I hate to say “I told you so”, BUT…
Years ago, most state and local governments outlawed smoking in public places, such as restaurants. Like millions of people (including even some smokers), I much prefer public places without smoking. It’s hard to believe there was a time when you ate in a restaurant and had to inhale these fumes. But still: I opposed the non-smoking mandates. People thought I was crazy. “Do you LIKE to smell smoke when you’re in a public place?” Of course not. But it was up to the individual business owner to decide. Because of changes in cultural attitudes about smoking, probably many places would have outlawed smoking in their establishments. Others would cater to a smoking market, and leave it that way. The point is: It’s up to PEOPLE to decide, not governments. I finally gave up on arguing with people about it. I wanted to convince them that the principle of the thing mattered. All they cared about was, “If I don’t like smoking in public, then I’m glad it’s illegal.” Principle was beside the point. I tried to say, “But if you concede the principle on smoking, then the stage is set for future mandates you might NOT like.” No answer. Usually, just a shrug or a sneer.
Now, 20 years later, we have new mandates. Way, way beyond smoking. We have mask mandates. We have closed church mandates. We have no public gatherings over X number of people mandates. In California, police (I thought they were outlawed?) are raiding homes with parties the government considers too big. Federal and local officials talk openly of mandating mask-wearing IN YOUR HOUSE. Even during sex! National sports games — beloved by millions — have essentially been outlawed. Don’t even talk about schools and universities. They will not be normal or open again, not for a long time, if ever. These mandates are not limited and specific. They are open ended, indefinite. They have the feel of permanency. The unspoken and often spoken attitude of governors throughout the country is, “Do this because I say so.” People shout at strangers, “Wear your goddam mask.” There’s no sense of choice. There’s no sense of rational weighing. It’s all command. And control.
This is not freedom. This is not liberty. This is not rationality. And if you think it’s temporary, you’re crazy. The rationale for mandates is nonspecific. The rationale is, “Do as I say, and do as you’re told.” Millions comply. That’s how dictatorships work…not free countries.
I tried to warn people when we passed non-smoking mandates. Now the mandates are everywhere. And they’re just getting started. Mandates, like any malignancy, will grow. So long as we let them. I’m still waiting for mass disobedience, mass rebellion, mass outrage. The mental health of people cannot be good. They’re being forced to give up everything that made this country so wonderful and great. At the core of it all was freedom and liberty, the simple things in daily life. Most of those are gone. Instead of a Puritanical religious dictatorship, we got the exact same thing, only it’s a pseudo-medical, pseudo-scientific tyranny.
Our liberties are not gone for any delimited, rational or temporary reason. They’re gone because we’re told they’re gone. We operate 100 percent with the consent and permission of the rulers. If you’re OK with that, then I don’t want to know you.
Michael J. Hurd