Limits on Liberty: Where’s the Outrage?

Sermon at Lighthouse Fellowship Church in Chincoteague, Va.

by Kerry Dougherty

Remember the hordes of angry people – women mostly – who took to the streets after Trump was elected? They were so worried that his judicial appointments would interfere with their right to abortions that they wore pink vagina hats and called themselves “The Resistance.”

Remember all of the lefties who took field trips to the border two summers ago for photo ops and the chance to shout about the government interfering with the “rights “ of people trying to sneak in to the U.S.?

Remember the scathing newspaper editorials over the past several years that insisted illegal immigrants were seeing their “fundamental rights” (in the words The New York Times)  violated?

So where are these brave defenders of civil liberties when ordinary Americans need them? Where are these great believers in the Constitution now that a virus has caused a stampede of governors to trample on the rights of ordinary citizens, preventing folks from earning a living, traveling, assembling and worshiping?

A pandemic is a national emergency. We get that. But it shouldn’t be license for those with despotic tendencies to impose onerous – and often nonsensical – restrictions on citizens.

But that’s what’s happening.

Last time I checked, “inalienable” wasn’t a typo in the Declaration of Independence.

In Colorado last week, a father – who happened to be a former Colorado State police officer – was handcuffed in front of his 6-year-old daughter after playing T-ball with her in a deserted park.

In Philadelphia, camera phones documented a man being dragged off a city bus by a trio of zealous police officers, after the man – who wasn’t wearing a mask – refused to disembark.

In Chicago, the mayor is forcing citizens to stay in their homes and has cautioned those who leave for extended lengths of time.

In Greenville, Mississippi, police issued $500 tickets to every person who sat in a car to attend a drive-in Holy Week church service. In a video, one police officer told the pastor, “Your rights have been suspended.”

In Arkansas, police spied a girl shooting hoops by herself on a little-used city basketball court and proceeded to rip down the net and dismantle the backboard, telling her to go back inside and study.

In Chincoteague, Va., a pastor was slapped with a criminal citation after holding a Palm Sunday service at the Lighthouse Fellowship Church, where 16 parishioners were seated “widely spaced” apart in a sanctuary that holds 300.

Closer to home in Virginia, the beaches are closed until June 10. They are open only for exercise and fishing. No sitting in the sand.

On April 2, Los Angeles County deputies arrested a paddle-boarder near the Malibu Pier for daring to venture into the water during the shutdown. He faces 6 months in jail or a $1,000 fine.

In Washington ,D.C., the mayor has decreed that people may walk in public parks but are forbidden to sit on park benches. Alone.

In Charlotte, NC., 12 protestors were arrested Saturday outside an abortion clinic for violating the governor’s stay-at-home order even though they reportedly maintained a social distance of six feet and were engaging in a peaceful assembly.

In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer – who seems determined to be crowned the most dictatorial executive in the nation – has signed alarming orders that restrict the rights of people in her state.

Last week Whitmer told Michiganders they could no longer “travel between residences.” Earlier she’d limited gathering in private homes and ordered stores such as Walmart to rope off what she considers “non-essential” items, thereby preventing Michiganders from purchasing seeds, bedding plants, paint and infant car seats. Folks in her state are allowed to go boating – Michigan has more than 11,000 lakes – as long as they go alone and in a vessel without a motor.

Seems some Michiganders have had enough. Protests are planned for Wednesday in Lansing and a Facebook group, “Michiganders Against Excessive Quarantine” attracted 300,000 members in just five days.

You’d expect newspaper editorial pages to also be sounding the alarm about widespread infringement on civil liberties.

You would be wrong. Most appear to be unconcerned. Their silence is deafening.

On Monday, The Wall Street Journal finally weighed in with an opinion piece headlined, “It’s Still America, Coronavirus Or Not: Draconian Orders and Enforcement Will Undermine Public Support For Social Distancing.”

Here are the money quotes:

Americans by and large have willingly obeyed the government’s shelter-in-place and social-distancing orders, but that doesn’t seem to be enough for some public officials. They’re indulging their inner bully in ways that over time will erode public support for behavior that can reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

…As these limits on liberty drag on, the courts will be asked with growing frequency to rule on whether mayors and governors have the authority to decide which businesses must shut down and which may remain open, what products the latter may sell, and whether religious believers may be barred from gathering in a parking lot while remaining in their cars. Public-health emergencies give government officials wide latitude. But the First Amendment still bars government from prohibiting the free exercise of religion and still guarantees the right to free assembly.

In January, social media was full of chilling videos from Wuhan showing empty streets and people being roughed up and dragged from their homes and public transportation.

Suddenly, similar videos are surfacing in the U.S.

Seems that instead of remembering their oaths to protect and defend the Constitution, many governors and mayors are simply following the blow-torch example set by China.

Where’s the outrage?

Note: This column has been edited to reflect the fact that the phrase “inalienable rights” appears in the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution. –JAB

This column was published originally at

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45 responses to “Limits on Liberty: Where’s the Outrage?”

  1. There’s only a slender Virginia-specific connection in this column — the Lighthouse Fellowship Church — but I decided to publish the piece in Bacon’s Rebellion anyway. Kerry raises the crucial question of individual rights in a time of widespread exercise of police powers to repress Americans’ right to the freedom of assembly. Clearly, there are legitimate reasons for restricting those liberties during a deadly pandemic. But just as clearly police actions pose disturbing questions. Kerry is one of the few Virginians I’ve seen to address that issue directly.

    I share Kerry’s amazement that there has been so little debate. If there is a U.S. path to dictatorship, it won’t be the militarist warmongers of the Left’s imagination who take us there. It will be the do-gooders saving us from ourselves. Public health and individual rights are two totally different things. How do we trade off one for the other? What are the philosophical principles at stake?

    1. And I’d rather read your opinion on the matter than her’s. Yours will surely be more well reasoned and thoughtful. If I wanted to read her blog, I’d bookmark it instead.

      1. This is the last blog with Kerry’s byline that I’ll waste my time on. It started with the post about modeling and ends with this one.

    2. Nancy_Naive Avatar

      Especially at a time when D.C. allows a.self-declared monarch.

    3. Nancy_Naive Avatar

      Then again, maybe this is the true authority’s response to it all

      God Displays Wicked Sense of Humor….
      “Hey y’all, the guy who called you in today is dead.”
      Bishop Who Defied Social Distancing Dies After Contracting Covid-19, Church Says
      The death of Bishop Gerald O. Glenn of the New Deliverance Evangelistic Church in Chesterfield, Va., was announced during Easter services.

      1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

        BTW, he ain’t risen.

  2. Theere is rebellion on social media. Its being coordinated, but yes, 149 or so deaths, it simply is not sustainable nor is it logical when most of them are from rehab/senior homes. This is a blatant attempt to destroy the economy. Then the extra taxes going on, and Northam wanted Medicare/Medicaid expansion, which is going to destroy getting back on our feet quickly.

    1. And what’s worse, the Deep State has obviously got to the Red State governors in places like Texas and Florida too. All in an elaborately coordinated plot involving the entire healthcare, hospitality, transportation, entertainment, and manufacturing industries to take down the president.

      Or, or, it’s a pandemic and qualified experts are doing their best to make sure it doesn’t ruin civilization. Whichever one makes more sense.

      1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

        To most here, the 1st.

        1. LarrytheG Avatar

          yep… BR has become a honey-pot for the anti-govt conspiracy loons.. bite my tongue!

          1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

            And yet, not a one of them, not even Ms. Kerry with this rant list, will mention the Ohio National Guard killing four students, all of whom were walking to class, with a ordered barrage of live ammunition. My, my, how freedom rings… hollow with the Right.

  3. Philip Shucet Avatar
    Philip Shucet

    The good thing about commenting is that you don’t have to finish writing one. So, I’ll stop here.

  4. johnrandolphofroanoke Avatar

    I think the outrage and debate is there. My bet is passive resistance in full swing by Mother’s Day. Massive resistance by Memorial Day.

  5. matthurt92 Avatar

    If we don’t have liberty in times of crisis, we really have no liberty at all. If you listen to the politicians on either side of the aisle, it is truly horrifying what they describe as a crisis, and potentially any one of those things could be used to further erode our liberty. The courts have habitually allowed the watering down of the Constitution almost even before the ink was dry on that document. I don’t think history will portray kindly the overreactions of our leaders. However this will not deter future marginalizations of our civil liberties, as those in the past have not curbed governmental overreach either.

  6. djrippert Avatar

    The only surprising thing is that Kerry is surprised. Liberals have long wanted to micro-manage our lives. They want to confiscate our personal property through ever larger tax burdens so they can redistribute that money to whom they deem worthy. In Arlington they have decided to stop teaching students new concepts because doing so would violate their sense of equity – whatever the hell that means. Rahm Emanuel instructed the faithful to never waste a crisis before becoming the mayor of Chicago and creating a world class crisis. Now his liberal successor insists that people stay inside their houses and practice social distancing. Except for her, of course. Photos circulate on social media of Mayor Lori Lightfoot getting a haircut. Her answer? She is in the public eye so the rules don’t apply to her.

    Meanwhile, America’s useful idiots are only too happy to comply. Afraid of their own shadows and chomping at the bit to follow petty dictators like Ralph Northam over the cliff to oblivion these useful idiots insist on everybody’s false imprisonment. It’s not enough that they stay in their homes hiding under their beds. Everybody must be kept under the bed by threat of force.

    Good for the people in Michigan. Good for the people in Idaho. It’s time for civil disobedience. Soon it may be time for much more. Petty tyrants across America would be well advised to remember that members of the armed forces take an oath to protect the Constitution rather than shameless politicians who will use any excuse to circumvent that compact between Americans and our government.

  7. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
    Reed Fawell 3rd

    Rippert hits one outta the park. This boomer follows his right of dads to build sandcastles with their four year old daughters, unmolested by jackbooted cops rampaging up and down Virginia Beach. And there is more, much, much more to tell on this plague that yes, is purely political in human nature, its dark side.

    The list here is endless. There is no freedom of speech in most American Colleges and Universities, today, none, or hardly at all.

  8. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    Kerry and others in this comment string make valid points. Some of the examples provided are obviously extreme reactions to the stay at home decrees. But, these folks then undermine their arguments with hyperbole. “Despotic tendencies”; Chicagoans “forced to stay in their homes” (it seems to be no more than other stay-at-home orders); “blatant attempt to destroy the economy” (really?); “petty dictators like Ralph Northam”; “petty tyrants”

    Kerry needs to re-read the Constitution. “Inalienable” is not in the Constitution, so her comment about it not being a typo is nonsensical.

    1. virginiagal2 Avatar

      Presumably thinking of the Declaration of Independence.

    2. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
      Reed Fawell 3rd

      “Inalienable” is not in the Constitution.”

      Yes, she slipped up, a technical mistake, given that she has good sense to read the US Constitution (including its Bill of Rights) along with Declaration of Independence, the seminal document giving spirit and life to later Constitution, hence the words “inalienable Rights” echo down through centuries of free peoples.

    3. djrippert Avatar

      Two of my sons live in the City of Chicago. The mayor has closed the public spaces where the residents of that high density city might go to exercise, walk, meditate, etc. Big city mayors simply have more power over their citizens than governors of largely rural areas. In DC you are not allowed into a grocery store unless you are wearing a mask. In Philadelphia a man was dragged off a bus by police for not wearing a mask. In Virginia Beach a father and his four year old daughter were harassed by police despite practicing social distancing.

      As for Northam, does he really have the right to quarantine healthy people? Some say no. Here is a section of a column from The Bull Elephant:

      “Virginia Governor Ralph Northam ordered the Virginia Commonwealth and economy effectively shut down by his Executive Order No. 55 (2020). Your author will write on another day about how the Governor’s Executive Order is unlawful or unconstitutional. The statute on which Northam relies is explicitly limited to quarantining those who are actually sick with an infectious disease. Not only must a person be actually sick, but the statute requires that they be repeatedly warned and explicitly refuse to go into quarantine before the statute comes into effect. So Governor Northam lacks the authority to put healthy people under house arrest.”

    4. Nancy_Naive Avatar

      “Kerry needs to re-read the Constitution. “Inalienable” is not in the Constitution, so her comment about it not being a typo is nonsensical.”

      She’s angling for a job from Roger Ailes.

  9. DeptOfTyranny Avatar

    Statists, regardess of what side of the political party coin they claim to be apart of, are taking full advantage of this crises. The EARN IT act, a prime example:

    Watch-out K Dougherty and J Bacon, your blogs use encryption. And Lindsey Graham wants you to Earn it!

  10. LarrytheG Avatar

    The police have always been a blunt instrument. There are always humans in police uniforms that go beyond their authority. We’ve seen this over the years when terrible wrongs have been done.

    Blaming this on the “government” is also a popular activity these days.

    We’ve pretty much always had anti-government militant groups also and with the advent of the internet, they’ve become more and better known to others, some of whom, do lean their way.

    The choice has never been between a despotic government and the kind of anarchy we see in other countries – but some folks make it this choice.

    The USA used to be a bastion of Democracy – to the rest of the world – we led the way and encouraged other countries to move towards Democracy – elected government not dictatorships or anarchy with militia controlling towns and the countryside.

    Now we have folks openly threatening that kind future for the USA.

    I’m amazed but not too surprised.. it’s been moving this way …

    1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

      The proof will come in November when he files notice that he ain’t leaving because there’s no way he didn’t get 40%.

  11. The violations of the right of assembly should be contested in a court case. The Lighthouse Fellowship Church case is a good example. Given social distancing, there is no scientific basis for violating the right of assembly. As of now, the government can declare a crisis that justifies its own institution of a complete police state. The Constitution matters not. Just imagine what could happen if one party controlled all states and the Federal government.

    1. DeptOfTyranny Avatar

      There is only one Party. Two major groups within that party may disagree about a few insigificant matters.

  12. DeptOfTyranny Avatar

    Reasonable people tend to do the right thing, in so far as they are able. Likewise, private enterprises, though they face the added risk of frivolous lawsuits (where its often cheaper to settle that prove your innocence.)

    There is a fine line between outlawing antisocial behaviors of a minority, and silencing the minority whose individual contexts don’t comport with the media propagated “majority” view. Tyrants and political opportunists then take advantage the opportunity.

  13. TooManyTaxes Avatar

    I think this post raises important legal and constitutional issues. Clearly, the government has more powers in an emergency situation. The pandemic is certainly a very serious emergency. But there are limits. Keep in mind that, in the name of an emergency, FDR rounded up all the Japanese Americans living on the west coast and sent them to internment camps. See his Executive Order 9066.

    Canada soon followed suit, relocating 21,000 of its Japanese residents from its west coast. Mexico enacted its own version, and eventually 2,264 more people of Japanese descent were removed from Peru, Brazil, Chile and Argentina to the United States. Didn’t know this until recently. SCOTUS upheld the internment in a 6-3 decision in Korematsu v. United States. The case wasn’t overruled until 2018.

    It strikes that, if people are gathered in groups no larger than 10 and engage in social distancing (how about with masks), they should be cut some slack. If groups get larger or social distancing is not practiced, we are dealing with something else.

    1. djrippert Avatar

      At first, nobody knew what was going on. I would be no worse than the seasonal flu. 70% of Germans would be infected. 40,000 Germans would be infected. The death rate would be 3.4%. The death rate would be under 1%. Human to human transmission was impossible before it became a primary concern. Ok, “experts” often disagree – especially at first. But then the understanding increases. Early models showed 3,400 deaths in Virginia (after taking social distancing into account). Those same models now show 800 deaths.

      One thing for sure – this epidemic has affected different areas very differently. New York City has been under siege while Los Angeles has not been walloped. James City County is a hotspot but other places are not.

      It seems like it’s time to let Virginia’s localities make their own decisions about reopening.

      1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

        Keep mind that Governor Cuomo was even more lax in pushing for closing borders to overseas travelers than was Trump. But unlike the latter, the former has the vast MSM to provide cover and revisions when necessary.

        They say journalism is a profession. But the truth is it’s now a profession only in the sense that prostitution is a profession. And the latter is worthy of more respect than the former. Short of physical harm, there’s nothing that’s too bad that can happen to 98% of America’s journalists.

        1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
          Reed Fawell 3rd

          “Short of physical harm, there’s nothing that’s too bad that can happen to 98% of America’s journalists.”

          Unfortunately it is also true that: Short of physical harm, there’s nothing that’s too bad that can happen to 98% of America’s POLITICIANS. At worse they are pushed out of office rich and fixed for life, no matter the results they achieved, typically highly negative except for their own private interests, and those of their crony friends.

          Public Service at the top in America, by and large, has been reduced to one very long and lucrative gravy train.

          Politicians in America are modern royalty at the top, with a vast aristocracy serving them underneath, the deep state and allied crony groups feeding off the nations coffers.

  14. djrippert Avatar

    The whole point of “flattening the curve” was to prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed. It was never meant as a cure for COVID-19. In fact, it was never meant to stop the spread of the disease. It was intended to slow the spread so that the health care system is not overwhelmed. What now seems obvious in Virginia is that the health care system will not be overwhelmed, especially not state-wide. So, what is the lockdown accomplishing? Have we gone from “don’t overwhelm the health care system” to “remain under house arrest until a vaccine is found”? We’ll probably never know since our governor doesn’t believe he owes the people of Virginia any explanation for his arbitrary and capricious decisions. Why June 10 for example? Why the lack of per capita testing (other than “Orangeman bad”)? If we had more effective testing could we reopen the state or at least parts of the state? How many Abbott testing platforms are there in Virginia?

    This “crisis” has also demonstrated the appalling lack of interest by Virginia’s journalists in asking the Northam Administration any hard questions. I guess Democratic governors get a pass from the self-proclaimed protectors of the truth in Virginia.

    1. matthurt92 Avatar

      I am extremely frustrated with the media. They are supposed to keep all politicians honest, not just Republicans. It seems that the preponderance of the media seems to be invested in advocating for the Dems. They should not be in bed with either party.

    2. DeptOfTyranny Avatar

      But if people die, that fact might be used against his Blue Statist friends in an election. And, they can’t have that political tactic used against them; they need to use it against their mortal enemies, the Red Statists. More importantly, they must look like they are “doing something”. Otherwise, the People might realize they don’t need them so much.

      Nevermind more people die everyday from other things that few people are concerned about.

    3. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
      Reed Fawell 3rd

      Oh, but Don, not to worry, Great and Good Help Is On The Way – the University of Virginia no less!

      UVA now is rushing fearlessly and selfishly into the breach to save the Old Dominion with its very own World Class Unique modeling system that will now rescue Virginia’s hospitals and clinics and healthcare workers from being overwhelmed by the virus this summer.

      Thank God for the University of Virginia!

      1. djrippert Avatar

        Yeah, the whole response across the state of Virginia has been very disappointing. When this settles down there should be an inquiry as to why we failed in so many ways. But who would conduct that inquiry? Dominion Dick Saslaw? Eileen “the special interest Queen” Filler-Corn? The utterly hapless Republicans? Nope. Won’t happen. The bozos will reassemble in Richmond, kiss the butt of Harry Byrd’s statue as they file into session and proclaim the brilliance of “The Virginia Way” as they get back to the business of stuffing their pockets full of special interest cash.

        No questions will be asked. No answers will be forthcoming. Business as usual.

  15. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
    Reed Fawell 3rd

    As we watch this phony war in Virginia unfold remember:

    “The Old Dominion no longer has a government. In lieu of what use to be its government, Virginia is run behind the doors of a vast money exchange. Therein its state politicians sell political favors (called laws), and public rights in Virginia to private interests, all in return for vast cash contributions and votes the Virginia politicians use to enrich themselves and aggregate ever more power for themselves and their crony allies. As a result, Virginia’s Money Exchange can’t hit a fast ball that is now defined as a law serving the public interests. Virginia’s rulers and their regime, all engorged now, have sold their souls to the Devil.

    Remember ideology is only the disguise and sweetener used by the masters to keep the attention of otherwise scatterbrained but otherwise useful idiots whose masters are focused sharply on the money / vote exchange game, nothing more and nothing less.

    The masters care not a tinkers damn about anything else save money and power.”

  16. Nancy_Naive Avatar

    Clearly, I should have waited an hour… at least they took to the streets.

    Hey Kerry! This is your CHANCE. Here’s your HDT moment. Gather your family, friends, and faithful readers, and all three of you head to the beach for an outing. Defy the order. Get arrested!

  17. spencer Avatar

    There isn’t much humor in the world right now. These last few parody pieces of hysterical conspiracy theorists have been a bright spot in these otherwise dreary days! The lack of intellectual rigor. The unabashed grasping…you can’t see me but I’m making that kissy fingers gesture in appreciation!

    All jokes aside, this blog has become a joke.
    I hope you can get it back on the proverbial rails soon. Bacon had something beautiful here, and it was a good run while it lasted. You managed to get this bleeding-heart liberal to check in daily for ten years (give or take). I rarely agreed with the political ideology but always found the articles and comments to be well informed and intelligent. I grew to like all the commentators, especially the ones that elevated my blood pressure.

    Peace out Bacon’s Rebellion. You no longer have anything to offer.

    1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

      Unemployed, unedited, and unread.

  18. Now I’m going to be “that guy”.

    “Inalienable” is not the term used in the Declaration of Independence. Mr. Jefferson actually wrote “unalienable” .

    1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

      Either way, it’ not the Constitution, but in Kerry’s defense, it is a founding document and colors our psyche. Too bad the GOPers didn’t read past the point their 11th grade teachers told them to memorize, and they would appreciate the prescience of TJ at describing the current WH occupant.

      Perhaps when this pandemic ends, and things return to normalcy, they can just buy a ticket to “Hamilton “.

  19. J. Abbate Avatar
    J. Abbate

    Where are the “hordes of angry people”? “…where are these brave defenders of civil liberties when ordinary Americans need them?” According to your argument, they are those who are now pushing back on the advice of the medical experts and the direction of government to demonstrate their stubborn resistance to informed government. Apparently you would have these new “Sons of Liberty” ignore the facts of this deadly killing virus and march to churches and beaches to demonstrate their freedom to infect themselves and willingness to infect others. Are you ready to call for others to break the governor’s directive, and risk infection in a group setting or in not protecting themselves as warned, just to demonstrate their “freedom” from authority? I suggest your ideological-based complaining here shows a disrespect to the real heroes in this pandemic, the first-responders, police, nurses, doctors, elder care attendants, and many others in the frontlines of this medical emergency who actually need the populace to follow government restrictions to flatten the curve, keep infectious spread down, and allow the pandemic to come better under control. A truly self-centered ideology disguised as standing up for liberty can easily be seen here and now as ill-informed, anti-science, and irrational…pretty much following what any of us can witness on TV during the White House Pandemic Briefings…ideology struggling to dominate the honest science of the reality of this lethal pandemic.

    1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

      I really must take time to formulate my responses to some of these opinion pieces on this blog. Not that the authors, this one specifically, could ever feel shame for a continued decay of substantive content, but damn man, it’s cool to witness when someone tenders a good lashing.

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