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This week is the peak for the coronavirus outbreak.  According to the model most heavily tracked by the White House, it was yesterday.  A steady slide is now expected into June.  So, now what?

People keep telling me we’ll need to be careful to protect lives.  Aren’t we already careful?  When I drive I try and stay in my lane and obey speed limits and stop signs.  Some people don’t and we get accidents.  Some people die in accidents.  The logic would tell us we close the roads and put our cars in the garage to avoid highway deaths.  Or am I missing something?

The logic would tell us we close the roads and put our cars in the garage to avoid highway deaths.

Do we need to qualify every conversation with “all deaths are tragic”?  When I was a little boy I was told if I was really good and accepted Jesus as my savior, then I was eventually going to a better place when I died.  Somehow, I wouldn’t label eternity in heaven as tragic.

Getting back to the roads analogy, there are some people who act with a depraved indifference to the health and lives of others.  It’s why we build jails and prisons.  Sometimes we even execute the depraved and we do it because we believe it’s a public good.

If someone knowingly and intentionally infects other people with a dangerous virus, then by all means, lock ‘em up!  Mary Mallon remains known to history as Typhoid Mary.  She knowingly infected dozens of other people.  Three died.  She had refused to leave her job as a cook.  She was confined for the remainder of her life.  To protect others.

Confining people who aren’t sick because there are odds (possibly slender)  they could become sick is an entirely different matter.  When I was working as a reporter, I carried a copy of a court decision in my jacket pocket.  It made it clear the government couldn’t stop me from covering stories because I might report something the government or its agencies considered dangerous.  Prior restraint is the stuff of Tom Cruise and Minority Report.  Good science fiction.  In our constitutional republic it isn’t reality.  Or it shouldn’t become reality.

And yet, here we are.  The Governor just gave us two more weeks of home confinement.  Who’ll file the first lawsuit on behalf of the American way?

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