Gretchen "Lockdown" Whitmer gives up on social distancing, marches shoulder to shoulder in protests

Michigan Executive Order 2020-110, June 1, 2020:

Michiganders must continue to wear face coverings when in enclosed public spaces and should continue to take all reasonable precautions to protect themselves, their co-workers, their loved ones, and their communities. Indoor social gatherings and events of more than 10 people are prohibited. Outdoor social gatherings and events are permitted so long as people maintain six feet of distance from one another and the assemblage consists of no more than 100 people.

I can’t tell from the clip below how many people were marching but it’s, uh, safely more than 100.

And she’s clearly in violation of the six-foot rule. Watch, then read on.

Is that a high-risk gathering? Not really. They’re outdoors, she has a mask on, and they were in motion for most of it, it seems. But the rules are the rules, as many Michiganders found out over the past two months. Why didn’t Governor Karen practice what she preached?

Her staff has no good answers, per the Detroit News:

Whitmer spokeswoman Tiffany Brown denied the governor had violated her own executive order issued Monday that says people should remain six feet apart if participating in public gatherings.

“The governor took precautions for engaging in an outdoor activity, including wearing a mask even though it is not required outdoors under the order,” Brown said.

Contrary to the administration’s own guidance posted online, Brown said the unity march didn’t violate her latest order because it states, “Nothing in this order shall be taken to abridge protections guaranteed by the state or federal constitution.”

“That includes the right to peaceful protest,” she said.

Scientists have been painfully clear that mask-wearing isn’t a substitute for social distancing, it’s a supplement to it. You keep six feet away from the people around you *and* you cover up. In fact, one of the reasons the feds were initially leery of endorsing masks was because they worried that people would treat wearing them as an excuse to ease off distancing themselves from others. It’s not either/or — unless you’re a Democratic politician whose urgency to pander on social justice trumps your urgency to protect public health.

As for the idea that Whitmer’s order doesn’t apply to the protest because there’s an exception for First Amendment rights, I don’t know where to start. Religious believers complained for months about not being able to enjoy their right to free exercise of religion and were told that public health came first. But we don’t even need to reach as far as that for a proper analogy. Here’s Whitmer complaining just a few weeks ago about another nonviolent protest in Michigan, the anti-lockdown demonstrations, on grounds that mass gatherings would be self-defeating because they’ll just spread the virus and force her to extend the lockdown to keep people safe.

Why didn’t their First Amendment rights trump social distancing rules the way hers did yesterday? Why didn’t the risk that yesterday’s gathering might spread the virus throughout an already hard-hit community at least warrant six feet of distance among the marchers?

There’s no answer beyond the obvious one, that the rules will be broken for causes favored by Democrats — even by the officials who made those rules. The least Whitmer and her spokespeople could have done is attempted a little Orwellian sophistry along these lines, in which flouting basic good pandemic hygiene is reimagined as a way to *ensure* basic good pandemic hygiene:

Officials need the trust of black Americans when they issue health advisories, in other words, therefore they and other protesters across the country should feel free to ignore social distancing at a moment when 1,000 Americans are still dying every day of COVID-19. In reality the opposite of what Frieden says is true: Watching Whitmer ignore her own guidelines will send a message to Michiganders of all races that they don’t need to follow the rules on limiting the spread anymore. Either the rules don’t work to prevent transmission — if they did, Whitmer would be following them, right? — or they do work but we should feel free to ignore them anyway because it’s simply not fair for the governor to operate more freely than the people she governs.

A terrible show of hypocrisy that’s going to backfire on her state. It’s a small comfort to know there’s near-zero chance she’ll end up as Biden’s VP.