Big Tough Gym Guy Reenacts 'Love Actually' Scene To Protest COVID Restrictions

Big Tough Gym Guy Reenacts 'Love Actually' Scene To Protest COVID Restrictions

If you had a million dollars, what would you spend it on? I would buy me a green dress (but not a real green dress, that's cruel). Also, your love. And probably other things, too, I don't really know, and I can't remember the rest of the lyrics to that song. I do really want these rhinestone combat boots and have yet to find a way to justify purchasing them when I can't even go anywhere, so maybe that?

I can tell you what I would not spend it on, though — fines for keeping a gym open during a pandemic. That is far less useful than rhinestone combat boots, if you ask me.

And yet, over the past year, New Jersey gym owners Ian Smith and Frank Trumbetti have incurred over $1.2 million in fines for remaining open during the pandemic. While we all obviously feel for people who can't keep their businesses open right now and are quite furious at the fact that our government can't get it together to get money to people so that they can survive this shit, I am also pretty sure that a gym in New Jersey — even in non-COVID times — probably does not make enough to cover that comfortably. So odds are they are spending way more than they are taking in, in order to be dicks about the lockdown orders.

It's also not just that they're staying open in spite of the lockdowns, but also that they're not requiring people to wear masks while inside or following any other safety protocols either, because of how super tough they are. Also, because they are super tough, co-owner Ian Smith went viral this weekend — among right-wing trolls and the kind of people who comment on, anyway — by doing the world's worst Love Actually reenactment in order to drum up support for his gym.

It was real awkward and involved a lot of finger licking.

Here are his various slides, which I have written out for you like a lovely poem:

Welcome to the Atillis Gym Bellmawr
We have over $1 million in fines
We have had our business license stripped
We have had our doors locked and barricaded
We have been arrested and have over 60 citations
Today we will pass 84,000 visits to our facility
We don't mandate masks. We never will.
Gov. Murphy will see this video and fine us $15K for it
But … free men don't ask permission
Or for forgiveness
No science. No shutdown.

It seems fair to wonder what else Ian Smith applies this "free men don't ask permission" philosophy to. Because it seems like there are a lot of things "free men" might have to ask permission for.

He's not kidding about that $15K fine, though. The state is actually pretty goddamned sick of Ian Smith and his social media shenanigans and will be fining them $15K for every day they stay open in defiance of orders.

Via Law 360:

In a letter brief Thursday, Deputy New Jersey Attorney General Stephen Slocum detailed 13 videos and one photo posted online by Atilis Gym co-owner Ian Smith throughout November in which he and patrons appeared to be eschewing masks, social distancing and other safety protocols. Smith frequently stated his intention to defy the orders in the videos, one of which was titled "Freedom Doesn't Require Permission" in all capital letters.

The postings came in the wake of an October court order to adhere to modified business operations, such as outfitting the Bellmawr gym with plastic dividers and 6-foot demarcations to facilitate social distancing. The state wants to enforce the roughly $15,500-a-day fine provision of the order for each of the eight days it claims the gym defied the order in November.

The social media posts depict Atilis and Smith "affirmatively and openly mocking this court's authority, engaging in wanton contempt, and encouraging others to undermine this court's authority, demonstrating willful and intentional contempt," Slocum wrote in the letter brief.

At this point, what Smith is doing is making a mockery of the financial hardship that other small businesses are dealing with right now. I'm sure a lot of them would love to be open and making money (in a way that is safe!), I'm sure a lot of owners are scared, but they're not out there incurring fines up the wazoo because they don't actually give a shit about anything other than the adulation of angry Trump voters on the internets.

Also, he is a douchebag and his beard looks like it probably smells terrible.

Anyway, this is your open thread, sorry you have to look at his dumb face!

[Law 360]

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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse


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