Robert Kirby: Let’s hit those coronavirus protesters where it counts — in their wallets

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Robert Kirby

Fair warning: I may have contracted COVID-19. It’s too early to tell, but I have definitely been exposed. A little.

On Sunday, a package was left on my doorstep. It was from Rash, a longtime friend whose nickname stems from a hot 30-foot section of summer highway in 1969. Never mind.

The “boredom relief package” contained 3 pounds of elk jerky, a bowling ball and a half-dozen magazines that may have been expensive collector items, but I’ll never know because my wife immediately poured bacon grease on them and threw them in the trash.

A minute later, Rash called and told me that he had disinfected the package before leaving it but that it might still have COVID-19 germs on it.

According to Rash, his daughter has a boyfriend whose uncle’s best friend attended Saturday’s gathering of cranks at Salt Lake City Hall to protest the coronavirus-related shutdown enacted by Mayor Erin Mendenhall.

A thousand people showed up, cheered for an overthrow of common sense, hugged, kissed, exchanged Kleenexes, and generally behaved like nothing important was going on in the world except them.

Note: I am not against the freedom to assemble, or the right to speak out, or the basic human right to defy authority, but only if it doesn’t endanger me or those I care about.

I’m also a fan, however, of people taking their lumps when they behave in ways that put others at well-documented risk.

Specifically, the guy who called Mendenhall’s office and threatened violence, saying that a civil war was coming and she would be forcibly removed from office.

Hmm. You can’t do that and not expect some legal fallout. The guy was arrested and released on $5,000 bail.

It’s fair. If someone called your house because the person didn’t like what you were doing, and threatened to take your family hostage, you’d want the government/police getting involved. Right? OK, then.

Congregating during a pandemic could be construed as an assault on public health. At the very least, it’s indicative of colossal indifference, and it should be addressed.

While it seems appropriate to forcibly quarantine people who deliberately congregate to show that the virus isn’t that big of a deal, I draw the line at forcibly quarantining them in cages dropped into a deep part of the ocean.

Likewise, I’m against denying them medical aid, dispersing them with flamethrowers, or forcibly sterilizing them to protect the gene pool. We should behave within the law.

So what do the rest of us do when we firmly believe that this kind of behavior puts us at risk? Do we have an equal right to respond to their response?

Yeah. Long as no one is assaulted (including civil war), then I say we have the right to demonstrate as well. Shouldn’t be that hard to figure out. We simply wait until the threat to public health has passed, then we start boycotting any of the businesses these demonstrators own or work for.

They’re worried about the harm being done to the economy, then that’s where we hit them. In their economy. It’s fair. It’s legal. And we already know that it’s worrisome to them.

Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.