The Crime of Helping the Sick

Kaci Hickox says she was shocked at first, but now she’s angry, after being forcefully quarantined in New Jersey. Hickox is being held against her will at University Hospital in Newark, after returning from West Africa where she was volunteering to treat Ebola patients with Doctors without Borders. Her detention follows a policy put in place by Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, and Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, that would forcibly detain anybody returning from Sierra Leone, Liberia or Guinea, who may have come into contact with Ebola patients in the West African countries.

The Crime of Helping the Sick
The Crime of Helping the Sick

The policy has stirred up quite a bit of controversy, but the governors aren’t backing down. At least not entirely. Kaci Hickox is scheduled to be released today after testing negative for Ebola twice, and showing no symptoms, but the policy remains in place. Hickox’s attorneys were planning to file a lawsuit in federal court, and it may be that the Chris Christie just wanted to avoid his policy standing up to scrutiny in the court system for as long as it could be avoided.

Medical professionals have discouraged the policy, saying that it would discourage doctors from volunteering in West Africa. Dealing with the outbreak where it started, they say, is the best way to contain it. Telling doctors that traveling to help the sick will have them forcibly detained upon their return home, could have a chilling effect on their travel plans. The other risk factor is that they might attempt to cover their tracks, going to and from West Africa through another route, and not disclosing their exposure when they arrive back in the US. Either course of action could expose the US and the rest of the planet to a greater threat of spreading the virus.

Politicians, however, are not doctors. They don’t respond to medical needs, they respond to public opinion. Doctors and law enforcers, unfortunately, respond to politicians whether the orders are medically sound or not. While news outlets spend all their time scaring the crap out of the public, politicians try to capitalize on that fear for their own benefit and elevation to higher seats of power.

Besides, it’s not like this is the first time somebody was detained without cause. Everyone who has ever been arrested for anything has been detained against their will, at least for a few hours. Depending on the circumstances, people can spend years in jail waiting for a trial, and if found not guilty, may not be entitled to any compensation for all that detainment. A story in the New York Times today, tells of a woman who had her bank account seized by the IRS, without any suspicion of wrongdoing. You might think Ebola volunteers are a special case because they are trying to help disadvantaged people, but of course, we’ve got stories of people being arrested for feeding the homeless here in the United States.

I mean, where does it end, folks? Stop & Frisk, checkpoints, quarantines, mass surveillance, all suspicionless intrusions into the lives of normal people. It’s literally to the point that government is detaining doctors for the crime of helping sick people, and jailing volunteers who feed the homeless. Meanwhile, pedophiles walk amongst us with police protection.

We literally live in a world where the worst thing you can do, is try to help somebody. Robert Bragg was arrested in Georgia for helping the 17 year old victim of a car crash. Or a San Francisco man who wound up in solitary confinement after helping some folks injured in a bicycle accident. Yakov Dublin, arrested in New York for attempting to return a purse he found in Central Park. How about Denver police threatening to arrest a witness who attempted to comfort a dog who had been hit by a car? Then of course there are the countless incidents of civil disobedience where activists are locked up just for disagreeing with a particular government policy.

All these examples and more, yet there are still people who believe the State is some benevolent institution just looking out for our best interests. If it weren’t so sad and repulsive,it would be hilarious.

So if you’re thinking of going to West Africa to help Ebola patients, if you’re thinking about feeding the homeless in Florida, if you’re thinking of helping injured animals, returning lost property, or helping accident victims, good for you. I think it is wonderful that so many people are willing to take time out of their lives, and put themselves at risk for helping others. Just remember though, the government isn’t there to help you, or anyone else. They are in the business of doing harm, and most of the time, they are harming good people.

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Christopher Cantwell comedian, writer, voice artist, and Patriot.

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