Letter to North Dakota state leaders who are passive about personal freedom

I encourage you, if you have chosen not to wear a mask, to begin contacting state leaders. You can contact the governor through an online contact form here. You can contact the attorney general online here, or by sending an email to ndag@nd.gov

The main question is this: how far can an "essential" business go in determining my healthcare decisions? Also, should we force people to identify health status or choices? At this point, anyone not wearing a mask is quickly illustrated to have a health problem that prevents them from wearing a mask (a.k.a. the medical reason for not wearing one). Imagine if this were any other illness, where an outward symbol let people know what you did or did not have.

Additionally, as my friend pointed out, the first question we should be asking these corporations is "when do you stop making us wear these?" Is there a magic day? When there are no cases? When there is a certain percentage somewhere? Because these are policies that don't take into consideration states with low percentage rates or anything -- they are blanket policies. Since they all rolled them out at the same time, will they keep them in place until one decides it's safe to stop requiring it?

Even if they don't enforce a policy, they have made it public and have set up a shame scenario that I thought Governor Burgum was against. Apparently he is not. Apparently our leaders don't trust the people to make their own decision, because the lack of a government mandate doesn't hide the deafening silence to out-of-state corporate mandates. Protecting the freedom of citizens isn't passive, it is active, and our North Dakota leaders have remained silent.

I sent the following letter to the North Dakota Attorney General and North Dakota Governor. This is the Governor's version, which has a few extra lines at the end:

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Hello,

I am ever concerned as more and more corporate mask mandates come out, particularly in stores that had been deemed "essential" earlier on, and were free from any forced closures, because they sell groceries (e.g. WalMart, Sams, Target, Cashwise, Natural Grocer, etc.) et al.

They benefited in the early days of this pandemic, free from restriction, because they were essential, but now we have corporations not even based in our state who are putting out mandates our own elected officials have not. We have no representation, and we are having to scramble to find other places to buy essential goods if we have determined we will not wear masks.

How is this acceptable? Those of us who won't wear masks aren't ignorant, stupid, or bad citizens. We are social distancing, washing our hands, and staying home if we're sick. We have very good reasons for choosing not to wear masks. But is this what our state leaders will do for us, which is a big nothing? You will quietly allow corporations to restrict or force us to do things? Are we to be punished for trying to buy food? Will no state official make a statement about it? How far will we allow a private out-of-state corporation go in determining the healthcare decisions of North Dakotans? Will we be forced to prove vaccination or antibodies before we're allowed in without a mask? What will they come out with next that you won't say anything about? This isn't about private property or no-shirt-no-shoes-no-service. This is about private health choices and the ability to purchase groceries. It's bad enough we are being told not to use legal cash, but now we have to comply or provide private medical reasoning in an embarrassing scenario as to why we won't wear them.

The lack of statement from our governor or anyone at a state level condemning this kind of control from corporations (and maybe worse, even privately applauding it because they don't have to be the bad guys to force masks on people but are letting private corporations do it) is disgusting. You absolutely have many angry people in this state, and the more these "essential" corporations are allowed to levy rules our own elected leaders (i.e. our voice in how we are governed) have not will lead to angry pushback, online shopping to the detriment of local sales tax revenue and already hurting stores, and who knows what else.

How is this legal? Could we not at least hear one peep from a state leader regarding this? We have a governor who seems only too happy to let corporations levy the laws he would like so he can say "I didn't force you to, they did" while smiling at the fact he got people forced to do something that he wouldn't get blamed for at election time.

Take a damn stand for the people of this state.

This is not going away, the anger over these mandates by unelected corporate leaders, even when this is over. People are quietly making some interesting shifts that will hurt these businesses who are basically saying they don't want us as customers unless we bend the knee. At this point, they can all go bankrupt and reduce their staff. I don't care. I have had many private conversations with others who are working together to basically stop shopping in stores, connect directly with local farmers, or quietly sharing the names of stores and restaurants that don't require masks of either customer or employee. 

The state leadership's silence on this is deafening, and it is being noticed by people who may not be speaking up, but are furious with leadership. I understand the governor is in lockstep with the CDC and wants people to wear a mask, but maybe he ought to simply make the suggestion and then fight for the right of the people to make their own decisions as adults. If he thinks we're "North Dakota Smart" maybe he ought to allow us a chance to exercise that in the way we have chosen to. Read what SD Gov. Noem says about her people. Take notes.

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UPDATE JULY 20, 2020: This is the response I received from the ND Attorney General's office. It is a non-response that basically says "Hi. It's not our job. Contact the store yourself. Have a nice day." What's worse is that others in a group concerned about mask requirements who contacted the office got the same exact word-for-word reply. So not only is it no answer, but they're just churning it out with zero effort to deal with North Dakota citizen concerns.

Thank you for writing to express your views on an issue of concern to you. You may not realize that, by law, the Office of Attorney General does not have jurisdiction or authority to impose any kind of restrictions such as a mandate for mask wearing. Retail stores are free to set their own policies – indeed, we are all familiar with the “no shirt, not shoes, no service” signs posted at stores.

Therefore, you may want to voice your opinion to the retail store manager, instead. We appreciate you taking the time to contact us.

Liz B

This was my response:

What are the laws in this state regarding stores requiring masks in order to gain entrance? Because I have contacted the stores directly. They do not respond. If your office won't at least make a statement that lets citizens know what their rights are, and if/how we can refuse to comply with a store demanding something that could be construed as medically intrusive, could you point us to the Century Code or something that we can use? Or do I have to go on YouTube and other places to figure out our rights since the state's A/G office won't provide citizens with any legal direction?

Shortly after, she sent this:

Again, this office does not have jurisdiction or authority over the issues about which you write. Further, we are prohibited by law from researching or interpreting state laws for the public. You can review state laws online at https://www.legis.nd.gov/general-information/north-dakota-century-code. 

Liz

UPDATE JULY 21, 2020: I received a response from the Governor's office.

Julie-

Thank you for contacting the Office of Governor Burgum with your comments. We appreciate your input, and this has been shared with Governor Burgum and his staff. 

Private business and corporations do have the right to issue policies that would require patrons to wear masks.

No indication he'd even, at the very least, say something like "while I understand corporations are making requirements for customers, I want to reiterate that while I encourage mask use, I believe the citizens of North Dakota should be allowed to make their own choice and encourage businesses to avoid mandates that the state has not required." The lack of any statement to that effect is the passivity I'm talking about.


Comments

  1. Beautifully written & I’m in total agreement

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  2. Thank you for a well written informative letter. I agree with you 100%. Am fed up with government officials doing nothing. Rick Becker has been the only one I know of who has said anything.
    Burgum needs to step up and be a leader for once.
    People should not have to identify they have a medical condition not to wear a mask. I thought we had Hippa laws that had to be followed. At Walmart people in black shirts are stopping you as you enter, this is reminiscent of the Brown shirts The maskers have become very empowered and are treating people who either can't or choose not to wear masks horribly calling names and being just ugly. I thought Gov. Burgum was against bullying apparently not.

    State leadership where are you? Why are you silent? When are you going to protect all of North Dakotans and their rights. Look at South Dakota a true leader ND leadership could take a few pointers. Please stop this madness and let us be able to buy food and essentials at the worst at least pretend you care.

    North Dakota leadership when are you going to Step Up and protect all of North Dakotans and their rights?

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  3. Everything you said... say it again. Bravo!

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