Should A Civil Servant Be Civilly Disobedient?

Since being jailed last week for contempt of court, Kim Davis has emerged as a heroine for the conservative Christian Right.

Since being jailed last week for contempt of court, Kim Davis has emerged as a heroine for the conservative Christian Right. Mike Huckabee stated Davis' "religious liberty has been grossly violated," and Senator Ted Cruz created a "I Stand With Kim" page on his election website.


The muddled argument of cultural conservatives is that Davis is being maligned for her faith and that her act of civil disobedience is in response to the larger liberal conspiracy to enervate America's Christian fabric. Of course, the obvious counter argument is that Davis and her supporters are quick to twist the victim narrative to fit themselves, not the same-sex couples who are lawfully seeking marriage licenses in Rowan County, Kentucky.

Should a civil servant participate in an act of civil disobedience at all?

These religious activists cite civil disobedience as the uniting rallying cry for a fringe that does not recognize the majority of Americans moving further away from cultural myopism. Moreover, in a grasping attempt to stay politically relevant, they invoke religious injustice as the issue because the same-sex marriage question is more or less a moot debate since the Supreme Court's June decision.

If government employees can pick and choose which laws they "believe" in, then they are hardly fulfilling the duties of their positions.

It is valid to note that if Davis had cited her Muslim, atheist, or pretty much any other belief, this conservative chorus of support would likely not make much noise. Christian conservatives choose their champions based on their battles — not on any logic or overarching principle that supersedes these hot-button issues. Whether or not anyone agrees or disagrees with Davis's faith-based rationale for flouting of the law, the larger question remains: Should a civil servant participate in an act of civil disobedience at all?

If government employees can pick and choose which laws they "believe" in, then they are hardly fulfilling the duties of their positions. In fact, Judge David Bunning alluded to this conflict of interest in his two-page order of Davis's release: As long as she doesn't "interfere in any way, directly or indirectly," she can return to work. In other words, she's free to believe what she wants, but she has a taxpayer-funded job to do. If Davis had been jailed for speaking out about gay marriage in her after work hours, that should have certainly raised eyebrows among Constitutional rights advocates, regardless of their political inclinations. But as a government employee, she only has the freedom to make a statement with one act — quitting her job.

Why are some Americans so strongly opposed to gay marriage? Henry Rollins is convinced that not so many people are actually opposed.

Befriend your ideological opposite. It’s fun.

Step inside the unlikely friendship of a former ACLU president and an ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice.

Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Former president of the ACLU Nadine Strossen and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia were unlikely friends. They debated each other at events all over the world, and because of that developed a deep and rewarding friendship – despite their immense differences.
  • Scalia, a famous conservative, was invited to circles that were not his "home territory", such as the ACLU, to debate his views. Here, Strossen expresses her gratitude and respect for his commitment to the exchange of ideas.
  • "It's really sad that people seem to think that if you disagree with somebody on some issues you can't be mutually respectful, you can't enjoy each other's company, you can't learn from each other and grow in yourself," says Strossen.
  • The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
Keep reading Show less

3 ways to find a meaningful job, or find purpose in the job you already have

Learn how to redesign your job for maximum reward.

Videos
  • Broaching the question "What is my purpose?" is daunting – it's a grandiose idea, but research can make it a little more approachable if work is where you find your meaning. It turns out you can redesign your job to have maximum purpose.
  • There are 3 ways people find meaning at work, what Aaron Hurst calls the three elevations of impact. About a third of the population finds meaning at an individual level, from seeing the direct impact of their work on other people. Another third of people find their purpose at an organizational level. And the last third of people find meaning at a social level.
  • "What's interesting about these three elevations of impact is they enable us to find meaning in any job if we approach it the right way. And it shows how accessible purpose can be when we take responsibility for it in our work," says Hurst.
Keep reading Show less

Physicist advances a radical theory of gravity

Erik Verlinde has been compared to Einstein for completely rethinking the nature of gravity.

Photo by Willeke Duijvekam
Surprising Science
  • The Dutch physicist Erik Verlinde's hypothesis describes gravity as an "emergent" force not fundamental.
  • The scientist thinks his ideas describe the universe better than existing models, without resorting to "dark matter".
  • While some question his previous papers, Verlinde is reworking his ideas as a full-fledged theory.
Keep reading Show less

UPS has been discreetly using self-driving trucks to deliver cargo

TuSimple, an autonomous trucking company, has also engaged in test programs with the United States Postal Service and Amazon.


PAUL RATJE / Contributor
Technology & Innovation
  • This week, UPS announced that it's working with autonomous trucking startup TuSimple on a pilot project to deliver cargo in Arizona using self-driving trucks.
  • UPS has also acquired a minority stake in TuSimple.
  • TuSimple hopes its trucks will be fully autonomous — without a human driver — by late 2020, though regulatory questions remain.
Keep reading Show less