RALEIGH – It would have been hard to imagine a scenario in which one issue could be used by governments to criminalize behavior in so many ways, yet the Pandemic Panic has shown just how expansive authoritarianism can be when it’s justified by the ‘common good.’ You can’t have a parade, or a concert, or even a private party. You must wear a face mask in public, your kids cannot go to school, and you cannot buy alcohol if it’s too late.
Raleigh Mayor Mary Ann Baldwin has joined other jurisdictions in banning the sale of alcohol after 11:00 PM in the City of Oaks. Why? Because of coronavirus.
The move comes after Orange County, home to UNC Chapel Hill, banned alcohol sales after 10:00 PM after reports that UNC students were going to restaurant bars at night….because all the other bars are mandated closed.
The order from Mayor Baldwin comes after she’s raged over people actually going out to eat and staying out for drinks — you know, living their lives — without being sufficiently panicked about the pandemic. Bladwin sought to fix that with a mask mandate, and now an alcohol ban.
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“What we’re trying to do is curtail activity from say 11:30 (p.m.) to 2 a.m. because many were remaining open that late,” Baldwin said last week. “Let’s face it, when people consume alcohol they’re not making good choices. Not everybody, but some, so we just want to reduce that risk and do so in a responsible way.”
So now the coronavirus is being used to justify elected officials passing ordinances to control your personal choices. The coronavirus is being used by authoritarians to make people drink (and socialize) less because drinking has been deemed undesirable and leading to bad choices.
To be sure, the ban on sales goes beyond just restaurants; according to the order, Raleigh residents won’t even be able to buy a bottle of wine, a six-pack of beer, or some trendy seltzers from area grocery or convenience stores either.
Think about that.
We’ve seen lots of overreach from local jurisdictions since this saga began, but these micromanagement initiatives have reached even slippery territory. Incrementally, the window of acceptable authority over our lives has been shifted farther and farther. What other lifestyle choices might these authoritarians find undesirable and deem a pandemic risk?
The logic employed in arguing for individual restrictions, individual sacrifices, for the perceived good of the collective, can be extended to any number of actions and behaviors. Accepting the argument in one context means accepting it in others until the Individual is completely subordinate to the collective.
It’s a dangerous game.