When Dallas beautician Shelley Luther of the A La Mode Salon defied a stay-at-home order to try to save her business and the jobs of her employees, a smug judge threw her in jail.
The Governor of Texas personally sprang Luther, but not before inspiring this headline of genius on a Bill McGurn column:
Texas Salon Owner’s Cry: Remember the a la Mode!
Ms. Luther is owner of Salon à la Mode, and her crime spree started April 24, during the lockdown, when she reopened her salon (complete with masks, extra washing and limits on how many people could be inside). She then remained open for seven days, after publicly ripping up a cease-and-desist order from a county judge and ignoring a temporary restraining order from a district judge. Ultimately she was hauled before the latter, Eric Moyé, who sent her off to jail.
Who cannot have sympathy for this Texas mom? Not because she is innocent. No one, not even Ms. Luther, denies she did what she was accused of doing. But when an otherwise hard-working, law-abiding American lands in the pokey for trying to work, it ought to raise questions beyond the letter of the law.
Shelley Luther isn’t the only beautician to defy a stay-at-home decree in the name of preserving her livelihood and that of her employers.
Today will be a big day for Sarah Huff, the Holland, Mi., beauty salon owner who has received a cease and desist order after opening her salon. Huff said on the news yesterday that she hadn’t yet decided what to do today.
Meanwhile, Karl Manke, a 77-year-old Michigan barber “became a symbol of resistance when he opened the doors of his Owosso shop on May 4 and refused to close, pledging to keep his doors open until police arrest him or ‘Jesus walks in.’”
Manke takes issue with Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, veep shortlister known for her particularly strict stay-at-home decrees:
“I don’t need the governor to be my mother,” Manke told the Flint Journal. “I have one. God bless her, she’s gone now. I don’t need another mother. I can make these adult decisions myself.”
Manke said money has been tight since the shutdown and he can no longer afford to stay closed. Even with the potential consequences, the 77-year-old said he plans on keeping his doors opens.
Confronted with the defiant septuagenarian, the authorities are pulling out all the stops to protect the public against the elderly hair clipper:
After a judge declined to sign an order to shut down his shop Monday without first holding a hearing, state regulators opted to suspend Manke’s barber and shop licenses.
“It is paramount that we take action to protect the public and do our part to help save lives,” Attorney General Dana Nessel said.
Beauticians and barbers are our newest civil disobedience heroes and heroines. These normally compliant citizens are engaging in civil disobedience because their backs are against the wall. They simply cannot afford to remained shut. Another Michigan barber, Tina Godfrey, explained why she opened:
Godfrey said she has bills that need to be paid and working part-time at Meijer during the shutdown wasn’t enough, Up North Live reports.
“If I stay closed, my little business is going to be gone, and everything I’ve worked for over the last 30 years is gone,” Godfrey said.
In a wonderful twist, these barbers and beauticians are true populist heroes and heroines—they’re entrepreneurs, generally with smallish to medium-sized operations, and they preside over social centers that come to be genuine community institutions (you know this if you’ve either seen the wonderful movie Steel Magnolias, set partly in the local beauty salon, or live in a small to medium-sized town).
We don’t to open any part of the country recklessly, but we know enough about COVID-19 now to know how to open up safely. Governors should listen to their citizens. We’ve seen a lot of authorities behaving as if they have more power than they should lately.
It’s time they listen to the newest civil rights heroes and heroines–beauticians and barbers–instead of blindly destroying local institutions and bankrupting honest citizens.