We recently discussed defiant ministers who have refused to end large-scale services like Pastor Tony Spell in Louisiana. Now Florida police have criminally charged Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne of The River at Tampa Bay Church for defying pandemic orders with a mass service.
Fox 29 reports that law enforcement tried to dissuade Howard-Browne but the minister refused to yield and exposed his congregation and their neighbors to spreading the virus. He is charged with “unlawful assembly” and “violation of public health emergency order.”
The Council of Chief Diversity Officers at the University of California has issued a “guidance document” to reject racism, sexism, xenophobia and all hateful or intolerant speech, both in person and online” during this crisis. Specifically, it tells students to stop others from referring to the “Chinese virus” or “Wuhan virus.” The guideline raises renewed questions over the use of diversity rules to restrict or regulate free speech, particularly terms that have strong political or social meaning for students.
Shawn Marshall Myers, 41, has been arrested for violating the order of Gov. Larry Hogan in hosting roughly 60 people at a bonfire last Friday night. Myers defied the order to keep any gathering to 10 people or less.
While Meyers might not have coronavirus, he might not be on the top of the list of most people as someone to party with at any time. He is a registered sex offender.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is threatening to sue Rhode Island for its effort to stop cars with New York license plates to be sure that New Yorkers quarantine for two weeks. This includes police going door-to-door. Apparently, the image of some guy with a bell crying “bring out your New Yorkers” in the streets is not appealing to Cuomo. Yet, this could present a knotty legal issue.
Pennsylvania prosecutors have charged Margaret Cirko, 35, who recently coughed and spit on produce at a store — resulting in Gerrity’s Supermarket throwing out $35,000 of fruits and vegetables. We are seeing the expanding use of terrorism charges against such pranks and displays. The Justice Department is now joining local prosecutors in pledging to bring more terrorism charges against pranksters and intentional spreaders of the virus. However, these cases raise concerns over such charges and the complexity of some of these cases.
The restrictions enforced against Washingtonians are approaching absurdity. Somehow Washington State believes that fishing alone in the middle of Banks Lake will lead to worsening the COVID19 outbreak, so it banned recreational fishing. Yet going into a crowded big box store to panic-buy toilet paper and bags of flour is legal and safe.
Is there a threat that we the public are not aware. Is it that Corona Viruses from China can waft into the jet stream and drop like paratroops onto fisherman at Westport? Might it be frightfully possible that we may be swallowed whole by mutant razor clams lurking beneath the sand. What, if we may ask, is this horrorshow?
I suspect it is one of the worst kind of threat…a government agency given too much authority.
The controversial speech of Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Mich., on the floor of the House of Representatives shows how members can fuel rather than fight hysteria and panic. The incredible scene was played out as the very task force members who she referenced are trying to rebut some alarmist predictions and estimates. Much of the nation is sheltering in place. We get it. However, Rep. Stevens seems intent on elevating not the discussion but the volume of the national discourse.
Dean Allyson Green at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts is facing quite a backlash over a response to the demand for a refund from students of part of their tuition. Green sent out a video of her dancing. She has instantly become the image of a dean fiddling (or dancing) as academia burns in the Corona crisis. Indeed, the backlash is so great, they may be soon calling Emperor Nero the Allyson Green of ancient Rome.
We recently discussed the bizarre trend of teenagers coughing on fruits and vegetables at stores — and efforts of the police to find the culprits shown on social media. In the prior blog, I raised the possibility of prosecutors charging such pranksters with terroristic threats. Now, in Missouri, Cody Pfister, 26, has been arrested and charged with making terrorist threats due to his taking and posting video of himself licking products in a store.
Just when you thought that we were on the right side of the evolutionary curve, pictures emerge of students jamming Florida beaches and others videotaping themselves licking toilets and doorknobs as part of “coronavirus challenges.” It is tempting to shrug and say that this is an efficient way to thin the herd of morons but, of course, these young people are putting more vulnerable people at risk. They however are not immune. One toilet licker has come down with the virus and a “coronavirus party” has led to transmission.
Where the world is united in fighting the menace of the coronavirus, Gazan Imam Jamil Al-Mutawa used his sermon in Gaza to praise the virus as sent by Allah to kill Westerners and Jews while sparing Palestinians. If the translation is accurate on MEMRI from March 20, 2020, the Imam is enthralled by the virus declares “[Allah] has sent just one soldier, [the coronavirus].” In the meantime, Ralph Drollinger, a Christian leader with ties to President Trump, argues in two blogposts that the virus is the wrath of God over our sins. Another preacher is claiming to heal all carriers attending his services because the virus is merely the manifestation of the devil. He added “You’re not spreading God’s word, you’re spreading this virus.”
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has asked for a federal declaration of disaster in Louisiana where he claims numbers of coronavirus are rising faster than anywhere in the world. The state previously banned groups greater than 50 and has now called on all citizens to shelter at home. That is clearly not resonating with Pastor Tony Spell who defied authorities (and widespread pleas) by holding services with 1000 followers of his Life Tabernacle Church in Baton Rouge. Spell, who has claimed to cure such things as AIDS and cancer at such services, insisted that this is a “politically motivated” effort and promised to hold additional such services.
Like many schools, the law school is debating how to change our grading system as we move to an online curriculum during this outbreak. Various proposals have been advanced in different schools from a blanket pass/fair system to an option for students to take a grade or opt for a credit. Columbia Professor Jenny Davidson, however, has a curious solution: give everyone As regardless of the course, their work, or their performance before the outbreak. Of course, putting everyone in the top one percent leaves no one in the top one percent. Responding to a viral contagion with grade inflation is a rather dubious concept. She is not alone. Students at Harvard have called for grading scale that runs only from A to A-. I thought that was a pretty loony idea until I read Professor Davidson’s column. It now seems like the model of restraint and reason.
Stephen Beach of St. Budeaux Parish Church in Plymouth just learned why trial lawyers never ask a question without knowing the answer. Beach was holding an online sermon during the COVID-19 outbreak and asked “Lord God, what are you saying to us?” He promptly caught fire. Fortunately, as shown in the video below, it was just his clothing and the good vicar is fine. He needs a new sweater and his parishioners need a stiff drink. First Prince Charles gets the coronavirus and now good reverends are catching fire.
There has been legitimate criticism of some of the statements made by President Donald Trump during the coronavirus outbreak as overstated or inaccurate. However, there has also been a continuation of the type of “Gotcha” stories that seem to be so reflexive for many in the media. An example is the slew of recent articles on how an Arizona man died of taking the anti-malaria drug repeatedly raised by Trump as a potential treatment for COVID-19. Trump has discussed Chloroquine as a drug which has shown promising results, which is true, in other countries. Indeed, a variation, hydroxychloroquine, has shown remarkable success but still needs to be fully studied for safety. However, the Arizona stories omit that this elderly couple did not take prescriptions of either drug but rather home remedied with chloroquine phosphate used to clean fish tanks.