Wanted: Government Informants

by Kerry Dougherty

Nosy neighbors and tattletales.

They’ve been with us always. And they’ve always been despicable.

When I was a kid a reclusive neighbor – we’ll call her Mrs. Murphy – spent all of her time peering out of her windows. If a kid so much as planted a bare toe on the Murphy lawn her front door swung open and she threatened to call your mother.

Once, when a stray cat had been run over by a car, we kids decided to stage a funeral and bury it in an overgrown vacant lot next to her house.

Old Lady Murphy saw us and called the cops.

Er, cop. We had only one officer in our small town.

Barney Fife arrived in minutes and demanded to know what we were doing.

Once we explained he seemed inclined to let us proceed until Mrs. Murphy roared out, red-faced, with rollers in her hair, hollering that she could smell the dead animal and it was a health hazard.

Barney scooped up the furry carcass and sped away.

We stood there aghast. No, I won’t detail the acts of petty vandalism that plagued the Murphys for years after that. But they deserved every one of them.

My point? No one likes a busybody.

Earlier this week we talked about the rash of neighborhood narcs who spent their weekend driving around Virginia Beach photographing people in parks, on the beach and on the water so they could post them on social media as evidence that some folks violated the six-foot rule or gathered in groups of more than 10.

Congratulations. The beaches are closed.

We’re reporting our fellow citizens to the police, deciding which businesses are allowed to open, and arresting pastors for having a church service.

Coronavirus is not the deadliest thing we imported from China.

Now the City of Virginia Beach is actually ASKING citizens to inform on their friends and neighbors. These are dark times, my friends.

In a COVID-19 bulletin on the city website Beach officials actually urge people to turn in others who dare to picnic or throw out a towel on the beach and take a siesta.

Don’t do it.

This is not East Germany. North Korea. Or Iran.

Not yet, anyway.

This column was published originally at www.kerrydougherty.com.

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23 responses to “Wanted: Government Informants

  1. In 1957 – 1958 the Asian Flu swept the world after originating in China. By the time it was over 116,000 Americans had died of the disease. In 1958 the US had about 1/2 the population we have today. Extrapolating from that the death rate of the Asian Flu in today’s America would be about 225,000 or on the high end of the COVID-19 death rate projected by the CDC. In 1957 – 1958 some governmental actions were taken. Fairfax County closed public schools for example. However the economy was not shuttered and people were not imprisoned for the crime of “congregating”. The US economy did take a hit with a -10% YoY GDP growth rate in 1Q1958. However, the GDP for the year was only down -0.7% and 1959 was a sterling year for GDP growth with a +6.9% bounce back.

    • This is a different virus–not a variation of previous flu viruses. There is no vaccine; for the Asian flu, a vaccine was quickly developed. There are a lot of unknowns. Currently, the best protection is social distancing.

      • There is never a vaccine until there is a vaccine. We’ll see how soon a Coronavirus vaccine is developed. We’ll see how lethal this COVID-19 really is and then we’ll see if government over-reacted, under-reacted or got it about right.

  2. Oh, they’re just looking for someone to blame, like those people who chose to be born too poor to live in suburbia.

  3. What evidence does Kerry have that these folks “spent their weekends driving around” taking pictures of folks violating the gathering rules. If you are on the beach and see someone doing something that endangers public health, what is wrong with reporting that? After all, they are putting not just themselves at risk, but the public generally. People are dying of this disease, after all.

  4. Those who can well inform others of their opinion tend to believe that’s the same as a well-informed opinion.

  5. Methinks some projection is going on but I do expect one of those groups who normally do it – to file a lawsuit against govt for violating the people’s right to assemble and associate… 1st amendment, right?

    This ought to be an interesting case.

  6. What I find mind boggling is the combination of releasing convicted prisoners because of COVID-19 while arresting people for violating quarantine orders. I’m not sure what is the correct course of action but the combination seems absurd.

    • TMT:

      Maybe they are releasing convicted prisoners for the sole purpose of making room for all of the “Stay-at-Home” violators they will be arresting once martial law is officially declared…


  7. It IS perverse. But for those who are not hardened criminals – the spectre of being put in jail next to hardened criminals who also might be infected ought to be a powerful incentive to behave.

  8. History has shown us that governments as very good at killing people, but not so good at saving people. I’m not so sure that we can rely on any state, federal or local government to save us from the pandemic. Therefore, we’re just trading freedom for the empty promise of safety. That’s not a good trade in my opinion.

  9. Hey, Dick lighten up a bit. Kerry’s comments are a welcome addition anytime, and especially now. During my 37 years in Tidewater her column was always a refreshing , thought provoking outlook on life for me. The Palm Beach Post has its Frank Cerabino but I still miss Kerry.

  10. We’re not burying dead cats now. We’re burying people.

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