The following is an excerpt from my latest article in The Hill:
Amid the great political divide that seems to have gotten drawn during the coronavirus pandemic and the response to it, there’s an awakening of sorts. In some cases, it separates right from left. But sometimes, it’s where left meets right. It has to do with liberty and double standards.
Not since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks has our society been so severely tested in terms of how far we believe our government must go, can go, should go, or dares to go when it comes to controlling us for “our own good.”
A persistent problem is the public’s recognition that, as the government takes action, it is neither omniscient nor always benevolent. It doesn’t always know what’s best. Yet, it seizes the authority to command us, to act upon its beliefs and misconceptions alike, and to impose solutions and controls, whether right or wrong.
All of this is neatly encapsulated in the outrageous case of the Texas hair salon owner sentenced to a week behind bars and a $7,000 fine for doing something that was considered an inalienable right just a few short months ago: operating her hair salon business. I’m old enough to remember when working hard, feeding your family and employing others was aspirational. But in the age of coronavirus and the government’s wisdom, doing so can be made into a serious crime.
Apparently more serious than the acts committed by thousands who have been released from prisons and jails because of coronavirus fears — including a man accused of killing a girl in a hit-and-run, thieves, people convicted of assault and sexual crimes, a man who allegedly set his girlfriend’s door on fire and choked her mother, and a prisoner accused of assaulting a homeless services officer.
Jail is considered too harmful to these people; they are considered safe to roam the streets. But Dallas Judge Eric Moyé sentenced salon owner Shelley Luther to a week in jail — where she would be at elevated risk of contracting the coronavirus — because she refused to apologize for being “selfish,” in his words, by operating her salon in violation of a state order. Luther insists it’s not selfish to feed her children and to make sure her employees are not going hungry.
We all know her punishment is not really about selfishness or safety. It’s about her defiance. Her brazen failure to adhere. Her civil disobedience.
Read the full article at The Hill by clicking the link below: