Earlier today, Judge Charles C. LaVerdiere recognized the rights of nurse Kaci Hickox and refused to grant Maine their request to quarantine her in-home. I understand the fears and concerns that people have about her, but I also understand the science behind her decision to fight being quarantined without need or cause.
As part of the ruling, Judge LaVerdiere wrote, “The State has not met its burden at this time to prove by clear and convincing evidence that limiting Respondent’s movements to the degree requested is “necessary to protect other individuals from the danger of infection,” however. According to the information presented to the court, Respondent currently does not show any symptoms of Ebola and is therefore not infectious.”
This is a big victory in the eyes of the Constitution, and it should have been a no-brainer. We can’t be a nation in fear of itself, especially if we’re supposed to be the world’s superpower and the “Exceptional” nation that some claim we are.
We are much better than this, or at least I thought we were. It’s a difficult decision to balance the need to protect others and not infringe on the rights of people. At times, those decisions will not make people happy. This is one of those times where that decision should have been made. Instead, Gov. LePage tried to go the easy route, and he got his hand spanked by a judge in response to his decision.
Reading the ruling, the judge displays a knowledge and respect for science, respect for the health care professionals fighting Ebola, and concern for the fears of the general public whether those fears are, in his words, rational.
“The Court pauses to make a few critical observations. First, we would not be here today unless Respondent generously, kindly and with compassion lent her skills to aid, comfort, and care for individuals stricken with a terrible disease. We need to remember as we go through this matter that we owe her and all professionals who give of themselves in this way a debt of gratitude.”
“Having said that, Respondent should understand that the court is fully aware of the misconceptions, misinformation, bad science and bad information being spread from shore to shore in our country with respect to Ebola. The Court is fully aware that people are acting out of fear and that this fear is not entirely rational. However, whether that fear is rational or not, it is present and it is real. Respondent’s actions at this point, as a health care professional, need to demonstrate her full understanding of human nature and the real fear that exists. She should guide herself accordingly.”–Charles C. LaVerdiere Chief Judge, Maine District Court
Just to keep things stirred up, I noticed that Fox News, by way of their official blog, reported that her roommate in Sierra Leone was supposedly treated for Ebola. I’m not sure where they got that information because I didn’t see it mentioned in the ruling. Either way, the incubation period from that alleged exposure has already passed anyway, but that little story will undoubtedly stoke the flames of fear even more than they have already been boosted.
If there was ever a time that America needed a common sense vaccine, that time is now. As long as fear and panic is allowed to rule, the corporate media outlets will push any and every story to gin up that fear and panic because it will boost their ratings. In their world, boosting ratings means boosting revenue, and the bottom line is always going to take precedence over the byline. Instead of the fear and panic, our media should be trying to inform and educate. It may not give them the revenue boost they so desire, but it would go a long way towards getting rid of the unnecessary panic.
A copy of the ruling is posted below.