A couple in Florida has been arrested for violating a quarantine order after testing positive for the coronavirus:

After testing positive for COVID-19, Jose Antonio Freire Interian, 24, and Yohana Anahi Gonzalez, 26, were told to quarantine for 14 days. Neighbors complained, however, that the couple was not voluntarily isolating. Interian had been seen washing his car, walking his dog, and shopping for groceries, and both had been seen leaving without masks.

On Wednesday, the couple’s apartment complex manager reported them to Key West police, submitting surveillance footage that showed them leaving and returning home without face masks. The police showed the footage to a judge, who signed an order for the couple’s arrest.

On Wednesday night, police took Interian and Gonzalez to the the Stock Island Detention Center and charged them with violating a state law that requires isolation or quarantine in a public health emergency and violating emergency management. Both offenses are punishable by up to 60 days in jail.

I have two thoughts about this.

First, I believe it is right for governments to impose quarantines on sick people so they don’t spread deadly illnesses. When smallpox starts killing people on a boat, for example, it’s good to keep the boat in the harbor for a few weeks. However, we (1) don’t do this for influenza (to which COVID-19 is comparable) and (2) we only do this for sick individuals. Historically, sick did not mean testing positive on a test. It means walking around hacking and sneezing and vomiting and all the other things you think of when you think sick. If this precedent stands, then any time anyone tests positive for anything the government arbitrarily deems sufficiently dangerous (and “arbitrary” is the right word here), then you can be forced into house-arrest indefinitely with police surveillance. And note that the test need not be accurate. You just have to test positive. That itself constitutes a “long train of abuses”, if you ask me. The Revolutionary War was justified and fought over far lesser violence against liberty.

Second, the neighbors are acting as stooges here. Totalitarian states cannot function on their own power or even on the power of the military. There’s simply not enough soldiers available to enforce totalitarian policy everywhere. They are forced to rely on citizens turning against fellow citizens to accomplish the feat. And that’s exactly what’s happening in this story. Citizens gladly, out of unhinged, irrational terror, turn in their neighbors for non-crimes, essentially acting as unpaid secret police.

America likes to call itself the “land of the free and the home of the brave”. But as we’ve become the home of the weak and scared, we have become a land terrorized by tyrants. It’s probably no coincidence that this sort of thing has only happened after The Greatest Generation has left this world. I doubt they’d put up with it for an instant.