The Hair Affair

I have a hard time wrapping my mind around this story, so to save myself a little brain power I’m going to outsource it.

Lisa Falkenberg:

Let’s be clear about something: Shelley Luther, the Dallas-area salon owner-turned-folk hero, wound up in jail this week because of her very public, very theatrical refusal to follow Abbott’s very own order.

Abbott’s executive order, which preempted local orders, delayed the reopening of salons as part of a phased-in approach to restart the Texas economy responsibly.

And like Abbott’s other orders issued during this outbreak, it specified stiff consequences for noncompliance: A fine not to exceed $1,000, up to 180 days in jail, or both.

So why, as soon as Luther’s case got widespread attention, did he begin to condemn local authorities who enforced it?

“Throwing Texans in jail who have had their businesses shut down through no fault of their own is nonsensical, and I will not allow it to happen,” Abbott said in a statement.

Allow it? Technically, he ordered it. Even Northeast Tarrant Tea Party leader Julie White McCarty saw through Abbott’s hypocrisy: “Governor Abbott gave orders putting severe limitations in place,” she wrote on Facebook. “Governor Abbott is now condemning the enforcement as if he’s innocent.”


But Luther held court for days in front of TV cameras. She didn’t just violate an order to close her salon – she tore it up. When a veteran, 65-year-old Dallas judge gave her an easy out if she’d just apologize and follow the law, she scoffed in defiance. So, he did what judges do: found her in contempt in court.

She could have taken the deal and gone home to her kids and waited until she could open legally on Friday.

Clearly, Luther and her legions of admirers had turned her into a cause. That’s why she went to jail — to draw attention to what she believes is a violation of her rights. And that’s the point of civil disobedience. While others have advanced noble causes such as suffrage and equality, Luther did it to defend her right to work even if doing so puts her workers, neighbors and customers at risk amid a deadly pandemic.

But hey, if she wants to be the hero, a rebel with a cause, the patron saint of social distancing scofflaws, she can’t play the victim, too.

Christopher Hooks:

The conflict really kicked off on April 25, at a protest in front of the Frisco City Hall calling for the reopening of shuttered businesses. Shelley Luther, the owner of Salon à la Mode, took center stage. She had gained local publicity for reopening her business in defiance of Governor Greg Abbott’s shutdown order. By way of enforcing it, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins had sent her a cease and desist order—and, as Abbott had laid out in his order, a $1,000 fine. (The governor also threatened violators with up to 180 days in jail.) In front of a cheering crowd, Luther ripped up the document. There she stood: she could do no other.

Your move, governor. On April 27, at a press conference, Abbott laid out his vision for unwinding his shutdown order. On May 1, his “phase one” would go into effect, allowing retail businesses and restaurants to partially reopen, as long as they followed certain guidelines. In mid-May, assuming things had gone well and COVID-19 infection numbers weren’t spiking, he declared that he would move Texas to “phase two” and allow more businesses to open. Hair salons, barbershops, gyms, and bars could welcome customers back in once the state had collected “two weeks of data to confirm no flare-up of COVID-19” after phase one, he said.

Why the different standards? Well, barbering and hairstyling involve sustained intimate contact, in an environment where customers are coming and going over the course of the day. Barbershops and salons provide a much more potent risk for viral transmission than, say, a Home Depot. And why two weeks? That’s the minimum period required to get a sense of whether the virus is in submission, according to public health experts. Though the coronavirus has a median incubation time of about five days, some of those infected don’t show symptoms until about twelve to fourteen days after infection.

Abbott got pushback from all sides. Some thought he was moving too fast while others complained that he was acting too slowly. Setting that aside, he deserves at least a little credit for the fact that unlike some governors—the fella who rules over our unfortunate brothers and sisters in Georgia, for one—Abbott at least had a plan. With dates. A 66-page manual. An order of operations. Something you could make into a flowchart. Less dangerous businesses first, more dangerous businesses later. Capiche?


Now, the question of what to do with those who violate public health directives—who put the public at risk indirectly—is a tricky one. Many liberals and conservatives now find agreement in the idea that no one should be put in jail for nonviolent crimes. The situation is trickier when, like Luther, violators are given many, many chances to conform to the law and refuse. It’s a question that we’re probably going to have to face again, as we struggle to adjust to having COVID-19 as a neighbor, and it’s going to be difficult every time.

Citizens of South Korea or Denmark may like big government telling them what to do to stay safe, but we’re America, baby, and we’re high on Alex Jones’s brain-healing powder. We’re a country that’s fighting a culture war about whether wearing masks makes you a wimp, and where men complain loudly on television that the pandemic is making it hard to buy lawn fertilizer.

It’s notable, perhaps, that Shelley Luther shows up in at least one other pandemic-related local news story in the last few months. On March 11, KHOU interviewed Luther and her boyfriend, Tim Georgeff, as they boarded a cruise ship in Galveston. Were they worried about getting on an enormous floating petri dish in the middle of a pandemic, not long after the entire Diamond Princess had been quarantined in Japan? “Well, for one, I have a real good friend who’s a doctor,” Georgeff told the reporter. “It’s really nothing more than a severe cold.”

But there’s one point that’s worth triple-underlining, and it’s the strangest part of the whole salon saga. Judge Moyé has been cast as the villain, the oppressor, whose puppetmaster is Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins. It’s important to listen to Moyé’s words as he sentenced Luther. He was convicting her, he said, because of the rather sensible proposition that “the rule of law governs us … Society cannot function when one’s own belief in the concept of liberty permits you to flaunt your disdain for the rulings of elected officials,” Moyé said.

Here’s the thing. One of the “rulings” in question here is by Abbott, who, if you need reminding, is the Republican governor of Texas. Moyé, a Democrat, is defending Abbott’s prerogative in ordering business closures for public health reasons. Abbott isn’t alone in this, of course. The president, the governor of Texas, the Dallas county judge, and an assortment of both Democratic and Republican mayors in North Texas all agreed that Americans should cool it in April. This group may never agree on anything ever again, but they agreed on this. And yet the Republican officeholders are urging conservatives to train their fire on Moyé and Jenkins.

Ross Ramsey:

She’s not the only Texas beautician arrested for tending to customers during the pandemic — just the one who got the attention of the top politicians in Austin. Consider the story of two women in Laredo busted in April for offering nail and eyelash services in violation of pandemic-spurred restrictions. Ana Isabel Castro-Garcia was arrested by Laredo police after arranging to do the nails of an undercover cop posing as a customer. Brenda Stephanie Mata was arrested for a similar transgression, offering eyelash services to an undercover officer. Nails and lashes weren’t on the list of essential services under that city’s “COVID-19 Emergency Management Plan.”

Illegal grooming is hardly of interest to the average neighborhood crime watch or the FBI — whether it takes place in Laredo or in Dallas — but the law is the law.

Maybe it’s a big-city thing. State officials got after Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo for a mandatory mask law that included fines for violators caught without masks in public. That furor also didn’t reach Laredo, where state officials had ignored a similar law for weeks. Maybe state officials just don’t pay attention to Laredo, or the Houston masks and the Dallas hair were just convenient attention-getting distractions for stressed-out politicians in the middle of a scary pandemic.

Whatever the case, salons can reopen in Texas on Friday to 25% of their regular capacity, freeing the state’s politicians to argue about other essentials.

Dale Hansen:

Those who blame the judge, saying it was a political stunt to put her in jail, are ignoring the real stunt here.

Luther’s GoFundMe page has raised more than half a million dollars, because it is true, there really is one born every minute. But I’m assuming she can feed her family now, and she will share her bounty with all those who can’t.

No one likes the position we’re in now. The virus has made it incredibly hard on almost all of us. But to excuse the actions of Luther, would create a society that I don’t think any of really want to live in.


We’re not in this together, we never have been. And all the sweet commercials won’t make it so.

Gov. Abbott and our other state leaders have proven again that the rule of law doesn’t matter, and court orders can be ignored as long as you are well-to-do and white.

If Shelley Luther’s beauty salon was in South Dallas the lieutenant governor would’ve never paid her fine and she’d still be in jail. And not a single one of you would be blaming the judge.

There. May Shelley Luther sink back into obscurity, and may we all remember the words of a long-ago statesman who said “We must all hang together, or we will surely hang separately.”

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37 Responses to The Hair Affair

  1. Tom in Lazybrook says:

    As anyone could have predicted (and I did), the GOP, after completely botching the medical and economic response to COVID is simply going to pull a “mission accomplished” here.

    They will now actively make things worse, pretend that they are winning, and blame random Democrats for the fallout.

    There is not a single Democrat that has any power in this in Texas now. No local elected official can do anything anymore because the GOP has taken all controls away.

    Expect more BS, Jacob Wohl/James O’Keefe style agitprop like this one.

  2. Jules says:

    The strangest thing about this is the dumdums who crow about it like it is some Republican victory over Democrats.

  3. Brad says:

    Truly the emperors Abbott and Trump have no clothes.

    Let’s see how many more NFL sized stadiums of dead people will be the result of their gross negligence. 1 down…how many more?

  4. SocraticGadfly says:

    What about hair affair Houston? Why wasn’t Briscoe Cain AND the salon owner there arrested?

  5. Wolfgang says:

    Re: What about hair affair Houston? Why wasn’t Briscoe Cain AND the salon owner there arrested?

    The (legal procedural) facts should matter.

    NOTA BENE: Luther wasn’t arrested for violating Abbott’s or Jenkins’ order (even though Abbott’s order provided for enforcement by jail). Instead, she got a cease-and-desist letter from Dallas County Judge Jenkins (chief executive of the county, not a judge in the local court system), and a code enforcement letter from the City Attorney. The City (not the Criminal DA) then filed a CIVIL enforcement action against her in a Dallas district court, and obtained a temporary restraining order (TRO). She was held in civil and criminal contempt for violating the TRO (which her attorney also tried to appeal even though it’s not appealable). The Texas Supreme Court set her free on a petition for habeas corpus. It will be interesting to see how they explain that act in an opinion, if ever. The case filings were not even put online for the benefit of the public and the media in breaking story with a national audience, and the Texas Judiciary’s sever has been down for more than 24 hours, so no appellate case information is available for lookup. The SCOTX clerk made available a regular batch of Friday morning opinions via Dropbox, but there was nothing on the Luther habeas corpus case in there, which remains pending. See here:

  6. Bill Daniels says:

    Let’s unpack this (LOL).

    First, Abbott is a bad guy here, among many bad guys. It was his middle finger order aimed at both the US and Texas constitutions that got the ball rolling. The Dallas County judge, just took that ball and ran it down the field, and then the judge, with his, “If you will grovel and supplicate yourself, maybe I won’t clap you in irons” pomposity, ran it into the endzone, replete with excessive celebration end zone dance.

    For Manny ONLY (because he sees EVERYTHING through the prism of race): The racist, Obama loving, black judge wanted to take the opportunity to have the pretty white woman grovel and step and fetch before him, asserting his racist alpha dominance over her. Shelley declined.

    Back to everyone else: Was Abbott guilty of not foreseeing the law of unintended consequences? Maybe. In any event, once he saw what a public relations disaster this was for him, he reversed course on his edict, and obviously he, Paxton, and probably Shelley’s lawyer made sure the SCofTX got her sprung expeditiously.

    Okay, we got through that. Now, the blame also lies with the Dallas County judge, and all the apparatchiks who actually wrote the tickets, issued the TRO, arrested her, and sent her to the big house. All of these folks threw common sense out a tall building, to splatter and die on the concrete below. They are all combining forces to let violent criminals out of jail, to make room for people like Shelley. Um, OK, it’s a crisis, let’s lock up people who refuse to be supplicant to our whims. If public safety really is your goal, this makes no sense. If your goal is being a tin pot dictator, ruling your fiefdom with an iron fist, then yes, this makes sense.


    Shelley is indeed a Rosa Parks style hero. When this is all over, she should get a medal of freedom. The villains are everybody else, INCLUDING Abbott, although Abbott eventually tried to make it right.

  7. Bill Daniels says:


    I want to recreate the scene from the movie, but use the current facts.

    All these things happened. Now imagine that Shelley was a non white illegal alien, and her staff were non white illegal aliens, just trying to work to feed their children.

  8. Wolfgang says:


    On a personal level, I actually like sitting in the back of the bus when I ride (unless we talking double-decker trip on Megabus or Flixbus, in which case I prefer a front row seat with forward view despite the high collision-death risk), so the Rosa Parks type of protest does not resonate as well with me. That said, the defiance behavior was for its symbolic value in challenging segregation, at the personal risk of having to pay the then-going price for it, and was hardly motivated by material personal gain, or quest for fame.

    The S & B Hot Mess entrepreneur, by contrast, was (1) not an underdog in the first instance, (2) has since received more than half a million dollars in donations from supporters, and (3) has the power structure on her side, rather than against her. Dan Patrick heads the donor list with $7,000. So, she is raking up pretty good money off her stunt.

    She may be a Luther by name, but she ain’t no Martin Luther King, no Mandela, and no Vaclav Havel.

  9. Paul Kubosh says:

    It totally blows my mind how people who are so against jail when criminals break to he law and at the same time are so happy to see people go to jail for non-violent offenses. The hypocrisy is mind blowing

  10. Bill Daniels says:


    “She may be a Luther by name, but she ain’t no Martin Luther King, no Mandela, and no Vaclav Havel.”

    Well, OK, let’s say she’s not a philanderer {philanderess?), so no MLK.

    She’s clearly not a communist, so no Mandela.

    Havel? Well, she’s not THE leader in destroying communist like control and subjugation of Texans, but I can see a similarity, so I’d disagree with your outright dismissal.

    But let’s look at what kind of Luther she actually exemplifies: Martin Luther.

    She figuratively, maybe not literally, posted her manifesto of freedom and sanity on the door of the Salon al a Mode. She was instrumental in the reformation of Texas’ handling of the Wuhan virus crisis. She took a stand.


    Absolutely right. Had she been an illegal alien just trying to feed her kids (that get free breakfast, lunch, and take home food on the weekends from the school district), and probably food stamps if they were anchors, everyone here would be complaining about picking on a poor illegal alien. Hypocrisy in action here.

    We are seeing class warfare. The OTK set, all comfortably working from their homes, who have not lost their jobs, have lost their compassion for everyone who is NOT in their shoes, like small business owners and employees of those businesses who have been devastated by the forced shutdowns.

  11. Bill Daniels says:


    Off Topic, but why don’t you read the bunker testimony of all of Schiff’s star witnesses about Trump Russia collusion who all said, to a person, that there WAS no Trump Russia collusion, despite what they had been saying on TV. Read Farkas’ transcript, and Clapper’s too.

    There’s a reason Schiff didn’t want this out there in public. These people lied their asses off in public, but when under oath, they told something different….the truth.

    You got duped, Manny. Admitting you have a problem is the first step to overcoming it.

  12. SocraticGadfly says:

    Bill, there’s nothing, NOTHING unconstitutional about quarantine orders, and SCOTUS so ruled back in 1902. BOOM!

    Ergo, she is NO HERO.

    First, other stylists obeyed the law.

    Second, if you’re a fundy or conservative evangelical Xn? Romans 13. Put that in your pipe and puff it, Bill Daniels.

    Third, she’d qualified for a PPP loan the day before the Moye hearing.

    Fourth, Congress made the self-employed eligible for unemployment bennies right now.

    Fifth, that pipe I told you to puff on in point 2, Bill? Stick it in your racist white ass.

  13. SocraticGadfly says:

    Wolfgang: I’ll admit I engaged in a lot of shorthand, and also didn’t know what Harris County’s order said.

    Oh, BTW, I’m in Texas, and I know what a county judge is. So, if you respond to this comment, I don’t need an explainer.

    I consider any executive order that carries the same fine and/or jail time as a Class A misdemeanor to BE, functionally, a Class A misdemeanor. Therefore, people violating the original order can be arrested. I know that Luther was not arrested for the original violation. I know that Cain, and the salon owner, weren’t either.

    But, they could have been.

    Oh, and Kim Ogg is a ConservaDem.

  14. SocraticGadfly says:

    The bottom line is, you have to enforce these orders. A Shelley Luther should have been arrested.

    In the Spanish flu, municipalities that had quarantine orders, or states, did arrest people. Places that had mask laws arrested people, too. There have been occasional arrests now, but not enough.

  15. Manny says:

    Bill why don’t shove that flash light up where the light never shines so you can protect yourself from the virus, OFF TOPIC

    Bill why do you assume that if someone does not agree with your stupidity and hate, that the person has not read?

    Keep your hate of women, blacks, browns, and Chinese and shove it up where the flashlight will go to cleanse you as your glorious leader Trump suggested. OFF TOPIC, don’t forget to tell your mom that you love her, she may be the only person that may care for you.

  16. Jen says:

    Paul- when you offer your middle finger to the judge and dare them to jail you for contempt of court, it is a pretty sure bet you are going to jail. Please try it sometime. Maybe then we will have a few days when we don’t have to hear all of your fake outrage and BS about what liberals supposedly want.

  17. Manny says:

    Paul which one of the people before you were glad she went to jail?

    By the way Bill I had not posted here, so I will assume that you did your daily dose of Clorox and that explains your post with my name on this topic.

  18. Jules says:

    How exactly did Luther reform Texas’s response to the virus?

  19. Bill Daniels says:


    Luther’s brave stand forced Abbott to modify his order that jail time was no longer an option for having the audacity to….work for a living. You’ll note I am not giving Abbott a pass here. This really isn’t even Pub-Dem conflict….it’s a freedom-totalitarian conflict. Like I have said before, everybody bought into the lock down early on, when it was to be for a couple of weeks, then another couple of weeks, but at a certain point, especially when the percentage of infected turning up dead was no where near what we were told initially.

    For everyone else, I’m happy you got your two minutes of hate in this morning! I get it, it’s been a bad week, with the documents SHOWING that many of the key Russia hoax players admit under oath that it WAS a hoax, combined with the documents showing that General Flynn was targeted, and especially that Obama was in on it, as proved by Sally Yates’ admission that he not only knew about the spying on General Flynn, but knew the details of his spied on call.

    It was a bad week for y’all, my condolences.

  20. Bill Daniels says:


    At a certain point, people will have had enough, and will retake their businesses, their jobs, their beaches, parks, etc. Watch the news.

    [You are here now]

  21. C.L. says:

    Luther’s 15 mins of fame were, for me anyway, over as soon as the Judge made good on her Grey Bar Hotel reservation.

    Ain’t no point in making laws or issuing Executive Orders if they’re not going to be enforced.

  22. Jules says:

    Bill on Judge Hidalgo removing jail time:

    “If you are assessed a civil fine and don’t pay, the remedy is jail at some point. If there was no threat of escalation or jail, no one would ever pay a civil fine. Remember the red light cameras? Don’t pay, and some cities would try to not let you pay the license plate tax on your car, making you eligible to get stopped for a traffic ticket. Don’t pay the expired plate ticket, and boom, you go to jail. There’s just a few steps between not paying and jail, but the path is clear.”

    Go away Bill.

  23. Manny says:

    I agree with Jen.

    I agree with Jules.

    Bill go away, Russia is old news, just trying to change the topic of how terrible Trump is and how he completely messed up and Americans are dying because of his stupidity.

    It is “Mourning in America”, Bill.

  24. SocraticGadfly says:

    Bill, as of last count, Texas remained 48th in the nation in per-capita test rates, and Abbott’s lies on “more tests are coming” and his reality of results both matched Trump.

    So, Texas, and you, and numnutz anti-gummint, anti-biblical protestors don’t even know the state of the problem.

  25. Bill Daniels says:


    It’s a nice, Reaganesque commercial that you keep reposting over and over, but you are totally ignoring the bombshells in the basement bunker testimonies that were released. Under oath, faced with perjury charges if they lied, Clapper and the rest all said there was no Trump Russian collusion. This is a VERY big deal, because it proves Trump was right and you were wrong, Manny. It proves that you got lied to. READ the transcripts, Manny! Read them! It’s all there. You don’t want to read them, because you don’t want your bubble busted. The Flynn persecution, now evident with the FBI’s own papers that were released, will bust your bubble, too. Read them! Read Yates’ testimony. Obama was intimately familiar with the spying on the Trump campaign. Not only did “POTUS want to know everything we are doing,” Yates confirms it in her testimony about the Jan. 5th White House meeting of coup participants.

    Manny, you got suckered, and the very people who suckered you have admitted it in sworn testimony that they hoped would never see the light of day. Adam Schiff lied to you, Manny. They all did.

  26. SocraticGadfly says:

    Bill keeps showing up and commenting since my last comments, and still refuses to admit he’s wrong on the quarantine constitutionality issue.

    Typical tRumper, whose Problem No. 1 (other than racism, when they exhibit that) is an inability to admit they’re wrong.

  27. Bill Daniels says:


    I will saythat I think forcing healthy people NOT to work is unconstitutional, even though you presented a cite that it has been ruled constitutional. So yes, I agree with you, the edict that Abbott created was constitutional. I’m agreeing with you, while at the same time expressing my displeasure with it.

    Now, will you agree that you feel that “high capacity clips” and “fully semiautomatic weapons of war” are unconstitutional in your opinion, even though the court has not ruled that they are?

  28. SocraticGadfly says:

    Until Heller, Bill, SCOTUS rightly held that the corporatist view of 2A was correct. That’s still correct. It took 58 years to overturn Plessy, but it was.

    Now, will you admit that, to the degree people like you backed gun control in the 1960s, it was due to racist fears of blacks with guns?

  29. Bill Daniels says:

    People like me? I support the 2nd. I support an armed citizenry, for the exact same reason the founding fathers supported it. We owe the very freedoms we enjoy today to exactly that.

    Did you see the peaceful protesting in Wisconsin? I supported the multi cultural, but largely white peaceful armed protestors that want people to be able to go back to work, AND I supported the black peaceful, armed protestors that, I guess, were protesting that the government keep people unemployed. Both groups were peaceful, and I support the rights of both groups.

    More to the point, and more germane, it’s precisely blacks, Hispanics, and others who live in crime infested big cities that need gun ownership the most. Out here in suburbia, my chances of being a crime victim are a lot lower than, say, in Sunnyside, or South Park. People who live in those neighborhoods need access to firearms, and I fully support their right to have them.

    So no, I reject your association between me and anyone who would want to deny blacks the right to own firearms.

  30. Bill Daniels says:



    Your thoughts on the bunker transcripts? They clearly show the ‘Russian collusion’ hoax was a classic wrap up smear. Clapper, Brennan, Comey, and the others, made up stuff to tell the news media, they reported it, and then they used the media reports to begin investigating the hoax they themselves made up. Did you read the transcripts, and compare them to what you were told publicly?

    How do you feel about that? Are you angry at being lied to, or do you think that was appropriate, as a “by any means necessary” approach to try and get rid of Trump AND Flynn?

    For what it’s worth, it’s OK to both hate Trump, AND hate what was done to him.

  31. C.L. says:

    I may actually care less about Flynn than I do about Luther, which is what this thread started with.

  32. Jules says:

    CL, spot on.

  33. Bill Daniels says:

    Why is it you folks cared so much about Russian collusion for the last 3+ years? It was all anyone could talk about, but now that the proof is out that it was all just complete bullshit, no one cares? Why don’t you care now? Is it because it makes you look foolish, for having been taken in by the Obama coupsters and their compliant media?

    Obama targeted Flynn because Flynn knew Team Obama was funding Muslim terrorists, and he had to be silenced at all costs. Think about that….the two things the kindly Obama warned Trump about were North Korea….and Flynn. Wow. One general is that dangerous to America. Wow. Now we know why.

    Don’t we care about the truth around here? Or is it like rapin’ Joey Two Fingers, we only care about stuff that benefits out side?

  34. C.L. says:

    Tin foil hat.

  35. asmith says:

    Abbott took the bait. Tea party set this thing up. They have been wanting to get back at Abbott for not supporting their priorities during the last session.

    Now he and Paxton have been doubling down on bashing Dallas County elected officials. Someone should tell them DA Creuzot is a criminal DA and has nothing to do with the Luther case which was a civil case. Plus Creuzot’s prison reform plan was released last year and actually has libertarian support, including the lone GOP member of the commissioners court in Dallas.

    I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Shelley Luther. My guess is she’ll have a TLC/Bravo reality show or she runs for the lege. She now has a fundraising database thanks to Gofundme account.

  36. Critical THinker says:

    I hope there will be enough public pressure that Ms. Luther distributes the gofundme money to the 19 stylists working in her salon after participating in this Tea Party-QAnon exercise to trick Abbot. And boy did he fall for it.

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