Mayor Hamilton’s attack on the First Amendment must end

Printed in the Herald-Times, November 11, 2020

To the Editor:

After an August party where IU students broke the county health department’s gathering limits, Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton imposed a draconian 15 person limit on private gatherings. There are no signs that this “emergency” order will be lifted.

Mayor Hamilton’s order was imposed after video of a large party was posted on social media. But if Hamilton was legitimately worried about students and not reacting to social media outrage, why was this order not put in place on August 1, when most leases started? This looks more like pandemic theater than pandemic mitigation.

The order does not apply to churches, but many churches have ministries outside of formal Sunday morning worship. These include home fellowship groups and Bible studies. These often include children, who are statistically not vulnerable to the virus.

Obviously, we should take COVID-19 seriously, but this order is far too restrictive and has been in place far too long. It is time for the mayor to reverse the order.

Most people can be trusted to behave responsibly, and it is unjust to restrict everyone’s First Amendment rights because of the actions of some irresponsible college students who were ignoring the county order. Mayor Hamilton, reverse this policy!

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