GRAYSON, Kentucky, U.S. — Kim Davis, the clerk in Kentucky’s Rowan County, has repeatedly defied the Federal U.S. Supreme Court. Earlier this year, the Court ruled that people of the same sex could marry under U.S. law.
Davis, a self-proclaimed devout follower of Christianity who is on her fourth husband, decided that she does not agree with the law and thus has not complied with this order. She refuses to issue marriage licenses to couples, even though the law explicitly states that she must.
Kim Davis’s defiance of the law may come as a shock to some. But it seems to fall inside the trend of many who defy laws in America and go scot free with no consequences. White Americans are particular guilty of this pattern of personal irresponsibility.
In New York City, Daniel Panteleo violated New York Law when he suffocated and killed Eric Garner in a chokehold. Since 1993, the New York Police Department has explicitly barred officers from using chokeholds. Besides real-time video recording, the coroner’s report also concluded that Panteleo killed Garner though the use of a chokehold: “compression of neck (chokehold), compression of chest, and prone positioning during physical restraint by police.”
Yet even while the NYPD bans chokeholds, Daniel Panteleo was not indicted in the murder of Eric Garner. Again, whites in the U.S. refuse to hold other whites to the laws as they are written.
In the same way, many whites support Kim Davis’s defiance of the law. Despite her actions not aligning with laws as they are written.
However, there is a disconnect between the white culture of lawlessness that supports white people who defy the law, but at the same time, desires to criminalize other groups for similar behavior.
White teenagers, for example, often go unpunished when they consume cocaine and marijuana – illegal drugs according to the law. However, if Black teenagers act out the same behaviors, they are jailed for years or even decades.
As Kim Davis’s actions and these examples show, white defiance of federal laws in the U.S. is not taken very seriously.
Whites defy laws with regularity. Their disobedience is dismissed with a shrug, as if to say, they have their reasons. Or, the law is for other people. They are not to be restrained by it.
Kim Davis gives personal reasons for failing to abide by the law. Her belief in Christianity, she says, makes her not enforce any standard that goes against her religion (divorce notwithstanding).
When asked if county clerk Kim Davis will follow the law and issue marriage licenses to couples, her attorney Matthew D. Staver responded: “She’s not going to violate her conscience.”
In Kentucky, marriage licenses are issued by the country clerk. Yet, Kim Davis refuses to follow the law and authorize the licenses. Rather than do her job and follow the law, Ms. Davis urges the county to change the law — to no longer have the county clerk issue marriage licenses and to shove that responsibility of following the law to someone else.
What kind of precedent will it set, if the state of Kentucky bows to the whims of Kim Davis, who wants a law to be changed on her behalf, because she does not feel like abiding by it? What does this case say for white Americans who shirk the law – manipulating it or breaking it or changing it – whenever it suits their fancy?
The issue at hand with Kim Davis’s violation of a Supreme Court order is not an issue of gay marriage. It is rather an issue of the culture of lawlessness that whites practice.
When two people of the same sex have the legal right to marry in the U.S., how can the society allow one person’s lawlessness to restrict the freedoms of law-abiding citizens?
How can a society allow one person’s lawless chokehold to restrict the freedoms of individual men and women, their children, and families whose lives are forever affected because of a death at the hands of someone’s unlawful defiance?
What does this white culture of lawlessness mean for people who reside in the U.S. who are not white?
In the U.S., do laws only exist to restrict Black people, Latinos, Asians, and other people of color from accessing their basic freedoms? Are laws not for white people to follow too?
How far can this culture of lawlessness go in restricting other people of their basic freedoms?
The double standards that whites practice should not go unchallenged.
There is an unsettling culture of lawlessness among whites that needs to be dismantled if American citizens are to experience their basic freedoms, those inalienable rights purportedly granted by the very constitutional bodies that suppress them.
Anything less than lawfulness is barbaric, immoral, and essentially undemocratic.