This lockdown has presented us with hundreds of known examples of authoritarianism going way too far. Our rights are being suppressed. Tens of millions of Americans are being forced into horrible situations as a result of draconian policies. These instances deserve our outrage as free Americans with few good choices in front of us.
But sometimes there are stories that seem to resemble examples that require us to speak, yet they don’t meet the low bar. Such is the case with the 23-year-old New Yorker who flew to Hawaii for vacation. He was arrested when social media posts and witnesses demonstrated to authorities that he ignored the 14-day quarantine imposed on all who travel to the island state. Conservatives took to social media to defend him. This is unfortunate. He does not deserve our defense or support.
A New York City man who traveled to Hawaii was arrested Friday morning after pictures showing the man enjoying the beach and walking around in public were reported to officials. Tarique Peters, 23, was arrested by special agents from the Department of the Attorney General for violating the state’s mandatory 14-day quarantine rule and for unsworn falsification to authority, the governor’s office said in a press release.
Peters traveled to the island of O’ahu on Monday and posted several photos of himself on Instagram. In defiance of the 14-day quarantine rule, Peters allegedly used public transportation to visit several places on the day he arrived. The posts reportedly show Peters walking around Waikiki at night, hitting the beach with a surfboard and sunbathing. Citizens who saw the posts on social media reported the man to authorities. The special agents confirmed with hotel staff that Peters left his room and hotel premises on numerous occasions. Peters was arrested along with a local man, and his bail was set at $4,000.
There are a few things wrong with this picture. Yes, it’s insane to learn that authorities are using his social media pictures and videos to incriminate him. Though they’re a matter of public record—his accounts were not private—it’s still concerning that he was caught in this manner. That’s some Big Brother stuff right there, and we should call out the state for stooping so low. But Peters himself is wrong as well and complaints from conservatives that his constitutional rights have been violated are misplaced.
There’s a huge difference between what millions are suffering due to no fault of their own and Peters’ choices. Residents of a city or state being forced to lose their jobs, close their businesses, or demonstrate to law enforcement that their presence in public is essential constitutes valid reasons for us to be vocal, protest, file lawsuits, or engage in civil disobedience. But someone who intentionally traveled to a state for vacation knowing full well that the state’s mandatory 14-day traveler quarantine was in place does not rise to the level of deserving our outrage.
He left a state in which as many as 25% of the population has been or is infected. He landed in a state with one of the lowest percentages of infections. He wasn’t in a bad situation, as tens of millions of Americans are. He created this situation on his own.
The case of Tarique Peters’ arrest in Hawaii is nothing like the plight of people like Dallas salon owner Shelley Luther who was arrested over a mandate that was imposed on her. Peters imposed the mandate on himself by choosing to go to Hawaii in the first place. That’s a huge difference.
We have so many innocent people who are being targeted by the coronavirus lockdown. These are people who weren’t trying to cause trouble or defy the law pointlessly. They were fighting the good fight to protect their families and defend our rights. What Peters’ did is the opposite. He understood the requirements for traveling to Hawaii because all arriving visitors to the state are informed of their quarantine obligations up front. If it turns out he is a stealth carrier of the disease, as so many in New York are, then his actions may prove to be deadly. That’s not a line in the sand that we need to draw. There is no constitutional right being violated in this case.
The draconian measures used to find evidence of Tarique Peters breaking quarantine deserve attention. But we shouldn’t be defending someone who went out of their way to break the law while vacationing.
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