Right now, people are willing to believe almost anything. It doesn’t help that some people have done things so stupid that it boggles the mind. All that stuff makes it even easier for people to believe some of the other things that get bandied about.
That seems to be what happened in Chautauqua County in New York. It seems a letter began circulating warning that the sheriff was about to declare martial law and all that entailed, including gun confiscation.
Now, the sheriff is trying to set the record straight.
According to a Facebook post, the letter was received by the Town of Busti clerk this week. It erroneously stated that Sheriff Jim Quattrone had declared Martial Law and would be requiring county residents to surrender any AR-15-style guns by Dec. 31.
Sheriff Quattrone said the letter was not true and was a “bad and potentially dangerous prank.”
Well, in fairness, would it be the worst thing we’ve seen from New York during this crisis. (I’m looking at you, New York City, and your reduced subway schedules that put more people in a given train, thus increasing the spread of the disease.)
However, Sheriff Quattrone is adamant that he has no intention to do any such thing. And really, why would he?
Chautauqua County has a population of over 134,000 people, but as of this writing, it only has 40 reported cases of COVID-19. In other words, it’s not like there’s an outbreak there big enough to warrant emergency measures, much less martial law. Especially since that’s a step that hasn’t taken place pretty much anywhere else, including major hot spots.
Frankly, it’s unlikely the sheriff could get away with something like that even if he wanted to. And I believe him when he said that he doesn’t want to.
Look, right now, a lot of people are looking at this stuff and thinking about how the government is overreaching left and right. They’re not wrong to be skeptical.
The problem is, people are also jumpy. Tensions in this country were already high well before we were all locked down in our homes. Now, it’s even worse and letters like this aren’t remotely funny. If this is a prank, it’s a poorly thought out one.
Look, with the tensions we have, it’s not hard to imagine people seeing that “letter” and deciding it was time to open hunting season on sheriff’s deputies. It’s not hard to see other public officials become targeted as well, all because of someone’s idiotic idea of a joke.
If this isn’t a prank…well, then I don’t know what it is. This isn’t a case of someone misconstruing a comment, apparently. It’s someone who wanted to make it look like the sheriff wanted to deprive people of their civil liberties, particularly their Second Amendment rights.
About the only alternative to a prank I can think of right now is that it was an intentional effort to hurt Sheriff Quattrone. That sure as hell doesn’t make it any better, though.
Hopefully, people didn’t put too much stock in this kind of stupid. If they did, I hope they at least see the error of their ways.