Black Judge Expected White Texas Woman To Obey The Law, If You Can Even F*cking Believe It
Shelley Luther is the North Dallas, Texas, salon owner who kept her business open despite the state's stay-at-home order. She defied multiple court orders requesting that she behave like someone who exists in a society. She even publicly ripped up one of her citations. Conservatives now consider Luther their Rosa Parks of Kim Davises.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is reopening hair salons on May 8, which is tomorrow and barely over a month since the stay-at-home order was issued. Segregation had a more open-ended timeline prior to the Civil Rights Movement. That's where the Rosa Parks comparisons fall apart.
Luther — who owns Salon À la Mode and “its corporate entity" Hot Mess Enterprises — was sentenced Tuesday to seven days in jail and fined $500 for every day she prioritized perms over public health. Judge Eric V. Moyé of the 14th Civil District Court was willing to offer some white girl leniency. All Luther had to do was show some remorse and apologize. Even Galileo recanted and he had science on his side.
LUTHER: I have much respect for this court and laws. I have never been in this position before and it's not someplace that I want to be ... But I have to disagree with you, sir, when you say that I'm selfish because feeding my kids — is not selfish. I have hair stylists that are going hungry because they'd rather feed their kids.
This might prove a shock to Luther, but she's not the only person on earth. Texas didn't implement a “stay-at-home-Shelley-Luther" order or — if you insist on the Rosa Parks comparisons — even a “stay-at-home-black-folks" order. This applied to everyone. Almost all businesses were negatively impacted.
Defiant Dallas salon owner gets 7 days in jail for reopening in violation of health restrictions www.youtube.com
Luther isn't Jean Valjean forced to steal a loaf of bread or starve. Her business was eligible for the Payroll Protection Program. (Although it's entirely possible it ran out without helping her.) She and her employees could've also filed for unemployment. There were options beyond endangering the public. If everyone in Texas had responded as Luther did to the stay-at-home order, the coronavirus would have ravaged the state.
Keep in mind that people sell dime bags on street corners because they are “going hungry." There aren't any stimmy checks for them, but they still rot in jail.
LUTHER: So sir, if you think the law is more important than kids getting fed, then please go ahead with your decision but I am not going to shut the salon.
Girlfriend got on her soapbox like she was on Texas Legal or some shit. You talk sass at a judge in open court and you're going to jail. This is how the law has worked for, like, ever, but conservatives were real mad that the judge treated Luther like a common black defendant.
Oh, fuck you, Ted Cruz. You're a sitting senator and an actual lawyer. You understand that Luther wasn't arrested for felony highlighting. She defied a state order and public health mandate. She also encouraged others to do likewise with her Nancy Pelosi-style paper ripping rally. If a Texas restaurant had trained chimps as waiters, they'd get shut down. It's not safe. And if the owners continued to operate under those conditions, they'd probably go to jail.
The naughty black judge didn't dare order the nice white lady to personally apologize to him. He asked that she apologize for violating the law. It's not an unreasonable expectation and Cruz damn well knows it. You're not going to walk out with a warning and a lollipop if you take the AND I'D DO IT AGAIN! position. The defendant who rants about how the "war on drugs" is racially biased is going to die in jail.
Attorney General Ken Paxton also came to the hair scofflaw's defense.
Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw claimed the judge was “drunk on power." Moyé is black. It's easier for him to get drunk on O'Doul's. He probably knew he was poking a murder hornet's nest filled with white lady tears, but he did the right thing. Donald Trump declared that we are at “war" with COVID-19. If so, every American was drafted to serve. Instead of strapping on full metal jackets, we stay at home, suffering financial and yes psychological wounds.
Shelley Luther isn't Rosa Parks, but she also isn't conscientious objector Muhammad Ali. Conservatives have long denounced “draft dodgers" (before later voting for them as president) because when there's a war on, someone has to fight, and if you refuse, you're only shifting the burden elsewhere. That's a somewhat facile argument when the war is voluntary, like Vietnam for instance. However, the coronavirus has invaded the US. There's no avoiding this battle.
UPDATE: Texas Supreme Court just released Luther. Justice (does not) prevail!
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).