What Coronavirus Lockdown Protesters Don’t Get: Freedom Requires LimitsRoundup
tags: public health, protests, coronavirus, COVID-19
Jonathan Zimmerman teaches education and history at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of “The Amateur Hour: A History of College Teaching in America."
It’s a free country. So from now on, I’m going to drive my car 100 miles an hour. I'll run every red light and stop sign in my way. Oh, and I'll also drink gallons of alcohol while I do it. This is still America, right?
That’s the spirit of the ongoing rallies against stay-at-home orders during the coronavirus crisis: I get to do whatever I want, social consequences be damned. But you can’t have a truly free society that way. Freedom sometimes requires us to forsake our private wishes on behalf of the public good. And this is one of those times.
Don’t tell that to anti-quarantine protesters around the country, who are converging on state capitols and county seats. They’re carrying American flags, small children and — in several locations — semi-automatic rifles. And they’ve been egged on by President Trump, who tweeted out calls to “liberate” states from stay-at-home orders.
“These people are expressing their views,” he told reporters on Friday. “They seem to be very responsible people to me.”
Never mind that Trump’s own top scientific adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has strongly endorsed stay-at-home orders. And never mind that these measures have already slowed the spread of the virus, as Fauci and others have confirmed. None of that matters, the protesters claim, if it interferes with their own selfish right to do as they please.
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