I’m confused by those in my news-feed who decry the imprisonment of non-violent drug offenders, but are now celebrating Kim Davis’ incarceration. We should never jail a non-violent criminal, especially one whose crime is simply failing to do her job. Ideally, Kim Davis should be removed from office and barred from ever holding her position again, based on her willingness to ignore the duties of her position and ignore court orders, but she shouldn’t be jailed. It sets a bad precedent in a country where this is already a major problem.
First of all, I do believe that Kim Davis’ defense of her actions is farcical. Her actions have nothing to do with the defense of the constitution, or of religious freedom, and everything to do with holding the laws of her religion above the laws of the land – Kim Davis doesn’t want freedom, she wants a Christian theocracy, as many do. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, when you go through the proper channels. Kim, however, is contradicting herself by using “religious freedom”, or freedom in general, as a defense, while personally standing in the way of others exercising a freedom granted to them by the US Supreme Court’s ruling on the current interpretation of the constitution – an interpretation I personally agree with, under the current unfortunate circumstances that marriage is legislated through the state at all (I harp on this all the time, but adults shouldn’t need the state’s permission to marry).
It’s important to point out the difference, in this case, between private employment and public, tax-funded, employment. A public employee is paid by the public to facilitate public law. No one is forcing Kim to remain in public employment, and no one should fault her for practicing her religious convictions, backwards though they may be, in the safety of her personal life or within a position of private employment. Kim’s government job, however, put her in a position that would’ve caused her to betray her own religious beliefs, and religious freedom would’ve allowed her to voice her opposition publicly and step down from her position, relatively gracefully, in an act of protest. Religious freedom does NOT, however, allow her to remain in her public position while refusing to facilitate the laws she’s being paid to facilitate. That’s not how religious freedom works.
Because Kim chose not to resign, and ignored multiple court orders, she’s now been jailed for contempt. I find this equally absurd, because not only is this prolonging her martyrdom, but it’s a gross misuse of the entire concept of incarceration. In my opinion, ONLY violent criminals and sex criminals should ever be incarcerated, as the entire purpose for incarceration is to separate from society those that pose a risk to the safety of the rest of us. Our taxes were paying her to ignore her duties, but now our taxes are paying for a harmless, though misguided, woman to live in a cage… as a martyr.
I’ve read articles that state that jail was the only option, as elected officials can’t be removed from office. That’s not entirely true. A quick google search reveals that on page 74 of “Duties of Elected County Officials”, published by the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission in 2014, “…Any clerk who knowingly issues a marriage license to any persons prohibited by KRS Chapter 402 from marrying shall be fined $500 to $1,000 and removed from office by the judgment of the court in which convicted…”
So, a court could’ve removed Kim Davis from office for issuing marriage licences when she shouldn’t, but NOT for failing to issue them when she should. Furthermore, the same document from Texas DOES allow judges to remove county clerks from office when they’re found to not be performing their duties as per outlined by Texas law. This is a problem with Kentucky state law, and possibly other states’ laws, that needs to be rectified.
The Kentucky state government’s affirmation of the SCOTUS decision and removal of Kim Davis should be celebrated, but her incarceration should NOT be, because the incarceration of a non-violent criminal is also an injustice, and one that has ruined countless lives.