Opinion: Examining the “Rules For Thee But Not For Me” Mindset

COVID-19 has been hard on all of us, and especially on businesses adjusting to established social distancing and safety rules. While many businesses have had to shut down after they were deemed non-essential, others have had to face severe consequences for disobeying COVID-19 safety precautions.

One of those businesses is Atilis Gym, a New Jersey gym owned by Ian Smith and Frank Trumbetti. As owners of the gym, the two do not enforce mask guidelines on gym attendees, violating New Jersey’s protocols. As a result, all of the legal defense money in their account (roughly $173,613.60) had been seized by the state, on top of $15,000 worth of fees the gym is having to pay daily for not mandating masks for gym-goers.

Atilis Gym faces losing everything over their stance, causing many to question why this small business risks losing its livelihood while larger companies like Twitter and Facebook aren’t held accountable when they are caught breaking the rules. 

Twitter, for instance, prevented the New York Post’s story about Hunter Biden’s laptop from being shared on the platform and Twitter and Facebook have both been known to censor those they don’t agree with.

In both examples, neither company faced any severe consequences like the owners of Atilis Gym have. If Twitter and Facebook are able to censor some because they are “private companies,” can’t the same be said of Atilis? 

If smaller businesses have to abide by rules and standards (and face the consequences when they do not), then it is only fair that the larger, wealthier businesses and companies do as well.

Looking into what happened on Wall Street in late January, Reddit users were able to manipulate the stock market to their advantage and were able to make lots of money off of it. As a result, many of the rich on Wall Street (who had been using the same tactics for years) began to lose money. To prevent further losses, Robinhood, a stock trading and investment company, prevented people from buying more stocks.

When companies like Robinhood controls a side in the free market, then the market no longer becomes free. The result of Robinhood’s action has not only shown favoritism to the rich, but has more importantly broken the rules in favor of them. Many people, including Ted Cruz and even Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have denounced Robinhood for their freezing of purchasing further GameStop shares.

“This is unacceptable,” AOC wrote in a tweet. “We now need to know more about Robinhood App’s decision to block retail investors from purchasing stock while hedge funds are freely able to trade the stock as they see fit. As a member of the Financial Services Cmte, I’d support a hearing if necessary.”

Robinhood is not the only company that has broken the rules through favoritism. Last October, when the New York Post broke the story of Hunter Biden’s laptop,  Facebook and Twitter prevented it from  sharing across the app. This went against the First Amendment, which gives people the freedom of speech, but aside from some criticism, Twitter ultimately faced no real consequences for going against the amendment.

When larger companies like Twitter and Robinhood undergo no punishment for their wrongdoing, it is completely unfair for the smaller businesses that do indeed face consequences, sometimes as far as losing their business. Many businesses like Atilis Gym are trying to get by in this pandemic, but when they do, they are fined for their noncompliance. 

This pandemic has affected many people and businesses as people work overtime to protect their livelihoods. If our country wants to stand together instead of apart, then the “rules for me but not for thee” lifestyle will be dropped, and proper discipline will be applied to everyone across the board.

Asher Notheis is an Opinion Writer. Follow him on Twitter at @AsherNotheis.

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