Biblical and Constitutional Politics


Gathering Bans and My Powerlifting Contest

By Gary F. Zeolla

      Trib Live is the website for three Pittsburgh area newspapers, including my hometown newspaper. On March 14, 2020, it posted an article titled, Mayor Peduto bans gatherings of 250 or more in city; Allegheny County encourages same. In response, I posted the following message:

First Post

      Where does a governor, mayor, or the President for that matter get the authority to suspend the First Amendment guarantee to peaceful assembly? Really, I want to know. And what will be the repercussions if someone holds a gathering with 251 people? Will all of those people be arrested and jammed into a jail cell?

      The reason I want to know is I am competing in a powerlifting contest next month in Ohio. The Ohio governor is even worse. He has banned gatherings of more than 100 people. I contacted the meet director of the contest, and she told me, “We absolutely have no plans to cancel or postpone the contest.” But there just might be more than 100 people there. Will the cops break in and drag all of us powerlifters to jail?

Second Post

      Someone posted a response to my above post about gathering bans and their effect about my upcoming powerlifting contest. He first said that no one gives a *expletive* about my contest. He then said that there are always restrictions on our constitutional rights. None are absolute. He also said it is “selfish” for me to enter this contest. Given the 750-character limit on Trib Live, I could only post a shorten response there. But below is my full response.


Pursuit of Happiness:

      I care about my powerlifting contest. The dozens of other powerlifters who have been training for months for this contest care about it. The thousands of other powerlifters in this country care about powerlifting. Just because you don’t, doesn’t mean nobody does.

      I am sure there are aspects of your life that I couldn’t care less about, but I would never say nobody cares about them, as you do, and others with similar interests do. What all of this has in common is our God-given right to pursue happiness, regardless of what each of us think will make us happy. I am not ready to give up that right due to media-driven hysteria and government overreach.


Rights Restrictions:

      As for there being restrictions on rights, that is true. But when such restrictions are imposed, it is by the legislative branch passing a bill, after input by their constituents, that bill being signed by the head of the executive branch, then almost certainly, it being challenged in the courts. Then only if the courts do not rule it unconstitutional, does it go into effect.

      In the case of these gathering bans that are restricting the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of assembly, they are being done by executive fiat. If they were to be challenged in court, they would be struck down, if only because of the lack of legislative input.

      There is also little sense to them, with some areas banning gatherings over 100 people, some over 250, some 500, some over 1000. Those numbers are just being pulled out of a hat, with no science behind them. These bans, especially the smaller ones, also have the effect of shutting down churches, which is another breaching of the First Amendment, that of the guarantee of freedom of religion.


Recommendations Versus Mandates:

      To be clear, I have no problems with the government making recommendations about crowd limits. They should also make recommendations about how best to handle things when gatherings do occur, such as disinfecting public areas, restrooms, and the like.

      In the case of my contest, that would include disinfecting the equipment in the warm-up room and on the platform before the contest and between lifts. In fact, I will be emailing the meet director, encouraging her to be sure that is done. But such recommendations and encouragements are far different from banning gatherings.

      Compare, for instance, the government making recommendations about what constitutes a healthy diet, what foods to eat and to avoid. I am all for that. But I would be completely against the government mandating what we can and cannot eat, including banning all foods it deems to be “junk foods.”

      That is relevant, since, as I post elsewhere, next to washing your hands, the best way to avoid getting sick, or at least lessening the severity of an illness if you get sick, is by following a healthy diet. As such, just as good of a case could be made for the government mandating what people eat and don’t eat as for the government mandating how many people can gather together. But both constitute government overreach and the restriction of our freedoms.

      Thus, my opposition to these gathering bans is not due to me being selfish as you allege but due to my love of freedom. As Benjamin Franklin is purported to have said, “Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”


Not a Hoax, and An Alternative:

      To be clear, no one is saying the Coronavirus is a hoax. Not he President, and not those of us who think things are being overblown. More people will get infected, and sadly, more people will die. But in the end, far more people will have their lives ruined financially due to the draconian measures being taken than would have been seriously adversely affected by they virus. Jobs will be lost, homes and cars will be repossessed, savings will be depleted, and people will end up in debt. IOW, the “cure” will end up being worse than the disease.

      A better alternative to closing businesses and churches would have been to follow the lead of what some movie theaters were doing. They were only selling half of the tickets of the theater’s capacity. In that way, theatergoers could spread out if they so chose.

      Restaurants, bars, gyms, churches, and other facilities could have used the same approach. Only let in half of what would be full capacity. In that way, businesses and employees would not have lost all of their income, and people could still enjoy themselves. And with churches still open, the LORD could still be worshipped and invoked, as is vital to do in a national emergency. But the fearmongering has kept such reasonable measures from being taken.


Personal Situation:

      To expand on my personal situation, I’ve been training for this contest since my last contest six months ago. Busting my butt in my workouts, meticulously watching my diet, and spending much time fine-tuning my workouts throughout this time in order to “peak” for contest day, in hopes of breaking my own all-time world records at the contest. That last point is why a delay of even a week or two would adversely affect my chances of breaking those records. Any more than that, and I would need to give up on this contest altogether, start over, and look at a contest six months from now.

      Meanwhile, I am running out of time to increase my records in my current age category, as I will soon have to move up to the next one. But I am supposed to throw all of that effort, sacrifice, and hope away because of this hysteria? If I did that, I would in effect have wasted the last six months of my life.

      In addition, I do not have a depressed immune system that would increase my risk of infection. If I did, then I would be cancelling my plans. But I actually have the opposite, an overactive immune system, which will actually decrease my risk. Specifically, I have multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), which is to say, severe allergies. As a result, I have been practicing “social distancing” for most of this century anyway.

      In fact, going to this contest will be one of the few times I even leave my house. While there, I will be taking steps to minimize my risk of having an allergic reaction, which will also minimize my risk of infection.

      Specifically, at the hotel, I will wipe off everything before touching or sitting on it. The TV remote (the worst source of contamination in a hotel room), I will place in a plastic bag and push the buttons through the bag.

      At the contest, I will keep my distance from other people as much as possible. I will wash my hands and as much of my body as possible in the restroom between lifts, then change my gear around, including changing my T-shirt, before the next lift starts. Then after deadlifts (the final lift), I will do the same. Then after the contest is over, I will go back to my hotel room, take a shower, and put on fresh clothes.

      Then when I get home, everything I had with me will either be washed or wiped off and aired out outside, assuming it is warm enough to do so. If it is, I heard the Coronavirus is killed by temperatures over 80 degree. It would be great if it is that warm by then. What I cannot wash or air out immediately, I will place in plastic bags until I can wash or air it out. Then I will take a shower and put on fresh clothes.

      I won’t leave my home again after that for at least a couple of weeks. Thus, there will be little likelihood I will infect anyone else if I do get infected at the contest.



      All of this is to say, there is no selfishness in my entering this contest, but every reason for me to do so.


For a follow-up to this article see Sadness, Predictions, and More on the Coronavirus.


Gathering Bans and My Upcoming Powerlifting Contest. Copyright 2020 by Gary F. Zeolla (

Tearing the USA Apart
From Kavanaugh, to Incivility, to Caravans, to Violence, to the 2018 Midterm Elections, and Beyond

            The United States of American is being torn about by political differences more than any time since the 1960s and maybe since the Civil War of the 1860s. This division was amplified by political events in the summer to fall of 2018. This time period could prove to be seminal in the history of the United States. This tearing apart came to the forefront and was amplified during the confirmation proceedings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh. This book overviews the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation proceedings in detail. It then overviews these additional major events that occurred up to the end of November 2018.

The above article was posted on this website March 16, 2020.

Coronavirus Articles and Commentaries

Alphabetical List of Pages     Contact Information

Text Search     Biblical and Constitutional Politics