Why regardless of the political standpoint of those protesting, it is imperative that we continue to support their right to do so
Over the past two weeks, protests have been held around the nation in objection to some states “stay-at-home” orders which seem to be ever elongating.
Some protesters claim that the orders are an overreach of power by the government and are an unnecessary action. From Michigan and Ohio to Utah, Arizona and California, these protests are not being restrained to under the control of a specific political party.
That said, many Americans are not pleased by these actions. Almost immediately after these protests began, individuals took to Twitter to voice their complaints regarding the protests. Some believed that the protest to open the economy further proved why the economy was shut down in the first place.
Some Democratic leaders, including Senator Elizabeth Warren took to blaming the president for these protests. Warren said she believes this is the kind of leadership that puts lives at risk. Because the president is supporting these groups’ efforts, she believes he continues to put lives at risk.
What exactly are they fighting against though? Signs held at these events said things like “Liberty once lost is lost forever” and “Security without liberty is called prison.” By these sentiments, it seems the protests were more about forfeiting liberties to the government for an unnecessary cause than specifically about the shut down.
This cause seemed to prove itself worthy when Facebook ran into trouble by preventing anti-shutdown groups from planning in-person get togethers on its platform. This is counter to its free speech policies.
Some people are still concerned that even if Facebook isn’t abiding its free speech policies, these individuals are still breaking COVID-19 guidelines and not following social distancing measures of at least 6 feet. This presents two things to consider.
First off, one of the first protests that occured was “Operation Gridlock,” where Michigan citizens took their cars and blocked traffic near the capitol building. This protest, sitting in your car and blocking traffic while most people are not leaving their houses anyways, appears to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
Furthermore, regardless of how intelligent it is, do people not have the right to expose themselves to illness if they so choose? This was not the smart thing to do, but they should retain the right to do such a thing, even in a pandemic.
These fears initially sparked when N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo suggested he would consider looking into closing down churches and synagogues entirely if they did not comply with social distancing guidelines. When you give the government that kind of control, they do not tend to be kind when we ask for it back.
Something that is important to remember when we talked about “flattening the curve” is that flattening the curve does not mean that the area under the curve is actually changing. This means that the same number of people are likely to be infected, we are just trying to control how overwhelmed our hospitals get. That said, we cannot stay in this state forever. Companies need to be reopened and people need their jobs back.
Even more so, the government should not have the right to tell us when that can happen. Parks should not be closed, because if people continue to social distance, why can they not be outside? I do not need a governor to tell me where I may and may not stand.
In a free country, it should not come as a shock to many that as the government continues to take out liberties, people are fighting back with civil disobedience. When the government does something you do not like, the First Amendment grants you the chance, in multiple facets to protest those changes. Whether you petition the government or you use your freedom of speech, if you feel an injustice is being done, it is your right to assemble and speak up.
The First Amendment does not cease to have power because the coronavirus exists.
To feel that the government is stripping you of your individual liberties is quite a large claim to levy against governments, but if you feel it’s true, there is no more important thing to protest.
That said, is it truly the smartest idea to physically go out and protest during the middle of a global pandemic? Probably not. That is why Stephen Moore, who is assisting the president in his decision to reopen the economy, is suggesting that his goal is to make the protests as “safe and effective” as possible.
Maybe the protests are not being handled the best. Maybe you don’t agree with what they are fighting for. But you better bet, that regardless of what they are saying, I will fight for their right to say it.
Remember: the First Amendment doesn’t care about the coronavirus. Liberty doesn’t end at a virus outbreak and freedom shouldn’t be sacrificed, ever.