Tag these plates out

McGannahan Skjellyfetti's picture

There's a new license plate available in South Carolina. Featuring the words, "I Believe," the plate displays a cross superimposed onto a very church-like stained-glass window.

This is a very bad idea.

It's one thing to stop at a red light and contemplate the bumper stickers on the car in front of you expressing religious beliefs, or to try to decipher what turns out to be a religious message on someone's vanity plate. That represents the free flow of ideas.

It's quite another when the government has sanctioned the message, as has South Carolina's legislature by making such plates available. Gov. Mark Sanford allowed the bill to become law without his signature.

It's not a good move, and likely will leave South Carolina facing a lawsuit. We can't see such a plate as anything other than the state's favoring Christianity over other religions, a clear First Amendment violation.

If the Palmetto State wants to prove that's not the case, then it would have to make available official license plates with myriad other religious symbols. That would open up a Pandora's box. Is South Carolina ready to create religious plates with a Star of David? How about an Islamic star and crescent? Or a Hindu Omkar? Or, maybe a Jainist Sathiyo, which includes a swastika?

This isn't the first time that South Carolina legislators have made an ill-advised decision regarding license plates. The last one -- authorizing an official pro-life tag -- was struck down by the Fourth Circuit Court, which ruled that by "granting access to the license plate forum only to those who share its viewpoint, South Carolina has provided pro-life supporters with an instrument for expressing their position and has distorted the specialty license plate forum in favor of one message, the pro-life message."

Time and again, we see legislators who choose to ignore that the United States does not have a state religion, but is a pluralistic nation with citizens of myriad faiths -- or no faith, at all.

This bill should be challenged, and struck down

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Submitted by 1bighammer on Fri, 08/01/2008 - 12:57pm.

These tags are not a First Amendment violation. They are a violation of an interpretation of the First Amendment. Any logical person that reads the First Amendment knows that it was written to keep the government from making one religion that everyone was expected to practice therefore eliminating the government sponsored religious persecution that had been so prevelent in Europe for centuries.

sniffles5's picture
Submitted by sniffles5 on Fri, 08/01/2008 - 1:14pm.

Help me out here, big ham!

A license plate is issued by a government agency. If a Christian group petitions the state for an anti-abortion license plate and is approved, and another group petitions the state for a pro-choice license plate, is that not the state showing favoritism to one religious faction over another and a de facto violation of the First Amendment?

Submitted by 1bighammer on Fri, 08/01/2008 - 5:18pm.

I don't particualrly like the idea of the plate either. However, just producing that plate, in and of itself is not a violation. The violation would occur if other groups wanted a plate and were refused. Then the state would be trumpeting one religion over another.

Just because someone utters the word God or Baptist or Islam, does not mean they are forcing that religion on another. It absolutely infuriates me that any mention of a religion by the government prompts the "Seperation of Church and State" and "State Sponsored Religion" crowds to start swarming and threatening lawsuits and such.

People use some common sense and don't get your panties in a wad! Geez!!

NUK_1's picture
Submitted by NUK_1 on Fri, 08/01/2008 - 1:34pm.

I demand my plate in the name of the Church of What's Happening Now!

How about a 666 plate? Honk if you love Satan!

Isn't the selection of vanity bumper stickers sufficient enough for people to express their very important and deep opinions without having the government involved in any way? SC really stepped into a mess with this one and if they are lucky the courts will take the fall for tossing this bad idea out.

carbonunit52's picture
Submitted by carbonunit52 on Sat, 06/14/2008 - 7:04am.

now that they are delving into divisive issues. They are a headache for law enforcement anyway.

mapleleaf's picture
Submitted by mapleleaf on Sat, 06/14/2008 - 6:50am.

... is a tag which says "Drink Coca-Cola."

aliquando's picture
Submitted by aliquando on Fri, 06/13/2008 - 10:24pm.

Who cares?

Main Stream's picture
Submitted by Main Stream on Fri, 06/13/2008 - 10:45pm.

"Who cares?

If I lived in SC, I would care alot. But I'm only spending the weekend here, endulging in Charleston's local 'She Crab Soup' and body surfing on Folley Beach. I haven't seen any of those weird cross-bearing plates...maybe they haven't been printed yet.

Do you think GA would go for a neo-pagan tree symbol or a Scientology faux cross symbol on license plates?

hutch866's picture
Submitted by hutch866 on Sat, 06/14/2008 - 6:19am.

While you're there you need to go to Mt. Pleasant and tour the old retired Navy ships, WWII era. The Laffey is a destroyer who survived an incredible battle with kamikaze planes in the Pacific ocean and the carrier Yorktown can take a day to tour just by itself.

I yam what I yam....Popeye

Main Stream's picture
Submitted by Main Stream on Sat, 06/14/2008 - 8:58am.

We're doing the touristy things today so I'll mention the WWII ships - great idea! The men in our family are major history buffs so they'll love this. Thanks for the suggestion.

aliquando's picture
Submitted by aliquando on Fri, 06/13/2008 - 10:56pm.

Charge $500.00 per plate and take the money from anyone foolish enough to want one.

Submitted by tiberiu on Fri, 08/01/2008 - 11:45am.

Have you ever been on those Alaska cruises? They have a decent price list for 3 meals/day and they also have quite nice staff who will behave. They have discounts from time to time and they surely love customers who come back to them and offer them special opportunities at very reasonable prices. So who cares about plates anyway?

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