This is their sheriff, so that's what things are like there.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced this week that bars, restaurants, and some retail stores in parts of Michigan could open with reduced capacity on Friday, just in time for Memorial Day weekend, which is technically still happening. This is good news for sensible people, but a bit of a bummer for Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf (that's right). Leaf was ranting to a crowd of 350 anti-lockdown “patriots" when the news came down that Whitmer was relaxing restrictions for residents of the Upper Peninsula and much of the northern Lower Peninsula.

It "took some wind out of my sails," he said during his speech at the "American Patriot Rally — Sheriffs Speak Out" event Monday. (He was the only sheriff "speaking out.") However, he insisted the reopening should have happened sooner. The facts don't support his thinking, but who needs proof when you have instinct?

Leaf boasted that his office hadn't enforced the governor's stay-at-home orders anyway, because he believed they violated the Constitution.

Right now we don't even know if those orders are legal. If we start enforcing stuff that's not legal, we could be held liable.

LOL. Almost 60,000 people live in Barry County, and they couldn't find a better sheriff?


The legal eagle claimed that Whitmer had placed the entire state under arrest like a common despot. Step back. He's gonna logic on your ass.

LEAF: What's the definition of an arrest? It's basically taking away your free will, your right to move about.

I think Michiganders still had their “free will." A stay-at-home order isn't the anti-life equation. Under Whitmer's order, residents could leave their homes for "outdoor activity, including walking, hiking, running, cycling, or any other recreational activity consistent with remaining at least six feet from people from outside the individual's household."

LEAF: And an unlawful arrest is when you do it unlawfully, so when you are ordered to your home, are you under arrest? Yeah, by definition you are.

Individuals could even leave Michigan for a home or residence elsewhere, perhaps in one of those states where COVID-19 is a free-range virus. This was neither an arrest nor a tumor.

Yes, for a bleak few weeks there, you couldn't buy gardening supplies, but that's all past us now. Unfortunately, there are still no haircuts, and that's the hill everyone is eager to die on. Whitmer said Tuesday that it's “unlikely" that hair salons can legally open next week. She's not a monster. She'd love a haircut herself — a good one, not whatever happened to Ted Cruz — but because everything is so stupid now, Whitmer had to explain how haircuts work.

WHITMER: It hurts me to say it because I would love to go to get my hair done too. But the fact of the matter is, the nature of that personal service is such that it is intimate, it is close, you can't social distance and get your hair cut.

Wednesday, the hair deprived are set to storm the Capitol in Lansing for “Operation Haircut." This astroturf extravaganza is a sequel of sorts to the idiotic “Operation Gridlock." Both were organized by the far-right Michigan Conservative Coalition. The group claims this protest is in "admiration and support" for Karl Manke, a barber in Owosso who broke the law and opened his barber shop despite several “stop that!" orders from the government. Manke had his license revoked and is now involved in a big, showy court battle. Fellow scofflaw Shelley Luther from Dallas, Texas, traveled more than 1,000 miles to support Manke. (No Zooming when “freedom" is at stake.) There are photos of her hugging the 77-year-old barber she'd just met. Neither wore masks. My son is going to grow up in The Omega Man future.

The "American Patriot Rally — Sheriffs Speak Out" was held in downtown Grand Rapids at Rosa Parks Circle, so of course Leaf compared Manke to the civil rights activist. He called the barber a "little version of Rosa Parks" and asked a crowd that included armed members of the Michigan Liberty Militia to “imagine" a world where Parks never sat in the front of the bus. It's easy if you try.

It's as if every hair stylist who doesn't care about public health is Rosa Parks. Stop dragging black heroes into this stupidity. Miss Rosa wouldn't have gotten on the bus at all if it was covered with coronavirus. (Her husband, Raymond, was a barber but he wouldn’t have killed anyone to make a few bucks.)

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey attended the rally and encouraged the crowd to continue breaking laws they don't like.

SHIRKEY: Be ready to test and challenge government when they get it backasswards and they think they're the ones who have the rights to give us, when really the government is to provide and protect our rights.

Whitmer's actions are protecting Michiganders right to continue breathing with non-holographic lungs. These free expressions of whiteness have not resulted in any tickets or arrests despite violating the governor's stay-at-home orders. More people show up with guns than masks. But these fools are trying Whitmer's last nerve, and she implied that they shouldn't push their luck any further. They don't call her the Wolverine Queen for nothing.

[Michigan Live / WWMT]

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Stephen Robinson

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).

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