The Crazy Covid Copulation Exemption

The Crazy Covid Copulation Exemption


Covid lockdowns spurred an endless cornucopia of official hypocrisy. Top politicians brazenly violated the restrictions they inflicted on everyone else. But perhaps the most absurd aspect of the pandemic was the endless exemptions that officialdom concocted.

Politicians and bureaucrats anointed themselves as a priesthood of safety, entitled to boundless power to save humanity. In March and April 2020, politicians decreed that all large gatherings of people were too hazardous to permit. But after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, politicians across the nation applauded mass protests against police brutality. The moral purity of the demonstrators was the only protection they needed. 

Covid lockdowns presumed that permitting people to make their own decisions on where they traveled, worked, and studied would be the equivalent of sanctioning mass murder. But some freedoms were more equal than others. 

Many states effectively outlawed weddings to minimize the risk of Covid transmission. But in many states and cities, politicians and health officials propounded a “copulation exemption” to their repressive edicts. Shortly after lockdowns had been imposed in most of the nation, Covid superstar Anthony Fauci declared that people who hook up with strangers for sex via Tinder or other dating apps are entitled to make their “choice regarding a risk.”

In New York City, police violently assaulted people on the street for failing to obey mandatory facemask edicts. But at the same time, the city government gave its approval to “glory holes” for sex with strangers. The New York City Health Department urged people to “be creative with… physical barriers, like walls, that allow sexual contact while preventing close face-to-face contact.”

The health department also recommended that people who organize orgies should “Limit the size of your guest list. Keep it intimate.” The health department did not specify whether “intimate” meant more or fewer people than a rush hour subway car.

In September 2020, federal judge William Stickman condemned Pennsylvania’s Covid restrictions: “Broad population-wide lockdowns are such a dramatic inversion of the concept of liberty in a free society as to be nearly presumptively unconstitutional.” But politicians ignored his ruling. Shortly before Thanksgiving 2020, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf decreed that anyone visiting people in other homes must wear a mask. But laxer rules applied for non-dinner guests.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health issued a “Safer Sex and COVID-19” guide “if you attend a large gathering where you might end up having sex.” “Might end up having sex” sounded akin to an act of God beyond the control of anyone present. That was a more flexible standard than government officials used for almost any other activities in daily life during the lockdowns.

While Governor Wolf sought to ban any unmasked people in others’ homes, Pennsylvania health bureaucrats politely suggested that orgy attendees “limit the number of partners” and “try to identify a consistent sex partner.” Consistently what? The Philadelphia Board of Health urged prostitutes to “shower thoroughly after each client and change clothes” and wash hands “with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.” But small business owners were not allowed to keep their stores open no matter how long they washed their hands.

California Governor Gavin Newsom decreed that the state’s 39 million residents were prohibited in 2020 from having Thanksgiving dinners longer than two hours involving people from more than three households. Also, Newsom declared that people must sit outside if they were having dinner guests.

Ironically, this was the same recommendation that the San Francisco Department of Public Health proffered. That agency suggested that people limit their risks from Covid by confining themselves to “sex with a small, stable group of partners outdoors.” (Britain went even further, prohibiting couples who live in different homes from having sex indoors.) While the San Francisco health department did not take a position on Newsom’s two-hour dinner limit, it did stress that “quicker can be better.”

Other Golden State mandates vivified how the only consistent rule during the pandemic was that politicians are always right. Gov. Newsom banned singing in churches, supposedly to save worshippers from Covid. In a 2021 Supreme Court ruling upholding that nitwittery, Justice Neil Gorsuch dissented: “If Hollywood may host a studio audience or film a singing competition while not a single soul may enter California’s churches, synagogues, and mosques, something has gone seriously awry.”

But the system worked out great for the ruling class and its prerogative to reward and subjugate who they pleased. Throughout the pandemic, policies were safeguarded by a sweeping refusal to recognize the damage from pervasive repression. But it never made sense for governments to sanction orgies yet insist it was too risky to permit children to attend classes to learn how to read. 

The crazy Covid copulation exemption deserves far more ridicule than it will ever receive. When politicians are permitted to selectively nullify freedom, the injustices will be exceeded only by the absurdities. As historian John Barry, author of The Great Influenza, observed: “When you mix politics and science, you get politics.”

James Bovard, 2023 Brownstone Fellow, is author and lecturer whose commentary targets examples of waste, failures, corruption, cronyism and abuses of power in government. He is a USA Today columnist and is a frequent contributor to The Hill. He is the author of ten books.


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