Whose Rights Win?

This Jefferson quote, frequently reposted by some Facebook friends, is used to support their rights to move freely during the Pandemic. Ironically, Jefferson enslaved approximately 600 people on his properties. No doubt they too would have preferred dangerous freedom.

“This is not about the COVID-19 virus”, a noticeable number of my Facebook friends write. “This is about our rights.” The right to leave their homes, to run their businesses. The right to shop and eat at restaurants. The right to travel. The right to congregate to worship. The right to risk their own lives as much or as little as they want when it comes to COVID-19.

Trump’s advisor, Stephen Moore, seemed to agree, referencing Rosa Parks’ act of civil disobedience and comparing her actions to those of protesters hoping to re-open their states despite governors’ shelter-in-place orders. After all, Rosa Parks had a right to sit anywhere she wanted on the bus, no matter what it cost white people. (Never mind that it wouldn’t have cost them anything except perhaps the difficulty of overcoming their habits and biases. )

In contrast, the actions of shelter-in-place protesters, traveling outside of their counties, mingling in large groups, then returning home, could cost others a lot. Their lives, perhaps. Of course this depends on whether COVID-19 is real, or an imaginary enemy foisted on us by the liberal media. It depends on whether COVID-19 is really any worse than the flu. It depends on how easily it spreads and how sick it can make healthy people. It depends on the resources in place to help those who do contract it.

“It’s time to use our voice!” some of my Facebook friends write, writing post after post documenting their mistrust of the government and the mainstream media. These are the same groups of friends who scoffed at Colin Kapernick’s choice to kneel during the National Anthem. After all, his right to silently protest cost them their ability to pretend that inequality is behind us. It cost them being able to to watch a football game without having to consider injustice. It cost them their right to sing our national song without having to think about the veracity of the words.

“But the NFL can do whatever they want! They’re not the government!” I’ve been frequently told in the past. If so, why not Facebook? Why can’t Facebook censor posts they think contain speech that is false, misleading, or hate? Why do Facebook’s actions equal oppression, but firing Kapernick for quietly kneeling does not?

If personal liberty is what America is best known for, it also seems to be what most divides us, separating us into left and right, liberal and conservative, Republican and Democrat, patriot and traitor. Each person, each side, seeing so clearly their own rights while often failing to recognize rights of another. Because, of course, most personal freedom comes at a cost to other freedoms.

The fetus’s right to life crowds out the woman’s right to autonomy over her body. Our right to limit who comes across our borders crowds out others rights to shelter and safety. Parents rights to homeschool as they see fit, crowds out the right of children to receive a particular standard of education. Our right to bear arms crowds out rights to shop and work and attend school without guns. Our children’s right to learn about sexuality crowds out parental rights to determine exactly what their child learns about sexuality.

Police officers’ rights to shoot when they deem it necessary, crowd out citizens’ rights to trial by jury. Employees’ rights to access low-cost contraception are crowded out by employers’ rights to not pay for a medication whose use runs contrary to their religious beliefs. Gay peoples’ right to marry within their own gender crowds out the rights of those who want to maintain the “traditional family” as the norm.

Centuries ago it was States’ Rights that crowded out the rights of black humans to live free. It was the religious rights of European immigrants to America that crowded out the rights of the indigenous people who had walked the land for generations, if not millennia.

Yes, rights have always had a central place in American society. And just as centrally, insistence on our rights has always provoked division and controversy. Today, amid a pandemic, it’s no surprise really, that rights continue to play a central role. My right to keep my children safely home from school during a pandemic is protected by the governor’s stay-at-home order. Meanwhile it’s that same stay-at-home order that impinges on the rights of my neighbors to run their retail business.

Which only points out the obvious. Our rights are always limited by other peoples rights, our freedoms always limited by the freedom of others. John Finch, Chair of the Prohibition Party in the 1800s famously stated, “Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins.” Apparently in his time people were arguing over competing rights, too.

“Freedom isn’t free” the saying goes. Which is another way of pointing out that the freedom of my friends to protest in Sacramento may be paid for by my friends in health care who don personal protective equipment before entering any respiratory room and who know that intubating a patient in distress during this pandemic could cost them their own lives.

So how do we decide whose rights matter most? Do the most powerful win? The loudest? Do some rights matter more than others? Who decides? And when does the free exercise of rights cross over into mob rule?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Annelise Pierce
Annelise Pierce is fascinated by the intersection of people and policy. She has a special interest in criminal justice, poverty, mental health and education. Her long and storied writing career began at age 11 when she won the Louisa May Alcott Foundation's Gothic Romance short story competition. (Spoiler alert - both hero and heroine die.) Annelise welcomes your (civil) interactions at AnnelisePierce@anewscafe.com
Comment Policy: We welcome your comments, with some caveats: Please keep your comments positive and civilized. If your comment is critical, please make it constructive. If your comment is rude, we will delete it. If you are constantly negative or a general pest, troll, or hater, we will ban you from the site forever. The definition of terms is left solely up to us. Comments are disabled on articles older than 90 days. Thank you. Carry on.

113 Responses

  1. Avatar Michael Kuker says:

    ctrl-f “responsibility”

    not found

  2. Avatar CHRISTIAN Gardinier says:

    Annelise, Thank you and well done! In many ways new protest movement is not really about Covid – 19 directly, I agree. It’s a symptom of sickness.

    As buffoons, who sometimes dress up in combat gear with their assault rifles, Don’t Tread On Me and Confederate Flags and MAGA on, while invading state capitols (or county supervisor meetings….) yell their rights are being violated, it becomes clear what the movement is about, white privileged nationalism. Can you imagine what would have happened if all those cameo-ed up, AK 47 packen militiamen that stormed state capitals, yelling and screaming at peace officers… were people of color?

    To a large degree Trump was elected by an implicit or explicit white nationalist base (and a very few angry misguided Stien – Sanders voters) because his base is angry. Most of the base won’t admit it openly but Trump’s racism, sexism and displays of an angry – white – man – power resonated(s) with them. And of course, most in the State Of Jefferson movement won’t admit that T. Jefferson, like many of our “Founding Fathers” was a slave owner, that his empire on the backs of, and who breed his slaves. Jefferson was in many ways a display of “sex, power and ownership,” as the wall at Monticello displays. And most people don’t know that racist foundation of The State Of Jefferson was called the “Pacific Confederacy.”

    The anti mask – anti social distancing movement, fanned by Trump himself, is a part of the nationalist backlash against those who oppose equal rights for all, regardless of color, race, nationality, sexual orientation, or religious belief. And in the extreme, nationalists will openly proclaim their privilege is founded on a principal that the United States of America is a white patriarchal Christian Nation and that their privilege of the minority, trumps the health, safety and wellbeing of all the rest.

    Masks and safe social distancing are symbols of oppression for our nationalists because like stoplights, wearing seat belts and motorcycle helmets, they are social equalizers. Masks and seatbelts don’t care what race or nationality you are. But white privilege does care, and says nope, we are not equal, we are better, and there is nothing in the US Constitution about masks and social distancing.

    Covid -19 has put stress and strain on US, and I sometimes wonder if a democracy of equality and justice for all, regardless of race, nationality, orientation, social or religious belief, will survive this great nationalist divide that noticeably grew after the election of President Obama and is now exploding under Trump?

    Masks and social distancing say I care about you and about society. Demanding a “right” not to be safe says, “I really don’t care about you, I make my own society, don’t tread on me, love it or leave it…”

    But I do still have some hope that we will somehow get through this, especially of we all make sure we look into our hearts and vote on November 03, 2020!

    • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

      Yes, absolutely. This is all very much about white nationalist privilege, and (as Christian pointed out above) would be met with extreme derision by the same element if similar demonstrations were held by Black people.

      It’s also very much a Trump thing (which of course goes hand-in-hand with white nationalism). A recent re-open protest in Sacramento drew two thousand unmasked demonstrators, who apparently cared nothing about who they might endanger when they returned to their communities. This event featured the sale of Trump paraphernalia, Trump apparel, Trump bumper stickers etc., and was basically just a thinly disguised Trump campaign rally. I wonder whether they’re actually more concerned with any loss of “freedom”, or with how safety measures may affect the re-election chances of their white supremacist hero.

      Finally, I’m always outraged when white right-wingers exploit civil rights icons like Rosa Parks and Dr. King to promote their racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic agenda. I recently ran across such a reference by Kris Vallotton (second-in-command of Bethel Mega-Church in Redding). He claimed that a man who crashed a Planned Parenthood meeting under false pretenses, then plastered the internet with heavily doctored – and highly deceptive – videos (resulting in mass shootings and other violence at women’s clinics arcross the country) is “the Rosa Parks of the 21st century”. I don’t think these people have any idea what real civil rights actually are.

    • Avatar Annelise Pierce says:

      Christian and Patrecia: But what led to Trump? I believe that there is a large group of Americans who feel disenfranchised right now. Yes, perhaps because “their kind” (white, working class Americans?) is less powerful than in the past, partially due to changes in racial equality. How can we hear them? What rights are they afraid of losing? And how can we seek to create a future that looks good for them too? Of course if they future they require continues to depend on a foundation of systemic racism, we cannot agree to that. But is there any middle or common ground? People who are afraid are never at their best. How can we make Trump supporters less afraid? Should we even try? How can we as both white and allies to people of color, serve as a bridge?

      • Avatar CHRISTIAN Gardinier says:

        Hi annalize. Well I can’t speak for Patricia, but I can speak for myself in saying that what I believe led to Trump was implicit or explicit or both… Racism.

        Basically, Trump became the avatar for their internalized anger, fear and misunderstood feelings about people of color, especially African-Americans in regards to Obama becoming President, about females gaining in economic and social status, about Mexican-Americans “invading” our nation, about a perceived “Islamic caliphate” displacing white Aryan – Anglo-Saxon Christianity, all collimating in an attack on their perceived God Guts and Guns culture. And about as I stated before, about a perceived challenge in their “privileged” status.

        I’m trying to type on my phone again, so I know this is probably going to be loaded with syntax and spelling errors… Sorry.

        • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

          Christian — I was floored yesterday when I looked something up that defied my expectations. At some point in the past I read that historically, female representation in Congress has run at approximate 2:1 Democrats to Republicans. I wondered if that ratio had improved for female Republicans recently.

          In the Senate, the ratio is still about 2:1 (17D, 9R).

          In the House, the ration is about 8:1 (88D, 13R).

          Holy shit. That HOR ratio is *not* what I was expecting. What to make of that?

          Judging from the Senate ratio, Republicans in general aren’t remarkably any more or less sexist than they’ve been in the past.

          My hypothesis: As their support has slipped (e.g., their last two presidents failing to win pluralities of the popular vote), the GOP has increasingly turned to voter disenfranchisement and gerrymandering. When you carve out districts that are safe for conservative white people, a perhaps unintended consequence of the strategy is that you get conservative white MALE representatives.

          I can’t see any strategic advantage to the GOP, when over half of voters are female, of more or less announcing: “We’re the party of conservative Christian right-wing Republican straight White American MALES!” so I assume the 8:1 ratio is an artifact. It’s what happens when you tilt the table to protect the interests of conservative Christian right-wing Republican straight White American males. They vote almost solely for themselves, because they believe it’s their birthright to run the country.

          As Republicans grow increasingly desperate and the Supreme Court increasingly tolerant of election monkey-wrenching by red states, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that 8:1 ratio go to 10:1 or higher.

          • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

            ” . . . conservative Christian right-wing Republican straight White American MALES!”

            Why do I feel a sudden compulsion to listen to Todd Snider?

          • Avatar Gary Tull says:

            Todd still streams every Sunday 9 AM. Haven’t missed a show since he started.

          • Avatar CHRISTIAN Gardinier says:

            Put a Woman in Charge! Keb’ Mo’

      • Avatar Doug Cook says:

        What makes you think Trump supporters are afraid? Voters were sick and tired at the politics as usual. Before the 2016 election, voters had increasingly questioned how in touch elected officials are with the concerns of ordinary people. We are of course seeing this play out in midst of the pandemic. We also saw the populist wave sweep Europe. I get so tired of the white privilege label..the white nationalist label..and all the other labels the left throws around to try and explain how Trump won. Trump didn’t win the election…Clinton lost it. It has nothing to do with Christian fundamentalists…they would have voted for any other of the GOP candidates over Clinton.

        What do you mean by systemic racism, Annelise? Another label that drives me nuts. Anyone would be a fool or a liar not to acknowledge the history of racism in America. Everybody acknowledges that. I wasn’t an adult when Jim Crow was in place. I know that I’m not a racist and I know I haven’t acted in a racist manner, and I would bet you money that the people on this site haven’t acted in a racist manner, that they haven’t held slaves, or voted for Jim Crow. You cannot fix past injustices with current injustices. The only way to fix past injustices is with individual freedom. That’s it. Can you give me an example of systemic racism? There is individual racism…that is a given. there are some white racists, black racists and racists of all colors. Unfortunately we will never change that. But systemic racism? That America is a racist country? Not buying it.

        There is quite a backlash in Michigan with the governor keeping the lockdown into June and possibly July. It isn’t angry white people complaining, it is middle class citizens that are seeing their rights eroded. A gov that is not at looking at science, but making arbitrary rules. By the way, the Gov restricted tourism travel to the lakes in Michigan for recreation…but apparently didn’t tell her husband who called to get his boat in the water in a lake it is berthed at the Memorial Day weekend, meanwhile a small restaurant owner since 1970, opened his restaurant as a last gasp effort to save the business, the state pulled his license so he can’t make a living. So here is a hard working individual, that will lose his business because of a power hungry politician…

        THAT is why Trump won.

        • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

          Doug Cook,

          American fundamentalist Christian organizations linked to Trump and other right-wing extremist groups have poured at least $50 million into European politics, and have spent considerably more in this country to influence elections (see the link below). In fact, Christian extremists are the group that put Trump over the top.

          In appreciation (and to pander for their future votes) he has basically handed them control of our federal government. His appointees at the federal level include admitted God-in-government fanatics like Mike Pence, Betsy Devos, William Barr, Mike Pompeo, Rick Perry, Ben Carson, Robert Redfield, Nikki Haley, Sara Huckabee Sanders, Jerome Adams, Kayliegh McEnany, and many others.

          And I don’t see the “middle class” conducting protests at Michigan’s state capital and elsewhere. I see heavily-armed thugs whose members have called for the assassination of Michigan’s Democratic governor.


          • Avatar Annelise Pierce says:

            Doug: Did I write “afraid”? I should have written “angry.” I very much doubt I will be the one to finally convince you of systemic racism. Thanks for your perspective, as always.

      • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:


        I think we should avoid lumping all “white working class Americans” into the category of Trump supporters, which does many of them a dis-service. We should also remember that Trump didn’t win the actual vote, and largely lost the main population centers everywhere but in the South.

        What Trump represents was clearly evident, from the beginning of his campaign. I don’t know how to convince Trump supporters that Blacks and women who don’t know their place, immigrants, homosexuals, atheists, or any other group they unreasonably hate and fear isn’t responsible for all their problems.

        • Avatar Doug Cook says:

          Patrecia, But yet, you have no problem lumping all Trump supporters into a categories. Categories that include racists, misogynists, white supremacists, Christian fundamentalists. …to say a few. Trump did in fact win the vote, the vote that is spelled out in the Constitution, the vote that has been working well for 240 years.

          Do you honestly believe that someone likes me, who didn’t vote for Trump, but now support his policies “unreasonably hate and fear…Blacks and women who don’t know their place, immigrants, homosexuals, atheists” Really? You believe that?

          • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:


            The antiquated electoral college (created before most of the country even existed) hasn’t been much of a problem to date given that Trump was only the 5th president in the entire history of the country who didn’t receive both the popular and electoral college vote. It’s only acceptable if it doesn’t negate the votes of millions of Americans, as it did in this case.

            And I don’t know what policies of Trump’s you support – needing $26 Billion bail-outs for farmers, small businesses struggling due to his chest-beating nationalistic trade policies, baby concentration camps, entire industries collapsing, wages falling, employment slowing (comparative to the Obama years), minorities being paid less, etc. etc..

            However, Trump made no secret of what he stands for and who he hopes to appeal to, from the beginning of his campaign. The constant racial slurs, blatant racism and sexism, repeated incitements to violence, and promises to focus on the “rights” of white men and fundamentalist Christians, at the expense of everyone else.

            Trump’s reign has been a nightmare. In addition to turning our federal government over to totally unqualified religious extremists, he’s gone a long way toward depriving various groups of 50 years of hard-won civil rights, and has rewarded organizations and businesses with federal funds for helping to destroy the basic civil rights of women, the LGBT community, and others.

            He has horribly traumatized countless children, and thousands of those will never see their families again (and are conveniently winding up in taxpayer-funded orphanages with connections to his looney of Secretary of Education).

            He’s forced Planned Parenthood (which provides general medical care, effective birth control, and numerous other services to millions of low-income girls and women) out of the Title X program.

            He’s deprived rape victims who live in extreme poverty in war-torn countries overseas of the ability to avoid bringing children into the world , only to suffer and die.

            He’s ruined America’s international reputation, and loaded the federal court system with malignant, civil rights-hating throwbacks.

            All of the above is what you support when you support the Trump Regime.

        • Avatar Annelise Pierce says:

          Patrecia: I appreciate your feedback on the way I lumped Trump supporters. I added a question mark to show my sense of uncertainty. But I agree that I don’t want to stereotype.

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      In 1967, during the Ronald Reagan governorship, Assemblyman Don Mulford (R-Piedmont) authored a bill that forbad carrying a loaded weapon within an incorporated city. The bill was a reaction to the Black Panthers protesting at the state capitol building that the Oakland PD was confiscating legally obtained weapons from black people. The Panthers argued that it was their constitutional right to defend black people from organized and biased government oppression by arming themselves and patrolling the streets to observe and, if necessary, defend.

      Reagan, who was coincidentally on the capitol lawn when the protesters arrived, later commented that he saw “no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons” and that guns were a “ridiculous way to solve problems that have to be solved among people of good will.”

      My, how times and attitudes have changed. Today’s white anti-gum’mint gun-humpers would hold those Black Panthers up as “Heroic Defenders of the 2nd Amendment and Fighters Against Tyranny” if they weren’t largely a collection of racist-ass, mouth-breathing Gomers and Goobers.

      It remains illegal for a citizen to carry a gun in a state building, including the state capitol building.

  3. Avatar annelise says:

    BTW, the first 150 or so readers, should they return to the article, will notice the removal of some sentences from the end of the article. An error on my part meant that some notes and thoughts I had pondered while writing the piece were inadvertently included as part of the published final document. Those have been removed for clarity and so I don’t appear quite so stream of consciousness. 😉 Thank you for your understanding. 🙂

  4. Annelise, we can always count on you to dig deep and set the table for thoughtful, complex conversations, such as this one here today. Thank you.

  5. Avatar Bill Vercammen says:

    This is a remarkably complicated topic, and one that cannot be fully entertained without also addressing terms such as civic engagement, civic duty, social sacrifice, and social responsibility. In the case of the current pandemic, consider that all residents of California have been conscripted by Gov Gavin Newsom to participate in a civic engagement. The target of this civic engagement is an adversarial viral infection that has made it’s way into our borders. The biological history of this infection is poorly understood, and the goal of our civic engagement is to stall the rate of infection till science can adequately elucidate the risks and establish the most suitable course of response.

    “Why do I need to participate in this civic engagement? What about my rights? What’s in it for me?”, you might ask.
    This type of civic engagement is thought to be most efficient if everyone participates. Laggards will be put upon by their own sense of civic duty to participate, that we might all be made safer in the end, and the common good will be best served. The temporary sacrifices of some individual liberties will pale in comparison to the long term benefits derived by your social sacrifice. We cannot put upon you to make this social sacrifice, and can only rely upon your sense of social responsibility for guidance.

    But what if I wanna shoot off my mouth and scream through a bullhorn, whine about my constitutional rights, tear up the country in my monster truck with the beefy mudders and the testicles hanging from the receiver hitch while throwing rocks at all those wimpy mask-wearing commie liberals hanging around at six foot intervals?
    Oh, you must be from from Shasta County. I think they’ve given you a hall pass…lemme look, lemme look, lemme look…
    Oh here it is – sympathetic board supervisor, sympathetic sheriff, no executive order enforcement. You don’t have to participate in the civic engagement because you’re not expected to have any sense of civic duty – and you don’t have to participate in any social sacrifice because you’re not expected to have any sense of social responsibility.
    Brought to you by the Shasta County Board of Supervisors. Our motto:
    “We set the bar a little higher…
    But not so high we can’t trip over it.”

    • Avatar Bill Vercammen says:

      Nearly forgot to mention, but now that the BOS has embraced the precedent of a loud, self-serving, disruptive rally taking place outside chambers, next time (6/2/20) the BOS is in session, ya’ll are invited to participate. Bring your kids, your pets, and your bullhorns. We’ll try to have enough peanuts, popcorn, and candied apples on hand to lend the experience that genuine circus flavor. Mention “my constitutional rights” at the door, and you’ll qualify for a door prize sponsored by the Shasta County Sheriff’s Dept. Why settle for a small taste of constitutional anarchy, when you can have the whole enchilada? Sometimes Les is more…

    • Avatar Doug Cook says:

      Bill, you had a very well thought out comment until I got to this paragraph,

      “…But what if I wanna shoot off my mouth and scream through a bullhorn, whine about my constitutional rights, tear up the country in my monster truck with the beefy mudders and the testicles hanging from the receiver hitch while throwing rocks at all those wimpy mask-wearing commie liberals hanging around at six foot intervals?

      What a condescending comment, using ugly stereotypes to denigrate an individual. Have you watched the KCRA interview with the young lady with a bullhorn? She was very well spoken seemingly intelligence with a heartfelt message. Shame on you and shame on Beverly who called her a “Bullhorn Bozo”. I’m a bit surprised over this level of insults of someone practicing their First Amendment rights. The right to address grievances that is a strong tradition of the left.

      • Avatar Bill Vercammen says:

        “Shame on you…”
        Just exercising my constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech, though I have embellished liberally to make the point that hyper-conservatism comes at a cost. If you are going to succumb to constitutional anarchy, be prepared for anarchy at every level. Sorry if this point was lost on you, and sorrier still if it disagrees with your inner sense of sanctimony.

        • Avatar Doug Cook says:

          Why do you categorize it as ‘ hyper-conservatism ‘ or ‘constitutional anarchy’? You mean only left wing groups are allowed to protest? If it was an anti-Trump protest, would it be anarchistic too? I don’t like double standards Bill…a conservative group has just as much of right to protest as does left leaning groups.

          Yes, you may exercise your constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech to insult protesters, I also have the same right to call you out for it.

          I brought up the example of a pro-pot group that disrupted a couple of city council meeting a few years back, by not participating in the public comment part of the meeting, but by standing up in the audience and chanting their slogans. Funny, I didn’t read any similar types of comments about that group that disrupted a meeting, why do you think that is, Bill?

      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        Uh…I don’t think Bill is denigrating an individual. He’s denigrating the entire cohort of yahoos.

        • Avatar Bill Vercammen says:

          My only concern is that all in attendance were out of conformity to the standing pandemic response. At that juncture, their rights are of no concern to me because they have violated my right to proven socially-adopted scientific intervention. Trying times call for trying measures. No disrespect, just simple tit for tat.

      • Avatar Randy says:

        Maybe you missed the, “No One is Above the Law”, ralley back in December? The Trump cult were easily recognizable in their smoking junkers racing by the peaceful ralley goers flipping us off and swerving toward us. Only a few block away from the police station and not a single RPD in sight. One idiot pulling a horse trailer behind his ‘monster truck’ had a ‘smoke kit’ that dumps a big load of diesel into the fuel system to create cloud banks of toxic fumes. He made multiple rounds back and forth across the bridge dumping mass amou8nts of pollution into the air we all breathe. Something has to be wrong with you people whosupport such idiocy.

  6. Avatar Randy says:

    Should our policy makers have some ‘rights’ to dismiss scientific reality in favor of ignorance and gossip level stories about other stories in making policy decisions? Trump and Doug LaMalfa certainly believe this and in fact both have built their political careers on deception. Should ‘we the people’ have some inherent ‘right’ to expect informed, responsible and accountable leadership from elected officials? I say yes but until our populace demand that from our elected officials we will continue paying a self serving, criminal elite who are only there to stuff their own pockets.

  7. Avatar DAVID BOONE says:

    The thing about rights is that they are a human social construct. Not saying they are bad or meaningless because their importance to human society is self-evident. But last time I checked, viruses (and other species in nature) do not acknowledge such constructs or alter their course of effect in relation to them. The people screaming about their “rights” in the face of a viral pandemic may as well be threatening the ocean with a lit match. “Old man yells at cloud”. Microbiology just doesn’t care about any of the trappings we wrap our societies in.

  8. Avatar Richie Havens says:

    According to the CDC’s latest “best estimates” released in the past week, covid19 spreads 67% easier and an infection is 4 times more likely to kill than the seasonal flu. Combined, that makes covid19 7 times as deadly as the flu.

    If the risk of covid19 justifies truncating Americans’ civil liberties (like ending the right to peaceful assemble at the capital in protest, the right to take communion alongside your peers, and the right to decline the government’s uncompensated use of your private property for public purposes), then where do you draw the line? The annual flu? A disease twice as deadly as the flu? 5x?

    • Avatar Anita Brady says:

      I heard today that the US hit peak of 20,000 deaths per day from COVID-19, when the seasonal flu peaks, there is on average 1.600 deaths per day. There had to be a different response to this virus.

      • Avatar Doug Cook says:

        well, of course Anita. Nobody disputes that a national shutdown was a good idea. But now is a time to reevaluate. As a country we did a better than average job of mitigating the damage, it could have been much worse. But as we flattened the curve, as we did not overwhelm the health care system, as parts of the state and country have had few cases and deaths…we can start opening up. 35 cases and 4 deaths in Shasta? Yeah, I’m willing to take that risk now.

        • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

          He sez: “Nobody disputes that a national shutdown was a good idea.”


        • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

          “Nobody disputes that a national shutdown was a good idea.”

          Doug, you don’t *really* believe that, do ya?

          • Avatar Doug Cook says:

            Hal…Maybe I got my sentence twisted around. I was posting while flying which isn’t a great idea ( on autopilot, though). Let me reword it.

            ‘A national shutdown was a good idea, nobody disputes that’…is that better?

          • Avatar Doug Cook says:

            Dang it Hal…I have to now clarify something else…I wasn’t being an irresponsible pilot. I am a CFI, teaching my daughter how to fly, we were fulfilling her cross country requirement in preparation for her solo. So she was piloting, I was monitoring.

          • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

            Doug, I see no problem with anything you did there. I would suggest avoiding any texting while shooting an ILS.

            Also, if you choose to indulge in adult beverages while flying, you should wait until your daughter gets her private pilot certificate. 🙂

          • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

            Hal, I don’t know about you, but that revision strikes me as a distinction without a difference.

      • Avatar Richie Havens says:

        The US peaked at about 3,000 deaths per day in late April & early May, although on April 14 New York added an additional 4,000 “probable” deaths for a 1 day total of over 6,000. Those deaths actually occured over the preceding weeks, they were just added to the official tally on April 14.

      • Avatar Richard Christoph says:

        The correct number was 1,600, not 1.600.

    • Avatar David Boone says:

      See my above comment about viruses and other microscopic species not being respecters of human social constructs.

      If some people insist on gathering unmasked in packed social groupings while a deadly new virus is running rampant just to prove a point, it seems that nature itself will show the validity of their point based on how many increased cases they incubate. Hindsight will always be 20-20 (no strange pun intended) and these angry petri-dish mobs screaming about social abstractions like “their rights” might just be culling their own herd for the greater good of the planet. I hear the Ozone layer is doing much better these days, among other things.

      Biology is a lawful system whose laws not surprisingly have absolutely zilch to do with the vast majority of our own social structures and institutions. Evolution’s MO has always been pretty consistent: “adapt and survive,” even if adaptation forces us to rethink everything we once thought and did.

  9. Avatar Ed Beier says:

    I think of Mr. Ghandi, whose name is linked to the struggle for human rights. He once wrote a letter in which he stated that human beings do not have rights, but they do have obligations to other human beings. The tension between obligations and rights has been a constant for a long time. To those who are saying that their rights trump their obligations to their fellow humans, perhaps they should consider that they are really saying that they are free to infect others and they will accept the fact that others are free to infect them. To those who believe in their obligations, as I do, we will accept the short term inconveniences and hardships while looking to help those who are struggling.

  10. Avatar bruce vojtecky says:

    My wife went to our Walmart here in El Mirage, Arizona for Senior hour this morning. No one is allowed in unless they are wearing a mask. Also when she got in line to get in no one under 60 was allowed in. A Senior may bring a helper but they have to wear a mask and can not buy anything for themselves. A monitor is at the door to enforce the rules and monitors are inside to enforce social distancing. All employees have to wear masks. This is one reason the prices of groceries are going up.
    My grand daughter works at Subway and wears gloves and a mask. My daughter works at St Joseph Hospital in Phoenix and has her temp checked and has to wear a mask. My son drives delivering food to Walmarts in Phoenix, he has to wear a mask when at the store even though he doesn’t get out of his truck.
    All are likely Trump voters, as is most of the rest of our family, and are, as Biden pointed out, not Black, and as Clinton said we are deplorables.
    Your rights end when you try to tell me my rights or what to think.

    • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

      “Your rights end when you try to tell me my rights or what to think.”

      Cheyenne rides again!

      Sorry Bruce, but I couldn’t resist.

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      Provocative perspective, Bruce.

      Nobody has the right to tell you what to *think* but as evidenced by all those mask-wearing relations of yours, your employer gets to tell you what to *do*, regardless of how you think it plays politically. Likewise, a private business has the right to exclude you as a customer if you think it’s your right to refrain from wearing a mask. And if you work for the Department of Defense, you can believe anything you like, but you can’t travel for personal reasons right now because national security comes ahead of your *feeeeelings* about the COVID-19 hoax. Your governor has the right to declare emergency restrictions, including school closures—you can *think* that’s ridiculous, but that doesn’t mean you get to send your kids to school.

      All of those agents are well within their rights to limit what you think of as your liberty.

      • Avatar bruce vojtecky says:

        Steve, as usual you try to turn everyday normal rules into conspiracies which is what this article is about.
        I just left my doctor’s office where all the staff were wearing masks. All the old White MAGA Trumpsters were in the waiting room wearing masks without any uproar.
        The Liberals on here ignore the fact that most White MAGA backers are not racist knuckle dragging wife beaters.

    • Avatar Gary Tull says:

      “All are likely Trump voters, as is most of the rest of our family, and are, as Biden pointed out, NOT BLACK”

      Wowie! I mean … well okay Bruce. You have your rights.

  11. Avatar Karen says:

    Because I am of a certain age, I am staying home. As I watch large gatherings congregating without masks or social distancing, screaming and yelling (spewing droplets), I realize that my “right” to ever get out of here has been infinitely postponed. I only hope that the spewers’ rights to stay healthy won’t be compromised. I also hope that health care workers’ rights to not be infected will also not be compromised! Time will tell.

  12. Avatar Miguel says:

    Another nice effort, Annelise. You’re way out in front (of many here) with a balanced and thoughtful read on current issues. You’re an asset.

    It wasn’t so long ago that the the (vocal) right was braying their mantra of “personal responsibility” — and now the hue and cry is “my rights.” The two both have real meaning and represent important concepts to our social weal and well being (although perhaps a little to handily trotted out for “sloganeering” purposes, in my opinion). Similarly, the two are of course NOT mutually exclusive of one another — but, as you explore in the article, there has always been an inherent tension present between our “freedoms” and our responsibilities. Some will forever struggle in not perceiving that the balance struck between the two — is not always informed by self-interest. And therein lies …

    Hate it when things get all complicated like that!

  13. Avatar Mary Wollstonecraft says:

    Should the residents of Dobbin, TX have gone into lockdown so David Vetter didn’t have to live in a bubble?

    • Avatar Jamie Hannigan says:

      Barbara, is it within the comment rules to describe a comment as cras, as in without refinement, delicacy, or sensitivity; gross; obtuse; stupid? Asking for a friend.

  14. Avatar Candace says:

    Mary W, “No”. He was one person with an extremely rare condition who threatened no one else’s health, save his own, by being in the general public. His disease was not communicable; however the viruses, infections, etc., he was in danger of contracting from others (and eventually died from) were. Given the extreme measures his family took to protect and prolong his life to their best abilities I doubt if they’d intentionally have sent him out to infect others if and when there was a chance of that happening. To me that’s what compassion for others and social responsibility is meant to look like. “Boy in a Bubble” vs “worldwide pandemic” doesn’t seem to me to be a very balanced analogy.

    • Avatar Mary Wollstonecraft says:

      The point is residents of Dobbin could have entered lockdown to reduce the risk of transmitting minor infections to the immunocompromised Vedder (there was no risk of him spreading his inherited disease to them). Instead, residents lived normally and he was the one who took precautions by wearing a prophylactic bubble.

      • Avatar Candace says:

        Mary, I understood your point. Here’s mine; “One boy, one disease, one town” vs “Millions of people, viral pandemic, world-wide”. Different extremes require different responses.

        • Avatar Mary Wollstonecraft says:

          In both instances it would be the subjugation of the vast majority for the benefit of a tiny fraction – with both having a very similar beneficiary/subjugated ratio.

          In the case of Covid19, we’re talking 1 death per 384 infected according to the CDC. In the case of the David Vedder, we’re talking 1 boy vs ~300 residents of the greater Dobbin, TX area.

  15. Avatar Annelise Pierce says:

    I feel rather sad to have returned to this article on my lunch break to find how few people seem to be commenting on the article’s main idea – the concept of how to balance our competing rights. How will we move forward as a society unless we can struggle with this issue together? Plus, I very much want the readers insight on this topic. I will respond to more comments as I have time. Thank you all for reading.

    • Avatar Bill Vercammen says:

      My apologies, for one.
      What most lack is consensus of opinion, whether that be social, scientific, or political.
      In the case of pandemic behavior – the rights of the individual vs the rights of the vulnerable – let me add that all of your combined constitutional rights will be forever denied by me, once you behave in a manner that denies me my right to the best pandemic response procedure and methodology that current science has to offer. My apologies for any inconvenience that a mask may cause you and my condolences for all your losses. But, I really could care less about a few minor restrictions on your behavior – or a few temporary departures from routine constitutional interpretation. COVID is undoubtedly inconvenient for all of us, some much more so than others. The measures supported by the science dictate my behavior, and I continue to mask because I carry a healthy regard for my peers and respect their right to good science, as well. I only expect the same in return. Why is there a such a void in consensus over so simple an issue?

    • Avatar Mary Wollstonecraft says:

      I do not accept the premise of competing rights because “there is no conflict of interests among men who do not desire the unearned.”

      You have the right to insist an infected person not spread the virus, but you do not have the right to insist all healthy people stay at home because some healthy people are carriers.

      If there were a hierarchy of rights, surely habeas corpus ranks above most others.

      • Avatar Ed Marek says:

        “…If there were a hierarchy of rights, surely habeas corpus ranks above most others…”

        Many might consider the right to life to “rank” somewhere close…

        But, since nobody has ever “insist(ed) all healthy people stay at home” your position, and the question are invalid.

        BTW, it also shows a decided lack of class to steal one woman’s name, and another’s quote, in an attempt to support a statement which both would likely find appalling.

        • Avatar Candace says:

          Ed, I just assumed it was probably one of our frequent ANC onlookers hiding behind yet another non de plume. While of course they’re free to do so, there are definite “tells”. In this case I’m pretty sure I know who it is and the fact that they are using Mary Wollstonecraft’s name makes me even more certain I know who it is. On one hand I think it’s sort of chickenshit when people hide behind other’s names on comment threads and and I think one should always credit who one is quoting. On the other hand, agree or disagree I’m not above a good “whodunnit”. Oh, and Mary? If you’re who I think you are, my regards to Ayn.

        • Avatar annelise says:

          Ed: “BTW, it also shows a decided lack of class to steal one woman’s name, and another’s quote, in an attempt to support a statement which both would likely find appalling.” As my teens would say, “BOOM. Roasted!”

          • Avatar Candace says:

            Annelise, plagiarism seems to run rampant on social media, especially FB. I think most of it happens out of ignorance due to cut and paste sharing. It takes but a moment to cite/credit who one is quoting.

    • Avatar Doug Cook says:

      Annelise, As a country, I believe we have done an admirable job balancing our personal freedoms with the needed care and compassion for each other. The goal of flattening the curve …slowing the rate of new infections is a responsibility that fell on all of us as individuals. But the thing about democracies is that they’re fundamentally optimistic about human nature. We give people civil liberties, knowing full well that some will abuse those rights, because we expect that, on the whole, most will use them wisely. We protect hate speech, false information and civil disobedience because we don’t want to risk infringing on valuable speech, information and assembly, and with that there is an inherent assumption that it’s worth it, that the good outweighs the bad.

      There is no requirement that you exercise your freedoms responsibly, but the fact that you have them reflects the underlying belief that you will.

      • Avatar CHRISTIAN Gardinier says:

        Oh Doug, my goodness…”There is no requirement that you exercise your freedoms responsibly…” Really? If you can’t exercise your freedoms responsibly, there is a good chance you will be arrested. Law, from the citizen, to law makers, to the Supreme Court, is the bumper guard for freedom’s responsibility when you decide you don’t want to exercise your freedoms responsibly… Otherwise we don’t have a safe, sane nation, we have chaos and tyranny. Sorry, you have no right to NOT exercise your freedoms responsibly. You have a right to an opinion, as long as you’re not yelling fire in a crowded theater. But if you want to live here, understand you have not been elected the finial arbitrator, sherif, judge and jury over the responsibility of your actions, although tRump seems to think he was elected to do just that. To follow up on Steve’s tombstone justice analogy, we ain’t living in Deadwood yet there partner…

        • Avatar Doug Cook says:

          I guess exercising your freedoms responsibly is in the eye of the beholder, isn’t it Christian. I can make the case that your continual hyperbolic comments towards our president is less than responsible. Protesters shutting down conservative speakers on our college campuses, is that exercising our freedoms responsibly? Hardly, but it is widely accepted, isn’t it?

          Try to be honest with yourself, Christian…if this was a anti Trump protest at the Supervisors chambers…would you have the same feeling about irresponsible freedoms?

          • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

            Doug Cook,

            What you insist on referring to as “conservative” speakers are often Nazis, other white supremacists, and flaming homophobes, misogynists, and xenophobes. Their purpose is to inspire hatred and contempt for their target groups, which leads to harassment of – and even violence against – minorities, women, gay people etc.

            One of the speakers you’ve rabidly defended has even taken covert pictures of actual students and held them up during speaking engagements, with the result that those students were forced to leave school. Another built his career on the debunked claim that white men are intellectually and even morally superior to Black men, minorities in general, and women of all races.

            I can’t think of a MORE responsible use of protest than to protect students who fall into those marginalized groups. Attempts by your “conservative” speakers to endanger certain students should be met with whatever push-back is necessary.

            And where are the “anti-Trump” protests you keep harping on? Exactly where have you seen anti-Trump protestors, mask-less and screaming, in the lobbies of local government chambers?

      • Avatar Candace says:

        Doug, Lata Nott.

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      I’ll try harder.

      What rights people have are obtained politically or violently. We fought a war that enabled us to write a constitution and later tack on a “Bill of Rights.” Those rights were not God-given on stone tablets and lugged down from the mountain. They were argued over in back rooms and pubs. There were compromises. There is one remarkably poorly worded and ambiguous amendment that has been particularly vexing in recent history. We’ve spent two centuries revising and refining what “our rights” actually mean.

      We have a large cohort of Americans who want to believe our rights are God-given and immutable, but that view is naive and ahistorical. We fight over rights, and always have.

      So today, the balance between our right to do as we please for the benefit of ourselves and the right of the government to restrain us from doing so for the greater good is being tested. But make no mistake: The struggle to find a balancing point is entirely political. It’s a struggle between what we want and what they on the other side want. And like every other political struggle in today’s America, that struggle has become more about tribalism than anything else.

      I find it laughable when local conservatives piss and moan about the oppressions foisted upon us under the guise of COVID-19 restrictions. They wail, “We should be in charge of our own opening up! One size doesn’t fit all!”

      No, of course it doesn’t. Is that why we’ve been allowed to do pretty much whatever the hell we want to do up here, violating the state’s mandates left and right?

      No, that’s not why they cut us slack for our transgressions.

      The reaction from the stare has been like the scene from “Tombstone” where Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer) dismisses Billy Bob Thornton’s character: “Oh, Johnny, I apologize; I forgot you were still there. You may go now.”

      In other words, politically, we weigh about as close to nothing as you can get. We’re not even worth a veiled threat of punishment.

      • Avatar Annelise Pierce says:

        Steve: “So today, the balance between our right to do as we please for the benefit of ourselves and the right of the government to restrain us from doing so for the greater good is being tested. But make no mistake: The struggle to find a balancing point is entirely political. It’s a struggle between what we want and what they on the other side want. And like every other political struggle in today’s America, that struggle has become more about tribalism than anything else.” How do we move beyond this? Are some rights actually “right” or just a matter of current will and political power? Is a woman’s right to control over her body actually greater than a fetus right to gestate and become a living breathing human? How do we decide?

        • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

          The rights and well-being of actual feeling, aware human beings should ALWAYS take precedence over the future rights of a potential person. Forced pregnancy and childbirth is slavery, and is considerably more dangerous than the typical legal abortion.

    • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

      It seems that government officials are moving right along with steps toward re-opening, in accordance with the recommendations of health authorities. The fact that Shasta County has had fewer cases (with safety measures in place) compared to other parts of the state is probably not a reason to instantly throw all local precautions to the wind.

      I can’t imagine how people with completely opposite world views can come together on much of anything. Considering the political leanings of the people who are involved in these protests (and the fact that Trump is encouraging them), I firmly believe this is at least as much an attempt to improve Trump’s re-election prospects as anything else.

      • Avatar annelise says:

        Patrecia: “I can’t imagine how people with completely opposite world views can come together on much of anything. ” This is a sticking point for me. If Americans hold many competing world views, and if we can’t come together on them, then we are agreeing to let the most powerful win. I dislike that. It feels less civilized than what I hoped modern humans were capable of.

  16. Avatar Candace says:

    * …not a “balanced” analogy… (to put it as kindly as possible, since I’m trying to be “kinder” in my responses. Some days are harder than others).

  17. Avatar CHRISTIAN Gardinier says:

    Annelise, in my diatribe answering your question, “But what led to Trump?” I am guilty of not fully answering your question important question, “How can we as both white and allies to people of color, serve as a bridge?” There has been transformation! See, “How A Rising Star Of White Nationalism Broke Free From The Movement.” http://www.npr.org/2018/09/24/651052970/how-a-rising-star-of-white-nationalism-broke-free-from-the-movement. And, of course there’s always Governor Wallace. Wallace sure had a turn of the worm in the end.

    I’m thinking the universe is actually information. “In physics and cosmology, digital physics is a collection of theoretical perspectives based on the premise that the universe is describable by information…” so information is critical, thus, the importance of the The NewsCafe!

    But, aside from voting Blue, how do we change the dominate white nationalist political power of tRump, and much of the Republican party, based on their privileged white – Aryan – Anglo-Saxon Christian Culture, founded on a principal that the United States of America is a white patriarchal Christian Nation?
    Here’s a few Ideas.

    1. If your question assumes white privileged God Guts and Guns culture wants change, then there is hope But I’m thinking the majority of them are not, and don’t want to be Derek Black, so that really only leaves only the future, as in out children.

    2. Education, education, education, education, education and education! Under an authoritarian regime, education is dumbed down as a way to control information. The political right, under people like Betsy DeVos, has worked to subvert, cut and gut, public education, and install the curriculum as directed by the white patriarchal Aryan – Anglo-Saxon Christian cult. Also, and sadly, it has been proven the more education you have, starting with pre-school and ending in college, the more you have a potential of supporting social equality.

    3. Install workers rights into the economy. White patriarchal Aryan – Anglo-Saxon Christian culture also has a fair amount of God mandated class separation of white folks baked into it, always has, always will. You get what you deserve, competition is the rule, the ethic, I win, you lose, I’ll screw you, before you me… never give a sucker an even break. Honestly, people like Trump will roll you no mater what color you are, and the white working class has been rolled, by just about everyone in control of the political – economic culture, losing Medicare and affordable health care for their kids, families and parents, losing their retirement and Social Security payments, losing quality education for their kids, losing food programs for the poor, seniors and school kids, they lost unions, lost good pay, are losing dominance of culture… And you know what? It’s the wealthy – white – privileged Aryan – Anglo-Saxon – sometimes “Christian” – ruling classes, that has sent their jobs overseas, that has gutted employment rights, and that has hired, often illegally, the very immigrants they point at as the downfall of our civilization…! Sure, the working class are pissed!

    So when we get a white nationalist that says, “Hey, it’s the immigrants! But elect me, I know how to cheat, how to roll people, how to do whatever it takes to get what YOU want, elect me and I’ll do it for you,” people believe him. It’s not in their best interest of course, but that’s part of a suppressed culture thinking they’re “special,” because the white privileged authoritarian says they are, and they begin aliening with their oppressor; ask Hitler, ask Mussolini, Chairman Mao… ask Trump. And guess what, it wasn’t the poor lower class working stiff that did or does this to the middle class, the poor lower class and immigrants have NO POWER! It is the trump’s of our economy and society that oppresses the white working class just as they would people of color; hey, it’s not personal, it’s just business.

    4. Integration of communities, and our school system. This is a social construct. The right hates the concept of “forced integration” but integration of different cultures, races and religions, has empirical evidence of fostering social equality and opportunity for the future. And hey, let’s demand our school systems reach out to the indigenous leaders and decedents of slavery to help teach “How The West Was Won,” and the “His – Story of the Civil War!” Betsy DeVos would have our schools indoctrinated with the Aryan – Anglo-Saxon Christian cult and religion taught in all our schools, but how about reaching out to local Islamic leaders to help teach religion? How about we tell the truth to our kids in schools? How about we fund or schools in the way that’s needed? Seems like that’s real national defense to me.

    5. How about having community events and dinners (after this Covid 19 thing passes, if it ever does…..), where the main theme is diversity, in foods, political and religious perspectives and civil conversation?

    6. How about smiling and saying hello when we see someone different from you?

    And 7. …So, in our culture, we need to do all the above, in my humble opinion, but if we don’t vote for folks who advocate becoming and being the “bridge,” like President Obama was for so many folks, all the above will not happen in the way we might need to prevent a fall of democracy based on the idea of equal rights, justice and opportunity for all, not just for the privileged white culture, but for ALL of US!

    But all this leads me to the first question, is equality for all something the current right wing Trumpublican powers want? They sure seem to be trying hard to do otherwise. Maybe they’ll find a compound in Idaho, but that doesn’t seem fair to Idaho.

    As always, forgive typos and spelling… Please. And support AnewsCafa!

  18. Avatar Candace says:

    Annelise, I hear your frustration . I don’t know the absolute definitive answer as far as how we balance one’s “rights” with another’s in our society. The first thing that comes to mind is “compromise” however we know that historically that can also come with its own unique caveats. While not in the arena of Covid-19 and individual vs collective rights; “Separate But Equal” comes to mind. I believe people, “good” people, look through their own individual circumstances to justify/fit their responses to their own narrative and those responses and circumstances are varied and complex.. A business owner wants/needs to open; an employee may or may not want/need to get back to work (some in the service industry are very frightened to return to work); some have no financial skin in the game and so on and so forth. I would never yell insults at someone not wearing a mask if they’re able (I’d not be happy about it but I’d simply steer clear of them if possible) nor do I condone (putting it mildly)someone insulting, coughing on, etc. someone wearing a mask. That said, I think that when facing a deadly pandemic that has already killed thousands upon thousands, it’s not the time to say “you do you and I’ll do me”. NO. It’s a pandemic that kills people in high numbers. Some behaviors help to protect one another from being infected from this virus and some do not. If this virus morphed into human form and showed up at my door I wouldn’t let it in because “Don’t judge, you don’t know its day..”. I think that the partisan divide steering some of the conversation on this thread is unavoidable as this virus is injecting that (already there) divide with steroids; the two things have become inseparable in many hearts and minds. I find it incredibly sad that asking people to see the virus as the common enemy rather than each other has become tantamount to asking for “World Peace”. Both sentiments are lofty goals that most times feel all but impossible. Take good care everybody. I really do mean that, I wish no one harm.

  19. Joanne Snyder Joanne Snyder says:

    Thank you for a great article Annelise. I put “rights” in the same catagory as “state lines”: they don’t really exist except in our collective consciousness and agreement of definition in the country where we live. The Bill of Rights for this country was brilliantly worded, but there is, and may always be disagreement about what the words actually mean.
    Before the internet was easily accessed and people had a platform to voice their opinions, we had no idea what most people in our community thought unless they wrote a letter to the editor of the newspaper or engaged us in a conversation. Now I feel like I know too much about how people think and what they think….and I have to be careful that I don’t imagine that all people share the same thoughts or ideas of those vocal people who have found this great platform for their ideas. Anytime someone uses the word “all” in front of Republicans, democrates, liberals, white people, intellectuals, musicians….they have fallen off the rail of logical thought. As far as the balance of rights in our country I think Doug Cook said it best ” As a country, I believe we have done an admirable job balancing our personal freedoms with the needed care and compassion for each other. The goal of flattening the curve …slowing the rate of new infections is a responsibility that fell on all of us as individuals. But the thing about democracies is that they’re fundamentally optimistic about human nature. We give people civil liberties, knowing full well that some will abuse those rights, because we expect that, on the whole, most will use them wisely. We protect hate speech, false information and civil disobedience because we don’t want to risk infringing on valuable speech, information and assembly, and with that there is an inherent assumption that it’s worth it, that the good outweighs the bad.

    There is no requirement that you exercise your freedoms responsibly, but the fact that you have them reflects the underlying belief that you will.”

    • Avatar Randy says:

      “There is no requirement that you exercise your freedoms responsibly”. This is something I think we should look deeper into. While at the common citizen level people should have every right to remain as ignorant as they please and if they choose to spread gossip and lies all day that is their choice but when a person is elected to a position of public trust and has the power to make crucial decisions that can have long range consequences for the good or the bad, those individuals should be held to higher standards of being truthful and accurate in their public communications.

  20. Avatar bruce vojtecky says:

    One thing that has been mentioned in the news no one seems to watch, I shared a post from Washington State on my Facebook page, is that businesses opening up are having a hard time finding employees. The reason is they can make more, with the extra boost of $500.00, on unemployment. Here in Phoenix AZ news interviewed café owners on reopening about hiring employees. Some said applicants wanted at least $20 an hour which is impossible for the small family owned cafes that everyone on here state need to survive. The big mega owned businesses, with political clout(m0ney), will survive while small niche family owned businesses will die. Be realistic, many of these small businesses have always barely survived, now they are supposed to open up at 25%. Your favorite café or brewery, as pointed out in RVs excellent article, may have to violate the rules to stay in business, and that is happening everywhere.

    • Avatar Doug Cook says:

      Bruce, that is some short term thinking by these unemployed workers. The $600 weekly supplemental unemployment benefits…it is $600, not $500, is set to end in July. Then what? The probability is that the employer has moved on and hired someone else. The benefit ends and you are stuck without a job. As someone who has hired hundreds of people in my previous career, I would question someone’s dedication to the job if they decided to stay home and collect unemployment rather than go back to work. I would be less than interested in bringing them back. In addition, refusing work while on unemployment would cause a forfeit in benefits.

      “California Unemployment Insurance Code, Section 1257(b), provides an individual is disqualified for unemployment compensation benefits if:

      He or she, without good cause, refused to accept suitable employment when offered to him or her…”

      • Avatar Annelise Pierce says:

        Doug: I agree with you here. Unfortunately I have heard from people who are on COVID unemployment that they are making double what they made without it and it makes it hard for them to think seriously about returning to work. Another concern I have is that this money will be taxed and I’m not sure people are realizing that. I think the fall out is far from over.

        • Avatar Candace says:

          The “Covid unemployment” dilemma depends on where you live and where you work. I know young people who work in the service industry who make more money off of unemployment than on because they work several jobs but are very fearful of returning to work and being exposed to the real threat of contracting the virus themselves and passing it on to others living in their shared spaces. This virus has also put the spotlight on notoriously low wages paid to many working in the service industry and the lack of affordable health care available to them. This large group of young people are not greedy, lazy or trying to scam the system but they are understandably fearful for their health/lives and the health of those around them. They’d be considered “liberal” on ANC and since the beginning of the shutdowns not one of them have been out partying or having small get togethers in their apts. They are not having anyone at all that doesn’t already live with them enter their apts. Their “partying” is happening virtually. Before this pandemic some of these young people had the capability to save money while working and some did not. The ones that did save are pooling money to help those that did not. They’re also bartering for different food items and pooling what money they do have after paying rent, etc. to help others with unavoidable doctor/dental bills. Most work several jobs at small , local, bars/restaurants. Theses small business owners are adopting different strategies of when and how to open. Some owners are opening while retaining the required 75% of employees but offering these employees extremely reduced hours (tips reduced as well) while using the Covid small business loan money to remodel. Some owners are choosing to do “pickup only and take out” only and are literally doing the work themselves while collecting tips which they then pool and disperse to their employees hunkered down at home. Some of these young people have been volunteering their time at home by taking calls and hooking others up with food banks, shelters, etc. These are young, smart, caring, resourceful individuals trying to balance health risk/employment through these unprecedented times. They know unemployment checks aren’t forever or a lifestyle goal; they’re doing the best they can with what they have while trying to figure this all out.

      • Avatar jeff says:

        I have heard that that clause has been set aside for applicants during Covid. I’m assuming it will be reinstated in July. I was looking to pick up a couple good workers with the rate of unemployment. Doesn’t look as promising as I was hoping.

  21. Avatar CHRISTIAN Gardinier says:

    Hey Doug, your statement ” exercising your freedoms responsibly is in the eye of the beholder, isn’t it Christian…” is not even close… President Clorox thinks, “I can stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone,” and you say, “Exercising your freedoms responsibly is in the eye of the beholder…” But in reality, that’s lawless anarchy.

    Sorry, you have no right to NOT exercise your freedoms responsibly. We still live in the United Sates of America. You have a right to an opinion and free speech, as long as you’re not yelling fire in a crowded theater. Make all the case you want about me calling Clorox – Clorox and let’s go to court, right now, and let’s test that! But if you want to live here, understand you have not been elected the finial arbitrator, sheriff, judge and jury over the responsibility of your actions, although tRump seems to think he has some kind of unitary executive privilege can to do just that.

    I was one of the organizers of for the IMPEACH TRUMP march in December of last year. We pulled all the permits, had like 14 agencies sign off on it, pulled the insurance bond, notified the police, did not violate the civil rights of anyone… That’s exercising freedoms responsibly, not in the eye of the beholder, but in the eyes of the law. Your side did none of the above on that evening, because you think you don’t need to.

    You’re delusional if you truly think, “there is no requirement that you exercise your freedoms responsibly…” IN FACT, this is the very essence of Annelise’s excellent article. The “common ground” Annelise asked about for our exercising our rights, is defined in codes and law. Clorox has emboldened the white nationalist movement into thinking it’s fine to invade state capitals dressed in combat gear, loaded with AK -47’s. It’s against the law yet somehow they believe the US Constitution gives them the right to do so. But in reality, they we’re breaking the law.

    The cops that lynched George Floyd the other day and the father son idiots that murdered Ahmaud Arber thought there was no requirement to exercise freedoms responsibly, they were white and privileged. This modern day lynching of African Americans is on the increase under white nationalist tRumpism.

    When Dr. MLK, and so many freedom loving people made a decision and exercised civil disobedience under the oppression of white privileged racist South, that openly denied them Constitutional rights, they knew they would be beaten, shot, bitten by dogs, sent to jail and prosecuted. You might remember that the National Guard had to be called in to protect the right for Black Children to go to school. On the other hand, if the idiots, who broke law, invaded state capitals dressed as terrorists and packing AK 47’s were Black, you know damn well there they would have been beaten, arrested and prosecuted, just like Clorox is still demanding of the Central Park Five.

    Nope, Civil and Criminal Law, from the citizen, to law makers, to the Supreme Court, is the bumper guard for freedom’s responsibility when you decide you don’t want to exercise your freedoms responsibly… Otherwise we don’t have a safe, sane nation, we have chaos and tyranny.

    Your white privilege might be a get-out-of-jail card in the Trumpian world. But in reality, don’t like the law, work to change it. Don’t like me calling Clorox – Clorox, see you in court, I can’t wait!

  22. Avatar bruce vojtecky says:

    To put the lie to the labeling going on here.
    As I have pointed out, here in MAGA Trumpster churchgoing, we even have a Bethel off shoot The Gathering, West Valley, Sun City area, everyone is wearing masks and following social distancing.
    In the Liberal college educated East Valley, Mesa and Scottsdale, the news shows packed bars with no social distancing and the only masks are worn by reporters. One young man stated “If you’re afraid of COVI, stay home” while a young woman stated “I’m not afraid of catching COVI”. Those are your educated Liberal future of America leaders.
    To be fair the college students who do not have Daddy’s, or Mommy’s, credit card do not go to those bars, not because of COVI fears but because they can’t afford it. They have small gatherings at home with a few friends.

    • Avatar Annelise says:

      Bruce: Your anecdotal story doesn’t convince me, although it is an interesting perspective. Honestly it makes me wonder what media you are watching. I can offer you an opposing anecdote which is also relatively useless but interesting. In my little world it is 100% Bethel-connected evangelicals who are posting Jefferson pictures, shouting “wake up” and telling the world on facebook that we should use our voice to stand up for our rights to move freely during a pandemic. (this is not to say that 100% of people I know who are bethel-connected have done so. An important distinction.) I have no doubt that others are also pushing this perspective, but in my little world, those are the people around ME pushing it. Some live locally and others don’t. What they all have in common is a connection to the Bethel kind of christianity. These people also happen to be (mostly if not completely) anti-vaccine, conservative republican, and pro-homeschooling. All fascinating stuff.

      • Avatar bruce vojtecky says:

        Annelise, Phoenix has local and national CBS, NBC, ABC and FOX news which I watch all. With two major University and several smaller ones the local dining scene is much larger than The whole northstate combined. With the hot spots of COVI in the Navajo Nation and now in Eloy and Nogales where detention centers are located I doubt you or anyone else other than Patricia can relate. And the only reason I brought up The Gathering was certain posters on here have stated Bethel is expanding their reach to Arizona.
        I do not google, like most of the posters, Trump news in what apparently is a race to post the most Trump bashing links even when those links are on major national and local news already.
        Maybe in your 100% Bethel World, and I read the Affliated site so I agree with you, that is the way it is, but here in Phoenix it is not.

    • Avatar Doug Cook says:

      Bruce, I had to laugh when a MSNBC reporter called out a man that wasn’t wearing a mask…shaming by the reporter, until the gentleman that had the camera turned on him noticed that the cameraman and half the crew wasn’t wearing a mask.


  23. Avatar Bill Vercammen says:

    Interesting press release in the recent federal court ruling in Ca regarding Newsom’s continued church closures. The federal judges openly questioned the wisdom of applying constitutional law wrt the Bill of Rights as it pertains to religious freedom, calling Bill of Rights enforcement a “potential suicide pact”. It’s no great stretch to consider that this ruling will grow teeth across the board of pandemic-defying rights encroachers, including those in pursuit of acts of group civil disobedient freedom of assembly:


  24. Avatar Ed Marek says:

    I find it amazing that trump has elevated the cult of selfishness in America to such an extent that we take these selfish, whining “snowflakes” so seriously:

    ““This is about our rights.” The right to leave their homes, to run their businesses. The right to shop and eat at restaurants. The right to travel. The right to congregate to worship. The right to risk their own lives as much or as little as they want when it comes to COVID-19.”

    IMO, this display of decay in our national character is a good argument for universal conscription for a one-year term of public service.

    Notice I said “universal”, none of the fake medical disability claims as were so commonly used in the past, by trump and many other cowards and shirkers.

    And not just for military service, for which the draft probably will never be required again anyway.

    During this pandemic, we could really have used some of these low-risk younger workers to take over some of the “essential” jobs requiring public exposure.

    Wouldn’t that have been preferable to requiring so many senior citizens and other medically high-risk workers to continue to expose themselves in check-out lines, when their odds of surviving a COVID-19 infection are essentially equal to playing Russian roulette?

    It’s not like the pandemic was the only crises-in-waiting that America has refused to prepare for.

    Preventing many will require huge amounts of labor, and do not have ready free-market solutions.

    I can tell you from personal experience America’s forests would benefit from the labor of millions of 18-year-olds for many years to come, to restore a semblance of a sustainable fuel load and biotic integrity, and prevent the inevitable future crises.

    There is no better way to learn than from experience.

    And maybe what all American’s need to experience is that in a democracy, responsibilities, and not just privileges, exist for all of us.

    • Avatar Bill Vercammen says:

      “I find it amazing that trump has elevated the cult of selfishness in America to such an extent that we take these selfish, whining “snowflakes” so seriously”:

      Inasmuch as I agree with every word you have posted, there are some tender sensibilities onboard here, and I have had such posts removed for perceived assaults on such “selfish, whining “snowflakes” that increasingly poach the social, spiritual, economic, and national resources in the name of their pursuit of “rights.” We have become a society too dependent on entitlement, too dependent on China, and too dependent on our self-serving politicians to make choices appropriate to the crises that surface in a global community. Perhaps we have carried the torch of globalization forward too quickly, and may need to backpedal to a higher sociopolitical maturity before moving forward once again.

  25. Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

    I believe humanity will eventually reach a point where we’re all on the same page – although some elements of society will need to be dragged kicking and screaming the entire way. If the human race survives long enough discrimination, bigotry, and exploitation will become a thing of the past.

    Our recent history tells us that the most effective way to make even small, gradual advances in behavior and attitude is through force of law and legal action. The segregation of public schools is one example. The very expensive lawsuit that forced police departments to more responsibly protect victims of domestic violence is another. And of course it’s vitally important to vote for politicians who will promote those advancements.

    Unfortunately (human nature being what it is) there are always people who eventually concede to one advance, but will then just move on to target other groups. For example, the religious “right” began as a fight against allowing Black children into the private church schools that sprang up in profusion following public school segregation, and against inter-racial marriage. Laws and lawsuits gradually forced them to accept the inevitable, and they are now much less overtly racist than they were in the past (although this claimed acceptance is belied by their support for Trump). However, they’ve now gone on to target the LGBT community and women, so society will need to go through the entire process again and again.

    I know I harp a lot on religion, but I’m convinced that organized fundmantalist religion is the most destructive force in our country today. It not only exploits people financially and encourages them to look for magical “answers” in primitive, anti-science superstition, but is a key component of fascism. As we’ve seen in fundmentalist churches locally, congregants are told that “god” demands they accept and obey their worldly leaders (no matter how suspect their behavior) because these politicians are supposedly carrying out god’s unseen plan. It’s also telling that fundamentalist pastors have never thundered from the pulpit that god may strike their congregants dead if they don’t blindly support a DEMOCRATIC president.

    • Avatar Bill Vercammen says:

      “… I’m convinced that organized fundamentalist religion is the most destructive force in our country today.”

      Amen to that, Patricia…
      On a contrarian humorous note is the Florida pastor who – at the beginning of the Florida stay-at-home order – encouraged his brethren to continue paying their tithe, and in return, the toilet paper they’d already stockpiled in their pantry would miraculously self-multiply. The Lord does indeed move in mysterious ways…

  26. Avatar ashley says:


    Wouldn’t it be nice if our freedoms and liberties didn’t infringe on everyone else’s. We are so quick to stick our nose into what our neighbor is doing, how they are or are not wearing a mask, how the business down the street opened up before the orders were lifted etc. All this time spent at home as made us all hostile and looking to find someone to blame.

    An old friend of mine, a new age hippie whose done enough acid, DMT and whatever psychedelics available to paralyze a cat for all its nine lives once gave me a solid piece of advice that has always stuck with me.

    One day I asked him why he felt the need to wear a robe and sunglasses while walking through the Denver airport, (people obviously looking and wondering if he was a terrorist or just some looney they were going to coincidently be sitting next to on the plane.)

    Anyways this is how he responded, “Ashley I just do what makes me feel comfortable, and everyone else should too.” Uhm duh… this seems quite literally like the easiest piece of advice ever.

    So I say to everyone now; do what makes you feel comfortable.

    If you don’t feel like it’s safe to go outside: don’t.

    If you want to go to a restaurant and enjoy a meal around other people: do.

    If you feel like wearing a mask to the store: go ahead.

    If you don’t feel ready yet to participate in social activities with your friends: stay home for now.

    If you want to get back to business because you’re losing money and need to pay the bills: then go on ahead.

    If you don’t want to patronize such business because you don’t like that they’re breaking the rules: don’t spend your money there.

    The list goes on… but suffice to say this should be the end of discussion. Fact of life is we can debate sh*t until we run out of breath, but people just need to do what they feel comfortable with, and let others do the same. Clearly I don’t mean harming other people in the sense of senseless acts of violence, but not wearing a mask at the grocery store is my prerogative, and if someone in the store is worried they can either 1. wear a mask, or 2. order grocery delivery.

    I’ve been on both sides of this fence. At the beginning of COVID-19 I was very worried, paranoid in fact, when everyone around me seemed unfazed. Now I feel more comfortable and I find myself out and about, and enjoying my life, going back to work, opening my business and socializing again. I have people in my life who are still afraid, and thats okay, and I have people in my life who are ready to hangout and even patronize my business, and that is okay too.

    So let’s all just “do what makes us feel comfortable,” and in a place of comfort and ease, maybe we can not be so judgey of what other people are doing that makes them feel comfortable.

    • Avatar Candace says:

      Again…pandemic…highly transmissible deadly virus…no vaccine. “You do you and I’ll do me” could kill someone. How ‘bout we care about one another by not relegating a large population of vulnerable people to needing to stay in their homes. Please, when frequenting businesses, etc., practice social distancing and until a broad consensus of epidemiologists and healthcare professionals decide it’s safe not to do so (and if you’re able to do so) wear a mask. It’s a deadly virus; it has no feelings; it doesn’t care about one’s individual level of “comfortability”. It’s a virus. It can and continues to kill people and/or harm them in irreparable ways. It’s a virus.

      • Avatar ashley says:

        per my argument: sounds like you’re someone who needs stay home then. the flu is deadly. tuberculosis is deadly. meningitis is deadly. all highly transmissible. we have a handle on the PPP, and the hospitals are empty, we know more about how deadly this disease is and it’s not what was previously thought. you can survive in fear or thrive in freedom. I’ll chose the latter.

  27. Avatar Randy says:

    This guy has the freedom to hang the governor in effigy, his boss also has the freedom to fire him over it and his neighbors have the freedom to stop speaking to him. Freedom all the way around.


  28. Avatar Kathryn McDonald says:

    A man renting a We Work space in Minneapolis had the right to aggressively question black men using the facility’s gym, which is for all the facility’s tenants. The landlord also had the right to evict him.

  29. Avatar Rob Belgeri says:

    All this talk of rights. One might think that as with the novel (not seen before) coronavirus, we have a novel application of citizens’ rights. We do not. This is res judicata (“decided law”), cf., SCOTUS Justice John Marshall Harlan’s majority (7-2) opinion in Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 25 S.Ct. 358. Keep in mind that case dealt with a far more draconian application of governmental power–the imposition of a smallpox vaccination or a financial penalty for declining to get one. Argue all you want as to the distinguishability of circumstances underlying that case against what we face now. The crux of the argument is that individual sovereignty taken to its absurdist conclusion equals anarchy. Here are some of Justice Harlan’s summary conclusions:

    “But the liberty secured by the Constitution of the United States to every person within its jurisdiction does not import an absolute right in each person to be, at all times and in all circumstances, wholly freed from restraint. There are manifold restraints to which every person is necessarily subject for the common good. On any other basis organized society could not exist with safety to its members. Society based on the rule that each one is a law unto himself would soon be confronted with disorder and anarchy. Real liberty for all could not exist under the operation of a principle which recognizes the right of each individual person to use his own, whether in respect of his person or his property, regardless of the injury that may be done to others.”

    Those who would, perhaps, argue that AJ Harlan wrote an “unconstitutional” SCOTUS opinion would greatly add to the comedy created by rights absolutists. If so, I hope they’ll lobby City Council to remove all traffic controls on the basis that they represent tyrannical government overreach. “Dangerous freedom,” indeed.

  30. Avatar Candace says:

    Ashley, More to the point, I might be a person among many others needing/having to stay home longer because of people like yourself “just doing what makes them comfortable”. I used the word “relegate” in my original comment for a reason.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *