One of the longer-lasting effects of the coronavirus pandemic maybe how it puts our civil liberties at risk. Historically, governments have used public crises to take advantage of the freedoms of their citizens. Let’s examine the threat to our liberties and what we can do about it.
Why Are Our Civil Liberties at Risk During this Pandemic
A Good Possibility of Rights Violation
At the moment, the reason politicians (and even many of their supporters) are considering limiting the rights of the individual is in response to the coronavirus. This isn’t news to anyone who reads history books; in times of crisis, people often vote for their politicians to take too much control.
Perhaps the most infamous historical example of this phenomenon in action is when Julius Caesar (yes, the famous guy) took emergency powers to become the Emperor of Rome during a time of potential conquest by barbarians. Caesar promised to give the Senate back its powers once the crisis was resolved. Of course, we all know what happened: he didn’t.
Now, we’re not saying that someone is about to declare themselves the Emperor of America. But, we are saying that crises have been excuses for people to grab power in the past. So it pays to keep a level head during the current crisis.
While the coronavirus is bad, it’s not enough for the government to start taking our rights away.
Which Rights May Be Infringed?
If the government starts to restrict individual liberties, some are more likely to be targeted than others. For instance, we’re already seeing the beginning efforts of restricting individual movement and transportation, thanks to quarantine measures.
While quarantine measures have a good effect on how the virus is spreading throughout the country, be on the lookout for measures to change or become too severe.
On the other hand, you may also see the government tried to increase identification laws and monitoring powers. These will ostensibly be to protect the population from the virus spreading again, but they’re not necessary at all. If it's possible, protest or vote against these measures if they ever come into the discussion.
Additionally, there’s one gray area that’ll be tough to make a judgment call on if things come to it. The government may start demanding to test people for the coronavirus, even if they don't show symptoms yet. The government says it is for the benefit of the whole population, but you have a right not to say no.
Remember this if things get this far, as it’ll be necessary for everyone to stand up to mandatory testing.
Of course, if you suspect that you encountered someone who was infected with the coronavirus, you should probably get tested anyway. Even if you don’t have any outward symptoms, you could still be a carrier for the virus and help it last well into the summer or beyond.
What You Can Do?
Ultimately, if your rights are being infringed in the future, the best way to protest is to vote and passively resist with your fellow citizens. If that means going to jail, so be it.
There’s precedent for civil protest, demonstrated by the likes of Martin Luther King Jr. and Henry Thoreau. Protesting in this way is nonviolent and shows other people the moral validity of your position… as opposed to the government.
If things get farther than that… we probably have bigger things to worry about than the virus!
All in all, it’s worrying that individual civil liberties may be at risk in the near future. But things haven’t developed to a tipping point quite yet. Keep watching the news and be ready to take peaceful action if need be.
Remember, you’re American; protect your rights!