I read this article this morning:
Evacuation holdouts defy danger to protect homes - Yahoo! News
and it made me wonder what the 'right' thing to do is.
On one hand, you have people who are endangering themselves and others by staying behind in potential disaster areas...
On the other hand, you have people who are protecting what is their own (as you read nearer to the end of the article there are some seemingly legit reasons for staying)
The article mentions a law that allows police to arrest people who will not evacuate when told.
The questions in my head are:
1. Should the government be able to forcefully remove someone from their home, regardless of the circumstances. (IE - Pandemic, Flood, Fire, Hurricane, etc)
2. Are officials morally bound to rescue someone who refuses to evacuate when it could endanger the lives of rescue workers?
3. Can Constitutional rights be over-ruled during crisis situations?
The third question comes from a different article that I also read today about possible Pandemic laws that would allow the government to trample Constitutional rights in order to protect the masses. At first I thought it was a propoganda page, but the link to the actual bill is at the top of the article, and the bill is almost verbatim what they wrote in the article.
Cops jump on swine-flu power: Shots heard 'round the world
This one seems a little more disturbing.
The highlights are below:
"As stated in the bill, upon declaration by the governor that an emergency exists that is considered detrimental to public health or upon declaration of a state of emergency, a local public health authority, with approval of the commissioner, may exercise the following authorities (emphasis added):
- to require the owner or occupier of premises to permit entry into and investigation of the premises
- to decontaminate or cause to be decontaminated, or to destroy any material
- to restrict or prohibit assemblages of persons
- to control ingress to and egress from any stricken or threatened public area, and the movement of persons and materials within the area
- to procure, take immediate possession from any source, store, or distribute any anti-toxins, serums, vaccines, immunizing agents, antibiotics, and other pharmaceutical agents or medical supplies located within the commonwealth as may be necessary to respond to the emergency (This includes your home and your guns if they deemed it 'necessary to respond')
- to require in-state health care providers to assist in the performance of vaccination, treatment, examination, or testing of any individual as a condition of licensure, authorization, or the ability to continue to function as a health care provider in the commonwealth
- to collect specimens and perform tests on any animal, living or deceased
I read through the bill and it also includes some other interesting tidbits, such as:
line 217 -
"Whenever a person required to report learns of a case of a reportable disease or health condition, an unusual cluster or a suspicous event, that he or she reasonably believes may have been caused by a criminal act... he or she shall immediately notify the state police. Whenever the department learns of [the problem] [describes the chain of 'notification' thereafter]."
line 238 -
"No person making a report under this section shall be liable in any civil or criminal action by reason of such report if it was made in good faith.
Any person required to report who refuses to file a report required by this section shall be subject to a fine..."