Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Why We All Should Support What Kim Davis Did

Notice I didn't say "what Kim Davis believes"? That part is up to you. What she did is a different matter. 

Come on -- you know me better than that. Going on a rant about things people need to decide for themselves is not my style. I'm always more interested in evaluating actions than in evaluating beliefs. But something worries me about the Kim Davis backlash; it is the same thing that worries me any time the Internet mobs get a hold of someone they have decided to shun...

...and it really is not unlike a religious shunning, what the Internet mobs do. Whenever someone falls out of favor with the most loudly popularly-sanctioned viewpoints, they get the torches and pitchforks treatment. They are ridiculed. They are labeled as horrible human beings. 


"I was telling him to leave town. He certainly isn't someone who I want to live in my community." And, "I'd like to see him lose his business. I really would." 

One supporter of the dentist claimed that some of the protesters were calling for Palmer to be put to death. 

I love animals and I think killing that lion was not cool. But...I don't know. You decide. If it was an illegal act, the guy should suffer the consequences of the law; but, to want him to lose his livelihood? To run him out of his Minnesota town because he killed a lion in Africa? I mean, if the guy had a history of shooting people's dogs, I could see it... 

Well, anyway, now we are on to Kim Davis. Many conservative Christians are holding her up as a hero and those who disagree with what she did are starting the campaign against her with viscious Tweets and hyper-critical memes. 

To me, the problem manifests itself not in the surface issue: gay marriage. The problem is the tone that those who object take when they do object; the "run her out of town on a rail" philosophy. 

See, anyone has the right to think Kim Davis is a redneck, backward nut if they want; or, even to think she is a proper Christian crusader. But what she actually did is called "civil disobedience." A lot of  people have used civil disobedience as a form of protest and it serves as a last-ditch effort, in a civilized society, when people feel the government or the lawmakers have gone too far. It is dangerous when we either outright say or gently imply that someone "got what they deserved" when they get thrown in prison for doing this. (I am not trying to make comparisons to any other civil disobeyers, for the record. I can just see the stream of people thinking I am trying to call Davis the new Dr. King...) Again, it is not the gay marriage position of anyone, but the negative reaction to Davis's civil disobedience that is the problem. 

Teach your kids what you believe about gay marriage. But to send the next generation forward with the idea that the way Kim Davis handled her protest is wrong is to take the next step into what I see as the coming of a voluntary-membership Big Brother society. (Orwell had it slightly wrong. We're not going to be forced into submission. We're signing up. We are our own Thought Police...)

Davis will probably go back to work and do this again. Good. Let her have at it. If the Internet mobs stop people with strong opinions from feeling that civil disobedience is a valid and even an admirable course, there is no telling who might back down from an issue the mobs might agree with in times to come. We're never going to have balance without extremes -- someone needs to be at either end of the see-saw -- so we need to let it happen. 

Is Davis a hero, to you? Is she a villain? Either way, what she did has been driving an important apsect of protest for centuries. Rail as you will against (or for) her beliefs, but her actions are another thing. 



11 comments:

  1. A few years ago, a group of Rutgers kids decided to snarl traffic outside New Brunswick as a way to protest (if I remember correctly) the Iraq War. When they were arrested and charged with crimes and their futures were suddenly in doubt, they seemed genuinely shocked, and attorneys rushed to defend them pro bono.

    I'm not a Kim Davis supporter; her notion of religious freedom simply doesn't work. (And really, as she's been married four times, another county clerk who personally objected to that could have denied her a marriage certificate, by Davis' own logic.) That said, I'm also strongly against Internet mobs, especially when the target seems dumb but at least sincere, and my hope is that if nothing else, people will start to remember, unlike those Rutgers students, that the moral authority of civil disobedience doesn't come from whether you feel strongly about something and throw a tantrum over it, but whether you're willing to subject yourself to society's punishment in the hopes of persuading others that a law is unjust.

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    1. I agree Jeff -- I don't see it as a religious freedom issue; she's wrong on that level as are her supporters. I guess in my head, my point is simply that we can't demonize civil disobedience because of her. You could not be more right about the consequences piece. (There's a heck of a row going on over at Facebook if you want a look...)

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    2. Oh, and to be prosaic, I never meant to be a Kim Davis supporter, either, but a civil disobedience supporter...

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  2. http://www.newsweek.com/individual-rights-and-kim-davis-its-not-quite-what-it-seems-369871

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    1. Thanks, Anonymous. Apparently I have hit my limit of free reading on Newsweek for this month, so I will have to wait to read it -- but I shall!

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    2. Okay -- I got in to read it. It says that what she did is not civil disobedience by saying "civil disobedience involves an intentional violation of an unjust law." But an "unjust" is subjective, is it not? She thinks gay marriage is unjust. Again, not supporting her, just the idea that I think whether we lie her actions or not, we can't let civil disobedience turn to an unthinkable act by criticizing the wrong thing.

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    3. Okay -- I got in to read it. It says that what she did is not civil disobedience by saying "civil disobedience involves an intentional violation of an unjust law." But an "unjust" is subjective, is it not? She thinks gay marriage is unjust. Again, not supporting her, just the idea that I think whether we lie her actions or not, we can't let civil disobedience turn to an unthinkable act by criticizing the wrong thing.

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    4. http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/09/kim-davis-is-no-rosa-parks-213127

      This is more of what i wanted to convey. Her being a public official.

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    5. Dominique -- That was interesting, especially the comparison of Davis to the bus driver and not to Parks. (Comparison of Davis to Parks is, was and always shall be ridiculous, by the way.) Nevertheless, if a public official had done what she did for an issue that made logical and moral sense, though, would we not support her? A commanding officer refusing to carry out what he saw as an immoral order, for instance? I guess that's the stalemate... Let me just sum up my intentions, as I did for Jeff above. I may very well have failed to put it well in the piece above, but I just would hate to see this woman give civil disobedience a bad name.

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  3. Sorry to barrage you with links .
    http://jacobbacharach.com/2015/09/07/shabbos-goy/

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    1. Thank you again -- will certianly read this.

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