose of denying them for their sustenance value to the civilian population or to the adverse Party, whatever the motive, whether in order to starve out civilians, to cause them to
              move away, or for any other motive.

              So if some teenage rebels blow up a mailbox to start a revolution, the governor might end up on trial in the Hague. ^_^

              Judging by the petition’s comments, I think that would make a lot of people in Michigan very happy.Report

      • Avatar Philip H
        Ignored
        says:

        There’s a pastor in my home town of Baton Rouge who keeps holding church services and has been charged with 6 misdemeanors under the current governor’s stay at home order. He held services on Easter Sunday that will likely in two more charges. He hasn’t been arrested or hauled off, but his town’s police chief has cited him. Interestingly he keeps threatening to sue any police officers who do arrest him, and he’s talking endlessly of suing the Governor.Report

    • Avatar Urusigh
      Ignored
      says:

      “But the threat to liberty isn’t just from over eager governments, its also from irresponsible citizens.”

      More ancient thinkers have said it better, but I think you’ve hit on something like “To survive in a society, man must be somewhat restrained. For society to survive, men must be somewhat restrained. Thus, if a man will not restrain himself, society must forcibly do it for him. Likewise, for society to survive, it must also be restrained. If society will not restrain itself, men within it must forcibly do so”. How different societies handle that tension determines many things.

      There is an inherent opposition between individualism and authoritarianism…but there is also a vicious feedback loop between them when individuals attempt to rely primarily on the highest level of government both to preserve their individual freedoms AND to coerce their fellows in the defense of society. By rejecting the closer, more personal social constraints of family, church, and community as overly restrictive, they necessarily placed the most delicate matters into the clumsy hands of the most indelicate giant that is government by distant strangers. In the same way, government by nature lacks the knowledge, flexibility, and personal connection to be forgiving or mentoring rather than primarily punitive; it is fundamentally ill-suited to developing the character and self-restraint of its citizens. Government is a hammer, not a scalpel, and to those who have only a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

      To quote John Adams: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” I suspect more than a few here will quibble that “moral” and “religious” are not necessarily synonyms (granted), but it’s worth asking then, if the state cannot imbue its citizens with the necessary morals and they themselves reject the moral instruction of the churches, where then do we turn? How do we teach people to behave as they ought, if we ourselves cannot agree on that “ought”? If we do not reach that agreement, do not teach people how they ought behave, what then can we do when they misbehave? We are left with anarchy on one side as “they all did what was right in their own eyes” and society pays the price of irresponsible individualism or tyranny on the other as one few or another are left imposing their morals by force “for the good of all” and individualism is stripped of meaning or consequence beneath authority that assumes all responsibility.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels
        Ignored
        says:

        This is a very good point, that liberal democracy relies on people who are, for the most part, of good will and bound by the informal restrictions of religion and cultural mores.

        Which brings up the point, of what are the forces in our society which can form these bonds?

        Churches and institutions, when they were stronger, created sort of a “herd immunity” of norms and behavior; If 80% of your fellow citizens were members of some sort of religion or social group or clan structure, it created a web of social mores in which hooliganism was unable to reach a critical mass.

        Those institutions are weaker now, and that herd immunity of norms has been greatly reduced.

        From my perspective, what we are seeing play out are three forces, broadly speaking:

        The old guard of society- the traditional churches and institutions which seek to regain their power; Examples would be the evangelical wing of the GOP and the Catholic Church;

        The newer forces of society, the informal cultural norms of the social progressives seeking to establish their values as the accepted norms; Examples would be #MeToo and “political correctness”;

        And the forces of hooliganism, by which I mean the forces of radical individualism and self expression. Examples would be the ideological advocates of a laissez faire approach to human interactions;

        Surprising no one, I am an advocate of a new set of social norms, embodied in everything from laws to social etiquette as a way of forming a responsible civic order.

        What the exact points are of this social order isn’t as important to me- there would almost certainly be parts of it that I object to and find burdensome;
        But its creation is necessary for the survival of a liberal democracy.Report

        • Avatar Urusigh
          Ignored
          says:

          Well put. Our current society survives largely by cannibalizing the corpse of Judeo-Christian traditions and culture. It doesn’t seem immediately likely to see new life on that front, but I see nothing else growing that has the deep roots to survive, sustain, and uphold society when that inheritance is finally exhausted. As the herd immunity of social norms declines, social pathologies multiply. Sooner or later, that will be terminal.

          Of your three forces, I see a lot more overlap between your Social Progressives and your Hooligans via the postmodern doctrines that reject any objective truth or unifying culture (radical laissez faire and radical intersectionality both lead invariably to a radical moral subjectivity incompatible with the claims of objective morality that define your Old Guard and previously served to unify society).

          Surprising no one, I therefor advocate for the benefits of much of the old set of social norms, likewise embodied in laws and social etiquette to develop the bindings of good will and informal restrictions necessary to the health of liberal democracy / conservative republics. 😉 Unlike you, I don’t think we can create a functional, sustainable new social order on any other basis precisely because the other two options have repeatedly proven ineffective at forming a responsible citizenry. I honestly think the revival of the Old Guard, at least in part, is necessary or we will follow the original democracies into either anarchy or tyranny. The exact points of that social order are important to me, but I’m realistic enough to accept that it’s almost certainly going to be a hybrid of the old and new, not a return to the old in full. Whether that can survive or not…?

          It’s nice to see that we can come at the issue from very different priors and still largely agree on the facts and the problem though, even if we differ drastically on preferred solutions. Thanks for your reply. 🙂Report

        • Avatar Dark Matter
          Ignored
          says:

          it created a web of social mores in which hooliganism was unable to reach a critical mass.

          I think this vasty overstates the positive influence of the church.

          IMHO the church is a follower, not a leader, when it comes to things like social moores and ethics. The church is interested in being popular, in charge (somewhat), important… and if that needs to come at the expense of ethics, then it does.

          So behind every society that believes in peace, you’ll find the church preaching peace. Behind most neighbor-on-neighbor genocides you’ll find the church preaching that it needs to happen. The church is a mirror. It occasionally needs an enemy so it will make things worse, but I don’t see how “god wants it” is a force for ethics.

          Similarly the social progressives often show that they’ll more interested in “helping the downtrodden” than ethics.

          I’d say the media and cameras are WAY more important in keeping things honest and ethical than any flavor of magic thinking.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels
            Ignored
            says:

            On more than one occasion I have been called “dispositionally conservative”, because I prefer stability and order over chaos and iconoclasm.

            But I think the biggest turning point in my outlook was when I realized there never was any Golden Age, when things worked right.

            In any age or place we might care to name, there was a mix of noble and corrupt behavior, in which someone like Michelangelo might be painting beautiful frescoes showing the transcendent dreams of utopia, while a heretic might be screaming in tortured agony in the very basement below him.Report

          • Avatar Urusigh
            Ignored
            says:

            “IMHO the church is a follower, not a leader, when it comes to things like social moores and ethics.”

            This is not an assumption well supported by history, particularly not in regards to Judaism or Christianity, which were and are often outright persecuted. According to global watchdogs, Christianity is currently the most persecuted religion in the world, outright illegal in many countries and most likely to get you imprisoned or killed even in places where it isn’t officially outlawed. That’s not particularly congruent with “interested in being popular” or reflecting the rest of the culture. Churches aren’t perfect because people aren’t perfect, but they aren’t passing fads either.

            “but I don’t see how “god wants it” is a force for ethics.”

            Believers donate more time and money to charity than nonbelievers, are more likely to be politically active in regards to civil rights, and cross-cultural study showed that those who see their gods as moralizing and punishing are more impartial and cheat less in economic transactions. Sure there are always exceptions, but on average Judeo-Christian religious traditions have served society quite well.

            “I’d say the media and cameras are WAY more important in keeping things honest and ethical than any flavor of magic thinking.”

            Which people in America receive the most time and attention from the cameras and media: actors, comedians, politicians, and reporters themselves. THIS is the group of people you consider “honest and ethical”? ROFL I’d argue precisely the reverse, that excessive cameras and media attention promote appearance over substance and have left us with scandal after scandal of absolutely horrible people who had good press (which is an indictment of both those people AND the press).Report

            • Avatar Dark Matter
              Ignored
              says:

              According to global watchdogs, Christianity is currently the most persecuted religion in the world, outright illegal in many countries and most likely to get you imprisoned or killed even in places where it isn’t officially outlawed.

              Meaning it’s the most popular widespread religion so it’s in every country (including ours), and as “persecuted” means basically anything including harsh words it’s “persecuted” in every country (including ours).

              https://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/2019/07/22/are-christians-really-the-most-persecuted-religious-group-in-the-world/

              We could focus on the extreme cases where persecution results in imprisonment or death; However the bulk of these are cases where the local religion/culture is “defending” itself which puts religion as the source of the conflict and not the source of ethics.

              However let’s go back to talking about ethics and how they’re leaders in society. Should we start with Gay rights? Women’s rights? Has the church stopped raping children yet? Even needing to ask that question should indicate “god wants it” isn’t the backbone of ethics.

              As far as I can tell, the statement “god wants it” can always be replaced with “I want it”. It’s a way to gain power, respect, and attention. It’s a social tool, not a physical force, much less a benevolent force for ethics. The number of centuries the church was just fine with slavery should be a good indication of that, as should the number of genocides we’ve seen where the church is inspiring the killers.

              Which people in America receive the most time and attention from the cameras and media: actors, comedians, politicians, and reporters themselves. THIS is the group of people you consider “honest and ethical”?

              None of them. But we’re putting cameras on cops because what people do in secret or off camera is different from what they do when there’s a record.

              That holds true for everyone. For example the South was able to keep segregation until the media was able to put it in front of the rest of America and show just how ugly it is.Report

  22. Avatar Acrophile
    Ignored
    says:

    HOW can we “not allow it’? The unfortunate part is that people do not give up power once they acquire it. They do not listen except to violence, and violence is not acceptable (more people die!). So how?Report

  23. Avatar Urusigh
    Ignored
    says:

    “Meaning it’s the most popular widespread religion so it’s in every country (including ours), and as “persecuted” means basically anything including harsh words it’s “persecuted” in every country (including ours).”

    Wow, is that the same standard you’d use for something like sexual harassment/assualt? Oh, it’s wherever women are, but it’s mostly just harsh words and guys “defending” themselves, so lets blow off the victims injured or killed?

    “However the bulk of these are cases where the local religion/culture is “defending” itself which puts religion as the source of the conflict and not the source of ethics.”

    Explicitly non-religious countries killed far more people in the 20th century than all religious countries put together. You don’t get to just blame religion for conflicts that have long geographic, economic, and ethnic roots quite aside from religious differences. It’s noteworthy though that Muslims in Christian-dominant countries typically receive tolerance and civil rights, whereas Christians in Muslim-dominant countries are outlawed from sharing their faith and are often assaulted, raped, and killed by their fellow citizens with the approval or outright cooperation of the local authorities. You don’t get to just hasty generalize when a Muslim is better off in a Christian country than an Atheist one like China, but Christians themselves are persecuted as a matter of official state policy in both Atheist and Muslim countries. It fishing matters WHICH religion we’re talking about and the historical record shows that Christian cultures are the MOST tolerant and Atheist cultures generally the LEAST tolerant.

    “However let’s go back to talking about ethics and how they’re leaders in society. Should we start with Gay rights? Women’s rights? Has the church stopped raping children yet? Even needing to ask that question should indicate “god wants it” isn’t the backbone of ethics.”

    I’m not sure how you’ve “gone back to” it when you didn’t actually address a single thing I said about it. Gay rights? Gays already HAD every right hetero do, what’s they’ve been demanding is special treatment that hetero don’t get. We don’t get hetero pride parades, flags in businesses, informal quotas, or disproportionate representation in media. “Gay marriage” is a contradiction in terms, M != W therefore (M+M or W+W) != M+W. If they want to call their relationship something else, go for it, but they don’t get to redefine a historical institution (to use the PC terminology: that’s cultural appropriation, which became cultural imperialism when the Supreme Court was used to force the redefinition on the rest of us). Women’s rights? This is my confused face. Are you genuinely unaware that the majority of regular churchgoers are female? That “church ladies” are and were driving forces in most civil rights, particularly the Abolition movement? I’m not really clear what you think you’re accusing Christians of. “Has the church stopped raping children yet?” Has everyone else? This is a false comparison, even at the height of the scandals even the Catholic
    Church never had an alleged abuse rate higher than the average of the rest of the culture. At worst, you can accuse them of being, at their worst, no better than the non-religious, the data doesn’t support calling them any worse, and most other denominations didn’t ever have that level of problems. You’re cherry picking while ignoring the base rate.

    “As far as I can tell, the statement “god wants it” can always be replaced with “I want it”. It’s a way to gain power, respect, and attention. It’s a social tool, not a physical force, much less a benevolent force for ethics.”

    Your premise doesn’t support your conclusion, and that’s even if one grants a rather shaky premise (what percentage of people do you really think could honestly replace “Don’t have sex outside of marriage, be kind to your enemies, give whenever anyone asks a loan from you and do not expect repayment, donate 10% of your income, etc” with “I want it”. You’re rather ignoring that scripture provides a baseline against which such claims can be judged and misuses of “God wants it” can be called out and refuted by other believers. It’s not at all the blank check you’re implying.Nor is there something wrong with morally good behavior receiving attention, respect, and power (unless you’re trying to argue a counterfactual where immoral people should be the ones socially rewarded?).

    “The number of centuries the church was just fine with slavery” is a misrepresentation in two ways: 1) All cultures pretty much the world over for the entire duration of history tolerated or outright endorsed slavery (so you can’t blame religion for starting it) and 2) it was in the Christian-dominated cultures that it was first rejected. Even going back to ancient times, Judeo-Christian cultures handled it more ethically than other cultures of their time (i.e. freeing all slaves in the year of jubilee, demanding of masters that they treat their slaves well, flat out identifying with those in servitude ((i.e. Paul’s “I am a bond-servant of Christ” and his letter to Philemon https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/how-paul-worked-to-overcome-slavery)). Christianity has been undercutting slavery since the beginning and was instrumental in the Abolition movement.

    “as should the number of genocides we’ve seen where the church is inspiring the killers.”

    And how many is that? What percentage of all genocides? What percentage of people killed in genocides? Because you should know as well as I do that when it comes to genocides the religious are more likely to be the VICTIM than the perpetrator (i.e. the Jews, Atheist China literally rounding up Muslims and Falun Gong to put in concentration camps and murder for use as organ donors). Again, believers are the TARGET. That’s not a Fox News talking point, that’s from the BBC https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-48146305. Look at terrorism around the world and you might notice that one of the most common targets for shootings and bombings are CHURCHES. Blithely declaring that genocides are caused by religion requires stupendous ignorance. https://ourworldindata.org/genocides#genocides-in-the-20th-century.

    “None of them. But we’re putting cameras on cops because what people do in secret or off camera is different from what they do when there’s a record. That holds true for everyone.”

    So you admit that the people already under the cameras and press attention the most aren’t actually honest or ethical, follow up by assuming that putting cameras on cops did anything more than proving that they were ALREADY honest and ethical even without the cameras, and then finish by doubling down on a policy proposal that you haven’t actually established any positive evidence in favor of and have acknowledged the negative evidence against. Tell you what though, I’ll grant that transparency and publicly available information is generally a good thing, but that requires a press that is itself honest and ethical, which we certainly don’t have.Report

    • Avatar Dark Matter
      Ignored
      says:

      mostly just harsh words and guys “defending” themselves, so lets blow off the victims injured or killed?

      How many people have been “injured or killed” in this country because they’re Christians?

      And more importantly, we’re talking about religion being the center of and creator of ethics. You’re pointing to rival groups killing each other for God and claiming that’s a point in your favor. It’s really not.

      Explicitly non-religious countries killed far more people in the 20th century than all religious countries put together.

      My feeling as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter…

      This human world of ours would be inconceivable without the practical existence of a religious belief.

      Even today I am not ashamed to say that, overpowered by stormy enthusiasm, I fell down on my knees and thanked Heaven from an overflowing heart for granting me the good fortune of being permitted to live at this time. A fight for freedom had begun mightier than the earth had ever seen…

      Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.

      -Adolf Hitler

      There’s pages and pages of these kind of quotes, being a Christian holy warrior was a thing for him.
      https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Religious_views_of_Adolf_Hitler

      As for the Communist Countries, Communism is a non-God religion trying to pretend it’s an economic theory. https://www.quora.com/Is-communism-a-form-of-religion

      “Has the church stopped raping children yet?” Has everyone else? This is a false comparison, even at the height of the scandals even the Catholic
      Church never had an alleged abuse rate higher than the average of the rest of the culture.

      First I’m not sure “average rates” are correct, but even if that’s right being allowed to do their thing for decades with the church covering things up and enabling their activities seems pretty major and unethical.

      2nd, you’re claiming the Church can NOT be expected to be more ethical than the rest of society. That we can’t expect the church to stop raping children until after society makes it a priority. So do you agree that when it comes to ethics, the Church is a follower and not a leader?

      “Gay marriage” is a contradiction in terms…

      In two generations the gay rights movement will die because they’ll have nothing to fight over, and no one will care. So, when you go to church, do your religious leaders say it’s a good thing (i.e. are they leaders), or are they followers and need to wait for all of society to shift?

      Don’t have sex outside of marriage, be kind to your enemies, give whenever anyone asks a loan from you and do not expect repayment, donate 10% of your income, etc” with “I want it”.

      God wants you to donate 10% of your income. I want you to donate 10% of your income (to me).

      God wants you to be kind to your enemies. I want you to be kind to your enemies.

      You’re rather ignoring that scripture provides a baseline against which such claims can be judged and misuses of “God wants it” can be called out and refuted by other believers

      And which of the 400 or so main different interpretations is the “true” baseline, and how long do we need to wait for everyone to rise up and refute all the others?
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christian_denominations_by_number_of_members

      Oh, and if Hitler didn’t get “refuted” when it mattered then it doesn’t seem like a strong system and I’m not sure what you’d need to do to go over the line.

      You don’t get to just blame religion for conflicts that have long geographic, economic, and ethnic roots quite aside from religious differences.

      There is a strong tendency in the followers of god to give him credit for everything that is good and no blame for anything that is bad. So Hitler is transformed into anti-religious when he presented himself at the time as a holy warrior trying to support the cause. Religion isn’t involved in the middle east’s various problems.

      And to be clear I’m not “blaming religion for the conflicts”, I’m simply asserting that I don’t see religion making it better. It’s a follower, not a leader; A tool for power, not a way to create ethics. The ME will have peace when the various factions want peace and the priests will bless it as what god wants, just like they currently bless all sides in the conflict right now.

      “The number of centuries the church was just fine with slavery” is a misrepresentation in two ways: 1) All cultures pretty much the world over for the entire duration of history tolerated or outright endorsed slavery (so you can’t blame religion for starting it)

      And once again, religion simply represents the cultural ethics of the time, it isn’t the source of ethics.

      and 2) it was in the Christian-dominated cultures that it was first rejected.

      True, but that seems to be because they were the most advanced cultures of the time… which is probably a measurement of economics and technology rather than religion. Those same religions were fine embracing slavery for more than a thousand years. And why shouldn’t they support it, slavery is very much in that baseline of scripture you were talking about.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bible_and_slavery

      I’ll grant that transparency and publicly available information is generally a good thing, but that requires a press that is itself honest and ethical, which we certainly don’t have.

      The media certainly has their own agenda and point of view. However everyone is now holding a camera, and can post that on the internet. Keeping minority views down is almost impossible.Report

  24. Avatar Urusigh
    Ignored
    says:

    “How many people have been “injured or killed” in this country because they’re Christians?”

    Ok, let’s look at church shootings, shall we?

    1999 Wedgewood Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas
    2001 Greater Oak Missionary Baptist Church in Hopkinsville, Kentucky
    2002 Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church in Lynbrook, New York
    2003 Turner Monumental AME Church in Kirkwood, Georgia
    2005 Living Church of God in Brookfield, Wisconsin
    2005 World Changers Church in College Park, Georgia
    2006 Zion Hope Missionary Baptist in Detroit, Michigan
    2006 Ministry of Jesus Christ Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
    2007 First Presbyterian Church in Moscow, Idaho
    2007 First Congregational Church in Neosho, Missouri
    2007 New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado
    2008 First Baptist Church in Maryville, Illinois
    2009 Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, Kansas
    2012 World Changers Church in College Park, Georgia
    2015 Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina
    2017 Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, Tennessee
    2017 First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas
    2017 St. Alphonsus Church in Fresno, Texas
    617 Christians dead in church shootings alone as of 2017, no count available of the injured, but mass shooting incidents generally wound ~4x those they kill so we’re looking at ~3,000 casualties. After schools, Churches seem to be the most popular target. For a more broad look, in 2018 there were 100 reported violent attacks specifically targeting Christians, and additional 37 threats, and 447 attacks against Christian property. That’s higher than the previous year and part of a trend of increasing attacks against Christians in America. Ironic, that Trump’s foes bemoan the rise in hate crimes, but ignore them when they dislike the group targeted.

    Interesting, you make a global statement about “religion”, than retreat to only referencing our relatively peaceful country when challenged. Here I thought Dems usually prided themselves on caring about bad things happening to people in foreign countries. The numbers are much worse elsewhere, at or approaching UN standards for outright genocide.

    “You’re pointing to rival groups killing each other for God and claiming that’s a point in your favor. It’s really not.”

    That is not my point, my point is that religious groups are proportionately more often the victim than perpetrator of such actions, which given the moral condemnation you attach to those actions makes the non-religious necessarily the less ethical of the two groups, hence supporting my argument that the religious are generally more ethical than non-religious.

    Adolf Hitler was a demagogue, a madman, but certainly no theologian (his forcible subordination of the Church outright threw out the entire Old Testament, among other heresies) but even if I grant you him just to keep this moving you’ve pretty much demolished your own argument by calling Communism a religion. At that point you’ve stretched the definition such that it becomes meaningless because there’s no longer any “non-religion” belief systems under your standard to compare against. You’ve backed yourself into the corner of arguing that everyone is religious but somehow ethics are separate from religion.

    “Oh, and if Hitler didn’t get “refuted” when it mattered”

    Yes, he did. Not all Protestants in Germany agreed with the German Christian movement and the changes it instituted. In response to the growing power of the German Christians, another Protestant faction was formed called the Confessing Church. Its slogan was “Church must remain church,” and its members sought to protect their religion from the grasp of politics and the Nazi government. For instance, the Confessing Church considered that anyone baptized in the faith was a Christian, regardless of his or her racial descent. Also, the members of the Confessing Church opposed the German Christian movement’s changes to the bible. Many were instrumental in sheltering and smuggling Jews out of the country. About 7,000 of the nation’s 16,500 Protestant clergymen openly supported the Confessing Church, which isn’t as many as I’d like, but still pretty impressive when you note that doing so got you sent to the concentration camps and killed, and it is significantly higher than the 1/6 of the populace who abstained from the vote for transfer of power (which received 90%+ support from those who did vote. Then there’s Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who outright tried to kill Hitler. It’s a dark period for the Church, but you’re ignoring the baseline again: Hitler received less support from German Christians than he did from the rest of the German people.

    “2nd, you’re claiming the Church can NOT be expected to be more ethical than the rest of society. That we can’t expect the church to stop raping children until after society makes it a priority. So do you agree that when it comes to ethics, the Church is a follower and not a leader?”

    I’m baffled that you can read what I write and somehow conclude the exact opposite of what I said. The Church can and should be expected to be better than society in general, but when you’re making that comparison in a country that still has heavily Christian social norms that difference is going to be less pronounced than elsewhere and there may occasionally be overlap. The Church SHOULD be better than society, it occasionally has fallen to nearly the same at times, but the historical trend is still of moral superiority. You had to cherry pick the most troubled denomination at its most troubled time just to get them down to merely “normal” rather than “better” on a single metric, in the meantime the other 400 or so denominations weren’t even having such a problem. The Church IS the Leader, society just sometimes catches up for a while when it stumbles.

    “In two generations the gay rights movement will die because they’ll have nothing to fight over, and no one will care.”

    Nah, that schism isn’t going away. We’re still routinely giving sermons decrying premarital sex and pushing abstinence only sex-ed while the rest of society embraced hookup culture decades ago; being a vocal minority on topics of sexual purity is a position we’re used to.

    “I Want it”

    You talked past the point. It’s kind of oxymoronic to simultaneously think that religion is oppressive to its adherents AND that they choose it because the doctrine merely matches their own desires. I’m not going to let you off the hook on that one. There are a lot of social tools power grabbers go for and we have our fair share of profiteering hucksters, but fewer than most alternatives paths to “attention, respect, and power” (i.e. political activists and politicians in particular are an example of easier fundraising with more direct fame and power with lower standards of personal conduct required). Bluntly, Government and corporations are pretty much always the lower moral bar for ambitious ladder climbers. For all the scandals in the Churches, they are far fewer per capita than those in industry, academia, or political office.

    “There is a strong tendency in the followers of god to give him credit for everything that is good and no blame for anything that is bad.”

    God is Good, it’s tautologically true. That said, I haven’t made that a premise of any of my arguments, that would be begging the question. You’re the one essentially arguing that God deserves blame for everything bad and no credit for anything good. I’m the one who pointed out that underlying geography, economics, and tribalism are more often to blame for warfare and genocides (Hell, even Hitler’s rise was primarily fueled by economic anxiety), but I’m not denying them credit for good things too (i.e. I haven’t declared that America is safe or rich because of God, I have repeatedly given that credit to Capitalism).

    “And which of the 400 or so main different interpretations is the “true” baseline, and how long do we need to wait for everyone to rise up and refute all the others?”

    False dichotomy, that’s like asking which distro is the “true baseline” for Linux, or which candidate is the “true baseline” for Democrats. These are concepts that are inherently fuzzy at the margins, but the overlap is nonetheless such that they are still discrete identifiable conceptual frameworks. Democrats can debate within the party what is and is not essentially “Democrat”, but the party can still validly draw a line and say “No, THAT isn’t what we are”, yes? They can isolate and exclude the radicals who deviate too far from core beliefs, yes? They can disavow crazies who do things utterly contrary to their beliefs even while claiming to be one of them, can’t they? Same thing. Without recourse to violence there’s always a limit to what you can do to stop infringement on your brand, but churches clean house at least as well as other comparable organizations.

    “And once again, religion simply represents the cultural ethics of the time, it isn’t the source of ethics.”

    You didn’t even read the linked article, did you? Again, that is the exact opposite of what I just demonstrated. I’m not even sure you read the entire article that you linked, since you seem to be engaging in equivocation on the meaning of “slavery”. To quote from your own link: “An argument made repeatedly is that the slavery mentioned in the Bible is quite different from chattel slavery practied in the American South, and that in some cases the word “slave” is a mistranslation. For example, Hebrew slaves in Biblical and Talmudic times had many rights that slaves in the American South did not have, including the requirement that slaves are freed after 7 years of servitude. The slave owner owned the slave’s labor, but not their body, as in chattel slavery.” You claim that they were “Following” the culture of the time, yet they were more “progressive” in the rights given and the obligations owed to slaves than their cultural contemporaries of the same period. That certainly isn’t explained by economics or technology, for much of their history the Israelites were significantly lower tech and far worse off economically than neighboring cultures (i.e. The Egyptians were far more technologically and economically advanced, but provided fewer rights to their slaves than Israelites did.)

    “However everyone is now holding a camera, and can post that on the internet. Keeping minority views down is almost impossible.”

    And yet the overall result has been not a rise in accurately informed citizens, but rather we have traded “uninformed” for “misinformed” citizens. To quote Reagan, “the problem is not that they’re ignorant; it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.”Report

    • Avatar veronica d
      Ignored
      says:

      I picked one of those from your list at random and decided to google it. I found this: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/5-dead-in-louisiana-church-shooting/

      It appears to have been a domestic issue. In addition to the shooting, he kidnapped his wife and murdered her away from the church. From the article:

      Investigators did not know the motive for the shooting at The Ministry of Jesus Christ church.

      This does not appear to have been specifically motivated by anti-Christian views. Instead, it seems to have been a typical nutjob husband on a killing spree. It just happened to occur in a church.

      Do you think you’ll have any credibility here if your style of argument is a Gish Gallop of bullshit?Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck
        Ignored
        says:

        “It appears to have been a domestic issue. In addition to the shooting, he kidnapped his wife and murdered her away from the church. ”

        interesting.

        are you actually for-real saying that we should approach big lists of Horrible Mass Shooting Events with a critical eye and carefully resolve all the facts about these supposed massacres?

        because that is 100% exactly right out of the gun-rights playbook for this kind of discussion

        and I’m not saying we shouldn’t do that but you don’t seem like the sort of person who would want to normalize doing thatReport

      • Avatar Urusigh
        Ignored
        says:

        “Do you think you’ll have any credibility here if your style of argument is a Gish Gallop of bullshit?”

        Given that I typically post more links, quotes, and facts than the people I’m debating, yeah, I’m pretty satisfied that I’m beating par for the course around here. If you want white paper quality comments, try getting the people I’m debating to up their game to the point where those become necessary.

        Frankly, there’s a fairly short list of commenters I’ve engaged here that I think will ever grant a Trump-supporting Republican credibility regardless of the style of argument I use. I suspect that you aren’t one of them.Report

  25. Avatar Free Speech Forum
    Ignored
    says:

    Americans scream that they hate criminals, but everyone is a criminal.Report

  1. April 27, 2020

    […] need to live and earn a living? Last week, Em Carpenter passionately called out some of the worst quarantine despots, and she’s right to do so. Indeed, even your friendly neighborhood government has a habit of […]Report

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