Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Media Pundits and the Kim Davis Controversy

From Catholic World Report:
The pundit class have all weighed in now on Kim Davis, the Rowan County, Kentucky clerk who refused to affix her name to licenses for homosexual couples to marry. "To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God’s definition of marriage," Davis had said, "with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience."

Every night updates on her jailed-then-released-from-jail status have brought a new barrage of commentary, both cultural and legal. There are several arguments made on her behalf, and, indeed, at least one Republican presidential hopeful quickly came to stand beside Davis as she weathered the media storm.  However, many of those sympathetic to Davis' cause have said, albeit with regret, that she should "follow the law."

No, I don't think she should.

People of good will can and have disagreed about the philosophical and legal fine points that Kim Davis presents to our culture. Those who hold that, to keep her job, she must perform the duties of that job, have adopted their stance based, at least in part, on a fear of a looming chaos if significant numbers of Americans refuse to "do their jobs." On Wednesday night during a Fox News program, Andrea Tantaros warned, “The problem is she’s [Davis] essentially rewriting the laws of that county by not issuing [licenses]...As a Christian I do feel sorry for her and I’m sympathetic to her beliefs, however she doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on.”

Tantaros believes that Davis sets a dangerous example because others of different belief systems might do the same. Tantaros cited Sharia law which does not permit women to drive, thus no drivers' licenses would be issued to women citizens by a Muslim clerk. This sort of reasoning is woefully short of reason. (The conscience objection of a Muslim clerk over drivers' licenses is based on an opinion about women, not on an objective reality about women.) Tantaros is a smart lady as are many others, including Carly Fiorina, who sympathize with Kim Davis but who still insist that she should "just do her job." 

However, the big question that is never posed or addressed by the pundits is: when ought a citizen refuse "to do their job?"

Let's pause here for sober recollection on this fact: some Germans went to prison after World War II because, in their view, they "just did their job." Restated, some Germans were imprisoned although they did nothing illegal under German law.

When they filed papers to send victims to death camps, some may have seared their conscience. Some were browbeat into "doing their job," perhaps in fear of losing their livelihood or even their freedom. Most, however, allowed their conscience to be soothed by the assurance that it was legal. The average citizen grew comfortable with the Nuremburg Laws due to the relentless cultural pressure that reinforced the ideology of German leadership. Had more Germans refused to cooperate with these unjust laws, some civil chaos would have resulted; but consider the greater, grievous chaos that engulfed their culture because not enough Germans followed their consciences! (Read more.)

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