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Protestors have been driving to state capitals to express disagreement with governors’ pandemic-induced stay-at-home executive orders.

Some observe this is a First Amendment right of any or every American. Some who disagree, including certain governors, claim the citizens are out of line or “partisan,” racist, etc., or not with governors’ coronavirus shutdown orders thus ipso facto not worthy of serious consideration. And protestors have used slogans, symbols, and statements including referencing fascism, etc. to make their points, which make for edgy photo ops on the evening news. 

One thing is fairly clear, the longer state shutdowns go, the more the rhetoric is heating up on both or all sides

Protests per se are not the problem, or at least they should not be in this free country, one with a now long history of meaningful protest dating from the colonial period. 

Peaceful assembly and protests are indeed protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and much case law since. It’s when “peaceful” is lost that protests become a problem – unless of course you disagree with the protestors and take a moral high ground condemning their presentation even if peacefully presented.

I’ve written about protest before in what I considered a much-needed Civics 101 lesson. Let’s review:

1—Is protest legal in the US? Yes, in this free country it is, as long as the protest is peaceful or nonviolent, i.e. not harming people, others’ property, impeding people’s progress on public thoroughfares, or otherwise creating a threat to public safety.

2—Do I have to agree with protestors to agree with their freedom to protest? No.

3—Should protestors (or speakers) with whom I disagree be silenced? No, this idea and now increasingly common action is the opposite of the ideal of freedom of speech.

4—If the point of protest is to draw attention to something considered troublesome, isn’t it logical that the more outrageous the protest the more likely it will elicit response? Yes and No. Yes, outrageous is OK as long as it fits within #1. No, in that outrageous may backfire on protestors, eliciting not a response to their views but to their method.

5—Is protest “bad”? No, not really. It is part of what it means to live in a free, pluralistic, and democratic society.

6—Do American citizens have the “right” to protest anywhere, anytime, for any reason? Yes and No. Yes, as long as it fits in #1. No, if it violates #1.

I support Americans’ right to protest peacefully. The key here are the words “right,” meaning this inalienable civil liberty is protected and guaranteed, and “peacefully,” meaning your right to vent or to express your point of view ends when you introduce threats and/or destruction to property or persons.

I do not support, nor think it remotely necessary, people carrying rifles on state government property. I know this is legal. I know they can do this legally if they wish, but I don’t think it helps their cause and might increase the potential for conflict.

I do not think it is necessary or appropriate, and in fact believe it undermines good arguments on the merits, for protestors to carry swastikas or Confederate flags, or other highly emotive, negative, and divisive symbols. Again, is this legal and a part of freedom of expression? Yes. So what’s the problem? In one since, nothing, it’s some protestors’ way of communicating their concerns. In another sense, it invites if not invokes a whole other discussion that may or may not advance their point of view. And please, I know when I say this some will think, This is exactly what we want to convey, pointing out tyranny in contemporary American politics. Others will react to the associations and history these symbols bring to bear. For me, I wouldn’t go there.

Free speech, or more broadly expression, is at work in protests. So what’s the problem with people “calling names”? Nothing. “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me”…maybe.

Again, for me, while I strongly affirm freedom of speech, I do not endorse or recommend calling presidents, senators or representatives, governors, mayors, or any duly elected or appointed public servant degrading nicknames or using any crude or disgusting vocabulary to describe them. To me, this is juvenile and counterproductive to public discourse. Is it their “right” to speak freely? Yes. Is this sort of approach good for the Body Politic? I don’t think so. 

In a similar vein, some journalists or public officials have called people who choose not to wear a mask in public, “selfish” or “morons” or even the “enemy.” OK, that’s their opinion and they can say this. I don’t go there because I don’t want to label everyone with whom I disagree. I’d rather counter their arguments or points of view on the merits instead of insulting the person. Attacking the person doesn’t leave much room for ongoing debate. We have too much of this on the national level.

Peaceful protests are legal, appropriate, even necessary to the best functioning of a democracy.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2020    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

The impact of statewide stay-at-home orders, or lockdown, in the US has thus far resulted in 36.5 million people losing their jobs

“The pandemic shutdown has piled on the economic agony, with 52% of lower-income adults saying they or someone in their household have lost a job or taken a pay cut during the outbreak, according to the Pew Research Center."

About 1 in 5 small businesses may not make it into a post-pandemic market. While some economists suggest nearly half of all small businesses will close permanently by the end of this year due to the coronavirus crisis response.

It’s a Humpty Dumpty economy if there ever was one.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again.”

So here we are now, trying to phase in reopening but facing a Humpty Dumpty economy that “had a great fall, i.e., was broken by over-zealous politicians, particularly state governors and big city mayors in their desire to make people safe by quarantining healthy people.

I’ve noted before, we’re suffering from inverted logic. To date about 1.6 million C-19 cases have been recorded in the US, with about 90,000 deaths. Meanwhile, 36.5 million have lost jobs since February—some economists saying less than half of these jobs won’t come back—which will result in greater personal and societal suffering. Many unemployed haven’t seen a nickel of unemployment benefits or federal relief funds. And this says nothing about delayed “non-essential” medical care. 

So, with an understandable, maybe even compassionate, and give some the benefit of the doubt and say humane, desire to protect people from a pandemic, politicians acted with the advice of public health and medical “experts.” Problem is, many of them acted in unprecedented overreach, walked over civil liberties as if these historic ideals, principles, and legal guarantees didn’t really matter, strong-armed citizens and churches, and much more of considerable concern

Meanwhile, there was another way: South Dakota never enacted a lockdown. The state recorded four cases per 100,000 people, lowest in the nation and the lowest job losses in the nation. And South Dakota citizens gave Gov. Kristi Noem a well-deserved parade. She took media abuse but stuck to her well-articulated position. She is a too rare, independent thinking politician, one I hope we hear more from in the future.

Jobs provide not only income but focus and purpose. Long-term unemployment is a crisis in itself. But in a Humpty Dumpty economy people suffer from more than loss of income. Some face more domestic abuse at home and a host of other social pathologies increase, including suicide

Stay-at-home, shelter-in-place, lockdown policies, though possibly helpful in slowing the spread of C-19 or flattening the curve in some areas—the jury is really out on whether this is scientifically demonstrable—has nevertheless created a host of ripple-effect-problems of their own.

Any chance of successfully putting our Humpty Dumpty economy back together is certainly dependent upon reopening as quickly as possible. 

State governors need to get people back to work, meaning rescind stay-at-home orders ASAP. 

The American people can rise to the occasion of this layered crisis…if they are given the opportunity to do so. 

For governors to insist upon extending lockdowns into June is to flaunt their legally suspect authority and to tempt increasingly angry, desperate individuals to go “too far” in protests that can create contexts for violence. 

With the advent of warmer weather in the North people are going to reach the end of their rope and allow frustration to boil over, or they are simply going to ignore “orders” and thus be in a position of civil disobedience whether or not they chose to do so. Some county sheriffs and local police chiefs are already defying governors, mayors or councils, saying they will not enforce stay-at-home orders. This may be understandable in terms of a point of view, but it is a development fraught with potential disorder and violence.

Humpty Dumpty can be put back together again but for this to happen, we need pandemic governors to help not hinder us.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2020    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

The fear, even panic in response to the coronavirus pandemic that we’ve seen in the United States is unprecedented, not the virus itself

Young people in general, a lower risk group for contracting the virus, say they fear dying of COVID-19.

I cannot prove this, but I believe this fear is rooted in a lack of understanding of God and certainly biblical theology.  

In a country where 80% of the population say they believe in God, it’s another question entirely who that God is and what they believe about his person, character, and purposes. Christians say they believe in God’s love, omniscience, and omnipotence, but they, too, have been susceptible the fear of the pandemic. 

But Christians’ understanding and application of a Christian philosophy of life has declined precipitously. Just 6% of people claiming to be Christians actually demonstrate they hold a biblical worldview, and in the general public this biblical worldview has declined by 50% in the past twenty-five years. According to Barna Group, “A mere 2% of those 18 to 29 years old possess a biblical worldview.”

People are understandably afraid, and I do not knock them for this. But if their understanding of the character of God is a bit less than skin deep, they have nothing to fall back on for perspective, solace, and peace, nothing but screen time and celebrities. No wonder people are afraid. 

Fear is a part of human life and Christianity is nothing if it cannot help us deal with our fears. This is where faith comes in.

“Faith does not know why, but it trusts God who know why. We do not trust God because he guides us; we trust God and then are guided, which means that we can trust God even when we do not seem to be guided. Faith may be in the dark about guidance, but it is never in the dark about God. What God is doing may be a mystery, but who God is is not.” 

“We do not know why, but we know why we trust God who knows why.” Os Guinness, God in the Dark.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal,” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

“Dear Lord, Although I am sure of my position, I am unable to sustain it without Thee. Help Thou me, or I am lost,” Martin Luther.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2020    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

I like reading biographies or autobiographies - not celebrities but people who matter. I've not read all these, but it's interesting what the title says about the person:
 
To Hell and Back, Audie Murphy (USA's most decorated WWII soldier and later star of Western movies, buried in Arlington).
I Was Wrong, Jim Bakker.
I Can’t Wait Til Tomorrow Cause I Get Better Looking Every Day, Joe Namath.
Me, Katherine Hepburn.
Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela.
Up From Slavery, Booker T. Washington.
Kiss and Make-Up, Gene Simmons.
They Made a Monkee Out of Me, Davy Jones.
Surprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis.
My Experiments with Truth, Mahatma K. Gandhi.
The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank.
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King.
Mein Kampf, Adolph Hitler.
Steps In Time, Fred Astaire.
Happy Trails, Dale Evans and Roy Rogers.
Beam Me Up, Scotty, James Doohan.
The Good, the Bad, and Me, Eli Wallach.
A Funny Thing Happened to Me on the Way to the Future, Michael J. Fox
I Never Played the Game, Howard Cosell.

What would the title of your autobiography be?

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2020    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

Breaking news!

The death rate in the United States, and apparently globally, is 100%.

This agonizing trend will continue until a vaccine in the form of a Fountain of Youth is discovered, tested, and marketed. Researchers the world over are frenetically looking for this Fountain but have been thwarted by reality.

Until the Fountain is found, the public is advised to avoid family, friends, food, fresh air, and fun.

Remember: Stay Home, Stay Alive…well, maybe. Hide under your bed.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2020    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

Breaking news!

The death rate in the United States, and apparently globally, is 100%.

This agonizing trend will continue until a vaccine in the form of a Fountain of Youth is discovered, tested, and marketed. Researchers the world over are frenetically looking for this Fountain but have been thwarted by reality.

Until the Fountain is found the public is advised to avoid family, friends, food, fresh air, and fun.

Remember: Stay Home, Stay Alive…well, maybe.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2020    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.