Governments are taking control of our very personal lives during this pandemic - "for our own good," of course. It has always happened during such times.
During the London plague in 1665, city officials took control of most aspects of the people's lives. They did so based on previously passed laws that were still available to them. Daniel Defoe, wrote in A Journal of the Plague Year
, “This shutting up of the houses was a method first taken, as I understand, in the plague which happened in 1603, at the coming of King James I to the crown; and the power of shutting people up in their own houses was granted by act of Parliament, entitled An Act for the Charitable Relief and Ordering of Persons Infected with Plague
. On this act of Parliament the lord mayor and aldermen of the city of London founded the order they made at this time, and which took place the 1st of July, 1665, when the numbers of infected within the city were but few.”
Similarly, laws (many oppressive and intrusive) have been passed all over the world to deal with the Chinese coronavirus, and some of those laws will stay on the books for many years. Concerned citizens must be vigilant that any oppressive laws be temporary - not permanent.
During the 1665 plague, all funerals had to be held before or after sunset, and no friends or other mourners could attend. There was to be no eating at taverns, and the unspent money was to be given to the poor. I have found no indication if or how that was enforced.
While the Black Death was raging, London officials appointed examiners, “to continue in that office for the space of two months at least: and if any fit person so appointed shall refuse to undertake the same, the said parties so refusing to be committed to prison until they shall conform themselves accordingly.” The examiners were to visit homes and to discover any sickness and to ascertain if possible what diseases were present.
Wait a minute! What if the appointed people had other responsibilities? What if they were afraid of being around dead people? What if they were terrified of being infected and putting their families in danger? Too bad, they would be imprisoned.
During this time, female “searchers” were appointed to make sure the dead had died of the plague and report the deaths to town officials. Also, "chirurgeons" (ancient for surgeons) were appointed whether they wanted to serve or not.
The home of every infected person was “marked with a red cross of a foot long, in the middle of the door, evident to be seen, and with these usual printed words, that is to say, ‘Lord have mercy upon us,’ to be set close over the same cross, there to continue until lawful opening of the same house.” All letters were required to be in upper case.
What if an atheist refused to pay tribute to the Lord with the painted petition on his door? Too bad, no exceptions. And the ACLU was not yet doing their thing.
The searchers, chirurgeons, keepers, and buriers were not to be on the streets “without holding a red rod or wand of three foot in length in their hands, open and evident to be seen.” What if a person did not want to be identified as such? No option.
It was ordered, “every householder do cause the street to be daily prepared before his door, and so to keep it clean swept all the week long.” It was the city’s responsibility to keep the streets clean; however, it was now a homeowner’s job.
Laws were passed that prohibited “hogs, dogs, or cats, or tame pigeons, or conies,” to be kept within any part of the city, “or any swine to be or stray in the streets or lanes, but that such swine be impounded by the beadle [a parish constable of the Anglican Church, often charged with duties of charity] or any other officer, and the owner punished according to the act of common council; and that the dogs be killed by the dog killers appointed for that purpose.” Sorry, but all creatures were forbidden.
An order was published by the lord mayor, and by the magistrates, according to the advice of the physicians, that “all the dogs and cats should be immediately killed, and an officer was appointed for the execution.” Defoe reveals that 40,000 dogs were killed and “five times as many cats.”
Town officials declared, “all plays, bear baitings, games, singing of ballads, buckler play, or such like causes of assemblies of people, be utterly prohibited.” Anyone defying the order was to be “severely punished.”
Markets were closed, but the lord mayor permitted “the country people who brought provisions to be stopped in the streets leading into the town, and to sit down there with their goods, where they sold what they brought, and went immediately away.” But, no chit-chatting.
Denmark has passed an emergency law that allows the government to force people to get a vaccination, although one is not available for the coronavirus. Also, citizens who refuse to be tested for the coronavirus will face fines and potential prison time and will be prevented from entering shops, grocery stores, public institutions, and hospitals while also being restricted from using public transport.
Rahm Emanuel declared in 2008, "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before."
When citizens are fearful, politicians get afraid of appearing not to be in control. Their first fear is the fear of losing the next election. So, be careful when Congress is in session. They will usually solve any problem before us with welfare or warfare.
Both can be deadly to personal freedom.