"We announced the show late April in light of believing that on May 4, we would be given the same privileges as places of worship to congregate inside of a building with no restrictions on capacity and just to follow CDC guidelines on distancing and sanitizers."
--Mike Brown of TempleLive
Well, we can start there. Why promoters of a concert venue would think they'd have the same privileges as places of worship when it comes to reopening is anybody's guess.
But at Thursday's press conference, this state's secretary of health, Dr. Nate Smith, gave his argument, if it pleases the court of opinion: "Obviously, a place of worship is different than a concert hall. There are some similarities but there are also some significant differences, especially with this event they're expecting people from a number of different states--people who normally wouldn't come in contact with each other. So that really increases the risk of covid-19 transmission."
Left unsaid, perhaps: Those attending churches see each other at least every seven days. And sometimes they bump into one another at Walmart. Also, most churches have been following the rules.
That's really what this state-turned-regional-turned-national controversy has been about. The state of Arkansas scheduled to open up concerts today with certain limitations and requirements. And the promoters at TempleLive in Fort Smith wanted to have a concert Friday, three days ahead of schedule. You could almost hear the frustration in Asa Hutchinson's voice last week (again, almost) when he said it'd be foolhardy if the state set a date for reopening restaurants, and then a handful of owners decided to open three days early.
So the state issued a cease and desist order. The venue ceased and desisted. And tonight there's a concert scheduled in Fort Smith. At least there will be if the promoters did a good job over the weekend of putting a plan together and submitting it to the health department.
No matter what rock 'n' roll says, rules weren't made to be broken. And we're not sure what constitutional rights were violated here, as the owners of TempleLive allege. The right to peaceably assemble? Like every other right, it's not absolute. A government can require a permit to march. Why not a permit to put hundreds of people into a concert venue during a pandemic?
Others governors are having a hard time during this covid-19 crisis, and Arkansas isn't immune to stir-crazy. But imagine how much harder Gov. Hutchinson would have made it on himself, and police, and the health department, and other industries, if he allowed violations of the state's pandemic orders willy-nilly. Law and order is as handy as a pocket on a shirt. It keeps the rest of us healthy, too.
Here's hoping that tonight's scheduled concert of Travis McCready goes off at the TempleLive place, and without a hitch. The show must go on! As long as everybody involved follows the rules.
Editorial on 05/18/2020
Print Headline: Concerted effort