Poli-ticks

Arlene Violet: Burrillville, Methinks thou doth protest too much

By Arlene Violet
Posted 7/10/20

As of this writing, Covid-19 deaths top 500,000 globally and the number of confirmed cases top 10 million. The Centers for Disease Control announced at the end of June that for every reported case, …

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Poli-ticks

Arlene Violet: Burrillville, Methinks thou doth protest too much

Posted

As of this writing, Covid-19 deaths top 500,000 globally and the number of confirmed cases top 10 million. The Centers for Disease Control announced at the end of June that for every reported case, there were 10 other estimated infections in the United States. Using only the known cases, the United States constitutes 25 percent of the cases and the deaths while being only 4 percent of the global population.
So, rational people should conclude that we have an epidemic. Social distancing and wearing masks see to be the two most important curbs to the spread along with testing and contract tracing. Yet, the president of the United States and his followers seem to espouse the theory that it is ok to ignore these protections. Accordingly, it is no surprise when the Bryant University poll announced that 48 percent of Republicans in RI back the governor’s pace in reopening Rhode Island while 46 percent wanted a speedier reopening. I guess the latter want us to catch up with Texas, Florida, and Arizona.

To punctuate the support of the president and the far right ideology, the Burrillville Town Council voted to declare itself a “First Amendment Sanctuary Town.” No, silly, not THAT First Amendment, i.e. the Freedom of Speech. The five on the council probably think that journalists are purveyors of fake news, undeserving of protection. Their version of the First Amendment is to declare Governor Gina Raimondo’s executive orders as unconstitutional, and calls upon the police department to exercise "sound discretion not to enforce" these orders. This declaration is a “wink” since Police Chief Stephen Lynch has a proven career of appropriate discretion.

So, what are we to make of our fellow/sister citizens in Burrillville? Are they maneuvering for a tweet from the president? They seem to be playing politics with people’s health. Nobody has an unbridled right to exercise their own judgment which jeopardizes other people’s rights. The case law amply requires Christian Science adherents not to refuse life-saving treatment for their children or Hasidic Jews to flaunt inoculations while demanding entrance to public schools. Do the civic leaders in Burrillville really believe that they can do whatever they want in violation of precautions supported by the scientific community to stop the spread? Correctly, the right to live trumps the Trumpian ideology they apparently espouse.

Governor Gina Raimondo would probably admit that, not being a perfect person, she hasn’t gotten everything right. But for heaven’s sake, Rhode Island is only 1 of 2 states with a decreasing census of infection rates. Her excoriation on talk radio and other places is unfair and, I suspect, sexist. Why else would someone who has a program which is a model for other states become a lightning rod for verbal abuse?
As a former Republican officeholder, I have come to identify with legislator Jack Lyle (Lincoln) who is running as an independent since “his party left him.” The “official” Republican Party has become extreme and espouses positions that divide rather than unite. Sadly, the party of Lila Sapinsley, Claudine Schneider, Susan Farmer, John Chafee, Ron Machtley, etc. is defunct.

Arlene Violet is an attorney and former Rhode Island Attorney General.

Arlene Violet

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