Why ignorance can never be progressive
By: Brittney Farrow
There is something magically magnetic about close-minded people. While most of us would assume that flies were easier to catch with honey than with vinegar, Kim Davis is just one example of how bitterness and delusion play a role in our daily lives.
With a population of barely more than 23,000 people, Rowan County, Ky. is too small to make national headlines on a regular basis – and yet, it did just that when Davis neglected her responsibilities as county clerk by refusing to issue a same-sex couple their marriage license. This was, of course, after the Supreme Court ruled in-favor of equal marriage, therefore making Davis’ actions not only a bigoted act of defiance, but an illegal mistake.
The story is not particularly uncommon; since what seems like the Dawn of Creation, gay marriage and its moral standing has been a hot-topic issue between religious people of all variations. For hundreds of years now, bible-thumpers and dedicated churchgoers alike have picked apart and analyzed Leviticus 18:22 – the bible verse which states that a man should not lie with another man the way he lies with a woman – until it was nothing more than bones on the carcass of Christianity.
So, naturally, when Davis was in the process of being jailed for breaking federal law, it did not take long for an army of supporters to rally behind her and praise her for her strong show of faith. She was a warrior of God, they said; she was righteous and strong. As the story developed, big names in politics even joined her cause. Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee publicly applauded her bravery and admired her convictions; they called her arrest judicial tyranny, and painted her as a victim to the criminalization of religion in America. Suddenly Kim Davis was not just a Southern county clerk anymore – she was an activist for our generation.
Only, I refute that sentiment. Not long after the news broke, U.S. Representative Steve King from Iowa had the audacity to make comparisons between Davis and Rosa Parks – as if their circumstances or their positions could ever be the same.
The difference between real activists like Rosa Parks and holier-than-thou chauvinists like Kim Davis is distinct: Parks took a stance against systematic oppression without causing anyone else harm, while Davis abused the power she had been granted by her local government to contribute to the dehumanization of those beneath her. How anyone could see such actions as revolutionary is a mystery; there is absolutely nothing new, progressive or enticing about despotism.
History books could tell you that such a thing has been happening for centuries.
For hundreds upon hundreds of years, people in power have been using the advantage given to them by society to take rights away from others in a show of superiority. To claim that Davis is important enough to defy such blatant acts of privilege is to rub salt in the wounds of anyone who has ever been belittled or betrayed by someone they were forced to refer to. Such a statement only further proves how completely demented our view of power struggles in mainstream America can be.
Let us talk about Christianity and its role in this event for one moment. I would first like to say that I do not deny the importance of having religious convictions. For many people, their faith is very important to them, and it helps them see their way through all of their problems. This makes religion valuable. This makes religion notable. There is, however, a misconception that Christianity is being silenced, and that Christians are facing scrutiny from the world and having their rights to practice slowly stripped from them. This is completely insane.
Not only is Christianity the most-practiced religion in the western world, but it has a following of roughly 2 billion people, according to several sources. That is one-third of the world.
It seems highly unlikely – at least to me – that a third of the entire population of the planet is being forced to abandon their rigorous belief system. Especially when they have so many representatives in science, art, business and politics. I understand that certain controversial topics play a part in formulating such an opinion, but if we were to only look at the numbers we could see how illogical that truly seems.
Regardless, Kim Davis abandoned her rights to make all of her decisions based on her faith when she stepped into public office. The separation of church and state is a concept that was envisioned when our ancestors drafted the Constitution. Of course not everything in that fundamental document has been followed closely, and of course there are still public figures who allow their faith to determine what political ideologies they support, but it is irrefutable that letting one singular woman decide on the future of any couple of any sexuality is a complete violation of said couples’ rights.
Davis is completely entitled to her beliefs. She is entitled to avoid wearing makeup and to dress modestly because she believes it will bring her closer to God. She is entitled to practice or pray however she wants, whenever she wants. I will not bother bringing her three divorces and four marriages into the argument because that is aside from the point I am trying to make.
What I am trying to say, alternatively, is that while Kim Davis is allowed – and in many ways encouraged – to be a devout Christian, she cannot rightfully allow her own personal views to get in the way of her profession. With a yearly salary of $80,000 in taxpayer money – an annual income that many American families would feel beyond blessed to receive – Davis cannot turn around and deny the same people who pay her bills the right to solidify their relationship with the government. That is abuse – plain and simple.
Davis cannot resume her duties and carry out cherry-picking whom she gives marriage licenses to. In this matter, there is no safe in-between; she either has to resign and continue her tirade on homosexuality, or step up and shove her personal beliefs aside. It is not a comfortable decision to make, and it sounds a bit harsh on paper, but there really is no other way for the people of Rowan County to get what they deserve.
The amount of solidarity I have seen behind Kim Davis is a bit concerning. The complete idolization of her character and the admiration of this fabricated persona the media has crafted for her has led many people to paint her as an activist.
This befuddles me. Personal faith aside, a same-sex couple coming to her office and asking for a marriage license does not harm Davis in any way.
There were no threats against her life, there were no required sacrifices on her part. So I have to wonder – at least in some way – why so many people have given her their attention. The answer is actually quite simple.
Simply put, we pick and choose our angels and our demons, and we do it every day.