Urged on by the florid rhetoric they were hearing on right-wing media, more than 2,000 flag-waving, gun-toting, sign-carrying protesters gathered in front of the state Capitol building in Olympia on Sunday, April 19, to declare that Gov. Jay Inslee’s pandemic-fighting stay-at-home order is an intolerable violation of the U.S. Constitution.
Like similar small groups of demonstrators at several other state capitals across the country, the rebellious folks who gathered in Olympia resent being told to stay home from work, to avoid crowds, to skip church and temporarily refrain from activities that might expose them and the people around them to the novel coronavirus. Among the agitators were three Republican legislators, one of whom – Robert Sutherland of Granite Falls – had a sharp warning for Inslee.
“Governor, you send men with guns after us when we go fishing, we’ll see what a revolution looks like,” Sutherland said. “You send your goons with guns, we will defend ourselves,”
It is not clear about which goons Sutherland was talking. The only guys with guns who answer to the governor are the fine men and women of the Washington State Patrol. It is more than a little startling to hear a state legislator refer to state patrolmen as goons, but such is the rhetorical style of those who glean their version of reality from the rants of Alex Jones, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh.
Agree with them or not, anyone who caught a view of the demonstrators on TV had to wonder about one thing: In that packed crowd of angry people, was there at least one asymptomatic carrier of the deadly virus? And, if so, how many in that crowd would end up sickened or worse? Perhaps they will all be lucky and dodge that particular bullet, but trusting to luck is a dangerous way to deal with a killer disease, though that seems to be exactly what the demonstrators would have us all do.
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