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Letter to the editor: Local officials are setting a dangerous precedent

OPINION

BY JOSHUA MEURER

The Alachua County Commissioners recently voted to mandate that its citizens wear masks while in public areas. This sets a dangerous precedent for the infringement of personal liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and negates the Oath of Office sworn by our elected leaders. Furthermore, it places those that are the enforcers of such a decree in a situation where it potentially violates their Oaths of Office.

For a government to infringe on a freedom, there needs to be a rationale for the infringement. Government needs to be persuasive in their rationale for taking such action. The argument must be overwhelmingly compelling and supported for the infringement(s) to be accepted, understood, supported, and applied. Here, Alachua County leadership has failed in their rationale, thus failing in their responsibilities.

If the government is going to force its citizenry to modify their actions, where does their authority stop? If their decrees are to “save lives,” then why do they not enforce a mandatory flu vaccination? Having the Flu and Covid-19 is deadly. Why doesn’t the commission mandate a set of physical fitness standards for its citizenry and open fitness centers? Studies have shown that obesity makes Covid-19 more deadly. Why doesn’t the commission mandate a ban on smoking? Bronchial issues make Covid-19 more deadly. Why wasn’t this mask-wearing decree enforced weeks ago during the peak of the virus spread?

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The issue is not wearing a mask; many people voluntarily choose to wear a mask. The issue is being compelled by government to behave in a manner that they dictate. The issue is voluntarily giving government more and more power while the power is not being checked. The founders of our country sought to establish a government to protect our freedoms, not limit them in the name of “public safety.” The founders did not give our government the power to compel its citizenry to behave in a manner that it sees fit.

The numbers do not match the rationale for the mask-wearing decree. Specifically, Alachua County numbers do not match the rationale for the decisions made by the County Commission. The commission modeled their decisions on South Florida’s response–an area that faces challenges different and unique from those we face here in Alachua County.

There must be a balance of power, whether it manifests in civil disobedience or voting for those that will understand the great responsibility of the office that they intend to fill. Our elected officials must display an understanding that their responsibility is to enhance, protect, and defend freedoms rather than seek to limit them. Giving power to an individual tends to reveal the real character of an individual. Sadly, our city and county commissioners continue to fail to be morally incorrupt, fail to truly protect their citizenry, fail to make logical/rational decisions, and fail their sacred oaths as representatives of their constituents. My only hope is that we pay attention and hold these “leaders” accountable.

“Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
– Benjamin Franklin

The opinions expressed in letters to the editor are those of the letter’s author and not of Alachua Chronicle. Letters may be sent to info@alachuachronicle.com. We reserve the right to determine which letters we run.

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