EDITORIAL: Coronavirus protests are being carried out harmfully
Demonstrations could extend government orders
As lockdowns and governmental restrictions continue to force citizens to hunker down in an effort to combat the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), protesters have taken arms against their state governments to fight against the impositions.
“Protests in cities and state capitals exploded around the country last week, with sign-toting and horn-blowing activists urging governors to ease stay-at-home restrictions put in place to combat (COVID-19),” according to USA Today.
First and foremost: People will die if social distancing measures are not adhered to, regardless of the reason for breaking those measures. Despite how noble the protests may seem in the eyes of those perpetrating them, they are putting countless people in harm’s way.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has outlined the importance of social distancing on their website. They explain that even asymptomatic carriers can spread the virus and urge everyone to do their part by staying isolated.
“Although the risk of severe illness may be different for everyone, anyone can get and spread COVID-19. Everyone has a role to play in slowing the spread and protecting themselves, their family and their community,” the CDC’s website states.
So the protests are either completely ignoring these guidelines out of ignorance or have made the calculated decision to protest anyways, at which point they are exercising nothing more than pure selfishness and recklessness in the wake of a deadly pandemic.
Exasperating this problem is the media and politicians who are promoting this kind of behavior. Earlier this week, President Donald J. Trump cryptically tweeted about “liberating” several states.
“Adding to the pressure (to open) are protests against stay-at-home orders organized by small-government groups and Trump supporters. They staged demonstrations Saturday in several cities after the president urged them to ’liberate’ three states led by Democratic governors,” according to CNBC.
And these protests have taken party lines. Most of the protesters are on the Right of the political spectrum and have political backing in Washington D.C., according to CNN.
“Across the country, more protests have popped up in both Red and Blue states. And they have backing from powerful Conservative allies in Washington D.C., including FreedomWorks, a major conservative group closely associated with the Tea Party, and Stephen Moore, an economist who Trump tapped as a member of his economic reopening council,” according to CNN.
Pragmatically speaking as well, these protesters are not helping themselves achieve their endgame — opening states up — any sooner. These protests, though at the moment relatively contained, could lead to more and more severe outbreaks down the line, which will only provoke governors to increase the duration of their stay at home orders.
It is true that governors should not be abusing this crisis and instituting laws and mandates that do nothing to protect the people from the virus, and people have no obligation to remain obedient to a government they feel no longer represents them.
But this is a major public health risk, and there is a reason the vast majority of states are under lockdown. Pouring into public places to fight back against what they view as unfair lockdown measures is shortsighted and contrarian just to be contrarian.
There are other ways they can make their voices heard and certainly ways to do that without spreading a potentially lethal virus. Why do protesters not call the offices of their representatives, governors and legislators? If they really cared about making a change, that is what they would do. But they do not care about making a change. They only care about making a scene.
One thing we are certainly not advocating for, though, is that these protests become outlawed. The right to free speech is of the utmost importance, and if precedent is set that protests can be disassembled, future protests, groups such as Black Lives Matter and women’s rights groups, could be silenced.
What this really boils down to is for individuals to exercise personal liberty and for those of us with the sensibility to follow guidelines to promote doing the right thing. If these protests go unchecked, you might lose your summer, your fall semester and who knows what else.
Personal liberty is only as valuable as those who exercise it responsibly, and in the case of these protests to promote it, that responsibility has been squandered.
The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 152nd editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.
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