People are rightly frustrated that the country as we know it is shutting down because of the coronavirus. We believed this was something that only happened in other countries — like a functioning welfare state. Everyone's freaking out a little, so it's important that our elected leaders step up and help us see the bigger picture, preferably while humiliating themselves in the process. Take it away, Marco Rubio!

Screenshots are foreverTwitter

Oh dear. Well, he tried.


At least it wasn't a random Bible verse. Let's help him tidy up this thought. Little Marco is referring to “martial law," which is when the government puts the military in control of normal civilian functions. A law officer like Matt Dillon from "Gunsmoke" is a “marshal." I don't know what the hell “marshall law" is. Maybe he's thinking about an Eminem album.

Martial law has been imposed in the US during military conflicts (the Civil War) but also in response to a natural disaster (the Chicago fire). It was also used to “contain" uppity Freedom Riders in Alabama and striking workers in Idaho, Colorado, and West Virginia.

Rubio is correct that governors declaring a state of emergency and shutting down bars and restaurants, even imposing curfews, doesn't mean we're now partying like it's 1984. And although his spelling is suspect, Rubio's tweet was more directly connected to observable reality than this one from self-proclaimed “market fundamentalist" Matthew Hennessey from the Wall Street Journal.

Yeah, what kind of a country are we living in where governors can close private businesses like a communist dictator or, I dunno, a common health inspector. It's probably more of a threat to public health for a restaurant to help spread an infectious disease with no cure than it is for a bodega to can its own food. The latter is an actual example from my New York days. That bodega next to my office had a litany of health code violations but the “home canning" was one I'll never forget.

Everyone's dunking on Rubio today, but let's not forget that he's at least somewhat smarter than a Wall Street Journal editor who's apparently unaware of the Food and Drug Administration. Calm down. Stay home. Laugh at Rubio. The senator has done us a small public service.

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).

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