'Servile' or helping the NHS? Peter Hitchens stirs debate about UK coronavirus lockdown measures
Journalist Peter Hitchens has lambasted the unprecedented restrictions put in place to stop the spread of coronavirus, provoking fierce debate about preserving liberties versus safeguarding public health among Britons.
The outspoken British author exchanged barbs with TalkRadio's Mike Graham on Monday, with the pair taking nearly polar opposite views on how to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Graham insisted that limiting non-essential commerce and movement was a small price to pay if it stops the spread of the virus. "I don't consider it to be an infringement of my personal liberty to be asked to only go out only if you absolutely have to… I really don't think that's much of a massive problem," he argued.
Journalists Peter Hitchens thinks anybody who doesn't show anger at being told the police can decide when you can leave your home or not "actually has something wrong with them." Listen live ► https://t.co/sv3MZUm41cDo you agree with Peter?@iromg | @ClarkeMicahpic.twitter.com/IKBAzikqqL— talkRADIO (@talkRADIO) April 6, 2020
Hitchens fired back that such an attitude flies in the face of the United Kingdom's "unique form of law and liberty," adding that "there's something servile in being told by the government and by the police when you can leave your home."
And I think anybody who doesn't fundamentally bridle at being told that the police can decide when you're entitled to leave your home or not has actually got something wrong with them.
Graham pressed the issue, insisting that "it's not that the police are telling you when you can go out and when you can't go out. They're trusting most people to know what to do."
The radio show host said that the whole point of the lockdown measures "is not to restrict your liberty, it is to ensure that the NHS does not become overrun," adding that "as far as I can see, that appears to be working."
The two radically different perspectives left Twitter similarly divided. Those siding with Graham pointed out that the UK government has allowed individuals to decide for themselves when they can leave their home, but that "sadly some people are just plain stupid." Others were more blunt with their disapproval of Hitchens' position.
"We need to toughen up, grow some backbone, pull together and quit moaning!" read one reply.
I have no issue with these rules, we are only being asked for a short period of time. As my Dad put during the war, people didn't see families / friends for years, some didn't even see them again. We need to toughen up, grow some backbone, pull together and quit moaning!— Mike #StayHomeSaveLives (@Mike20CD) April 6, 2020
But there were plenty of Britons who took the opposite view. "This level of fear of contagion borders on superstition… Sunbathers and park-goers who observe proper social distancing and cleanliness cannot get infected," one noted.
A like-minded commentator applauded Hitchens for speaking out on the issue, remarking that there are "certain liberties which are fundamental to who we are."
Peter Hitchens has a beautiful, very eloquent way of speaking. I wish this was true of more mainstream journalism. And yes - one should bridle a little & understand there are certain liberties which are fundamental to who we are.— Rachael K (@whisper_rachael) April 6, 2020
The UK government has warned that it could ban outdoor exercise permitted under the current lockdown measures if people continue sunbathing and congregating in parks in defiance of social distancing rules.Also on rt.com BoJo will stay ‘in charge’ of UK govt as he undergoes MORE Covid-19 tests after night in hospital – housing secretary
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