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Friday, May 22, 2020

Lockdown protests are American. Lockdowns are not

Has anyone at the Philadelphia Inquirer ever read the First Amendment?

If so, what part of "peaceably to assemble" do they fail to understand?

The newspaper published a piece by Stacey Burling, headlined, "Should corona virus lockdown protesters waive their medical care? Some medical ethicists think so."

No true medical ethicist would advocate withholding life-saving treatment because of a person's politics. When President Reagan was shot, he jokingly said he hoped the doctors were Republican The chief surgeon assured him and said, today we are all Republicans.

If covid-19 is not life-threatening, then there is no justification for the lockdown and Democrat Tom Wolf, governor of Pennsylvania must lift his ban on ordinary commerce.

But Burling wrote, "After watching footage of an anti-lockdown protest in Michigan, Dominic Sisti, a Penn Medicine medical ethicist, started imagining a disturbing scenario: Suppose he took a rule-following relative who was sick with the corona virus to the hospital. The relative needed a ventilator, but all the machines were used up by protesters who had refused to wear masks and had attacked public health restrictions meant to protect everyone.

"That led to a provocative essay in Harrisburg’s Patriot-News that lends academic weight to an idea that has been making the rounds on social media as anti-maskers have become more visible. Sisti and three fellow bioethicists — Emily Largent of Penn Medicine, Moti Gorin of Colorado State University, and Arthur Caplan at New York University — argued that protesters should voluntarily sign documents saying that they won’t accept scarce medical care if they get sick."

Burling ignored the First Amendment, which says,
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
Journalists often behave as though the First Amendment protects only speech and the press.

But the amendment protects religion, protests, and petitions as well. If you do not defend all five then you are not a defender of the First Amendment.

To its credit, the New York Times has defended the protesters in a column by Floyd Abrams and John Langford, "The Right of the People to Protest Lockdown. Although some states have tried to ban them, anti-lockdown demonstrations are protected by the First Amendment."

The pair ran a rundown of the attacks on the First Amendment by the Democrat governors of California and Kentucky, as well as the Democrat mayor of New York.

Abrams and Langford wrote, "In one of the first rulings on the subject in the new Covid-19 world, a federal judge on May 8 upheld California’s ban on in-person protests. The court reasonably concluded that California has a legitimate interest in limiting person-to-person interactions and that permitting 500- or 1,000-person protests would undermine that interest.

"But in the absence of any narrower alternative having been provided by the litigants, he upheld the ban. The court’s decision was at a preliminary stage of the case and is subject to later change.

"The court’s ruling, which afforded the California order substantial deference, remains troubling. Applying the emergency measures test, the court held that it could strike down California’s ban only if it bore no real or substantial relation to public health, or if the measure was 'beyond all question a plain, palpable invasion of rights secured by fundamental law.' The Supreme Court developed that test to ensure that states have the authority they need to protect public health; it is not a license for suspending constitutional rights."

Some governors intend to turn a 2-week shutdown to slow the spread of a virus into a permanent lockdown on constitutional rights.

That they do so despite opposition by legislators is a parallel to King George III's reign. The first 12 grievances in the Declaration of Independence are devoted to the tyrant's attacks on legislatures and other elected offices. The one closest to this situation is, "He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people."

The lockdowns deserved public debate once we achieved the stated goal of flattening the curve in mid-April.

Now, people are taking matters in their own hands by defying and ignoring the unconstitutional edicts to stay home by governors and mayors. The press should acknowledge and support the rights of the people to protest.

If the answer is yes to my original question (Has anyone at the Philadelphia Inquirer ever read the First Amendment?) then why are they not defending it?


  1. I could see some wisdom in asking folks to "shelter in place." It's common sense and prudent to avoid unnecessary dangers when possible and minimize exposure when performing necessary tasks like shopping for food. But "lockdown" is what they do in prisons. I am not "locked down." - Elric

    1. Shelter in Place is what you do when there is a clear and present danger outside, such as a chemical plant leak, perhaps a riot.

      You have been interned. Interment is what they do to populations considered to be a threat during a war. Internment does not require moving people to camps, just confinement within narrow limits.

  2. "If so, what part of 'peaceably to assemble' do they fail to understand?"
    Then there's the lack of understanding of the phrase "shall not be infringed" in the Second Amendment.

    Regarding the medical ethicists -- Seems that Sisti and the three fellows have been hanging around with each other sniffing each others' gas for too long.

    1. Oh, sorry Dan, for a second I thought you wrote sucking instead of sniffing and balls instead of gas. My bad.

  3. The right to political assembly is inherent under American ideas, and this alone, along with the right to bear arms, has served largely maintain American liberty.

  4. "Shelter in place" and/or "self-quarantine" is what I prepared for and did when this pandemic first broke out world wide. Back then, we did not know whether or not this was some Andromeda Strain superbug with a horendous fatality rate. Now that we know a good deal more about its effects and risks, I no longer will abide by fascist dictates of our power drunk overlords. Fortunately, my county sheriff agrees and published an op-ed in our local paper stating that he will not enforce such dictates. More and more LEO's are stepping up to defend our constitution against such domestic enemies as stated in their oaths of office.

  5. Gov. Polis had his Democrat legislature stay closed til next Tuesday so he could break his promise and spend $1.5 Billion by himself.

    Gov. DeWine is using his Health Director as an enforcer of his One-Man Government. PJM:

    A measure currently under consideration in the Ohio Senate (and already passed by the House) would limit Acton’s shutdown orders to 14 days and require her to consult a joint legislative commission if she wishes to extend such an order.
    Ohio Governor DeWine, heady with power, has vowed to veto the bill if it lands on his desk.

    PJM: "Judge Lucci seemed to disagree, saying that if he failed to issue an injunction, “There would be a diminishment of public morale, and a feeling that one unelected individual could exercise such unfettered power to force everyone to obey impermissibly oppressive, vague, arbitrary and unreasonable rules that the director devised and revised, and modified and reversed, whenever and as she pleases, without any legislative guidance.” “The public would be left with feelings that their government is not accountable to them,” Lucci warned.

  6. No real MD would refuse to help someone for any political reason. Besides thanks to panic buying induced by fools like these we have warehouses full of ventilators that will never be used. People over 65 who end up on them have a 97% fatality rate around here. Bad example to pontificate on.
    There is something about the liberal mind these crises expose:A whiny girly nature of the snivling genre. NYT editorials display it well. Same here.
    Also, for what its worth, I never met a bioethicist I respected. Primum non nocere is the only ethic needed in medicine.
    Indeed, If the media had that same ethic they might actually deserve a place in the first amendment. But Their ethic is: click me primum. That's it.

  7. Hey, Don-
    Here in northeast PA, everyone knows the Inquirer is a leftist rag, without a shred of common sense, logic, or shame.

  8. Nevermind that the protesters probably paid for the ventilators with their real economic activity. And yes, they did build that.

  9. Poor widdle snowflakes need to get back to endless breadsticks at Olive Garden. Darwin awards await you.

    1. You need some new material; sneering about Olive Garden is so 2002, and was righteously fisked by James Lileks (

  10. Was the article written by Stacy Burling or Karen Burling.

  11. What is it about previously SCOTUS rulings about strict scrutiny in suspending constitutional rights in an emergency that governors, the media and others don't understand.

    In American constitutional law, strict scrutiny is the highest and most stringent standard of judicial review, and results in a judge striking down a law unless the government can demonstrate in court that a law or regulation:
    1) is necessary to a "compelling state interest"
    2) that the law is "narrowly tailored" to achieving this compelling purpose
    3) and that the law uses the "least restrictive means" to achieve the purpose.

    But, as with the judge in the Gen. Flynn case, SCOTUS rules don't seem to matter since he has violated a ruling that was not even two weeks old. That is why I am so pissed. Officials know they are violating SCOTUS rulings, insist on issuing illegal and unconstitutional edicts and receive no consequences except maybe in the ballot box.
    Then someone has to have standing and the money to relegate the question already ruled on since the civil rights groups are presently dysfunctional. Disgusting!

    1. As I've been saying since the OJ Simpson trial: How much justice can you afford?

    2. All of life, from beginning to end,
      You make your monthly installments.
      Next to health is wealth,
      And only wealth can buy you justice...
      (Excerpt of Lyrics by Alan Price from the soundtrack to “Oh, Lucky Man!”)

  12. "Journalists often behave as though the First Amendment protects only [del] the press." There, corrected.

    J in StL