Contra Statist #2 - But Where are the Gulags?

This latest doozy comes a little closer to home, with Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat claiming that Washingtonians are totally free because Governor Inslee has not yet setup literal concentration camps.

The local protest movement against overzealous enforcement of stay-at-home orders has found a victim.

That the victim is a police officer who posted a video decrying overzealous enforcement, and not someone who actually received any such enforcement, pretty much sums up how our grievance culture of manufactured outrage works these days.

The police officer he’s referring to is a hero by the name of Greg Anderson who was suspended by the Seattle Port Authority for saying that the lockdowns had gone too far and shouldn’t be enforced. I guess 1.3 million people out of work in WA state is “manufactured outrage” – stupid people and wanting to support their families!

Last week, a Port of Seattle officer named Greg Anderson cut a video from his squad car in which he said the “tyrannical” crackdown over the coronavirus had gone way too far.

“We are violating people’s rights and taking money from them or even worse arresting them and depriving them of their freedom when they are exercising their constitutional rights,” the officer said. He called on fellow officers to stop enforcing the virus-control orders.

Anderson has now become a martyr of sorts because the Port put him on paid leave and is looking at whether he broke rules about not posting personal or political stuff while in uniform.

Imagine if he had, oh I dunno, murdered a woman in her sleep while in uniform. Probably back at work the next day!

This is all quite dramatic, but … where are all these arrests? He cited a couple in other states (which he does not mention were later dismissed). But in our state, the real story of the stay-at-home order is that enforcement has been virtually nonexistent.

Take Anderson’s own department. The Port police, with 110 officers, hasn’t issued any enforcement actions, against any individual or business, for violating the stay-home edict since it began in March, according to a Port spokesperson. The Seattle Police Department likewise had not cited or arrested a single person as of Thursday, a department spokesperson said.

So, people’s rights aren’t being violated because the citizenry isn’t all-in to test the waters against a militarized police force? The governor’s edicts are still what they are. It’s still the policy of his government to fine or arrest people for opening their businesses if they don’t meet the incredibly arbitrary definition of “essential.” This keeps people locked in their homes, their businesses shuttered, and their ways of life destroyed.

The state has received more than 25,000 complaints about people gathering, or businesses operating unlawfully, but “we have not made any arrests or issued any citations in regards to the COVID situation,” says Sgt. Darren Wright, of the Washington State Patrol. “The WSP continues to use education and engagement as our strategy.” Oh.

Oh? You don’t think there’s maybe something creepy about utilizing a Maoist hotline for people to report their neighbors for crimes against the state? Or that a small army of Karen’s has been utilizing this complaint system to attempt to inflict the overwhelming force of government against people engaged in peaceful transactions with one another?

The governor’s office said that out of all those complaints it has sent cease-and-desist letters to only three businesses (a nail salon in Kitsap County, a barbershop in Snohomish County and the Petco pet stores for continuing to run its grooming salons).

Oh okay then. Inslee has just threatened two small businesses for the monstrous crime of providing services to people in exchange for money.

More than 5,000 complaints about construction businesses possibly operating illegally didn’t lead to any enforcement actions. “The state never shared the hundreds of complaints against builders with municipalities — which actually had the power to stop work by suspending or denying building permits,” a Seattle Times story detailed this past week.

Thanks for the reminder that government can arbitrarily prevent the productive sector from building on privately owned land using privately owned resources.

That is some mighty soft tyranny right there.

Soft Tyranny. That’s a hell of a phrase. Kinda like “collateral damage” or “casual assault”.

The officer in his viral video further sounds the alarm that government is “telling people they can’t protest,” as well as stopping traffic to check for “essential worker” papers.

“What are you the Gestapo? Is this 1930s Nazi Germany? … I think what is going to happen is we’re going to see bloodshed in the streets.”

But since April there have been more than a dozen protests all around our state just against the stay-at-home order. No one has been cited, let alone Gestapo’d, at any of them.

Just saying, it probably helps that we’re armed to the teeth and open carrying at those things. So sorry that those pesky first and second and fourth and eighth amendments are getting in the way of mass arrests.

There’s a certain irony that we’re free to travel down to the capital to decry how tyrannical it is that they’re forcing us to stay home. But hey that’s America.

Yes, it’s American to want to do something useful and productive with your life and provide for your family. It’s also American to protest tyranny. Mr. Westseat seems like he’d be right at home producing propaganda for the CCP.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not calling for the state to get tough. I’m a big fan of all this lack of enforcement. In fact in the spirit of the pandemic, I think the Port of Seattle should back off from firing the Freedom Cop, and the state should stand down from any punishment of the occasional rogue business.

Okay, cool, but what if we all just say to hell with it? Then you support weaponizing the police against the people in the interest of perceived public safety.

Why? Because what we’re doing is actually working. After having the first big outbreak of coronavirus in the nation, Washington now ranks just 25th among the states in cases per capita, 45% below the U.S. average.

Which still puts us at more deaths per capita than Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, and Wyoming which never shut down.

We’ve either gotten lucky, or, more likely, the soft lockdown helped. So what if it isn’t followed to a T by all, or if it’s grist for a constitutional rant here or there? It turned out it hasn’t needed much enforcement, jack-booted or otherwise, because people organically rallied to the larger cause.

Or, they’ve seen how law enforcement has punished a wide swath of petty crimes in a nation with the highest prison population in the world and didn’t want to be next. Did you ever consider that?

Also, is Washington the only place you’ve ever heard of? Just to our South, Governor Kate Brown’s regime has fined a salon $14,000 and weaponized Child Protective Services to get small business owner Lindsey Graham (no relation, we hope) to back down from keeping her business open. Los Angeles is shutting off water to businesses that don’t comply. And last week, the New York Police Department arrested 40 people for social distancing violations.

One of the first interviews I did after the outbreak was with an infectious disease specialist, who gave me the “do’s and don’ts” of social distancing. One of his top tips was: Try not to judge others for doing the shutdown wrong. It’ll drive you crazy for one, plus it won’t really help the effort. This is about doing the best each of us can, not a call for 100% enforced perfection, he said.

That seems more important to keep in mind than ever as we try to emerge from the lockdown, a period which promises to be even more challenging.

This is a very telling statement. The author and the infectious disease expert seem to roughly agree with Reason Magazine’s article from yesterday discussing how there’s a false dichotomy between staying fully locked down and resuming our 2019 way of life – that there can be a middle ground.

Before any states fully locked down, a number of non-government entities made some very hard decisions which cost them a lot of money. South by Southwest and the NCAA tournament were cancelled, the NBA and MLB seasons indefinitely delayed, and many businesses started implementing work-from-home policies for those who didn’t absolutely need to be physically present, reducing both in-office interactions and business travel.

This was all done WITHOUT government edicts.

Voluntarism produced a result where our infectious disease vectors were already substantially reduced without government action; it turns out that individuals acting in their own rational self-interest already don’t want to die and already don’t want to harm their employees and customers, so they took mitigations on their own.

The author is admitting that a hair salon here and a landscaping business there aren’t worth sending people to gulags over and that achieving a society which completely walls itself off from this infectious disease is impossible. Following that premise to its logical conclusion – we the people should be freed to make our own decisions on how and when to return to commerce.

Such a policy would not only be morally consistent with the virtues of a free society but also mitigate future economic damage which, as we’ve written about before, may just challenge COVID in terms of body count.