Social media provides a sinister glimpse of where a deeply fearful, conformist society might end up. At a point, that is, when any form of state action in pursuit of a supposed greater good is justified. And given how Ohio’s school administrators reacted to Kitts’ treatment, this point is closer than we think. Marietta City Schools’ (MCS) athletic director, Cody Venderlic, said: ‘The governor and the [Ohio] health department have made it very clear that masks are required indoor and outdoor at sports facilities.’ MCS superintendent Will Hampton also offered his own thinly veiled condemnation of Kitts: ‘If you chose not to [wear a mask] then you threaten not only our ability to have sports but put your ability to watch as a spectator in jeopardy as well.’ And, just to rub salt into Kitts’ wounds, a group of Ohioans pitched up outside the Logan Police Department, banners at the ready, to show solidarity with the school resource officer.
Most people have shown a willingness to sacrifice certain freedoms during this moment of intense crisis. They deem the sacrifice necessary for the time being, and do not expect it to become a permanent way of life. But while this crisis will subside, the reams of legislation left behind will continue to scar society for years. In the UK, Conservative MP Steve Baker touched on this point, lamenting the nearly 200 changes the UK government has made to its Covid rules since March. ‘How do people think that liberty dies? It dies like this, with government exercising draconian powers, without parliamentary scrutiny in advance, undermining the rule of law by having a shifting blanket of rules that no one can understand.’
Quite. Some may be cheering on the overzealous enforcement of Covid rules right now. But they could soon regret it when they realise that the freedom and powers we give up today will not simply be returned to us tomorrow.