Thoughts to Consider
The United Kingdom is perhaps our nation’s closest “relative.” However, due to differences in history, culture and political system they are a few steps ahead of the United States in the destruction of human liberty. We therefore should pay attention to what is going on there (as I have, for example in the Rotherham Child Sex Scandal) with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic response. Note that I’m not saying that the United States is at the same place, but rather a few steps back — thus allowing us a little time to consider how many more we should take in the direction of authoritarianism.
Thoughts worth considering in this respect from our cousin country were offered by former Supreme Court Justice Jonathan Sumption to the BBC.
The former Supreme Court Justice Jonathan Sumption, QC, has denounced the police response to the coronavirus, saying the country is suffering ‘collective hysteria’. This is an edited transcript of his interview with BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme earlier today. …
–Dymond: At a time like this, as you acknowledge, citizens do look to the state for protection, for assistance, we shouldn’t be surprised then if the state takes on new powers if it responds. That is what it has been asked to do, almost demanded of it.
–Sumption: Yes that is absolutely true. We should not be surprised. But we have to recognise that this is how societies become despotisms. And we also have to recognise this is a process which leads naturally to exaggeration. The symptoms of coronavirus are clearly serious for those with other significant medical conditions, especially if they’re old. There are exceptional cases in which young people have been struck down, which have had a lot of publicity, but the numbers are pretty small. The Italian evidence, for instance, suggests that only in 12 per cent of deaths is it possible to say coronavirus was the main cause of death. So yes this is serious and yes it’s understandable that people cry out to the government. But the real question is: is this serious enough to warrant putting most of our population into house imprisonment, wrecking our economy for an indefinite period, destroying businesses that honest and hardworking people have taken years to build up, saddling future generations with debt, depression, stress, heart attacks, suicides and unbelievable distress inflicted on millions of people who are not especially vulnerable and will suffer only mild symptoms or none at all, like the Health Secretary and the Prime Minister.
–Dymond: There will be people listening who admire your legal wisdom but will also say ‘well, he’s not an epidemiologist, he doesn’t know how disease spreads, he doesn’t understand the risks to the health service if this thing gets out of control’. What do you say to them?
–Sumption: What I say to them is I am not a scientist but it is the right and duty of every citizen to look and see what the scientists have said and to analyse it for themselves and to draw common sense conclusions. We are all perfectly capable of doing that and there’s no particular reason why the scientific nature of the problem should mean we have to resign our liberty into the hands of scientists. We all have critical faculties and it’s rather important, in a moment of national panic, that we should maintain them.
Please do think carefully about these ideas, and about the consequences to our nation’s citizens should we respond hysterically to the COVID-19 challenge.