In a stunning abuse of police power and flagrant violation of the First Amendment, a Wisconsin sheriff and deputy are being accused of forcing a girl to remove an Instagram post. The girl, a student at Westfield Area High School in Marquette County, Wisconsin, began experiencing symptoms of a respiratory infection after traveling in March to Florida with classmates. Within days of arriving back home, the girl had developed symptoms that were consistent with possible coronavirus, including a fever and cough.
While the girl ultimately tested negative for the coronavirus, doctors claimed that she may have missed the window to test positive, and that she very likely did still have the virus. The girl and her family attempted, unsuccessfully, to contact school officials so that they could warn her classmates. After that, the girl posted on Instagram: “I am finally home after being hospitalized for a day and a half. I am still om [sic] breathing treatment but have beaten the corona virus [sic]. Stay home and be safe.”
In response to the post, the girl was visited by Marquette sheriff deputy Cameron Klump, who warned the girl that he had direct orders from Sheriff Joseph Konrath to order her to delete the post. Klump warned that unless the post were deleted, he would cite the girl and her family for disorderly conduct and start sending people to jail. Under that kind of pressure, the girl deleted the post, but the family has since filed a lawsuit against the sheriff and his deputy.
One possible reason for the alleged First Amendment violation is that Marquette County at the time had no coronavirus cases. The Sheriff may have been worried that news of a potential coronavirus case might have spurred a panic within the county. But that’s not really any of his business. If someone is ill, the rest of the county has a right to know about it. Trying to shut down news of potential infections is straight out of the Chinese Communist Party’s playbook.
Unfortunately, this coronavirus crisis has demonstrated that too many policemen around the country are all too willing to crack down on First and Second Amendment rights in the name of combating coronavirus. Scratch the thin blue line and in most cases you’ll find a red communist underneath it, only too willing to follow orders and enforce state dictates, no matter how unconstitutional. We have to realize that neither our fellow citizens nor our government overlords care about our rights, and that if we want to retain them, we’ll have to fight for them tooth and nail.