Public Health

When Should Force Be Used To Protect Public Health?

Since meager testing resources left officials ignorant of crucial facts about the epidemic, they made policy decisions without the evidence necessary to assess their proportionality.


During an April 2 interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News, Surgeon General Jerome Adams compared deaths caused by COVID-19 to deaths caused by smoking and drug abuse. "More people will die, even in the worst projections, from cigarette smoking in this country than are going to die from coronavirus this year," he said.

Wallace questioned the analogy. "Dr. Adams," he said, "there's a big difference between opioids and cigarettes, which are something that people decide to use or not to use, [and] the coronavirus, which people catch. It's not an individual choice."

The distinction that Wallace considered commonsensical is not one that public health officials like Adams recognize. As they see it, their mission is minimizing "morbidity and mortality," whether those things are caused by communicable diseases or by lifestyle choices.

Equating true epidemics with metaphorical "epidemics" of risky behavior distracts public health agencies from their central mission of protecting people against external threats such as pollution and pathogens. It undermines their moral authority by implying that the rationale for that uncontroversial mission also justifies a wide-ranging paternalism, and it damages their credibility by involving them in high-handed, manipulative propaganda.

The ambiguity about what it means for the government to protect public health also makes it harder to think clearly about the limits of state power in responding to literal epidemics. The classical liberal tradition has always recognized that the state has a legitimate role to play in protecting the public from contagious diseases. When we are confronted by an actual public health crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, the question is not whether the use of force can be justified but whether a particular policy is appropriate. That question is hard to answer when there is a high degree of uncertainty about the threat posed by the disease and the cost of limiting its spread.

The Vaping 'Epidemic'

Before the new coronavirus came along, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) spent a lot of time and effort warning us about a very different kind of "epidemic": an increase in e-cigarette use by teenagers, coupled with an outbreak of vaping-related lung injuries. The first concern did not involve any sort of disease; the latter did, but unlike COVID-19, the condition that the CDC dubbed "e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury" (EVALI) was not contagious. And contrary to the CDC's misleading nomenclature and dangerously misguided initial advice, the two developments appeared to be completely unrelated.

Even under a broad understanding of public health, the CDC's conflation of EVALI with vaping in general was counterproductive, impeding the harm-reducing shift from conventional cigarettes to nicotine delivery systems that are far less dangerous. By fostering confusion about the relative hazards of smoking and vaping, the CDC hurt its own credibility on the eve of a public health crisis in which policy makers and the rest of us were expected to rely on its expertise.

As Chris Wallace probably would agree, vaping is something people choose to do. In that respect it resembles many other phenomena that politicians, bureaucrats, and academics have described as public health problems, including smoking, drinking, illegal drug use, overeating, physical inactivity, riding a motorcycle or bicycle without a helmet, gambling, playing violent video games, and watching pornography. COVID-19, by contrast, is something that happens to people.

There is a strong argument for coercive measures to deal with a potentially deadly disease that moves from person to person. That argument is much less compelling when we are talking about actions that may lead to disease or injury but do not inherently endanger other people.

The tendency to describe nearly anything that large numbers of people do as an epidemic when others view it as pernicious elides this crucial distinction. If protecting public health is presumed to be a legitimate function of government, an open-ended definition of that term is a prescription for constant political meddling in personal choices through taxes, regulations, prohibitions, and state-sponsored nagging. Likening choices to contagious diseases invites the government to act as if those choices, and the personal tastes and preferences underlying them, are morally no more important than a microorganism's evolutionary imperative to reproduce by infecting human hosts.

Once a particular pattern of behavior has been defined as an epidemic, that framing can lead to policies that make no sense even if you accept the collectivist calculus at the heart of public health as it is currently understood. That is what happened with vaping, which the CDC was predisposed to view as problematic, a prejudice that colored its depiction of EVALI. Even though it was clear early on that vaping-related lung injuries overwhelmingly involved black-market cannabis products, the CDC repeatedly intimated that legal, nicotine-delivering e-cigarettes might kill you. That message endangered public health by falsely implying that people—teenagers as well as adults—would be safer if they smoked.

Only belatedly did the CDC recalibrate its guidance to focus on the potential hazards of THC vapes, "particularly from informal sources like friends, family, or in-person or online dealers." It also foregrounded a warning that "adults using nicotine-containing e-cigarette, or vaping, products as an alternative to cigarettes should not go back to smoking"—advice that surely is equally sound for teenagers who vape instead of smoking.

Bad Advice and Insufficient Information

When the CDC switched gears from vaping to COVID-19, its habit of misleading people, ostensibly for their own good, was still evident. The agency's initial advice about face masks and virus tests gave the public false assurances regarding the danger posed by the epidemic while discounting the lifesaving value of those protective tools.

Until early April, the CDC advised most Americans against wearing face masks in public. "If you are sick," the agency originally said on its website, "you should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider's office." But "if you are NOT sick," it added, "you do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a facemask). Facemasks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers."

After much criticism, the CDC revised its recommendations, telling people to "cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others." It explained the shift by citing the risk of asymptomatic infection, a phenomenon that scientists had been describing for months.

Like the CDC's face mask recommendations, its COVID-19 testing criteria were driven by a shortage—in this case, a government-engineered shortage. At first the agency monopolized testing, and the kits it shipped to state laboratories in early February were defective. The CDC and the Food and Drug Administration initially blocked researchers and businesses from developing or conducting tests, which aggravated a shortage that made it impossible to get a handle on the size and severity of the epidemic in its early stages.

Making a false virtue of necessity, the CDC set irrationally narrow criteria for testing, initially restricting it to symptomatic travelers from China and people who had been in close contact with them. As of late April, it was still saying that "not everyone needs to be tested for COVID-19."

The truth was that everyone—or at least representative samples—did need to be tested, both for the virus and for the antibodies to it. That was the only way for policy makers to get a clearer sense of how prevalent the virus was, how quickly it was spreading, how lethal it was, and how many people had developed immunity to it. Without wide testing, they could only guess at those vitally important variables, even as they were making policy decisions with potentially devastating economic consequences.

While it was giving bad advice about face masks and tests, the CDC was projecting COVID-19 deaths based on a model that counterfactually assumed the absence of voluntary measures such as hand washing, working at home, avoiding crowds, and limiting social interactions. Such worst-case scenarios, which had a strong influence on state and federal policies, presented a false choice between doing nothing and imposing the sort of sweeping restrictions that we began to see across the country in March: orders closing "nonessential" businesses and instructing Americans to remain at home except for "essential" work or life-sustaining errands.

Another obvious option was the targeted use of isolation and quarantine, coupled with contact tracing, to protect the public from known or suspected disease carriers. But that approach was foreclosed by the test kit shortage, which made it impossible to do the screening that such a strategy requires. And because meager testing resources left state and local officials ignorant of crucial facts about the epidemic, they made policy decisions without the evidence necessary to assess their proportionality or cost-effectiveness.

The Rationale for Coercive Measures

The general case for using force in response to outbreaks of contagious illnesses is straightforward. Someone who carries a potentially lethal pathogen, like someone who dumps toxins into the water or air, endangers other people. Government responses to that threat clearly fit within the justification for state action limned by classical liberal philosopher John Stuart Mill in his 1859 essay On Liberty: "The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant."

Mill's principle distinguishes between the broad and narrow conceptions of public health as a license for government intervention. It rules out paternalistic policies such as alcohol prohibition (which he opposed) while allowing the exercise of power over individuals (such as disease carriers) who pose a direct threat to others.

The U.S. Supreme Court has long recognized that states have broad authority, under their general "police power," to protect the public from communicable diseases. "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," the justices observed in Jacobson v. Massachusetts, a 1905 decision that upheld mandatory smallpox vaccination.

But the Court also said public health authority has limits: "An acknowledged power of a local community to protect itself against an epidemic threatening the safety of all might be exercised in particular circumstances and in reference to particular persons in such an arbitrary, unreasonable manner, or might go so far beyond what was reasonably required for the safety of the public, as to authorize or compel the courts to interfere for the protection of such persons."

State quarantine laws, which include safeguards aimed at protecting the rights of alleged carriers, reflect that balance between protecting the public and respecting individual freedom. The quarantine regulations in Washington, the first state to report a COVID-19 outbreak, illustrate the tension between those two goals.

Under Washington's regulations, a local health officer can obtain a court order requiring isolation or quarantine by showing there is a "reasonable basis" to believe it is "necessary to prevent a serious and imminent risk to the health and safety of others." Those orders last up to 10 days but can be extended up to a month, based on "clear, cogent, and convincing evidence that isolation or quarantine is necessary to prevent a serious and imminent risk to the health and safety of others."

There are several restrictions on that authority. The health officer must first make "reasonable efforts, which shall be documented, to obtain voluntary compliance" or else determine, "in his or her professional judgment," that "seeking voluntary compliance would create a risk of serious harm." The rules also specify that "isolation or quarantine must be by the least restrictive means necessary" to prevent the spread of a communicable disease.

The health status of individuals subject to orders "must be monitored regularly to determine if they require continued isolation or quarantine," and they "must be released as soon as practicable" when the health officer determines that they no longer pose a threat. Isolated or quarantined individuals have a right to petition for release, with the assistance of court-appointed counsel, in which case the government has to "show cause" for their continued detention.

Such due process protections are not merely theoretical. In 2014, Kaci Hickox, a nurse who had treated Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, successfully challenged a three-week home detention order issued by Maine's Republican governor.

To meet the standard set by Maine's quarantine law, the state had to present "clear and convincing evidence" that Hickox posed a "public health threat" and that a 21-day quarantine was "the least restrictive measure" to deal with it. Charles LaVerdiere, chief judge of the Maine District Courts, ruled that any potential threat posed by Hickox, who had tested negative for the virus, could be adequately addressed by "direct active monitoring" to detect the onset of symptoms should she become ill. Since Hickox "currently does not show any symptoms of Ebola and is therefore not infectious," LaVerdiere said, forcibly confining her to her home was not justified.

From Quarantines to Lockdowns

Targeted quarantines like the one that Hickox challenged are a far cry from the stay-at-home orders that state and local governments issued in response to COVID-19. Those policies were not based on an allegation that any particular individual or group posed a public health threat, and it's likely that the vast majority of the people affected by the orders were not actually carrying the virus.

In early March, a week before local and state governments began imposing COVID-19 lockdowns, Vox asked Lindsay Wiley, a health law professor at American University's Washington College of Law, about the legality of such policies. Wiley said "a mandatory geographic quarantine" would "probably be unconstitutional under most scenarios" but noted that the issue had never been squarely addressed.

"The courts would typically require government officials to try voluntary measures first," Wiley explained, "as a way of proving that mandatory measures are actually necessary. Furthermore, any mandated measures would have to be narrowly tailored and backed by evidence….To pass constitutional muster, an order not just urging but requiring all people within a particular area to stay home would have to be justified by strong evidence that it was absolutely necessary and that other, less restrictive measures would be inadequate to slow the spread of disease."

Around the same time, Cornell law professor Michael Dorf noted the disjunction between lockdowns and the standards prescribed by quarantine and civil commitment laws. "In normal times, the government may not confine people for the public safety absent 'clear and convincing evidence' that they pose a danger to themselves or others," he wrote in a Verdict essay. "One would hope that during a pandemic the courts would construe that standard on a population basis rather than one by one. Thus, while there may not be clear and convincing evidence that any particular asymptomatic individual poses a threat, there is such evidence for the population as a whole."

Even if it were possible to make such a judgment about "the population as a whole," it would require evidence concerning the prevalence of the COVID-19 virus that policy makers did not have when they imposed the lockdowns. Without early and wide testing, politicians had no idea how many Americans were infected, let alone how prevalence varied from one part of the country to another. For the same reason, they did not know how lethal the virus was, a factor that surely should figure in decisions affecting the liberty and livelihoods of so many people.

There is historical precedent in the United States for trying to reduce the spread of disease by legally restricting social and economic activity. During the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, for example, St. Louis banned public gatherings and closed schools, movie theaters, and pool halls. San Francisco shuttered "all places of public amusement." But the restrictions of that era were not as pervasive or as broad as the measures implemented in response to COVID-19, which confined hundreds of millions of people to their homes except for government-approved purposes.

Lockdown supporters thought the experience with the 1918 epidemic reinforced the case for more aggressive and uniform measures. They argued that cities like St. Louis and San Francisco fared better than cities like Philadelphia, which acted later. If more cities had imposed broad restrictions early on, they suggested, the death toll from the pandemic—which ultimately killed some 50 million people worldwide, including about 675,000 in the United States—might have been lower.

They may be right about that. But if the effectiveness of those measures remains unclear a century later, what chance did state and local officials have of making wise decisions about COVID-19 in the heat of the moment without knowing how many people were carriers, how many were asymptomatic, how many had developed immunity, or how many could be expected to die from the disease? Uncertainty about those basic facts made it impossible to properly weigh the costs and benefits of the course they chose.

Even as it rejected the plea of a man who objected to mandatory smallpox vaccination in Jacobson, the Supreme Court allowed that judicial intervention might be appropriate when regulations go "far beyond what was reasonably required for the safety of the public." But as politicians across the country shut down the economy this spring and ordered people to stay home until further notice, they did not have the information required to make that judgment.

NEXT: A Lot More Ice Cream Trucks, a Lot Fewer Humvees at D.C.'s Largest Protest Since George Floyd's Death

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  1. What happens ‘the next time’ we have a lethal pathogen with high contagion. Will our leaders do the same thing, and lock it down?

    1. It entirely depends on whether there’s a democrat or republican in the White House.

      1. Democrats, being the party of Science, would likely listen to our nation’s doctors and temporarily shut down commerce to save lives. Republicans would attempt to pray the contagion away while Libertarians would profit off the panic by selling ineffective masks at astronomical prices.

        1. More schtick, less schlock.

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              Posting spam? In a pattern-recognizable format that should be cleared before it even shows up?

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        2. Actually, libertarians would profit by selling functioning, quality masks, and feel good about themselves for providing a needed good on the free market.

          1. Reason doesn’t have this feature, but I give your post a thumbs up!

          2. HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

            Libertarians will sell whatever they can sell on the market, ethics has nothing to do with it.

        3. Given how ‘well’ the public health people have performed this time maybe we should put more emphasis on prayer next time.

          Whether you believe or not. At least it won’t destroy the economy.

          1. lol… 10000++++

      2. It depends more on state governors and mayors, as it did during this pandemic.

        1. Yes.

          But their reactions depend on who’s president. Do you think the entire country would have blown its wad and shut down prematurely in the midst of the best economy the world had ever seen were Obama still president and in an election year?

          1. No, it depends on what the experts tell them with delusionally imagined certainty.

            1. How dare you insult Doctor Fauci’s clairvoyance! I find your lack of faith in the science community disturbing.

              1. Shove it where the sun doesn’t shine.

                1. (Psst hey Matt, he’s a parody account.)

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          2. “Do you think the entire country would have blown its wad and shut down prematurely in the midst of the best economy the world had ever seen were Obama still president and in an election year?”

            Absolutely without question. What party is the mayors of almost ALL the heavy and extended lock-downs again??? Oh, yeah; that’s right; Democrat.

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    2. Maybe; but based on this experience, I would hope the people riot the next day.

      1. In Democrat controlled cities, the only sanctioned riot is an Antifa riot.

        1. I have been doing unsanctioned stuff since the sixties . . .

        2. Isn’t about the worst possible thing to say about a political demonstration is that it was done with permission.

    3. Details would matter. This virus has hit elderly and frail people the hardest, but, who knows, the next one could hit children the hardest. That would make a big difference.

      1. In a way, we were lucky that this virus affected the elderly and doesn’t spread as readily as was initially feared. We’ve been given a wake-up call, a chance to practice dealing with a worldwide pandemic, and focused some of the world’s most brilliant medical researchers in new ways of developing vaccines.

        1. Look at you practicing for authoritarian rule.

          If someone doesnt like the risk to life, they are free to stay home. They should have no power over anyone else.

        2. I would dispute that it doesn’t spread easily. I think it spread like wildfire and has already burned through and out… It just isn’t that lethal, and now weakening further.

          Effectively dropping off the face of the Earth via the mechanics and spirit of SARS-COV-1.

          1. Effectively dropping off the face of the Earth via the mechanics and spirit of SARS-COV-1.

            Ding! We have a winner!

    4. Again, contagious enough and lethal enough and nobody will have to lock anything down.

    5. This article is completely off target badly off target. What the doctor (Surgeon General) being interviewed by Wallace was pointing out was the drastic over-reaction done by so called experts and the government to the Chinese flu. The crux of the issue is not whether or not there should be a government response to the pandemic obviously there should be the issue was and still is the drastic over-reaction to the virus which was totally inappropriate and unwarranted. That is the point being made to Wallace being made oddly enough by a high ranking public office that was in the loop of decision makers concerning the response ———– very oxymoronic if you ask me. But that does not obviate the fact that this article went down a rabbit hole on a tangent that had nothing to do with the over-reaction to the virus. Which it has now been established is no worse than a bad flu season which we have virtually every year.

  2. Excellent.

    Is there a compendium of extreme statements by politicians over- or under-estimating the virus and government policy? It would be useful to remind us which people were running around like their hair was on fire, which ones thought it was nothing to worry about, and who was suggesting a rational, measured approach.

    This site has statistics by state and also a timeline of gov lockdown orders.

    1. Interesting compilation of data there. One thing that stood out for me is that for my state, Missouri, the social distancing / mobility numbers bottomed out on April 3rd, which was 3 days before the statewide stay-at-home order went into effect.

      That would suggest that the statewide order was probably not necessary, typically. But in the St. Louis and KC areas, local orders went into effect on March 23rd, and about half of the state’s population lives in those two metro areas. Still, if you look at that date, statewide mobility was already down 40% by that point, and the lowest it got was 46%.

      Also interesting how the moratility per capita varies widely by state and by country. For instance, their projected covid deaths by August 4th:
      Florida: 3658 deaths (1 in 5900)
      California: 6952 deaths (1 in 5700)
      Missouri: 1187 deaths (1 in 5000)
      North Dakota: 177 deaths (1 in 4300)
      Illinois: 7346 deaths (1 in 1700)
      New Jersey: 13231 deaths (1 in 670)
      New York: 31712 deaths (1 in 600)

      USA: 140496 deaths (1 in 2300)
      Canada: 8148 deaths (1 in 4600)
      UK: 43962 deaths (1 in 1500)
      Italy: 35230 deaths (1 in 1700)
      Sweden: 8534 deaths (1 in 1200)
      Denmark: 653 deaths (1 in 8900)

      1. I’ve been noticing a strong correlation between population density and infection and death rates.
        Even in places like Illinois where the vast majority of deaths are in Chicago, or Canada where the Quebec City–Windsor Corridor has seen most of the Covid action.

      2. Hmm, I wonder how well the mortality figures correlate to whether or not they forced nursing homes to take corona patients?

        1. I wonder how much is public transit, too. Stuck in confined spaces for lengthy times together, etc.

    2. I’m not interested in who initially under or overestimated things, or who made initial mistakes. If both parties were honest (which they aren’t), they’d acknowledge that the country wasn’t prepared for a pandemic, and any administration would have made mistakes.

      More interesting is who didn’t change their stance about lockdowns, certain possible treatments, testing strategies as more evidence came in.

      1. “I’m not interested”

        no one cares.

  3. What’s going on here?
    This article is on topic for Reason, makes a cogent argument, and warmly quotes John Stuart Mill.
    To the editors: _This_ is the kind of stuff you should be running.

    1. Ditto

      1. Please and thank you.

    2. I disagree. Reason needs to have more articles expounding the benefits of unlimited immigration while asserting that both Republicans and Democrats are equally threatening to liberty.

      1. Exactly.
        The whole purpose of being a libertarian journalist is to appear contrarian and edgy, while signaling to your more conventional leftist peers that you’re still cool with how sex, drugs and social policies work for the upper-middle class elite.

      2. Plus much more Orange Man Bad. Reason never gets around to doing Orange Man Bad.

  4. “the question is not whether the use of force can be justified but whether a particular policy is appropriate.”

    That is almost a contradiction claiming that the justness of an action is irrelevant to someone’s decision about what is appropriate

    1. Vaccinating a child with the HPV vaccine is an appropriate decision to prevent the spread of HPV strains associated with cervical and other cancers. Coercing children to get the vaccine against their will is justified according to Jacob’s “appropriate policy” test. #LibertarianMoment

      1. Cool. Given that young people cause most death and destruction, through reckless driving, assault, and just plain stupidity, I propose universal prophylactic incarceration from age 14 to 24. Plus it will boost school attendance.

        1. For the children.

  5. First of all, nobody was “forced” to follow the coronavirus guidelines. It’s really just a nudge, some friendly advice that if you know what’s good for you, you’ll follow the government’s suggestions. All you have to do is to voluntarily do as you’re told and everything will be fine. The suggestion that the government uses force is just some of that crackpottery about “all laws are ultimately something your grandmother can be shot over” instead of “government is just the things we choose to do together”.

    Secondly, the idea that some epidemics are “metaphorical” epidemics is nonsense – the science is settled on the issue of human action. As any good social scientist will tell you, humans don’t really have a soul or a consciousness or free will, they’re just programmed to believe that they do. Human beings are just as manipulable to psychologists and sociologists and political scientists and womyn’s studiologists as chemicals are to a chemist or numbers to a mathematician or rocks and minerals to a geographer. It’s science!

    The proof of this is why we banned cigarette advertising on TV, otherwise every single person over the age of eight would be smoking. Just as we all drink a liter of Coke per day and eat all of our meals at McDonald’s, because we are so easily manipulated into believing what we are told and believing that we freely chose to believe it. It’s just the way we’re made. Take for example the well-known fact that all blacks and browns vote Democrat, as well as all gays, all women, all poor people, all smart people. (True, there are a few of those people who vote Republican, but they are victims of a false consciousness, which is a bona fide mental disorder. And not like the sort of disorder where a man thinks he’s a woman, because there’s nothing unhealthy about gender fluidity, you evil transphobic shithead so just shut the hell up.) It’s just the way they’re made. It’s science! Why are you a science denier?

    Government scientists know what’s for your own good better than you do, they know that anything and everything bad in this world is simply a result of human beings that have been infected with the mental disorder that they are free to choose their own behavior instead of accepting the scientific fact that human beings are simply walking, talking bags of chemicals, meat robots programmed to do as they’re told.

    1. I can tell you voted for Mike Bloomberg. Will the government send me to a Skinner Box to make sure I act like a good citizen?

  6. Given their “Never mind, protests are 0K but nothing else is” mentality, the health community can lick my ass with their guidelines.

    1. There are plenty of us in the healthcare community who are just as appalled by this as you are. I have canceled my membership in a number of organizations since they decided to hop on the bandwagon and declare racism the most pressing issue of our time.

      1. Is there a vaccine for racism yet? I’d like to remove my white privilege by staining my skin brown with potassium permanganate.

        1. You can inject various melanin stimulating hormones like “Melanotan”.

          1. “Very early in the process one of the scientists, who was conducting experiments on himself with an early tool compound, melanotan II, injected himself with twice the dose he intended and got an eight-hour erection, along with nausea and vomiting.”

            1. So Friday night then.

              1. Lol!

      2. The shows of abasement by white liberals would be hilarious if they weren’t intent on forcing everyone else to do the same, with the implicit threat of losing your livelihood, family, and social contacts.

    2. Sounds like a potential cholera vector.

    3. But it’s not, “Never mind, protests are OK.” It’s, “These protests are OK, but those earlier ones were bad.”

  7. I’m to the point I am not watching the news and just going about my business. Planted my tomatoes and peppers yesterday, mulched and sat on the patio with a few beers. I recommend it.

    1. Many people sadly don’t have that luxury.

      And the chickens will come home to roost for you when your town starts doing what it needs to do to raise revenue to pay for its massive fall in revenue due to bad policies. Those pensions need to get paid somehow, and you’ll be paying for them.

      1. My town?

        Oh yeah, some people do still live in those. Weird, I’d forgotten!

    2. Sounds like racist oppressor privilege to me.

      1. Waiting for the New York Times article “White Supremacy and Gardening”…

        1. I wonder what the endgame for the rich, white, billionaire owners of the media conglomerates and multinational corporations is.
          I can’t see them pushing all this white supremacist nonsense out of an excess of concern about injustice.

          1. They are not thinking about an endgame. Media was on the ropes until Trump got elected and every liberal blew a fuse and purchased a 12 month subscription to every liberal rag they could get their hands on. Worst case scenario, the white billionaires create a puppet council for minorities (female, black, trans, Muslim, etc.) while still holding the controlling stake in the business. Who cares about demanding a higher salary or better health benefits when you’ve got a woke tribal council where every employee has to confess their racial sins.

  8. “the question is not whether the use of force can be justified but whether a particular policy is appropriate. That question is hard to answer when there is a high degree of uncertainty about the threat posed by the disease and the cost of limiting its spread.”

    The question is very simple to answer; read the constitution.

  9. “The tendency to describe nearly anything that large numbers of people do as an epidemic when others view it as pernicious elides this crucial distinction.”

    Would that journalists and others remember too that the word ‘exponential’ should be reserved for things that exhibit exponential growth, and not merely an intensifier for ‘big’.

    1. Would that journalists and others remember too that the word ‘exponential’ should be reserved for things that exhibit exponential growth, and not merely an intensifier for ‘big’.

      Worse yet, at 0.05% interest, my savings account grows “exponentially” but certainly not fast.

  10. Have pity on the poor public health official. Even without any coercive tendencies, they have to deal with a public comprised of emotional, irrational idiots, incapable of appreciating nuance, complexity, and uncertainty but very adept at denial and special pleading. We would like to think that providing complete quality information about health issues and recommended actions would be enough for adults to make informed choices. We would be wrong.

  11. Since meager testing resources left officials ignorant of crucial facts about the epidemic, they made policy decisions without the evidence necessary to assess their proportionality.

    You are starting from the false premise that government officials care about facts or proportionality.

    What government officials care about is justifications for getting more power and more resources for themselves and their departments.

  12. So, G.W Bush isn’t supporting Trump for re-election.

    Guess Trump needed to kill a million more dark skinned folks…

    1. Bush II: “Miss me now?”

        1. McCain’s widow, Mitt, and Jeb won’t either. Man, Trump has all of the right enemies on both the far left and the mid-left of the aisle.

          1. Add in Colin Powell as usual and it seems the brain trust behind the most idiotic foreign policy blunder ever really do not like Trump.

  13. Government is really only good at two things; brute force and bean counting. So, when you look to the government for solutions, you get one or both of those.

    1. The Nazis were excellent record keepers coincidentally.

      1. Actually, a little digging shows that the Nazis were lousy record keepers. ENTHUSIASTIC, but lousy. It didn’t help that massy parts of the German Military, just in order to do their jobs (and never mind ideology) were fudging things so as not to be told to stop by Nazi higher ups. I don’t know the details offhand, but there was a fundamental disagreement between the Despicable Austrian and the actual battle officers as to what the German soldier needed in a battle rifle…and Herr Paperhanger was wrong. So the German Army carefully worked AROUND their orders in order to get an effective battle rifle. Naturally, the records of this, especially those kept by the actual Nazi Party, are confused at best.

        1. I was referring more to the documents surrounding the Holocaust than any of Hitler’s obtuse military decisions regarding rifles, tanks, or a general unwillingness to retreat when deemed appropriate by the Wehrmacht career officers.

          1. “I was referring ”

            no one cares you’re stupid boring and awful

            1. I know you are but what am I?

    2. Those may be the things they do best, but they still do a shit job of them.

      1. They’re really top notch at destroying things.

        1. In the past they’ve shown some talent for building things, provided you didn’t want subtlety. Of course whether anybody actually NEEDS what the State decides to build is often questionable. The Panama Canal was definitely a good call. The widespread supplementation of expensive, useless, ecologically dangerous, and hard to dispose of wind turbines…not so much.

  14. When we are confronted by an actual public health crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, the question is not whether the use of force can be justified but whether a particular policy is appropriate.

    To rephrase: “It’s OK to use force when the use of force is ‘appropriate’.” I see that Jacob Sullum has gone full fascist.

    See, Jacob, libertarians and classical liberals believe that force is only ever “appropriate” in self defense. Locking up healthy people who are not harming anyone in their homes is not ever appropriate. It is also something no country has ever done in response to a pandemic, not even fascist or socialist states. It’s an absurdity for a libertarian to even attempt to justify such policies.

    1. Give Sullum a break. He is trying to speak for the fragile, pandered generations, who have been told that life is very, very dangerous and only an overbearing authority can keep them safe.

      From helicopter parenting to helicopter governing.

    2. “It’s OK to use force when the use of force is ‘appropriate’.”</i<

      Seems like a true statement, almost tautological and pretty much the premise behind all government action.

      1. No, it’s not tautological, since it implies that there are many situations in addition to self-defense when force may be used.

        1. Sure, but then aren’t you just saying that self defense is the only situation when use of force is appropriate?
          And doesn’t pretty much everyone who isn’t an anarchist believe that there are non-self-defense situations where government use of force is appropriate?

          1. oh shit Zeb is pissed agian…

          2. Self defense includes dealing with trespassers etc. and it may be outsourced. But it always comes down to self defense in a free society.

    3. I think we should all stop pretending this is a libertarian publication.

      1. “we”?

      2. It is in the sense that Silicon Valley is “libertarian.” I have to laugh every time I read about how “libertarian” they are there. It’s libertarian if you don’t know what the word means, just as they don’t know what “liberal” means. By their definition, Stalin would have been a liberal.

  15. The classical liberal tradition has always recognized that the state has a legitimate role to play in protecting the public from contagious diseases. When we are confronted by an actual public health crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, the question is not whether the use of force can be justified but whether a particular policy is appropriate.

    It seems like state intervention is just a given for you. Can’t say I agree with that. Perhaps the state can alert people of the danger and even strongly suggest a course of action like washing hands, distancing, etc. but it doesn’t know for a fact that any particular person is a danger to someone else that particular day, so they’re in no position to force anyone to do anything. It’s analogous to smoking in a bar. Sure, that particular day a person may ingest second hand smoke that causes DNA damage that leads to cancer, but does that justify threatening the owner into banning smoking in his bar? No, that’s up to the bar owner and any potential patron to weigh the risks and act according to their own judgement.

  16. Just to memorialize “science” in the face of politics:

    CDC science before politics;
    “If you are sick,” the CDC says, “you should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office.” But “if you are NOT sick,” it adds, “you do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a facemask).”

    CDC science after remembering where their funds come from:

    In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
    Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.
    The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

    And as a side note, for the ‘real’ flu, both before and after;

    Unvaccinated Asymptomatic Persons, Including Those at High Risk for Influenza Complications
    No recommendation can be made at this time for mask use in the community by asymptomatic persons, including those at high risk for complications, to prevent exposure to influenza viruses.

    1. We kept hearing the CDC tell us that there was “no evidence” that having and getting over COVID provided any immunity. It was disingenuous at best and a lie at worst, as even then the CDC knew that some people had tested positive for the active virus, then later (after they got better) tested negative. That means that the immune system works with COVID in the way we already know it does with any of the other viruses we are able to get over… the body makes antibodies that bind to the pathogen, and that signals white blood cells to destroy the pathogens. That’s the way that someone who has a virus gets to a point of not having that virus. We also know that these antibodies continue to be manufactured by the body for quite a while after the virus is gone. Evolutionarily, it makes sense; keeping the antibodies for a long while after the infection is a good strategy for survival.

      There’s your evidence. It was there all along, but we kept hearing “no evidence.” Perhaps they meant that there was no direct empirical evidence with COVID specifically, which would have been true at that time, but that’s not the same as “no evidence.”

      While they were trying to scare us all into thinking that the good old fashioned (natural) way of getting immunity, partial or otherwise, would not work (which would also mean that any hope for a vaccine is gone, since it works on the same principle), they were revising their previous statements about masks.

      Now we’re supposed to use them, and in this case, there really was “no evidence” to back up the recommendation. That’s certainly true if your mask is a piece of cloth of unknown type with a few elastic bands attached.

      They tell us we need to wear these unproven, untested masks because we might actually be sick with COVID and not know it, and maaaybe wearing a t-shirt on your head would block some of it.

      We do know that people that test positive for COVID (active virus) may actually be feeling healthy, but it’s never been shown that they actually spread the virus in that state. A recent study has cast serious doubt on the “Typhoid Mary” COVID spreader, with none of the 455 test subjects exposed to symptom-free COVID patients for a median of 4 days ending up with the disease. (Typhoid fever, btw, is bacterial, and that’s a whole different thing).

      With a virus, the level of illness is strongly correlated with the number of virus particles in the victim’s body (viral load). The only way that a virus replicates is to inject its DNA or RNA into the victim’s cell, turning it into a factory for more virus particles. When those virus particles are “ready,” the cell bursts, releasing the virions into the host’s body to repeat the cycle. The host cell that burst, of course, is destroyed in the process.

      More viral load means more cells being destroyed, and that’s what makes you sick. With bacterial illnesses, the thing that makes people feel sick is often the toxins produced by the bacteria… in other words, their poop. Even if the bacteria are eating something other than your cells, their pooping into your body makes you feel sick. If you happen to have a body chemistry that doesn’t find the poop toxic, you can have quite a lot of bacteria living and multiplying in the body and not be sick. That’s not possible with a virus.

      With a respiratory virus like COVID, that virus activity is happening within the lungs, so the destruction of lung tissue causes inflammation, which in turn causes coughing, and that in turn causes viral shedding outside of the sick person’s body. Sneezing can also cause large amounts of viral shedding, but COVID does not usually cause sneezing (though other things that cause sneezing can still exist even though the person has COVID). It’s undetermined how much talking or just breathing cause shedding. Compared to coughing or sneezing, it’s trivial.

      From this, it’s easy to see that how sick someone feels is strongly correlated with viral load, and with a respiratory virus, viral load is strongly correlated with viral shedding. The more virus that is shed, the more virus that any person nearby is exposed to, and the greater chance that this person may get sick (and that if they do, the sicker they will be).

      Someone who has so little of the virus that they feel fine will not be coughing from it (the main means of spreading). Maybe they’ll cough from non-COVID causes, or maybe they will sneeze. Whatever happens, though, their low viral load means there will be low viral shedding, and low viral shedding means low odds that someone around will catch it. Since they’re not coughing from the disease, any spreading would generally come from talking or breathing, and with the low viral load they have, the amount of shedding will be miniscule. There may not even be any measurable shedding for people who don’t feel sick.

      The whole reason for all of the measures we’ve taken is the idea that we don’t know who is spreading the virus. The fact is, we actually do… it’s the people showing symptoms. If the people who feel sick stay at home, and if measures are taken to prevent spread to other household members, this pandemic would be stopped dead, even without any government mandates.

      The most important thing remains washing your hands and not touching your face. You can’t control if sick people selfishly go out in public for whatever reason, but you can wash your hands and prevent any virus particles that they sneezed or coughed out onto a surface you touched from getting into your body. They don’t get absorbed through the skin on your hand, but they will quite happily get in via your nose or eyes, and maybe the mouth.

      If you are wearing a mask, it can be itchy or annoying, or it can shift, and the normal thing is to use your hand to reposition it. Lots of people are constantly moving them down off the nose, then pulling it back up. Do any of these, and you may have put the virus particles from your hands on the mask, directly in the path of incoming air when you inhale. They’re far smaller than the pores in the mask, so they will whistle right on through with no problem. Because masks encourage people to touch their face more, they may actually contribute to the spread of COVID. Medical people have to be taught not to touch the mask, even on the outside, and if they must, to wash hands (or change gloves) before and after doing it. Normal people don’t know that and would likely never do it even if they knew.

      That was why the CDC initially said masks for all was not a good idea. They were right about that. Then they changed their mind…

  17. When we are confronted by an actual public health crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, the question is not whether the use of force can be justified but whether a particular policy is appropriate.

    We already have the means and structure by which to deal with those questions. And it is entirely and explicitly constitutional. The interstate compact.

    It recognizes that the core level for any implementation is going to be the state level – regardless of whether they fuck it up or not

    It recognizes that they are going to need – and will benefit by having information that they themselves do not have and cannot necessarily even acquire.

    It recognizes that there CAN be a role for the federal government in either a)preventing states themselves from creating an interstate impact on other states when they do deal with it (eg quarantining neighboring states residents and/or preventing their movement) and b)in directly dealing with the public health measures required in those circumstances where the state-level cannot act (eg screening international airline passengers). But that that is the LIMIT of what the federal level can do.

    We have let that mechanism/structure wither away in our zeal to fix everything from DC. Which means both having Congress legislate the general authority of that compact (which is constitutionally required for the interstate compact) and having the executive branch administer/regulate that legislation (which is exactly what goes against the very idea of the interstate compact).

    The day Trump announced the state of emergency, I looked at the existing interstate compacts. We didn’t even HAVE one for public health. Still don’t obviously. And it was too late by then to set one up ad-hoc. But looking back, it’s pretty clear that a lot of the problems we have had we wouldn’t have had if we had always been doing ‘public health’ in that way. The closest model is Germany – which WE set up after WW2 using what would be called an ‘interstate compact’ here.

    CDC might still have screwed up their test kit production – but they have no ‘mandating’ authority in a compact so no ability to force everyone (like that public health person in WA) to go along with their clusterfuck. They might still have screwed up the passenger screening – but in a compact, it would be 50 states breathing down their neck saying WTF are you just letting passengers depart the airport with nothing at all ‘public health’ actually being done.

    In a way, it is something like distributed accountability based on a Hayekian distributed knowledge/values for those situations where govt is viewed as necessary. And that interstate compact form be used for virtually everything that is currently ‘managed’ (or not) by the executive branch in DC. And if those agencies like CDC don’t deliver the promised (legislated) value to those states – guess who has the authority to let that agency wither away and die?

    1. As an aside – this public health issue dates back a long time. In the 1850’s, cattle from Texas were immune to – but infected by – a disease then known as ‘Texas fever’ now babesiosis (epidemiological research on that by Theobald Smith is what led to the definitive discovery of insects as a possible disease vector – which later led to public health measures by the Walter Reeds, etc re yellow fever, malaria, etc). When they were driven north by cowboys to the various railheads on the cattle trails, the disease decimated northern cattle who had not developed immunity. Various states along those trails (CO, KS, NB, MO, etc) set up armed quarantines to prevent Texas cattle from entering their state.

      The reason the Chisholm Trail and Abilene KS – and later on other trails and cowtowns further away from settled areas – became the center of cowboy and cattle trailing lore is because the KS government agreed not to enforce its quarantine at specific railhead areas along defined frontier trails – and cattle buyers/sellers agreed to overwinter their herds there to avoid diseased cattle getting shipped East to the slaughterhouses. By 1885, KS had no more frontier – and the ‘free lunch’ era for cattle trails ended because they now had to pay too many landowners for easements. So the cattle were more broadly distributed and conflict became more local between ‘open range’ and ‘barbed wire’.

      1. Shut the fuck up ypu stupid pantshtting clown

        1. You’ve been eating urinal cake again haven’t you

      2. You’re right, you cowardly piece of lefty shit, all we lacked was one more level of bureaucracy and everything would have been fine.
        Do you really think that word salad added anything to the discussion?
        Go eat YOUR urinal cake; maybe your mommy says it’ll keep the boogey man away.
        Oh, and check under your bed before she tucks you in.

        Ha, ha, ha….

        1. I know you know that your drinking problem and your brown/clear color-blindness is not a good combo when you persist in drinking out of toilets.

          Just know – my dog quit the habit and so can you. It’s unfortunate that you live in a city that won’t let you fly your fecal flag and makes you wear a mask now. But hey – at least you can still shit on the sidewalk.

  18. “This state weapon I usually use to extract fees and fines to fill your local government’s budget is now being pointed at you for your health. You’re welcome.”

  19. When Should Force Be Used To Protect Public Health?

    never. next question.

    1. Agreed

    2. Ever.

  20. The classical liberal tradition has always recognized that the state has a legitimate role to play in protecting the public from contagious diseases.

    Yes, in the narrow sense of preventing people who are infected from spreading the disease. That’s the same narrow sense in which we lock up people who are violent or insane.

    Not in the sense of locking people up who are healthy, or achieving collective herd immunity, or preventing overuse of government-mandated healthcare monopolies.

    1. “Yes, in the narrow sense of preventing people who are infected from spreading the disease. That’s the same narrow sense in which we lock up people who are violent or insane…”

      Correct, and further, when in doubt, use the *LEAST* intrusive measures available.
      People who think they are at risk can quarantine themselves.

  21. “Since meager testing resources left officials ignorant of crucial facts about the epidemic, they made policy decisions without the evidence necessary to assess their proportionality.”

    It wasn’t just lack of testing. They were being advised by experts who refused to acknowledge the limits of their expertise/knowledge.

    Even if we had early universal testing, the issue of experts not acknowledging the limits of their expertise would still have been a problem.

    1. “Even if we had early universal testing, the issue of experts not acknowledging the limits of their expertise would still have been a problem.”

      After the fission weapons reached a functional state, Truman called in Oppie and some of the other scientists and asked, in effect, how and where they should be used.
      Oppie replied that the people on the committee were physicists, with no particular skill or expertise in setting policy, and turned it back to Truman.
      Fauci and other medical ‘experts’ should have read a bit of history, and exercised a bit of humility.

    2. It wasn’t just lack of testing.

      People keep asking, “How are you?” or “How are you guys?” and I reply “Healthy” or “Healthy, how about you?”. It usually starts off a good conversation about the spread of the disease.

      It’s almost like testing is a sham/foil for compulsory information flow.

  22. “when should force be used to protect public health”

    when the threat to public health is racist, duh

    1. Hopefully, President Joe Biden will create a national task force to contain and prevent the spread of racism in American culture.

  23. Lady Dada
    June.6.2020 at 9:16 pm
    “The atmosphere was festive, the participants were peaceful, and the law enforcement presence was relatively small and hands-off.”

    I’m going to lose it. This wasn’t a protest, it was a fucking street festival. A block party. And I’ve been locked up for what? If the virus were truly that dangerous, “experts” would be begging people to hold their protests on Zoom until we flatten the vaccine or whatever.

    So like every student demonstration in Germany then. They call their protests Demopartysfor a reason. They’re nothing more than an excuse to swill massive amounts of beer, d shuffle their feet to House music, and rage mindlessly against The Man, whoever The Man happens to be at that moment. They never have an agenda nor a list of solutions to present to the powers that be. They never even get around to actually petitioning for redress of grievances. They are content to make a ruckus in the streets and call it a day (or, more commonly, night).

    1. Forgot the space after Demopartys for some reason.

    2. “They’re nothing more than an excuse to swill massive amounts of beer”

      As if Germans need an excuse for that.

      1. As long as it keeps them from invading the neighbors.

  24. While I concur that the use of force can be used to quarantine someone who is infected with a deadly disease or has a high likelihood of infection, that isn’t what the lockdowns have been about. These have been lockdowns, by threat if force, for all people that might engage in risky behavior.

    So by that matter it is the risky behavior that is being banned and being controlled by force. Let’s take this to something a little more personal and emotionally charged than getting haircut and risking a severe respiratory infection and switch up the situation.

    Let’s instead say that it is the 80s and that there is a sexually transmitted disease that is killing people. Killing a lot of people that catch it. Not everyone knows they have it and it can spread while asymptomatic.

    According to this article the “libertarian approach” would be to ban all people from having sex and arrest people for not wearing condoms whether they are infected or not?

  25. Bruh

    Seattle PD dragging mother out of her car while her 9 year old is in the backseat. Officer tells her she has “multiple counts of assaulting an officer. You assaulted me and you assaulted another officer” at a protest couple days ago.

    Cops are seeking revenge on protestors.

    1. I would want to know the details before shitting my pants on this one. If they have video and can identify her throwing a brick or actually assaulting someone, going and arresting her is appropriate. And mentioning that her child is present makes me less sympathetic to this DAE guy, since it has nothing to do with the important facts.

      1. Right? Did you see the scrape on that cop’s shin? 100x worse than a rubber bullet to the face.

        1. Keep doing that it’ll help

        2. So now we are ignoring 13 deaths? Multiple gun shootings?

        3. Was she doing it in self defense of having rubber bullets shot at her? If not this is as important as where her daughter was when she was arrested.

      2. “If they have video and can identify her throwing a brick or actually assaulting someone, going and arresting her is appropriate.”

        If they had such video it would have already been leaked. Cops lie.

        1. If they had such video it would have already been leaked. Cops lie.

          Yeah, because anti-Antifa media outlets like Reason always go above and beyond in their investigative reporting in order to show the deeper, more informed narrative rather than the shallow clickbait picto-news that advances their narrative?

      3. Sure, always good to know the details. But based on the bullshit that is considered “assaulting an officer” in many cases, I’m not inclined to give them benefit of the doubt.

        1. oh shit now he’s really pissed…

        2. Whenever officers make an arrest, they should have body cameras and they should always be on. If cops do make an arrest, we don’t need to see the evidence to know who’s innocent and who’s guilty.

          I know we’re libertarians and I’m 100% on board with fucking over the City of Seattle and the State of Oregon, but keeping track of when we do and don’t need photographic evidence and which evidence we’ll believe a priori is getting a bit SJW-y.

          The cops didn’t just decide “Let’s show up to this womans house and fuck with her.” they had evidence and, given the intervening 2 days,they almost certainly put it in front of a judge who signed a warrant. And while no Reason forumite will acknowledge that the process is foolproof (myself included), the more reasonable ones will fully acknowledge that any judge district attorney or whomever, is likely to be extra motivated in the current climate only to issue warrants for the most grevous offenders.

          My brother and I used to pound on each other as kids (and even as young adults). I agree that the wound absolutely isn’t as serious as a rubber bullet to the chest. At the same time, assuming the cop didn’t show up to the riots in shorts, it looks considerably worse than somebody accidentally dropped their bike on his leg. Morevoer, considering that she seems to have assaulted multiple officers and gotten away, it seems exceedingly likely that she was assaulting them opportunistically.

          1. “The cops didn’t just decide “Let’s show up to this womans house and fuck with her.” they had evidence and, given the intervening 2 days,they almost certainly put it in front of a judge who signed a warrant. ”

            Sure they had evidence. Given how many wrong house raids make the news and a not insignificant number of mistaken identity arrests, should we necessarily believe that they had evidence against that particular womain?

            1. Given how many wrong house raids make the news and a not insignificant number of mistaken identity arrests, should we necessarily believe that they had evidence against that particular womain?

              Given how many people die from medical errors, should we necessarily believe doctors when they say how dangerous the coof is and that shelter-in-place orders are universally necessary?

              1. 1. it generally wasn’t practicing physicians that were providing the advice that drove the shelter-in-place orders. Epidemiologists generally don’t see patients.
                2. There is accountability for doctors who screw up and injure patients and mechanisms in place to compensate those patients. There is little to no accountability for cops that screw up or engage in misconduct. And its nearly impossible for those injured by police screw ups and/or misconduct to get any sort of compensation.

                1. Analogously,
                  1. Were there judges issuing subpeonas or any other ‘use of force’ writs to cops to quell these protests? Riots and the associated quelling don’t usually go through the same judicial review process that a warranted arrest does.
                  2. There is accountability for judges and municipal lawyers who screw up and injure civilians and mechanisms in place to compensate those victims….

    2. @daeshikjr
      Director of Development at @Cut • Writer • Seattle Peoples Party alumn • @bernie2020WA • bylines in @theatlantic, @thenation, @crosscut

      At this point, I start wondering if the woman isn’t, in fact, on the FBI’s most wanted list and the pic is of an officer just scratching his itchy leg. At the very least, I’m gonna need to see more proof that the kid isn’t 100% fabricated.

  26. Dude. Yes, these are the people we need to enforce lockdowns.

    The LAPD has been slicing into protesters’ hands when cutting off zip-tie cuffs. One time is a mistake. Over and over establishes intent.

    1. I don’t care.

      1. Facebook posts cost HRC the election. To combat this idiocy, Juice is citing imgur as a news source.

        Legitimate news and election information is best circulated in the form of cat gifs.

    2. Your one picture is definitely proof of over and over.

  27. It has been interesting to compare the current crisis with when the US faced a new disease outbreak that was also an unknown quantity- AIDS.

    If memory serves, discussions of quarantine were called homophobic since the disease (at least then) was found mostly in the gay community (I suppose the covid restrictions are rightfully ageist then).

    Contact tracing was considered a “personal matter”, and the discussion was of not introducing the state into what was clearly a private discussion (very much contrary to other STDs at the time).

    Even bugchasers were referenced more in terms of personal responsibility to take precautions and use protection as the primary means to reduce the spread.

    And finally, forbidding people to pursue experimental treatments likened to to the mindset of people of a German persuasion with a thing for funny mustaches. Personal autonomy was the clarion call, and how dare the government inhibit what risks someone took with their own body. I believe there was even a movie about this.

    My how times have changed, and yesteryear’s revolutionaries are today’s grandma killers, and the ones calling for a restrictions to protect to public (unless you are battling racism of course) are the vanguard of radicalism.

    1. We’re pussies now. There are safe spaces for micro-aggressions on campuses for the love of Zod!

      1. It isn’t so much better or worse back in the day as much the response has been reflexive across the board and to no one’s surprise, politicized beyond anything resembling public health (the current medical stance on “racism” being the most glaring example).

        Taken on purely public health concerns, the AIDS response was a disaster, with silence=death apparently not applying to notifying partners of possible exposure.

        I can accept that there are other concerns to be factored into public health beyond containment, however, especially with the use of force, the justification is on whim and seemingly retributive, with little actual concern given to protecting the public.

    1. Incident recap

      On December 23, 2018, at approximately 11:00 am, the driver was stopped for suspicion of failing to transfer her automobile title, a violation of Washington State law. The driver refused every one of the officer’s repeated lawful commands, including producing her identification, showing her hands, and exiting the car. Instead, the driver reached inside her purse, despite the officer’s four separate commands not to reach into her purse. This action caused the officer to fear she was reaching for a weapon.

      The driver also left the car in gear and suddenly moved her hand to the gear-control; the officer believed she was attempting to flee or assault him with the vehicle. The officer repeatedly asked her to exit the vehicle, and she refused.

      When the officer removed the driver from her vehicle, she continuously refused to comply with the offer’s command to put her arms behind her back. As the officer attempted to take her into custody she pulled away from the officer and refused to be handcuffed. In order to prevent injury to the driver and himself, the officer took the driver to the ground, and based on the continued resistance, applied a vascular neck restraint technique. video of BPD training with this can be found here.

      The driver was arrested on charges of Refusing to Comply with Police, Obstructing a Law Enforcement Officer, Resisting Arrest, and Motor Vehicle Transfer of Ownership Violations.

      The subject was not injured, and she did not file a complaint. Efforts to contact her to obtain a statement as part of the use of force review process were unsuccessful.

      Not sure what her husband’s information has to do with anything.

      1. Why you wanna kill juice’s righteous indignation boner?

        1. Funny thing is, choking someone out for failing to transfer their license is a valid moral/legal question. Of course, don’t file a complaint, don’t respond to calls from review board, not a lot anybody can do.

          Too bad he didn’t give a shit in 2018/2019.

    2. You’re really citing reddit as a trustworthy source?

  28. Good job Jacob. I like when Reason is, well, reasoned.

  29. “…The health officer must first make “reasonable efforts, which shall be documented, to obtain voluntary compliance” or else determine, “in his or her professional judgment,” that “seeking voluntary compliance would create a risk of serious harm.”

    Problem is, what if this person is a control freak asshole? Say like this cunt:

    “Rachel Ann Bender Ignacio, MD MPH
    Law enforcement violence is a public health issue. So is #COVID19. Not shocking that they both feed heavily from the systemic racism that costs black lives. Ask instead how can people afford not to protest?”

    1. The moment governments decided to suspend these rules to have protests, it became incumbent upon everyone to resist these restrictions every way possible. They are no longer public health measures but measures to restrict free speech and expression.

  30. The debate over these restrictions was made moot the moment governments started allowing George Floyd protests contrary to the lockdown measures. there is no way any of the restrictions on public gatherings could survive a legal challenge in any state or locality that allowed a public demonstration this weekend. There is no rational or scientific basis for saying having ten people at a funeral is a threat to public health but 10,000 at a protest is not. That is just the government using a health emergency to pick and choose what forms of public expression it will allow. And that is a direct violation of the 1st Amendment. Every single restriction in any jurisdiction that allowed large protests this weekend is now illegal. There needs to be lawsuits brought over this.

    And shame on reason for not seeing this and making the point. Double shame on them for not understanding what is going on here and what a deadly threat it is to the 1st Amendment.

    1. “…There is no rational or scientific basis for saying having ten people at a funeral is a threat to public health but 10,000 at a protest is not…”

      Further, there is no functional difference between requiring (at the point of a gun) face masks ‘in public’ while allowing people to ignore it at the protests.
      Goose and gander…

      1. No there is not. I refuse to obey any of these rules. Fuck these people.

        1. So far, I have donned a mask at stores where the store requires a mask to enter. I do not ‘wear a mask in public’, regardless of the claim you are exempt in SF if you are 40′ from another human.
          Further, I’ve been flouting the rules in plain view of cops; not a one of them has made a comment. If one were to ticket me, I’d point out that *S/HE* approached a non-mask-wearing individual who did not approach her/him.
          Yep, I am more than willing to contend the issues raised by the cowardly pieces of shit like JFree.

  31. To answer the question the title of the article asks, never. Our government is run by corporations, not logic! Let the people determine their fate. This, Reason, is a libertarian based organization is it not?

    1. “…Our government is run by corporations, not logic!..”

      Well, unless you’ve got some believable cite for that claim, you also lose regarding your ability to understand logic.
      I’m betting you have none.

      1. Citi did literally pick Obama’s cabinet

  32. Well, if dangers and premature deaths due to smoking, alcohol, suicides, etc. are personal choices, then so are a lot of deaths related to covid-19, since most of these people had several commodities that they would not have if they chose to live a more healthier lifestyle.
    It is not ok to dismiss deaths due to self-harm as something lesser and not comparable to deaths due to covid-19 or other external diseases or threats.
    Self-harm has increased due to lock-down measures. In north California they had more additional suicide deaths than deaths related to covid-19. These self-harms cannot be viewed strictly as personal choices since outside factors (lockdowns) have contributed to substantial increase in them.

    What is important is years of life lost. Most people who die of covid have median age of about 80, and almost half of deaths in US occurred in nursing homes and such, where median stay is 5 months. So, most of these people lost several months or years of life due to covid-19. On the other hand, suicides, for example, are mostly in young people and they lose decades of life.

    Anyway, I mostly agree with the rest of the text and other articles.

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  33. All I can say is, thank God we just shoveled way too much money at the CDC so that they could study the “gun violence epidemic.” Because you know they’ll get THAT ONE right.

  34. Nice article, really nice,
    read more on health at

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