Autumn Johnson is a survivor of child abuse and extreme poverty. Now a lawyer and an employee with The Blaze, I've followed her on social media for some time. On Monday, she posted this:
Her experience is not unlike many Americans right now dealing with the continued lockdowns and social distancing demands of well-intentioned lawmakers. But sadly, even in the midst of her grief, many responses to her post were anything but sympathetic or kind.
Sometimes humanity can really disappoint you if you let it. Autumn made no reference to the cause of Black Lives Matter or Black Trans Lives Matter, or transgender rights or whatever other cause was being promoted at the Brooklyn rally.
What she was doing was pointing out that the same rule-makers, regulation-givers, and lockdown-imposers who forbid her from saying goodbye to her mom because of the fear of COVID-transmission, are doing nothing to prevent – and in some cases are actively encouraging – mass gatherings for public protests.
Saying that is unfair, unjust, and unreasonable has nothing to do with the legitimacy of the protests or the rights of the protesters. It has everything to do with the arbitrary and capricious enforcement of policy being committed by government officials.
To say the hypocrisy has ventured into the realm of constitutional violation is an understatement. At best, this is flagrant favoritism being committed at the executive level of some of the country's largest municipalities and states.
On the one hand, authorities demand churches and restaurants record the names and contact information of anyone who comes to worship or dine, even if properly distanced at a state-approved 6 feet. On the other, if you come to climb all over the back of strangers in the streets, shouting, spitting, yelling, laughing, you are entitled to complete anonymity, now and forever:
New York City officials assigned to trace COVID-19's path will not ask people if they have attended demonstrations tied to Black Lives Matter, a spokesperson for Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed.
Avery Cohen, the spokesperson, told the website THE CITY that if people volunteer information about attending rallies that will become part of their file but "no person will be asked proactively if they attended a protest."
Just like Autumn Johnson attempted to explain, those peacefully protesting have every right to assemble. But those wishing to peacefully grieve at their loved one's graveside have every right to assemble as well. And those wishing to engage in commerce and provide economically for their families are no different. To believe otherwise is morally stunted. To dictate otherwise from a position of authority is constitutionally indefensible.
Yet that is precisely what is continuing to happen at the behest of governors more enthralled with testing the limits of their own power than protecting the liberties of the citizens they are sworn to serve, yet apparently are more inclined to harass.
This nonsense has to end. Go back to Autumn's tweet and look at that scene from the Brooklyn Museum. Then realize that the same Governor Cuomo celebrating that mass gathering is threatening punishment on those who would dare go to the Hamptons or drink a beer too close to their buddy.
If nothing else, these last few months have done much to reveal the authoritarian impulses of those we have foolishly elected. That's a mistake that simply must be corrected.