What Do You Think?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (emphasis mine)

1st Amendment, United States Constitution

Vanity plates are on cars all over the country.  Drivers want to promote themselves, their cause, or any number of other things, and that is most certainly their right.  More power to them.  But at what point should a state be allowed to step in and not allow a requested message to be on a license plate?  Should states be able to step in and deny a request at all?

The state of Georgia has denied a man’s request to have one of three messages on his license plate:  “4GAYLIB,” “GAYPWR” or “GAYGUY.”  It is clear that he is proud of his sexuality and his lifestyle.  The state views his requests as “vulgar or over the top.”

It’s strange that the state would deny this man’s request, especially since they allowed “G0D4EVR” and “GUNLUV” to be issued.  How are those any less “over the top” than the request that was denied?  And couldn’t someone who does not believe in God find the plate that references God as “vulgar?”

I find it funny that when the issue of guns comes up, people are quick to sound the rally cry that their 2nd Amendment rights are being abridged.  Yet when a state makes a decision that leans more toward being conservative rather than progressive or liberal, the same people who are all about the Constitution are largely silent.  Can you say “hypocritical?” (Note, this post almost became the next in the “Hypocritical Much?” series, but it barely missed the cut.)

You do not have to agree with this man’s lifestyle to be able to acknowledge that his freedom of speech or expression has been abridged.  While there is a segment of the population that may find his choice for a license plate message offensive, it certainly does not qualify as offensive or inciteful expression.  Why should his choice of message be censored?  Because of some ridiculous fear that he might become the target of some intolerant and hate-filled driver?  How is his license plate request any different or make him any more of a target of bigots than having an equality sticker or a rainbow flag sticker on his car?

What do you think about this man’s requested license plate messages?  What do you think about Georgia’s decision to not allow him to have those on his plates?  Was this man’s 1st Amendment right of freedom of speech or expression infringed upon?  What messages should be banned from license plates?  Why?




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