Bring It On!

Onward Christian license plates?

June 8th, 2008 | by Jones of the Nile |

A new law enacted Thursday in South Carolina will make the state the first in the nation to issue Christian license plates. The plates, modeled after the image on the right (made for a similar effort underway in Florida), will feature the phrase “I believe,” and come adorned with a gold, glowing cross superimposed on a stained glass window. South Carolina

South Carolina State Senator Lawrence K. Grooms, one of the co-sponsors of the legislation that created the plates, put it this way: “We have other plates with religious symbols on them and phrases like ‘In God We Trust.’ Just because it’s a cross, some very closed-minded people don’t believe it should be on a plate.”

I mean, sure, there are no plans to put the Islamic crescent moon, the hindu ohm, or the Star of David on any South Carolina plates any time soon. But it’s not like our country was founded on the principle of religious liberty or anything.

I find three things very funny about this. One, I cannot wait for the first person to order this plate and have it inscribed “ATHEIST”. Please, if there’s a South Carolinian reading this entry, please do it.

Second, isn’t it ironic that the only state in the nation where there’s still an active debate about whether to fly the confederate flag on state grounds passes a bill to show how Christian it is?

Third, and perhaps not surprisingly, State Sen. Lawrence K Grooms is a lifetime member of the National Association of Texaco and Shell Marketers (not to mention a lifetime member of the ugly tie club! Sheesh!). Isn’t it ironic to have a license plate professing your Christianity on a vehicle that pollutes the air, and runs on gasoline — a business that lines the pockets of Texaco and Shell and a whole host of other oil companies with record profits? Wouldn’t that be like fixing decals of the last supper on a ballistic missile?

I don’t think Jesus wants a license plate. I’m pretty sure he wants South Carolina to stop being the state with the 10th highest rate of people living under the poverty level, or the state with the 9th highest infant mortality rate. Priorities, people.

In the end, I’m reminded of the Dave Barry quote: “The problem with writing about religion is that you run the risk of offending sincerely religious people, and then they come after you with machetes.” Let’s hope that’s not what happens for folks who criticize this silly novelty coming out of South Carolina.

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  1. 35 Responses to “Onward Christian license plates?”

  2. By Steve O on Jun 8, 2008 | Reply

    How about SATAN? Can mine say SATAN? If it can’t get passed the censors can I the have one that says S8TAN?

    Or how about FSM RULZ for Flying Spaghetti Monster?

    Or how about INRI for I’m Nailed Right In? YOu know that little Roman Post-It at the top of the cross.

    Gawd I could have a field day with this.

    How about GLB PRIDE?

    Hmmmm,

    WWJD

    WWFSMD

    WWMD

    8THEHOST

    8THEIST

    GAYS4JESUS

    I8THERE 4IAM

    FAIL

    PWNED

  3. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 8, 2008 | Reply

    Steve O

    GLB PRIDE?

    No ‘T’? Why do you hate the transgendered community? ;-)

  4. By Jersey McJones on Jun 8, 2008 | Reply

    Thanks for bringing this up, Jones. Florida has a lot of serious church/state issues on top of this.

    Craig, did it ever occur to you that some people would be reasonably afraid to have a gay or atheistic license plate? It’s easy to have a bumper sticker, for example, that says, “I Love Jesus,” but it’s entirely another to have one that says, “Jesus Never Existed.”

    This is a Christian country in one sense - Christians run things and repress any dissent of their silly beliefs.

    JMJ

  5. By steve on Jun 8, 2008 | Reply

    Slayer… Slipnot… Panterra…

    Good luck with an Islam Crescent or Star of David in the south…

  6. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 8, 2008 | Reply

    Jersey,

    It never occurred to me that people wouldn’t be reasonably afraid to do so. That’s why I didn’t make a crack about angry Episcopalians chasing Dave Barry with machetes. But that doesn’t mean that the transgendered shouldn’t be represented on license plates, does it?

  7. By Steve O on Jun 8, 2008 | Reply

    I think people advertising anything ontheir cars is just plain white trash.

    It’s a mode of fucking transportation for fuck sake!!!

    But I must admit that I have boosted peoples ribbon magnets and place on other cars. I always wondered how long it took before the person knew it was gone and how long it took the other person to realize they had a magnet on their car that they didn’t put there.

    Maybe we should do that with these license plates.

  8. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 8, 2008 | Reply

    Steve O,

    I’d think long and hard before taking a license plate off one car and putting it on another. I would think that a crime except under the very specific condition that you take your own license plate off a car you are trading in and then putting that plate on a car that you’ve just purchased to replace it. I would think taking someone else’s plate off their car and putting it on another person’s car could wind you up in a great deal of trouble. Certainly a lot more than just removing a magnet from a car which, by the way, is petty theft.

  9. By Jersey McJones on Jun 8, 2008 | Reply

    “Jersey,

    It never occurred to me that people wouldn’t be reasonably afraid to do so. That’s why I didn’t make a crack about angry Episcopalians chasing Dave Barry with machetes. But that doesn’t mean that the transgendered shouldn’t be represented on license plates, does it?”

    I don’t know, Craig. You tell me, please. If you were a transgendered libertarian, would you have the cojones to have a nude transexual profile on your Hummer’s mudflaps?

    JMJ

  10. By steve on Jun 8, 2008 | Reply

    I think people advertising anything ontheir cars is just plain white trash.

    I swear we are the same Steve O. I think the same thing.

    Move the ribbon to the Pro Choice or “Rainbow”Stickered car.

  11. By steve on Jun 8, 2008 | Reply

    I don’t know, Craig. You tell me, please. If you were a transgendered libertarian, would you have the cojones to have a nude transexual profile on your Hummer’s mudflaps?

    Been done in California, Jersey… There is some freaky shit out here.

  12. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 8, 2008 | Reply

    Jersey,

    I don’t know, Craig. You tell me, please. If you were a transgendered libertarian, would you have the cojones to have a nude transexual profile on your Hummer’s mudflaps?

    I’m having difficulty figuring out of what relevancy the answer to that question has to my inquiring why Steve O left the ‘T’ off of his suggested license plate “LGB PRIDE”. As I see it, whether I would have the cojones to do something that is not ordering a special message license plate with that message on it is irrelevant to why Steve O left the ‘T’ off of “LGB”. Fact is, I am none of the above (a lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgendered) so my I am probably not qualified to answer your question. My own experience is such that I have been beaten up once for being mistaken for being gay and I have no desire to repeat the experience so I, personally, would not buy mud-flaps so adorned but I cannot answer for anyone but me.

    But my question wasn’t about mud-flaps, it was about a license plate suggested by Steve O. My question is, why don’t you ask Steve O the same question. I mean, he’s the one suggesting “LGB PRIDE” for a license plate. Why not ask him if he would put mud-flaps on his truck adorned with a silhouette image of two guys in flagrante if he were gay? Would such mud-flaps be any less likely to get a response such as you are suggesting?

    Besides, I’m assuming that Steve O’s suggestions were more or less satirical rather than literal suggestions. My initial comment was in an equally light vein since I do not, in fact, think that Steve O hates transgendered people.

    You are making a bid deal, in other words, out of nothing at all.

    This is why I keep saying that I will ignore your comments. Why I keep responding to your drivel, I cannot say. Perhaps a bit of masochism in me.

  13. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 8, 2008 | Reply

    In any case, Jersey, I am not in the least interested in why YOU think Steve O left the ‘T’ off of his suggested plate. I am interested in why Steve O left it off. I see no reason why you should answer as though FOR Steve O.

  14. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 8, 2008 | Reply

    Completely off subject, News agencies and reporters are not faring well in the area of how much Americans trust their campaign reporting. According to Rasmussen Reports, more than two-thirds of Americans think news reporters are advocates of their preferred candidate in their reporting:

    Just 17% of voters nationwide believe that most reporters try to offer unbiased coverage of election campaigns. A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that four times as many—68%–believe most reporters try to help the candidate that they want to win.

    The perception that reporters are advocates rather than observers is held by 82% of Republicans, 56% of Democrats, and 69% of voters not affiliated with either major party. The skepticism about reporters cuts across income, racial, gender, and age barriers.

    Ideologically, political liberals give the least pessimistic assessment of reporters, but even 50% of those on the political left see bias.

    Emphasis added by moi. In other words, the question isn’t is reporting unconsciously coming out biased but there seems to be few Americans who think most reporters are even trying to be fair and unbiased.

  15. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 8, 2008 | Reply

    Oops, forgot the link.

  16. By Jersey McJones on Jun 8, 2008 | Reply

    It’s a put on, Craig. It’s an unwinnable argument. It’s a shell game. (And I won’t even get into your little SteveO play) - It’s sleazy. We shouldn’t be advertising religion on license plates. It’s stupid. Right?

    JMJ

  17. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 8, 2008 | Reply

    Jersey,

    About the religion on license plates, I say they must either provide plates for all religions and atheists as well, or provide no religion on license plates. Since there’s no chance that wiccans and satanists will get special plates for their cars, religion shouldn’t be advertised on license plates. Whether it’s stupid or not, I have no opinion. For me, it’s a matter of promoting religion: one over others and religion in general over irreligion. It’s a constitutional issue for me, not one of intelligence.

    As for bias in reporting, there doesn’t seem to be anything unwinnable about the argument at all. The “Yes, they are biased, and intentionally so” side seems to have definitely won the argument. They’ve convinced even 50% of ideologically liberal Americans. Which makes you only 1 out of two of the least convinced Americans.

    Of course, that doesn’t mean that you’re wrong. Objectively, it may be impossible to quantify bias or to prove reporter intent but the argument, for all intents and purposes, is all but over.

  18. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 8, 2008 | Reply

    But while it may be unprovable, it doesn’t seem to be all that difficult to convince people that it is so. Those who consume news reports about the campaign can notice that there are more reports about Obama than about McCain. They can notice that more reports about Obama are, on the whole, favorable toward Obama than toward McCain. They can see the halo around Obama’s head in the magazine cover shots, can remember the last cover shot of Obama but not of McCain. Eventually, they get it, even without reading Biased!.

    After all, the one thing they know is, news reporters self report to being overwhelmingly liberal and to voting Democrat. When what they read consistently aligns the way reporters self-report politically and ideologically, people don’t need proof. They figure it out for themselves the same way liberals figured out that Fox News Channels was biased toward conservatives and Republicans.

    It just took a little longer to figure the same thing out about the other news sources.

  19. By Rodney Wilson on Jun 8, 2008 | Reply

    When parked at a red light, I do enjoy reading bumper stickers. But I often wonder why so many need to “preach” their pro-life/pro-choice, pro-creation/pro-evolution or pro-Bush/pro-Obama beliefs on their cars! The state definitely must stay out of this “cheesy” way to evangelize one’s politics or religion. And even though I love God, I won’t honk the next time I see a “Honk If You Love Jesus” bumper sticker!

  20. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 9, 2008 | Reply

    Rodney,

    Why do Democrats and Republicans feel the need to proclaim their political preference? Why do parents feel the need to tell people their children are honor roll students (or that they beat up your honor roll student) at xyz elementary school?

    I suggest it is that most people can’t afford to take out space on billboards or ads in newspapers. No one seems interested in publishing their articles in the Times (L.A. or N.Y.) or even their local paper. And even if their local paper might give them space, few people have the time to write articles that will most likely be rejected.

    What they can do is put a cheap bumper-sticker on their car and, in this way, tell people, many more people than in any other way available to most, what they think!

    One might wonder why this might be so even in the age of blogs. After all, anyone with a computer and a modem can start a blog but most blogs have about as many readers as a teen-age girl’s personal diary. Readership is very difficult to get and maintain but one can be sure that everyone one passes (or who passes one) on the road has the chance to read one’s opinion.

    Also, blogs require a lot of attention. Even interested readers will give up on a blog if blogs go weeks between posts or they don’t ever get a response to their comments. That is, there’s a time issue involved without any guarantee that one will reach a large audience.

    Then there’s dealing with readers’ responses. I personally prefer blogs that allow comments to blogs that tell you what they think but don’t allow for responses. But those who allow responses are likely not to get only comments like, “Great post!” and “I agree, completely!”. They’ll get comments like, “You moron!” and “What a slime-ball!” Not everyone can handle or just ignore such comments. Bumper stickers, on the other hand, almost never get a negative comment.

    Thus, bumper stickers give some of the advantages of blogs without any of the time or hassle elements involved in blogs.

    It also gives people a sense of solidarity with others that is perhaps impossible to achieve in any other way. Things like religion and politics are considered by many to be almost taboo subjects, sure to cause an argument when discussed in any detail but driving down the road and seeing a fish symbol on a car of someone you’ve never met tells you something about that person, that you have something in common with that person without much danger of starting an argument over details. Same with political stickers.

    I don’t think the phenomenon is all that difficult to explain.

  21. By Liberal Jarhead on Jun 9, 2008 | Reply

    Kind of reminds me of the time someone from New Hampshire objected to having “Live Free or Die” on his license plate, and the court there said he’d go to jail if he didn’t use that plate.

  22. By Liberal Jarhead on Jun 9, 2008 | Reply

    If they did something like that here, my brother would probably get a plate saying ‘DRUID’ - when he was in the Marines, he commandeered the dog tag machine and made himself a set listing that as his religious preference.

    I might go for ‘NOT!’ or ‘NQSITOR’ ; ‘BAAL’ would get attention but I can’t get behind infant sacrifice.

  23. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 9, 2008 | Reply

    Off topic again, Canada, where I once called home, has, in my opinion, ceased to be a free nation. This is what Human Rights Commissions in Canada have wrought: a pastor and his flock are enjoined from ever saying or publishing anything disparaging about homosexuals and are forced to apologize for his view and renounce his views about homosexuals and homosexuality, and to pay $5,000 Canadian to someone that the ruling commissioner admits was not damaged in any way at all by what said pastor wrote or said.

    If people wonder why I rail so much and so often about freedom of speech in this country, it is because I know that it is merely the outward expression of a free mind, because I see its deterioration in other nations, and because I’ve read 1984 and believe that government has no business telling its people what opinions it may express. About anything.

    When one cannot express and defend one’s opinion, one is no longer free. When one is forced by the government to renounce what one thinks, individuals are slaves to the power of the state. When one can be arbitrarily forced to pay one whom even one’s judge admits you have not damaged, there remains no justice to be found in the realm. When there are no set rules of evidence, evidence against you can be accepted or rejected at the whim of an individual and one no longer inhabits a nation of laws but of people. When there are no set rules whereby speakers can, ahead of time, clearly know what expression is lawful and safe and what expression can bring such injustice down upon him, people are imperiled every time they open their mouth, put pen to paper or fingers to fingerboard. Canada is, today, closer to being a totalitarian state than it ever has been.

    I guess I’d better hope no one in Canada reads this as I’m liable to be tried in abstentia in Canada and forced to recant and pay some Canadian whom my words have harmed not at all some ridiculous sum of money. Why not. Mark Steyn (though a Canadian, is a resident of the United States) is currently facing inquisition by a Human Rights Commission over the publication (in the United States) of his book, America Alone.

    God help us if we go down this road.

  24. By Rodney Wilson on Jun 9, 2008 | Reply

    Craig,

    Excellent response to my post, with several excellent points. I think you are right.

    You made me evaluate it some more. I suppose my real question is: Why do some believe so “radically,” so “extremely,” in something that they want to advertise (i.e., evangelize) it?

    Maybe I have become so moderate in my aversion to extremism that I don’t believe anything sufficiently any longer? Maybe I really, really need to go find myself some pro-life, pro-gay rights, pro-universal health care, pro-Obama, pro-2nd Amendment, pro-God, pro-separation of church and state bumper stickers and put my money where the backside of my car is!

    Hmmmm…..

    R.

  25. By Jersey McJones on Jun 9, 2008 | Reply

    Craig, of course therewas more coveregae of Obama - unlike mcCain, Obama was in a hot primary right up until last Tuesday (or was it Saturday? Or is it really even over?). To even remotely suggetc this is due to some media bias is as if to say, “The news is biased toward news.” It’s like standing in a rain shower and saying that the weather is biased toward rain.

    “When one cannot express and defend one’s opinion, one is no longer free.”

    Well, Craig, welcome to our country, oh, and by the way, it’s really not all that “free.” Let’s take an example: Imagine you’re driving cross-country, let’s say all the way down I95 from top to bottom. Which licence plate motiffe would you feel more comforable with, regardless of your personal view: “God Bless America,” or “The Grateful Dead Forever”? Why would one be apprehensive to use the latter plate motiffe? Any thoughts? How about a “Wiccan Priestess” motiffe as you make your way through the South? Would you feel comfortable with that even if you were a Wiccan Priestess (Druid? Witch? I dont know)? Now imagine you’re on a long stretch through New England, and you have a license that says “Samuel Adams - Patriot,” and you’re riding along next top a guy with a confederate flag license motiffe. Who do you suppose would be more likely to run into trouble on the road?

    Ideology aside, reality dicates that it’s probably best of the government stays out of all this. It only makes things worse.

    License plates should show a set of numbers and or letters, and nothing else.

    JMJ

  26. By Rainbow Demon on Jun 9, 2008 | Reply

    I have lived in both Florida and SC, having gotten married in FL and divorced in SC (another story altogether).

    While my FL plate read ‘D-MON’ (on a 77 Plymouth Duster - my idea of a joke); the SC plate was a simple “IKO-IKO” (on a 74 Karman Ghia) after the Grateful Dead song… I was constantly stopped by the local police in SC. Might have been because of the “You can’t beat our cocks” sticker also… in reference to the ‘Gamecocks‘

    …and since I can’t afford a new car yet, the back of my current vehicle - ‘95 Bronco - is a “traveling billboard”… but the only remotely religious sticker on the back reads “The last time we mixed Politics and Religion - People got burned at the stake.”

    I probably have about 30 stickers on the back of “Bessy” as I call her - it makes for good ‘reading time’ at a red light for those behind me. ;)

    Peace,
    =RD=

  27. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 9, 2008 | Reply

    Rodney,

    Ahhhh. Meeting of the minds. There’s nothing more valuable. Fome of those things that you’re planning to plaster on your car you might have to have made up special. I suggest, “I’m Another Brick in the Wall…of separation of Church and State”. Shows you’re into Pink Floyd AND into keeping the government out of Church issues and visa versa. :-)

    Jersey,

    I don’t put bumper stickers on my cars. Never have and the only “theme” on my license plate is the “disabled” stick guy in a wheelchair that indicates that I’m allowed to park in the handicapped parking spaces. But it has nothing to do with fear that I’ll get hurt or killed. It’s just that I’ve never thought of my car as a vehicle for communication of political views or of any other issues.

  28. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 9, 2008 | Reply

    I’ve never thought of my car as a vehicle for communication

    Yes, the pun was intentional. ;-)

  29. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 9, 2008 | Reply

    Jersey,

    You have a point. Although probably the single most ubiquitous bumper-sticker I’ve seen on cars is the Grateful Dead variety. Those guys rocked and just about everybody seems to have liked them. I can’t imagine them being a problem traveling anywhere in the country.

    Okay, not everybody loves them but I’ve never heard of a dead-head getting beat up for having colorful dancing bears on his car. Anyway. I have nothing more to add to this post. My wife and I are getting ready to fly down to Florida for a few weeks to a few months. I’ve lots to do so I’m probably done ’til tomorrow.

    Ciao!

  30. By Lisa on Jun 9, 2008 | Reply

    this is the only thing that should be allowed on your car:

    http://www.travelblog.org/Europe/Italy/fact-flag-italy.html

  31. By phil_in_ny on Jun 9, 2008 | Reply

    Isn’t this pathetic? I should get a license plate that says “Jew”, with a star of David in the middle.

  32. By FranIam on Jun 9, 2008 | Reply

    Great post! Thank you for visiting my blog and commenting on my version of this!

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