Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Do the people protesting Kim Davis's "religious persecution" have any idea what actual religious persecution is?


Yes, she's back from the hoosegow, and the theory now is that marriage licenses will be issued in her holy see Rowan County, but without her name. Of course, if the theory is that her name on a document is supposed to signify its compliance with relevant law, hasn't that ship already sailed?

"Calling [Kim Davis's situation] persecution is insulting to the people who really are fighting for their right to live out their beliefs -- as human beings, not as elected officials with $80,000 annual salaries."
-- washingtonpost.com's Alexandra Petri,
in the post
"The Passion of Kim Davis"

by Ken

The battle lines over Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis's refusal to do her job are familiar enough that they haven't seemed to require comment from me, beyond endorsing the terrific point that Greg Sargent made: that the real news in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision upholding a constitutional right to same-sex marriage is how smoothly, on the whole, the transition has gone.

All through the ascendancy of the New Right in American politics it has been a source of, hmm, curiosity that such a coalition has been maintained despite large differences, and in fact open contradictions, of belief within that coalition. But I guess the Economic-Predator Right-Wingery who mostly had the final say could live with their unwashed brothers and sisters as long as they got their way on the important stuff, like invading Iraq in order to turn it into a model of free-market capitalism for the world to see and emulate. The unwashed, in exchange for their support, or at least non-opposition, on the Predators' issues, about which they didn't have strong feelings anyway, got handouts of Social-Fascist Wingnuttery, which sort of kept the whole polluted thing together.

What's more, in those days the political Right was positioned to take full advantage of all the research and field-testing the Predators were funding and encouraging into "hot-button issues" that could keep their voting coalition broad enough to keep them in power. Alas, as the GOP's legions of presidential candidates are discovering to their chagrin, you have to keep up to date on hot buttons, which often have to be tuned or even outright discarded when they no longer touch the current terrors and rages of the core voters they need to corral. The mere existence of so many GOP presidential candidates makes it that much more important that each of them have his/her own button(s) not shared by more than, say, a dozen of the hundreds of other candidates. Wasn't it Plato who said, apropos of candidates for political office, "Ya gotta have a gimmick"?

Under such circumstances, even the most committed, determined panderer doesn't know who to pander to or how.

As Howie was just pointing out yesterday, though, in dissecting the down-for-the-count "campaign" of the prince of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, as he desperately tries to retool his "campaign" (I really don't see any alternative to putting what he's put forth so far as a "campaign" in quotes), bringing back his "signature" issue, union-bashing, union-busting doesn't seem to be the hot-button issue that fervid Economic-Predator Right-Wingers have made it in the recent past. Either the folks are bored, or perhaps they've noticed that Prince Scott's economic "reforms" have turned his state's economy to crap. They may even have begun to make the connection that U.S. employers have: that the less they have to fear the pushback of labor unions, the less they have to listen to the whiny wants of their employees.

Well, the polling I've seen so far shows that the Social-Fascist Right-Wingers who've been trying to play the Kim Davis "religious persecution" card aren't getting the play they would once have taken for granted when you have an unobstructed shot at homo-bashing. Oh, they're getting the usual core crackpots and religious delusionalists and bullies, but inside the circled wagons the territory has shrunk. Put all the "Hate the Homos Now and Forever" diehards together, and you don't seem to have an especially potent voting bloc.


Her job is to carry out the laws that fall under the jurisdiction of a Kentucky county clerk. She is, of course, entitled to her opinion of those laws, but she isn't entitled to pick and choose which laws she will and which laws she won't enforce.

This might not even be an issue if it had been dealt with in the case of pharmacists and the day-after abortion pill. Again, people have the right to their opinion of drugs that have been certified by the relevant governmental authorities as legal for sale in their jurisdiction, but there isn't any stretch by which they could possibly have a right to selectively disburse or refuse to disburse drugs approved for sale. Pharmacists are by definition licensed enforcers of the meting out of the drug-authorizing authorities' decisions.

If you can't or won't fulfill the legal obligations of your chosen profession, no one can force you to, but you have to recognize that your conscience requires you to seen another profession, one you can exercise within the limit of your principles.

Granted, Kim Davis's case is made particularly preposterous by the views on marriage reflected in her own marital history -- four times married, to three different men. On the radio I heard an enraged citizen of Kentucky express outrage that this issue was raised against Davis, outrage that seems to me ridiculous. The Davis woman claims the right to decide who can and can't get married, and her own marital history is somehow out of bounds?

I think washingtonpost.com's Alexandra Petri got this just about right yesterday.

The Passion of Kim Davis

By Alexandra Petri | September 14 at 10:00 AM

Kim Davis is a false idol.

To suffer for your beliefs can be ennobling. To suffer for your misconceptions is just embarrassing. And she’s doing the latter, not the former.

Today, she’s back at work.

Last Tuesday afternoon found her being released from jail, as Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz rallied around her and “Eye of the Tiger” played. (Survivor issued a cease and desist.) Crosses waved, “Amazing Grace” was sung, speeches were given. It was all the fun of martyrdom with none of the stigma(ta.)

But make no mistake. Kim Davis is not being persecuted for her beliefs. This is to actual religious persecution as anything in that Alanis Morrisette song was to irony: which is to say, this only looks like it if you don’t properly understand the meaning of the word.

She’s celebre in a bad cause.

And now everyone is frantically trying to lay hands on this relic before she loses her potency.

(Poor Ted Cruz, whom Huckabee staffers headed off as he tried to touch the hem of Davis’s robe. He stood glumly offstage watching the rally unfold. It seemed, to use a biblical metaphor, like pretty small pottage for which he had traded the birthright of being someone who appeared to possess an understanding of the law.)

Kim Davis has gone even farther than John C. Calhoun, who, when he was suggesting wild extra-constitutional solutions to Supreme Court decisions he disliked, at least offered up the theory that the state could interpose between a court decision and its people. All Davis suggests is that Kim Davis can interpose herself between court and people.

At the risk of sounding like Javert, you must learn the meaning of the law.

This is not a case of the law interfering with her ability to practice her faith. That would indeed be a grave matter. This is a case of her faith interfering with her ability to uphold the law as a public official. You have every right to believe that the earth is 6,000 years old, but you can’t expect to keep your job at the U.S. Geological Survey if you won’t backdate the rocks. And if they fired you, we would not call you persecuted. We would say, “Well, science is clearly not your field.”

It is one thing to disagree with a law that you are required to uphold by your job. What you do in that case is resign.

It’s fine that if you don’t want your name on the marriage licenses. What you do in that case is resign.

It’s fine if you feel that you can’t perform your job and avoid hell simultaneously. What you do in that case is resign. It’s a quandary, certainly. What it is not is religious persecution.

But not to hear Mike Huckabee tell it.

“Where does this end when you have this level of outright discrimination and, frankly, persecution [of] someone who genuinely believes in her heart the difference between marriage and something that the Supreme Court has created?” said Mike Huckabee on CNN. (See: Judges 15:16.)

This is not someone being persecuted for her faith. This is someone being punished for failing to do her job, then being in contempt of court. Calling it persecution is insulting to the people who really are fighting for their right to live out their beliefs — as human beings, not as elected officials with $80,000 annual salaries.

Religious persecution of Christians is real and ongoing. It is what is happening in North Korea, where tens of thousands of Christians live in forced labor camps. It is what is happening in Saudi Arabia, where even building churches is prohibited. But it is not what is happening to Kim Davis.

In China, pastors are imprisoned, churches closed and crosses torn down.

In America, a county clerk is — displaying a baffling lack of understanding when it comes to the law of the land, and presidential candidates are enabling her.

Once more, with feeling: You don’t have to do your job. But equally the taxpayers do not have to pay you. You have the right to your beliefs. You do not have the right to be a county clerk.

If your job offends you, cast it out.

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At 9:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kim Davis, as an ELECTED, therefore, indisputable, representative of government, has committed a monumental violation of the very "right" she claims to be invoking, that of the "establishment clause" of the first amendment.

She has established HER religion as the official religion of her county clerk's office.
This is about as blatant a breach as can be remembered yet SHE, as reich wing, logic-destroying, theo-fascist, insists she is the victim!?!

I'm assuming it will eventually be revealed that she has been used as the "test case" by some billionaire, massive, religio-hypocrite.

John Puma


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