For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. For every decision there is a consequence.
Ten months in to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s lockdown of the State of California, the reactions and consequences are beginning to show. The politicians know this, and appear to desire a certain outcome.
Californians are starting to turn on each other.
In my corner of Sacramento is a beautiful regional park of 160 acres, land purchased in the 1920’s from a large donation by a local philanthropist “to be used as a recreation spot for the children and a pleasure ground for the poor.”
Weekends in this large park are busy year round, but have become unusually busy since the lockdown, with many Sacramento residents desperate for time outdoors. Typical weekends you can find picnics celebrating baby showers, family reunions and birthday parties, and unofficial car and motorcycle clubs displaying vehicles.
Most recently, the usual car group gatherings have gotten a little raucous. What is usually a car show and slow cruise through the park has been compromised by visitors racing in the park and on surrounding residential streets, and really loud motorcyclists driving fast through the park and neighborhood.
Neighbors call the police because it is noisy, can be dangerous and disruptive. The Sacramento Police Department hasn’t been terribly responsive, saying they had homicides to deal with instead. However, budget cuts likely have led to this.
After a few weekends of this raucousness, Sunday morning I witnessed city park rangers and SacPD barricading the picnic and car show area. Rather than assigning a couple of local park rangers and/or SacPD officers to check in on the gatherings, they put up barricades.
What do they think the reaction or consequence to this decision will be? The neighborhood is full of Karens, who don’t like all of the regular park activity anyway. But it’s not the neighborhood’s park – it is a regional park for everyone – including the car and motorcycle clubs.
Unlike the Karens, rational neighbors merely wanted occasional patrols to check in on the groups to keep the raucousness down.
But now, the car and motorcycle groups will blame the good people and Karens in the neighborhood, rather than the local government officials who made the decision to barricade the area.
Where will the car and motorcycle clubs go now? How will they blow off steam?
Too many local and state government officials appear to like the citizens locked down. They say it’s for our own safety to shut down these outdoor groups.
It’s as stupid as cops chasing people off the beaches in Southern California. Or the State Park Rangers closing down State Parks. It’s for their own convenience; with everyone locked down, they don’t have to patrol these venues.
The natural reaction by California residents to officials closing down these outdoor venues is to lash out.
Saturday evening, a mob of about 250 took over the nearby Target parking lot in what was called a “sideshow,” with illegal fireworks. A man was apprehended with a gun, a Mustang was pursued by police, and another car took off on the freeway. The Target had to shut down early.
Is this any surprise?
American freedom is guaranteed by our Constitution. The First Amendment says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
The First Amendment offers five key civil freedoms: freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly and petition, the latter two allowing the right to “petition the government for a redress of grievances,” such as in protest or civil disobedience.
Mobs and raucous events aren’t guaranteed, as the First Amendment specifically says “the right of the people peaceably to assemble.” But the right of people to assemble is key.
There is no law that says Californians can’t go to the beach or parks. Gov. Newsom does not have the Constitutional authority to make laws – only the Legislature can, and they never passed a law locking down healthy California residents. But the Legislature has sat by meekly while the governor runs runs the state like an autocrat, and Mayors keep cities locked down, the results of which are dangerously close to a boiling over by the people.
Is that what the governor and his advisors want? Do they want the people turning on each other? Do they want anarchy? Chaos?
“Everybody, sooner or later, sits down to a banquet of consequences,” Robert Louis Stevenson warned. Politicians are not excused from this.
As Dr. Peter Mazolewski wrote in the Globe last week, “These extreme policies do nothing to affect hospital census. In addition, we now know what was initially feared: closures of businesses and schools lead to immediate loss of livelihood which is followed imminently by loss of life.”
Physicians across the state know shelter-in-place is not a viable response to the virus, and are speaking up. Because healthy people are literally dying from business and school closures, and as Dr. Mazolewski said, business closures do not lower hospital census.
But it was this comment from a reader that really hit home:
“As a recently retired state scientist (Senior Industrial Hygienist), I concur with the points made in this article. The entire state response has been one botched act of political panic after another. Newsom has had access to state industrial hygienists, professionals who understand how to deal with hazardous environments while developing procedures (often in close cooperation with employers) for employees to work under such conditions with negligible risk (there is no such thing as truly ‘safe’ this side of the grave). But has he called on these safety professionals? Nope, just turning to doctors and virologists and epidemiologists. Smart folks, to be sure, but would you let them repair your transmission? They’re not trained for it, nor do they consider real-life trade-offs for their recommendations. It’s all been safety theater, with little understanding of real world conditions and the use of real-world targeted mitigation measures. One size fits all, the hell with ventilation controls or simple barriers, or effective portable isolation (i.e. fit testing and training seniors how to really wear a real filtering facepiece respirator, not a piece of untested, unproven, ill-fitting fabric) of the at-risk.”
As the state scientists told the Globe last week, “the scientists, and their science, remain ignored” by the governor.”
“Science is difficult and takes time. We get the feeling that it’s almost as if science can’t work with Gov. Newsom’s time frame.”
Will the outcomes be violence and anarchy? This seems to be the goal. “Out of chaos comes order” is to California Gov. Newsom and mayors the way of getting power and keeping it – creating just the right amount of chaos they believe will become the outcry for the control they wished to have all along.
Out of chaos does not come order, but control.
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