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< Back to question How do we think about the UK lockdown debate? Show more Show less

The coronavirus pandemic has led to unprecedented isolation measures throughout the world. One effect has been the creation of ideological blocs across traditional party lines, lobbying for different approaches to containing the virus. UK lockdown came into effect on March 23, shutting down non-essential business and movement outside the home, bar a single daily outing for exercise. Critics variously describe this decision as too late, too little, too much and overblown. So, who are these groups, what do they stand for, and why?

The libertarian position, or 'End lockdown now!' Show more Show less

At the heart of this approach is the belief that lockdown is a violation of fundamental human rights. Its proponents range from the UK alt right, to high court judges, to commentators seeing the closure of British drinking holes as a bleak symbol of authoritarian rule.
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The state should not control the individual

This view sees lockdown as a state-sanctioned siege and violation of basic constitutional rights. Proponents advocate flouting social distancing rules to seize back their individual freedoms, and ‘liberate’ themselves from state control. Proponents include the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, the US gun rights lobby and alt-right activists The Proud Boys.
freedom liberation
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Proponents


Context

The global outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in early 2020 led to national and international measures of social distancing, lockdowns and quarantines. As a result, many fundamental rights enshrined in democratic constitutions around the world cannot be effectively put into practice because of their conflicting character with lockdown measures. Most prominently, the right to assemble or to protest is touched by this as social distancing makes protests a high-risk environment for transmitting the virus. [1]

The Argument

This view sees lockdown as a state-sanctioned siege and violation of basic constitutional rights.[2]. The government shouldn’t restrict the individual from using his/her fundamental rights. Even during a global pandemic, the constitution must be respected, and citizens shouldn’t be stripped from their opportunity to do what they want. Around April of this year, first anti-lockdown demonstrations broke out all around the US and in other countries like Germany because citizens felt as though the government is not respecting their constitutional rights. Often, the movement is powered by Republicans or alt-right groups and activists. Beyond being an effort to “regain” full control of their constitutional rights, the protests are often politicized on a larger spectrum of right-winged views, conspiracy theories or anti-vaccine advocates.[2] To further mark their disagreement with government and state regulations on COVID-19, protestors have been discouraged to wear face masks or to maintain social distancing during their demonstrations. According to them, it is unconstitutional and invasive of the state to impose such measures on its “free” citizens. Hence, they shouldn’t be forced to obey to rules deemed unconstitutional by the protesters. Despite a global pandemic, the government shouldn’t try to interfere in the private lives and rights of its citizens.

Counter arguments

1. The governmental lockdown measures do not undermine any constitutional rights. The extraordinary circumstances that the COVID-19 pandemic has imposed makes temporary limitations of fundamental rights necessary to combat the health crisis and to save lives. [3] 2. The fact that protestors are able to protest despite the lockdown measures and a global pandemic proves that there is no democratic infringement on their rights but a possibility for them to live their constitutional rights. [4]

Framing

The individual shall not be limited in his/her actions by governmental intervention.

Premises

[P1] The government should not have too much power over the individual. [P2] Personal freedom and rights weigh higher than governmental measures and interventions. [P3] Collective protection is less important than individual freedom.

Rejecting the premises

[P1] The government should have power over the individual for sake of public good and in extreme situations putting the entire nation at risk. [P2] Personal freedom and rights weigh less than governmental measures and interventions. [P3] Collective protection is more important than individual freedom.

References

  1. https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2020/07/08/us/08reuters-health-coronavirus-events.html
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/17/far-right-coronavirus-protests-restrictions
  3. https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/are-lockdown-orders-constitutional
  4. https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/05/guns-protesters/611560/

This page was last edited on Thursday, 16 Jul 2020 at 11:07 UTC

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