Quent and Linda Cordair, owners of Quent Cordair Fine Art in Napa, California, announced on April 28 that on Monday, May 4, they will reopen their gallery—in defiance of a local mandate that all “nonessential” businesses are to remain closed until further notice.
“We’re prepared to risk fines, arrest, or jail,” the Cordairs wrote in an open letter to the public. Quent explained during a phone interview with the Napa Valley Register that they are “facing financial ruin” if they remain closed for much longer. The Cordairs wrote in their letter:
We have 30 artists and their families relying on us for support. We have employees to employ. We have bills to pay. We’ve risked everything; we’ve worked too hard and fought too long to bring our business to life, to keep it alive, and to grow it over the past 24 years to sit passively and watch it die for the unwillingness of some in the community to permit others to live and work on their own terms, to accept and deal with any marginal risk at their own judgment and discretion.
We welcome other Napa business-owners willing to join us in re-opening next Monday, if and as they are able and deem proper—but we’ll open alone if necessary.
Public officials: know that we’re prepared to risk fines, arrest, or jail. We’re pursuing resources for any necessary legal challenge, up to the Supreme Court if necessary. Our constitution and system of government was created and established to secure the right of each and every individual in these United States to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
There can be no life without work; there can be no work without liberty; and, with so many others, we’re increasingly unhappy being unable to work and live for lack of liberty. The present situation is untenable, unacceptable, unjustifiable. It’s unhealthy and unsustainable. Not dying is not living.
Congratulations to the Cordairs—not only for their decision to reopen their gallery, but especially for their unapologetic, principled statement, which rejects the widespread notion that this decision is not theirs to make. As they acknowledge in their letter, COVID-19 does constitute a threat to human life and prosperity—but so do bankruptcy, unemployment, and prolonged isolation, and for many millions of people, these are worse and more imminent threats than the virus itself.
If you have the means to do so without damaging your own rational values, I encourage you to support the Cordairs however you can. Consider buying a gorgeous new painting or sculpture from their gallery, donating to their legal fund (which, hopefully, they won’t need), writing to the mayor of Napa, or simply leaving an encouraging comment for the Cordairs and other business owners on Facebook.
When it comes to challenging statism and authoritarianism, every voice matters. Please join us in speaking up in defense of the right of the Cordairs—and of everyone else—to run their lives and businesses in accordance with their own rational judgment.
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