On October 1, a Maryland man was arrested for murdering his brother and sister-in-law.
He believed his brother, a pharmacist, was killing people by giving them the COVID-19 vaccine.
Aside from deceiving and denying scientific reality, this twist is also disturbing for what it signals about the growing rejection of the rule of law. Not only had this man fallen victim to a conspiracy theory and believed in the madness that the vaccine not only did not protect people but could cause them death, but he also felt the permission to face the law in his own hands and act as judges, juries and executioners.
What happened to you picking up the phone and calling the police if you thought someone had committed murder? If it’s an emergency, dial 911.
Well, this man obviously knew that his brother pharmacist was not breaking a socially sanctioned law and that the police were unlikely to act.
He acted according to the law and sense of justice that he and other conspiracy theorists had invented.
And why shouldn’t he believe that he has the right to take the law into his own hands?
Texas lawmakers recently passed the infamous abortion ban, the enforcement of which is left in the hands of private individuals rather than state authorities. Individuals have the power to sue anyone they believe is breaking the law and, if they win, will receive compensation from the defendant of at least $ 10,000 plus their legal fees. If the plaintiffs lose, they do not have to pay the defendant’s legal fees, which gives private individuals considerable power to exercise a form of vigilante justice without impunity.
On a broader level, we have seen the Republican Party encourage individuals to oppose legal democratic processes and state authority.
Just take her reaction to the events of January 6th. Republicans in Congress, with the exception of Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, have opposed any serious investigation into the uprising and its planning. Because of her reaction, she’s perfectly fine that the rioters attacked and killed police officers.
And that’s what we’ve seen for four years as the Democrats tried to uphold the rule of law and investigate Trump and his administration. Trump and his people refused to respect subpoenas; When Trump’s circle, including Michael Flynn, Roger Stone and Paul Manafort, were convicted of crimes, they awaited pardons from Trump.
The lesson? Americans have the right to disobey the law and play by their own rules.
Here, too, we see it not only from private individuals, but also from heads of government. Indeed, Republicans’ refusal to raise the debt ceiling to pay off the nation’s debts they borrowed and approved is just one example of setting a good example where it is acceptable to disobey the rules and to cause great harm to the nation and its people.
We are at a dangerous moment in America. Republicans have effectively sanctioned violent vigilante groups, and we can expect more of them to be seen both inside and outside government.
Tim Libretti is a professor of American literature and culture at a state university in Chicago. As a longtime progressive voice, he has published many scholarly and journalistic articles on culture, class, race, gender and politics, for which he has received awards from the Working Class Studies Association, the International Labor Communications Association, the National Federation of. received Press Women and the Illinois Woman’s Press Association.