Most parents recall this prototypical Christmas morning scene, when the youngest offspring clumsily ripped open a large gift box, that was carefully selected and tediously wrapped with care. Staring at the contents, momentarily, but quickly casting the gift aside, now content to play with the cardboard box for hours. It seems to be a long standing tradition with the under four crowd-content with cardboard. Try that on a eight year old.
Fast forward to 2021, our nation has, as far-fetched as it sounds, been snookered into being content, once again, with cardboard. The 2021,Toyota U.S. Figure Skating finals in Las Vegas were televised. This venue was second choice, originally scheduled for San Jose, but COVID-19 concerns prevailed, moving it to Las Vegas, where the night clubs and gaming halls are eerily silent and scarcely populated. It was painful to watch the skaters perform their skills before a small gathering of cardboard figure cut-outs. As each contestant on the ladies portion performed, one of the masked commentators mumbled, noting that at the high point of each performance, what was eerily missing was the “cheer of the crowd.” She knew the answer, but asked anyway, “I wonder how much the skaters miss the crowd?” Those cardboard characters don’t cheer, smile, move or gesture. The skaters were spectacular. Not those dumb, colorfully painted cardboard profiles. They’re on the hardwood. Stadiums. Everywhere.
Organizers are content to deprive performers of the spirit of connecting with crowd, since the crowd has evanesced. Many fear we’ve been led astray, that the dumb cardboard “fans” are symptomatic of a larger principle. Many think organized sports are overrated. At such as dangerous time, some say, “Who cares about it?” The principle eclipses the sport itself. It’s a long tradition, stolen from American people. What will be replaced next by cardboard? Law enforcement?
Experts claim reduced crowds in college football isn’t a big deal, claiming players don’t miss them anyway. NFL players are motivated by money and their competitive DNA, were told. Were you surveyed about that conclusion? With COVID constantly breathing down our neck, citizens are rightly asking, “How did we get to this lockdown of sports, restaurants, bars, gyms, schools, and outdoor venues so rapidly?” Downtown public squares in many large metropolitan cities and small towns resemble ghost towns, with scare tactics droning 24/7. City officials are complicit and obsequious. Cardboard customers don’t eat.
American schoolchildren and their parents are being squeezed like Charmin Tissue. It varies by state, but some children are being taught by Mr. Zoom. Others muddle through the day in masks with proper social distancing, isolated from meaningful social interaction. Once the dust settled, many opted for homeschooling by mom or dad. Public officials and school boards are caving in to unelected bureaucrats like Public Health officers, regarding what they may or may not do, interrupting student’s pedagogical needs. Teachers and parents may as well be cardboard figures.
The NCAA and university boards were quickly intimidated by public health official policies, not grounded in state or U.S. Constitutions, as they scurried to be the most compliant. Churches experienced the law of contradiction, when rogue governors and mayors simultaneously held that COVID-19 pandemic renders church services too risky to permit. Deemed “non-essential.” Fortunately, SCOTUS ruled against both Michigan and California. Walmart is essential. Mom and Pop stores go belly-up. Dire consequences of picking winners and losers. Nearly every institution, small business, citizen, and our constitutional guarantees, have been bullied and eviscerated by COVID-19 fear. This virus killed hundreds of thousands. It’s dangerous. However, the protocols in place to fight it have crippled our economy, and hospitals buckle under the load. The message from the CDC is a moving target.
Must we be content with the current state of panic? Should we compliantly wave the flag of surrender? Dutifully wear a mask when ordered? Why is the toddler content with a cardboard box? Because the child doesn’t know better? Parents understand they quickly outgrow that stage. As citizens of this Republic, a nation of laws, with rights anchored in the Constitution, granted by God, where is the line drawn when COVID-19 assaults our land? Are we obligated to suspend our rights in the interest of others? Shamed into obedience? Millions surrendered without a whimper.
In Wyoming, Governor Mark Gordon suspended our state constitutional rights with lockdowns, and intrusion into private businesses, after advise from the Wyoming State Health Officer, Dr. Alexia Harrist. Previously Gordon advocated personal responsibility, saying Wyomingites were up to the task without mandates. However, in a November 13, 2020, press conference his tone changed. He berated those not following prevention measures, and scolded, “If we can’t rely on you, we’re going to do something else.” That’s how we earned our badge of honor “Knuckleheads.” Thereafter, mysteriously they formulated that bars and restaurants will be closed from 10 PM to 5 AM. Seat six at a table, rather than eight. Is that science? In response to voodoo magic, former state legislator, Scott Clem challenged Gordon at a recent Cheyenne rally at the State Capitol, with a bold statement, “We will not comply!” Pastor Clem burnt a mask as the crowd cheered. With a bull horn in hand, Clem, joined by 400 “Knuckleheads” shouting that same slogan within earshot of Gordon’s office. Law enforcement officials in multiple jurisdictions have refused to enforce recent local mask orders.
At that protest, we reaffirm, “We’ll not be content with cardboard!” Unless it resembles Governor Gordon, suitable for the “One Term Governors” museum. Cardboard-a shadow of former substance. We’ll demand the real thing-God’s gift of freedom and liberty. Clem challenged business owners to “civil disobedience” in the face of these draconian restrictions. Shades of the Civil Right’s days. Liberty. Not a priority. Priorities shift. It’s our immutable core principle. What do you think?
Mike Pyatt’s a Natrona County resident. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org