By Todd Smith | The Caledonian Record
Last week Vermont’s autocratic Attorney General sued a Rutland gym for being open to customers. TJ Donovan asked a judge to shut the gym down, fine the owner $1,000 for every day the gym was open, and reimburse court costs and the cost of the “investigation.”
You might be asking: why is the Attorney General of Vermont investigating a Rutland gym and what does that look like? And that would be a terrific question.
“An officer observed patrons exercising without masks and not staying six feet from each other,” Donovan explains. “The officer saw no hand sanitizing stations or signage advising customers to wear masks, keep a safe distance, or clean equipment.”
It doesn’t seem like a very expensive investigation. But we’re still hung up suspending our disbelief that “no sanitizing stations” or failure to keep a “safe distance” are now crimes in Vermont.
Since we seem to have lost our collective minds, we want readers to remember a few things.
We want you to remember that Vermont forcibly closed its economy and suspended our rights in the name of “flattening the curve.” There’s absolutely zero question that we did that.
We want you to remember that Donovan is the same thug who helped launch the state’s Gestapo ratline, preying on our basest instincts to snitch on our neighbors. Recall that an anonymous call to the ratline can earn you a visit from armed agents of government without any due process.
We want you to remember that the Wisconsin Legislature recently challenged their Governor’s unilateral emergency powers and won. The state Supreme Court found Wisconsin’s “Safer At Home” order unlawful, invalid, and unenforceable. The court found, rightly we think, that the Governor’s emergency powers during a pandemic could only extend to infected residents and could not “prohibit all travel or require the closure of nonessential businesses because nothing in the statute specifically permitted these additional broad restrictions.”
We want you to remember that Darth Donovan announced his war on small business and honest Vermonters on the same day he announced a virtual expungement effort to wipe criminal records clean. That effort came a month after he promulgated his list of recommendations to incarcerate the fewest number of people possible. So Darth thinks violent thugs and repeat offenders are inappropriate for lodging, but mom-and-pop gym-owners — without enough hand sanitizer — need to feel the full weight of their government.
We want you to remember that all the many businesses forcibly shuttered are about to stay shut for good, causing an economic catastrophe from which we won’t ever recover.
We want you to remember that mass unemployment, food insecurity, and homelessness are also public health threats.
We want you to remember that our government was never so serious about heart disease, the flu, cancer, diabetes, pneumonia or texting while driving which are far deadlier scourges.
We want you to remember that you can choose not to go to a restaurant or gym if you think the risk is too high.
We want you to remember, and this might now seem like a hazy concept, that we once lived in a free country that historically accepted risk as part of the social contract.
We don’t know who’s helping the Governor with his final Risk/Reward analysis. We believe they now have it perilously wrong. The science, Constitution and common sense aren’t any longer on their side, and neither are we.
The effort to protect a statistically small subset of the population, at higher risk of any malady, is not an appropriate cause to trample the Constitution, lay waste to the economy, turn people against each other, and criminalize honest brokers trying to feed their families and pay the tax bill.
The Governor and his henchmen had us at “flattening the curve.” They lost us at “flattening Vermonters.”
Todd M. Smith is the publisher of the Caledonian Record, where this editorial first appeared. He lives in St. Johnsbury.