When my Twitter feed began to fill with the news that Rowan County clerk Kim Davis had been sentenced to indefinite jail time until she agreed to fulfill her sworn duties, my stomach sank. Unbidden, images of political prisoners filled my mind, elevating this woman whom I had only recently held in contempt into a martyr. Evidently, I was a Goddamn bleeding heart liberal as that organ had suddenly turned into a sieve more than willing to cry for her. However, with her refusal to at least allow her deputy clerks to do her job in her stead, my heart has hardened, turning that sieve into steel drum. She has lost the last vestiges of my sympathy.
There is a difference between being a martyr and wanting everyone to think you are one. A martyr has no control over their situation. They are arrested and executed. They are set on fire. They are prevented from contacting impartial counsel. Davis was asked to fulfill her job or resign. She did neither. She was then asked to allow someone else to do her job. She refused. From day one, she has had control of her fate and the situation she now finds herself in. She simply wants others to feel sorry for the fact that she can’t always get her way. Boo hoo, Mrs. Davis, boo hoo.
Her refusal to allow others to do her job is especially offensive because it means that she chooses to go to prison. She chooses to be part of our 2.2 million-person-strong prison industrial complex (and that’s only the amount of people incarcerated). She chooses to abandon her freedom when there are literally millions of people, thousands either wrongly convicted or overly punished, who would give up smoking, drinking, drugs, sex, nearly anything to be allowed to have their freedom back. Kim Davis, who can stop being both a prisoner and a martyr any time she wants, is spitting in the faces of those millions. She is making a mockery of their pain and our justice system.
Furthermore, when she’d done playing the martyr and realizes what it’s actually like in prison – no freedom of movement, no freedom of choice, no freedom of communication, no freedom of clothes, and certainly no freedom to tell people what they have to worship – she will not face the same penalties other former prisoners do. She will not be branded a convict. She will not have her voting rights stripped away from her. She will not even be barred from running for office again. At worst, some organizations will hesitate to employ her because they know she will be comfortable flaunting their policies based on her personal convictions. At best, she will be inundated with job offers, interviews, book deals, and speaking tours. After all, Presidential hopefuls Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, and Ted Cruz have already expressed sympathy and support for her. If she chooses to leave in time, she would make a very visible and polarizing companion on any of their campaign trails.
The fact of the matter is that Kim Davis is not a martyr – she is simply a 49-year-old toddler throwing a massive temper tantrum. Like all toddlers, she has a skewed perception of reality and equates not getting what she wants with the world being a cruel and unfair place. She lacks the basic cognitive maturity to understand that she cannot control others and that, when something doesn’t go her way, she needs to simply move on from it. Instead, she has chosen to screw up her face, clench her fists as tightly as possible, and scream. It doesn’t matter that she’s been ordered to stop. It doesn’t matter that she is actively hurting others. It doesn’t matter that she is denying thousands their right to religious self-determination and self-identification. Nothing matters until she gets exactly what she wants – no compromises, no delays, just exactly what she wants.
This is why Judge Bunning had no choice but to jail her indefinitely. Since she insisted on acting like a child, he had to treat her like one, placing her in time out until she was ready to act like a big girl. He refused to allow her “parents” – the Liberty Counsel, other Apostolic Christians, Republicans, and uber-conservatives – to come and get her, lessening the impact of his punishment. No, it is time that she grew up and realized that she can either be an adult or a child and that being a child comes with severe restrictions.
So, if you are like me with your heart staining your shirt red, plug it up. Kim Davis has chosen her path, and she doesn’t deserve our sympathy. She deserves her punishment, and she deserves to be alone with her own thoughts far away from her husband, her church, and her counsel. Let’s see what Christ has to say to her in a federal prison. My hope is that it’ll be, “Grow up and stop being such a butt.”