The lengths to which government authorities will go in the name of mitigating the damage caused by the novel coronavirus are becoming more alarming by the minute.
In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf (D) is one of many governors across the nation who has issued stringent stay-at-home orders, effectively banning social gatherings, conducting business deemed “non-essential,” and more until at least April 30.
According to the Harrisburg Patriot-News, Anita Shaffer, a 19-year-old York County woman, was pulled over and ticketed by a pair of state troopers for allegedly violating the stay-at-home order two days after it took effect.
Although she was alone in her car with no intention of getting out of it, Shaffer now faces paying a fine of over $200 for breaking the state’s Disease Control and Prevention Act of 1955. She pleaded not guilty and intends to take up the matter before a magisterial district judge.
Shaffer said she saw the police cars parked in Yoe. After she passed them, the police followed her until they pulled her over in Red Lion, about a five-minute drive away. One of the troopers said they stopped her because her taillight was out and that her window tinting was too dark, she told the Patriot-News.
The troopers also reportedly asked Shaffer if she was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, which she denied. She was still told to step out of her car and the troopers shined a flashlight in her eyes before ordering her to return to her car.
When a trooper asked Shaffer if she was aware of the stay-at-home act, she responded, “I am aware of it but I didn’t know it pertained to just driving.”
The troopers reportedly told Shaffer she wouldn’t be fined for the window tint or taillight, but told her “you should be at home during this act that’s in place right now and just get the taillight fixed,” Shaffer said. Once she got home, however, she and her father Neil Shaffer told the Patriot-News that the taillight was working fine.
While the governor’s stay-at-home order is mandatory, state police spokesman Ryan Tarkowski told the Patriot-News that voluntary compliance is “preferred.”
“Troopers have been encouraged to use contacts with the public as opportunities to reinforce the necessity to abide by stay-at-home orders,” he said, adding that “Troopers maintain discretion to warn or issue citations and the decision is specific to the facts and circumstances of a particular encounter.”
As for Shaffer, she and her father both feel she had every right to go for a drive that night.
“I think this is a little bit over the top,” Neil Shaffer said. “There’s a fine line here but at the same time, we still have some freedom, some rights and liberties and we’re allowed to operate our cars. We’re allowed to go for a walk. We’re allowed to go to the park and we’re even able to go to work” if you work at a life-sustaining business or government agency, he said.
“Most everybody is trying their best but that was ridiculous in my opinion,” he said, warning his fellow Pennsylvanians to be wary of his daughter’s experience becoming the norm.
“The public should be a little bit careful and I think our people in office ought to understand what some of the repercussions are,” he said. “Some of the things border on harassment that could start to take place here if we have a police force that could be looking at things in the wrong light and maybe taking things too far.”
This is frightening, folks.
Now that suspending the right to travel and operate our own property is in the government’s cache of “emergency powers,” do we really think they’ll have the self-discipline to only use it when it’s truly necessary?
At what point will we have lost so much liberty—which I highly doubt the government will just voluntarily hand back over to us after this crisis abates—that the virus becomes the lesser threat?
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