Friday, April 3, 2015
License Plate Free Speech Debate Is Road Kill
In the latest battleground to test the limits of free speech, the Supreme Court of the United States is reviewing a Texas case regarding vanity license plates.
This case involves the use of a Confederate flag on a license plate. An eight-member motor vehicle panel rejected an application for use of the flag by a driver resident. What this case opens up is this:
1) Who should decide what gets put on a state-issued item?
2) What qualifies those individuals to make such decisions?
3) What’s used as a barometer to fairly, legally, and ethically determine what should be allowed?
I believe you allow it all – or none at all. Free speech is free speech, not subjective, compromised speech. There’s no consistency amongst the states, as nine states allow the Confederate flag on their license “billboards”.
Plates that talk of God, abortion, and other hot-button images, concepts, and issues may get allowed, while some don’t. Why people feel compelled to wear their views on their cars is beyond me. No one’s going to clean your car because they agree with your bumper sticker, but some may take to cutting you off the road or vandalizing your car if they vehemently disagree with your views.
The state can’t take sides. It can’t support one message while ignoring another. The license plates are not policy or legislative acts – they are the mere display of people’s opinions. I think anyone who wants to wear a Confederate flag on their license plate is an idiot but I respect their right to showcase their idiocy.
I couldn’t care if one wants to curse, share a racist name, or call for the killing of people not like them. They do us a favor by letting us know how they feel and where they stand on things. Don’t hide your hatred – share it – and let us react accordingly.
At the same time, if you want to promote a positive message of peace, love and democracy, by all means get out the word to and counter-act the Confederate lunatics.
Making a plate legitimate or absent won’t change people’s views of feelings. But one license plate that should be considered is this: Don’t Censor.
That should be the message that the Supreme Court hands out. Let them put the flag of ignorance and hatred on a car's license plate. Better that than to give the state the license to decide our free speech fate. Maybe it’s time to rethink the whole vanity plate option to begin with, but let’s err on the side of freedom of speech.
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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015