By Todd Smith | The Caledonian Record
We noticed the Vermont State Police launched an “Executive Order Reporting Tool,” asking Vermonters to tell the government if their neighbors aren’t “complying” with the governor’s orders to shutter business and stay home.
The Kafkaesque web form asks the nature of the “violation,” offering some choices: Non-Compliance Lodging Property; Non-Compliance Visiting from Hot Spots; Non-Compliance On-line reservation suspension; Non-Compliance In-person business operation; Non-Compliance Restaurant On-Premise Consumption of Food Or Drink; Non-Compliance Scheduled Gatherings of 10 or more people.
“It’s just for education,” they say.
Sure it is.
A system that sends armed police to someone’s property, based on a vague and anonymous complaint, seems neither educational nor innocuous. Particularly when paired with Attorney General T.J. Donovan’s press conference last week in which he detailed the enormous civil fines, criminal charges, and imprisonment in his tool belt for Executive Order scofflaws.
No matter what they say, rat-line investigation and enforcement falls on police and the attorney general. That makes it an offshoot of criminal justice.
Even if you unquestioningly appreciate forced closures and mandatory isolation, you can’t help but notice the government presumption that everyone is carrying the virus. Not only is that unscientific, it betrays two sacred underpinnings of jurisprudence – due process and the presumption of innocence.
For making those historic constitutional sacrifices, the public should start demanding something in return.
We don’t think it’s too much to ask, months into the pandemic, for some standard and reliable method for testing affliction and recovery. To date, all government-sanctioned testing efforts have failed quite spectacularly. So their answer is to spray and pray.
That’s devastating because an actual infection might give the government some better, justifiable basis for lording over our lives. Rather than precision containment, based on quality data, they have a single nuclear option that slows transmission but collaterally killed the economy and personal freedom.
Without any quality data, their distancing systems require universal buy-in from the masses. These are the same masses that lost their jobs and don’t like being cooped up. They’re understandably antsy and want to get back to it.
So what happens if a government can’t provide scientific solutions and loses voluntary compliance with its orders? Historically the only thing left in the arsenal is force. As in, armed police at your door on suspicion of executive order non-compliance.
A website that borrows directly from the Gestapo playbook will prey on people’s worst instincts and ooze abuse. We call on the governor to take it down immediately.
Todd M. Smith is the publisher of the Caledonian Record, where this editorial first appeared. He lives in St. Johnsbury.