Corona and the Rule of Law

Is the rule of law being weakened during this crisis?

One thing that distinguishes free and democratic societies from thuggish dictatorships is the rule of law. This means, among other things, that the law applies equally to the ruled and the rulers. We all are under the law. There are no privileged individuals. The law and its administration should be impartial and apply equally to everyone.

It also means things like laws being clearly defined, stated and explained, so that people know what their obligations are. It also includes steering clear of things like arbitrary arrests and the like. In a police state you can be picked up by the authorities at any time for any reason, and you will often never learn what crime it is you are supposed to have committed.

Because the rule of law acts as a bulwark against statism and unbridled government power, it is often referred to as “a government of laws, not of men.” It is no surprise then that as the rule of law breaks down, the rise of tyranny accelerates. And this can easily happen during times of national emergency.

The current corona crisis is a perfect case in point. All around the Western world we see governments coming up with all sorts of new restrictions, guidelines, clampdowns and lockdowns. Far too often they are far too nebulous, unclear, ad hoc, and made on the fly. That leaves the citizenry confused and unsure of what they can and cannot do.

Thus all the ludicrous arrests and fines that are occurring and that I have been keeping so busy documenting. Ordinary folks are living in fear, never knowing if what they are doing will result in the heavy hand of the law coming down on them like a tonne of bricks.

As I have already said, I could easily do a new article each day just offering the latest mind-blowing cases of government overkill and over-the-top policing. But let me just briefly mention a few more shockers. Many would have heard about the ludicrous $1632 fine issued to some poor old soul in Dictator Dan’s totalist state:

“A Victorian man has slammed rules designed to stem the spread of coronavirus after he was fined more than $1,600 for washing his car. He said he was the only customer at the carwash in Hoppers Crossing on Thursday morning when police pulled in.”

Thankfully – and again due to a public outcry – the police had to back down and withdraw the fine. Let me offer another inane case, this time from the US: “Church members get $500 tickets for sitting in their vehicles with windows closed during radio service in church parking lot.”

And this one also from America is absolutely bizarre: “At least 32 Los Angeles police officers broke up a gathering of more than 30 people celebrating a girl’s first birthday. The officers, brandishing batons and bean bag guns, were responding to a report of a violation of coronavirus social-distancing orders. Video of the incident Saturday evening in Hyde Park shows a line of officers breaking up the party.”

The rule of law is getting rather shaky indeed in so many places. And as if all that is not bad enough, most of these governments are NOT offering us a sunset clause. They are not giving us the slightest indication of when these austere measures will come to an end – IF they will come to an end.

The simple truth is this: the longer these rather over-the-top lockdowns and shutdowns take place, the more the general population will start to rebel, rising up in anger and impatience at the seemingly arbitrary and irrational way the authorities are dealing with things.

And you can blame them? For most hard-working people who have already lost their jobs and their small businesses, and are being forced to stay in their very humble dwellings, they can only take it for so long. And while I am at it, let me say a quick word about some of those less than helpful TV ads being shown everywhere.

You know the ones: they feature a bunch of useless celebs and actors who would not know what hardship and deprivation look like if it bit them on the bottom. They are lecturing us that we all must submit like sheeple and just stay home and suck it up. “We are all in this together” is their lousy mantra.

Yeah right – as if. I am getting really sick and tired of all these bozos claiming we are all in the same boat. Um, no: they of course are in their 20-room mansions, their yachts, and their villas on the beach. Their lockdown is a whole lot easier to handle than mine and yours!

BTW, someone on the social media sent me this terrific short video. It is a MUST watch about these num num celebs preaching to us about living in lockdown. It is a real hoot:

Anyway, back to the declining rule of law. We also have the problem of “Do as I say, not what I do” with too many of these big cheeses. Recall the NSW politician caught out driving back and forth to his holiday home while the rest of us peons are being forced to stay in lockdown, or risk being cuffed by overzealous police:

Soon enough the masses are going to rise up shouting “Enough is enough – we’re not going to take it anymore.” All these arbitrary regulations, nebulous guidelines, and police state tactics are getting to be too much. As I have said from day one, yes there is a place for government intervention and some restrictions on liberties in a time of crisis.

But when the rule of law starts to break down and we see the double standards of so many on display, the populace WILL eventually crack and start to take matters into their own hands. So our leaders really better wake up and wake up soon.

I am not alone in such thoughts. Janet Albrechtsen has just penned a piece on this that is worth quoting from. She begins:

This week there were big black police cars marked Public Order and Riot Squad cruising around the quiet suburb where I live. It was 10.30 in the morning. There were barely any other cars on the road and no sign of any public disorder, let alone a riot.

There were seven rangers in my park the day before, more than the number of people exercising, or walking, or looking for a ray of sunshine. On the same day, a tiny bay — not a beach, and not far away from me — was locked up with 2m-high fencing so surfers couldn’t find refuge in the waves. Like the riot squad, the rangers and the men putting up fencing were all just doing what they were told to do by superiors.

Which is the same as the Morrison government. They keep telling us they are doing what their superiors, a panel of scientists, are telling them to do. Closing down businesses, large gatherings, sport, church services, culling funerals and weddings, curbing gatherings to two people, unless you are with family or friends you live with.

Two people? It wasn’t so long ago that governments were making room in their ministries for ministers for social isolation. Now, our governments are forcing the country into strict isolation, under threat of jail.

After only two weeks of this, many people are asking whether we are in a corner with no discernible way out. These sentiments are serious. They will get more serious in another week, two weeks, in another month. Talk of putting the country into “hibernation” for six months seems ridiculous. Can it really work?

We are told there is “no magic” to the highly hypothetical modelling released this week. It is guesswork then? If it is not guesswork, please entrust us with meaningful information that we can use to judge whether the cure is worse than the disease.

She continues:

There is not going to be a “snap back” to normality — that is the stuff of dreams. It is more silly ­language that must stop. But please, Prime Minister, take us into your confidence, trust us by telling us what you are watching to plan for recovery, so we can watch for the same metrics. There is a need for some meaningful light and hope for a country swathed in darkness, uncertainty and fear.

Trust is a two-way street. If you trust us with a way out, we might trust you. We will also have some hope, some light at the end of this tunnel. Not trusting us is surely the road to civil disobedience. It’s only been two weeks and people are getting tetchy, itchy, restless. Has the government factored this in? Have they worked out what might be the tipping point for when we disobey and hop over fences?

Yes governments need to make hard decisions, and many of our leaders are trying their best. Many are doing good jobs – more or less. But many are not as helpful. Many seem to be making things worse. And if their actions mean that the rule of law is weakened, then we are all in big trouble.

[1539 words]

5 Replies to “Corona and the Rule of Law”

  1. Even in the UK, heavy-handedness reigns:

    Police Pepper-spray Brain Damaged Homeless Man, Haul Him Away Like Animal

    Family not allowed into their own garden, in England

    Police threaten to search shopping trolleys to check you’re only buying essentials (what is a non-essential?)

    Bungling copper retracts his statement

    Coming from Northern Ireland, this reminds me of the build-up to the police’s unofficial ‘shoot to kill police.’ It started with CS gas sprays and canisters, along with rubber and plastic bullets and then sanctioned, government supported shoot to kill actions of the police. The cover ups went on for years with the police, military and the government denying it for years. Even senior police officers were denied access to information by even the police recruits :

    The police are never wrong, never personally apologise or take responsibility, and are rarely disciplined in whatever country.

    Here’s a few ‘useful’ quotes:

  2. Indeed, it is heating up.
    It is worrying that the “experts” seem to be less credible as time goes on.
    The US seems much worse than OZ but even though our stats here seem more believable the reason for the brutality of the shutdown is less acceptable.

  3. It’s something of a catch 22. I seem to recall reading that if more than 10% of people fail to stay at home then the quarantine won’t work. Problem is all too many people simply don’t care and refuse to be told. One article mentioned a chap back from Jordan who was supposed to be self isolating yet found on the opposite side of Sydney to where he lived, and then that evening found in the Sydney CBD. I forget if he tested positive or not but he’s a walking biohazard! He was then told to self isolate in serviced apartments paid for by the government and was arrested only after attempting to go out yet again – odds are he’s out on bail. Alternatively look at the Ruby Princess passengers who were permitted to spread Wuhan Flu far and wide across Australia!

    Since steps weren’t taken to stop the disease – proposed measures were decried as racist etc, everyone is suffering. If strict quarantine measures had been implemented early then the Communist type controls wouldn’t need to be applied to the whole of society. Problem is how long will people conform? Folk need to get groceries, go for exercise, see friends etc. Much longer and even law abiding citizens will likely start to get fed up and start ignoring measures because of the ad hoc inconsistent way they’re being imposed.

    I’ve neighbours for instance that can’t seem to stay home – out multiple times a day. I went for a walk down by a nearby beach recently and the number of folk just sitting around was staggering – I thought we were limited to exercise, collecting food\groceries, and other such essentials. No police, no enforcement. Honestly the biggest threat this ‘pandemic’ poses is probably the panic it’s caused, but if the social distancing the government is demanding is not enforced then frankly why should anyone worry about it? Perhaps it’s time for folk to start considering civil disobedience to pointless inconsistently applied laws, especially in non-plague stricken areas.

  4. One can only earnestly hope and pray that the end of all this viral interference in everyday human living will be an expansion of legitimate human liberty when all’s finally said and done…

    What effects did the Bubonic Plague/Black Death have on the movement in Great Britain from the “divine right of kings” political theory towards parliamentary democracy, the movement from the politics of the mediaeval Investiture Dispute between the papacy and the Holy Roman Emperor to the Protestant Reformation and the emergence of sovereign nation states in what was once the ancient Western Roman Empire and its neighbours to the north and east?

  5. I have said in other places that this period will mean a number of things will change. Whilst I disagree with the blind mantra “This is the ‘new normal'” I believe we will all have a better understanding of what is important in life.

    And one of the things that I hope will change is our attitude to “scientism” “predictive models” and “experts” (and “politicians” too, but we already were sceptical of their pronouncements).

    We have seen the predictions of experts, based on mathematical and supposedly scientific modelling, change from scary scenarios of millions dying because of this virus to figures in the range of the regular annual ‘flu attacks.

    It’s time for a restoration of common sense, which has been sadly lacking for a long time. And common sense is merely the lesser sibling of Biblical wisdom.

    As we celebrate Easter and the Biblical fact of the Resurrection, may we remember this limerick (freely reproducible, folks):

    God’s plan had a perfect beginning
    But Man went and spoiled it by sinning
    We know that the story
    Will end in God’s glory
    It just looks like the other side’s winning!

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