News and Commentary

New York City Wants Residents To Rat On Neighbors Who Violate ‘Social Distancing’
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In yet another move closer to a dystopian police state, New York City is asking residents to report their neighbors who violate “social distancing” restrictions.

The New York City Department of Parks & Recreation sent a tweet on April 2 informing residents that “parks are open; however, everyone must practice social distancing and keep 6 feet apart from others,” but added that all playgrounds are closed to the public and team sports and large gatherings were prohibited. In a follow-up tweet, the Parks Department reminded followers that they “can report social distancing violations” and provided a link to do so.

The linked website says New York City “has enacted public health social distancing restrictions to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus” and that residents “can report a violation in progress for the City to enforce as appropriate.” The website lists three things that can be reported:

  • A business or location is required to be closed
  • An essential business is open, but is not complying with necessary restrictions
  • Overcrowding at a business or location

Another link allows residents to “report non-essential construction in progress during the COVID-19 work stoppage.”

Below this are two lists, one explaining location types subject to social distancing, and the other listing the restrictions, which include:

  • Keeping six feet away from others (non-family group members)
  • Not engaging in team sports
  • Not gathering in groups
  • Non-essential businesses should be closed
  • Essential businesses that are open must follow necessary restrictions

The actual form to report a social distancing violation gives no restrictions about what can or should be reported, and asks complainers to provide the date the observed the violation, a description of the violation, the address of the violation, and the name, phone number, and address of the person who violated the restriction (or maybe it’s asking for the complainer’s information, the form is unclear).

As Reason’s Robby Soave wrote, “overzealous enforcement can breed contempt for the rules.”

“[A]t some point, trying to force every last person to stand six feet away has diminishing returns. This is especially true when punitive means become involved—and when civilians are expected to participate in the policing. See-something-say-something directives make people suspicious of each other, and they invite people to demand police intervention in situations that don’t merit it,” Soave wrote. “A bystander could, for example, report a group of people without realizing that they’re a family. (Household are not expected to distance from each other.) Expecting people to understand the rules as they apply to themselves is one matter. Where other people are concerned, it’s usually best for us to mind our own business.”

New York City is not the only place were “overzealous” enforcement of social distancing is taking place. As The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh recently wrote, police across the country are cracking down on people violating social distancing rules – even when they are alone.

Walsh listed examples of teachers in the cars getting shut down by police because they were trying to encourage students during the shutdown (they were not coming into contact with any other people). There was also a California man who was taken by police after he was caught paddle boarding in the ocean. Again, he was completely alone, while the police who took him down were not.

People have even been pulled over for driving alone in their cars.

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