Either a law is just or unjust. If it’s unjust, it should be opposed. Civil disobedience, protests, and writing a letter to your representative in Parliament are all different ways to oppose an unjust law. For me in Montreal, it is illegal to visit another person at their residence. It is also illegal to leave my residence between the hours of 8 pm and 5 am. I think both the visitation restriction and the curfew are unjust. And I think civil disobedience is the best way to oppose them.
Here’s why the curfew and visitation restrictions are unjust
The curfew is unjust because it restricts my freedom of movement without good reason. I’m forbidden from going on walks to walk off big dinners. I’m forbidden from gazing directly at the stars outside. I’m forbidden from shovelling the snow on my steps before it ices and becomes slippery. But none of these things will spread COVID-19. Restrictions on freedoms which are not rationally connected to a good objective should be opposed. And the curfew is not rationally connected to stopping or preventing the spread of COVID-19.
The visitation restriction is unjust because it restricts my freedom of association without good reason.
The ostensible objective of all of these limitations is to flatten the curve – to prevent hospitals from overflowing with patients. But if I’m unlikely to be hospitalized, and if my friend is unlikely to be hospitalized, then us getting COVID will not make the curve bigger, and threaten the hospital system. I am a 22 year old healthy person. I’m not overweight, I don’t have diabetes, I’m not vitamin D or Omega 3 deficient, and I exercise every day. It’s highly highly unlikely that I’d be hospitalized by COVID. The friends I visit are similarly unlikely to be hospitalized.
Possible counter-argument: visiting a friend presents a moral hazard
The argument against this would be that there’s a moral hazard. Even if one of us were to get COVID, we might go on to infect other people. An old person could die after catching it from us. Or a roommate who didn’t consent to getting COVID. These possibilities should be factored into your ethical reasoning. You should not visit someone who’s asthmatic, 85, and overweight, unless they are fully aware of the consequences of having you over. But in a situation where there’s no moral hazard – say, if your roommate has been vaccinated and your friend’s roommates have all had covid – then there’s no reason to stop people from visiting someone else.
In a situation like this, I ought to have the freedom to risk getting COVID-19!
Civil disobedience is the best way to oppose the curfew and visitation restrictions.
Civil disobedience is the best way for normal citizens to oppose the restrictions because it’s where there’s maximal skin in the game. It’s also the most fun. It means, practically, playing hide-and-seek outside with the police during curfew, and it means visiting other people’s residences (aka crashing at your friend’s place). If you’re a lawyer, perhaps you should help a lawsuit against the government. If you’re a police officer, perhaps you should go on strike. But if you’re an average citizen, I think that visiting your friends and leaving your house during curfew are the best ways to oppose the restrictions.
I’ve emailed my member of the National Assembly (no response yet), and haven’t yet made a fool of myself by protesting (though perhaps I should start). Civil disobedience is the most fun way for citizens to stand up for their freedoms. It’s convenient too. May the odds be in your favour.