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The community has seen — once again — that sunlight is the best disinfectant.

It didn’t take long for the powers that be to fall on their sword after the bullying tactics they used against a local physician were made public.

After all, what choice did they have? Their conduct was so out of bounds, such a gross and obnoxious abuse of power, so completely indefensible that it could not stand the light of day.

As a consequence, the state’s pending investigation of Mahomet-Seymour school board member Jeremy Henrichs, a Carle Health sports-medicine physician, is no longer pending.

“The Pritzker administration has not and will not seek disciplinary action against the professional licenses of individuals who disagree with the mask mandate,” said a spokesman for the governor. “Any suggestion to the contrary is baseless and misleading rumor-mongering.”

Actually, what’s baseless is the Pritzker administration’s statement. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation clearly opened an investigation into Henrichs’ professional standing after receiving a complaint that he is not supportive of the governor’s mask mandate for everyone in K-12 schools.

Says who? Says the department in its written inquiry to Henrichs regarding his opinion on the mask mandate.

“This would fall under the unprofessional-conduct part of the Medical Practice Act. What the medical disciplinary board wants to know is if the doctor will support and enforce the mask mandate by the governor,” a department investigator wrote to Henrichs.

Henrichs certainly had no difficulty determining the department’s message. He concluded — based on the clear language of the inquiry — that the department “has commanded me to toe the line or suffer personal and professional consequences.”

Pritzker’s mask mandate, one prompted by an increase in coronavirus cases, has been controversial statewide. A number of school boards are resisting, but Mahomet-Seymour is not one of them.

So what was the problem from the state’s point of view? It received a complaint that Henrichs is not a supporter of the mask mandate. He, like many medical professionals, questions its wisdom.

That’s his opinion. That’s his right. Others disagree. That’s their right. This is, after all, America, a place where people are entitled to think for themselves and reach their own conclusions.

Someone in the Mahomet-Seymour school community apparently was distressed by Henrichs’ personal position, decided to make an issue of it and filed a complaint with the state.

Wastebaskets — also known as the round file — were invented to handle complaints like this. Any thinking state employee should know that one person’s complaint about another person’s personal opinion is not proper grist for the state’s investigative mill.

But remember this: Mindless bureaucrats are as big a threat to personal freedom as other more sophisticated opponents of a free society.

Consequently, state bureaucrats acted in this case as they are wont to do — thoughtlessly, stupidly and, most of all, dangerously. It’s because the probe was so thoughtless, stupid and dangerous that it didn’t get far.

But that’s no reason to forget what happened or write it off as nothing of significance.

State officials threatened a physician’s professional standing because they were told he holds an opinion — a thought, a personal view — that the governor finds unacceptable.

However one feels about the wisdom of Pritzker’s mask mandate, everyone who values freedom of thought — one of the fundamental concepts on which this nation was founded — should find that abhorrent.

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