Of COVID-19, Lockdowns and the Family

January 27, 2021 by Robert Franklin, JD, Member, National Board of Directors


The excellent and never-to-be-messed-with Lenore Skenazy is on the warpath again (Reason, 1/22/21).

It seems Natasha Kohl, an Ontario resident and mother of four kids, had to quit her job due to the various lockdowns occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Plus, daycare centers are in short supply, so Kohl’s faced with how to take care of her children when she needs to go out to, say, the supermarket.  In the case in question, her solution to that problem is to drop them at her in-laws.  That would have made perfect sense except for the fact that Canadians have become so used to reporting their neighbors to law enforcement authorities for all manner of real or imagined infractions.  So some neighbor of Kohl’s in-laws reported the situation to the police as a violation of lockdown orders.

As far as I can tell, the applicable such order prohibits the gathering of ten or more people inside a house.  Were there ten or more people at Kohl’s in-laws house?  Who knows?  But the police stopped Kohl as she was leaving with her kids and dropped a fine on her of $880 for her supposed violation of the Orwellianly-titled “Reopening Ontario Act,” so named because it’s all about closing Ontario down.

Kohl now has a pro-bono lawyer to represent her and will contest the fine.  Good for her.  My guess is that the Crown will drop the charges because, as I suggested before, they have no proof that there were more than 10 people in the house and, in any event, Kohl wasn’t even one of them.

Still, as Skenazy points out in her commonsensical way,

Look, we are in the middle of a pandemic. Kohl had to quit her job to take care of the kids. Now she’s got no job, no legal way to drop her kids off at her in-laws, and a fine on top if it all. Making it harder for a normal mom to do normal things in an abnormal era isn’t making anyone safer.

Exactly.  After all, what are her alternatives?  Should the kids go to the supermarket with her and be exposed to the virus there?  Should she leave them at home unattended?  No, that would bring a slew of child welfare caseworkers down on her.  As an long-ago ad once asked, “What’s a mother to do?”  Needless to say, neither the police nor the government of Ontario considers that any problem of theirs.  Their job, apparently, is to make life as difficult on parents as possible and then fine them when they can’t toe the line.

The family seems to be an edifice with many doors and windows into which can crawl state agents.  We’ve long known about child welfare authorities who miss no opportunity, and are willing to violate numerous laws, in order to stick their noses into parents’ affairs.  Now we can add the police using the excuse of “protecting” everyone from the plague.

There’s that word again – “protecting.”  Why does all this “protection” on offer by a welter of state actors always feel so threatening, so arbitrary.

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