On May 16, many Idaho businesses were allowed to reopen with restrictions. My family patronized Moscow’s Tapped for dinner that first day.

Per Idaho Gov. Little’s Stage 2 guidance, Moscow restaurants were to submit their reopening plans for preapproval to the Idaho North Central Public Health District. Tapped had removed half of the tables, all employees were wearing masks and gloves, and new disposable menus were printed to limit cross-contamination.

Since sit-down dining had been outlawed for the previous seven weeks and seating was at half-capacity, I arrived early knowing there would be a line waiting to get in. Sure enough, the line was out the door by 6 p.m. Many locals were clearly ready for life to get back to normal. Imagine my surprise when two “concerned citizens” called the Moscow Police Department to complain that Tapped was violating the Stage 2 guidance. The first question is, how can you violate guidance? But the police showed up twice that evening to verify that the restaurant was complying.

One of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis, observed: “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies … those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

Moscow’s concerned citizens remind me of informants who would report infractions to the Stasi (East German secret police). Allegedly, one out of every 100 citizens were Stasi informers, spying on their relatives, friends, colleagues, and neighbors to keep society “safe.”

One hallmark of police states is snitches. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti both encouraged snitching on fellow citizens. De Blasio set up a “snitch line” so New Yorkers could send authorities photos of fellow citizens violating any quarantine laws.

I initiated a public records request with the Moscow Police Department to see how many times Moscow businesses were investigated for allegedly violating the coronavirus lockdown. There were 34 pages of reports to digest. In each case, the MPD dutifully responded to the call, just as they did that Saturday night, and in each case the allegation was proven false.

A few of the more colorful ones:

— A complaint was made that a smoke shop wasn’t cleaning frequently enough.

— A motel called the cops because there was a Californian staying at their establishment.

— Two animal clinics were providing grooming services.

— Six males were skateboarding in the parking lot of the Ale House.

— A local bar was reported for serving alcohol. Rather, five people were doing remodeling work on the establishment.

— A local hardware store had Washington and Oregon plates in the parking lot, people in the store were too close together, and she didn’t see anyone clean the credit card machines.

— The mayor was told that Tapped, Bucer’s, Humble Burger, and Mingles were each providing sit-down service to customers. Each restaurant was investigated, photos were taken by the investigating officer, and each allegation was found to be false.

Finally, two complaints were made 34 minutes apart against Tapped the night I was there. The police, being around the corner, arrived within two minutes of each call and found that Tapped was indeed following the Phase 2 guidance. Turns out, Tapped was reported more than any other restaurant in Moscow during those seven weeks. Each time, the allegation was false.

Moscow is well known as a progressive paradise, a blue dot in a sea of red. Progressives have opted for a culture of safety no matter what the cost, boarding themselves up in a maximum security paradise where they are protected from anything that could make them uncomfortable, physically or emotionally. But a culture of fear is where freedom goes to die.

Moscow progressives: if you are right, this virus will kill off the rest of us, and you’ll be done with us. If you are wrong, we will go back at work, paying for your unemployment benefits. Either way, you win. But at least let us enjoy our few legal liberties.

Dale Courtney served 20 years in nuclear engineering aboard submarines and 15 years as a graduate school instructor. He now spends his spare time chasing his grandchildren around the Palouse.

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