Empathy, a virus and personal freedoms

I addressed the state of Colorado’s latest moves to try and stem the ongoing tide of coronavirus hospitalizations and infections in today’s podcast. It wasn’t long after I wrapped recording that Weld County’s commissioners did exactly as expected and issued a statement that makes clear they won’t enforce any of the state’s restrictions because of their usual “personal responsibility” reasoning.

The range of feelings I encounter as I watch this ongoing mess develop takes me from anger to a resigned sadness.

It’s interesting to me that the range of feelings comes from one factor: the lack of empathy.

I’ve decided that the bulk of that tweet is going to be sent daily, because it doesn’t seem to register with too many people, especially those in Weld County government. There is a false equivalency that the commissioners make in every argument, whether it’s about the impact of such enforcement actions on small businesses to what they view as personal rights. Of course, we’re talking about the same ilk of politician who will argue about “personal responsibility” being what should be exercised then turn around and try to limit access to women’s health and, specifically, abortion.

It’s a convenient excuse to blow off the public service they were voted in to provide. Instead of pursuing ways to aid the community in the midst of a pandemic, they’re more interested in making political statements that have no grounding in the legal reading of the Constitution of the United States. As I noted in the podcast today–and made clear multiple times on air this spring, angering certain county commissioners who began to exert pressure on my then-bosses–courts have held time and time again over the 200-plus year existence of our country that emergency health orders are legal and enforceable.

By way of asking, did you know that, before the legal system became into being hundreds of years ago, that the way of dealing with someone’s “rights” during a pandemic where they got sick was to just burn their home down? That was viewed as a way to control the spread.

We’ve learned a lot since then, but some people would rather just ignore the effects of this health issue than actually be forced into having to deal with them. That approach not only is an abdication of their duties, it utterly lacks empathy for those in their county concerned over all of the issues at play–small businesses, mental health, effects on children, etc. Add in the county’s extra emphasis on siding with their big business daddies in the meat packing and oil and gas industries and much of their so-called concern falls short of exhibiting any sort of actual empathy for the county’s residents or its small businesses.

It will not surprise me to see a court filing, from either the state or from Weld County, pushing for clarification. It’s a waste of time and energy that could be spent trying to work through this health emergency instead of playing political games. But, I’m not surprised one bit. All you have to see is one commissioner being interviewed for TV by a reporter wearing a mask while she doesn’t to understand the what the mindset is.

“Every man for themselves!”