The First Amendment – Courthouse News Service
I can understand not believing in God. I can understand that we do not believe in government. I can’t understand why people don’t believe in duct tape.
I bring this up in light of the lawsuit filed in Mississippi federal court by a trio of atheists, the Mississippi Humanist Association, and American Atheists Inc. over license plates that include the state seal. At the bottom of the seal is the phrase “In God we trust”.
I should note that the gasket on the plate is quite small. If you can read it on the car in front of you, you’re about to have an accident, and you better trust God. It’s pretty easy not to notice.
I am not taking sides here. The opening sentence of the complaint is perfectly reasonable: “No state can force a person to be the spokesperson for the government’s preferred message.”
But is this really what it is? All you need is a small piece of duct tape at the bottom of your license plate and you are no longer a spokesperson.
There are other alternatives to litigation. A bumper sticker, perhaps, with an arrow pointing at the license plate that says, “No, I don’t.”
Or red devil’s mudguards.
I expect religious people to insist that everyone believes the same things they do. I don’t expect non-religious people to care about what someone says or does. It seems to me that atheists should just shake their heads and ignore the slogans. But maybe they want a turn to dictate behavior. It’s just.
My favorite part of the complaint is the description of one of the complainants as someone who not only opposes the slogan but also refuses to pay a $ 62 fee for a specialty plate without the phrase “in order to avoid to give the state extra money which it thinks would be mismanaged.
It is a real commitment not to believe.
We may soon find out who believes in the courts.
Hasty decision. It’s one of my duties here to point out when media coverage misses the point of a story.
You probably read the United States Supreme Court ruling last week in Mahanoy Area School Dist. v. BL was the one in which a high school student was kicked off a cheerleader squad for using swear words on a Snapchat group post while off campus.
You may have been led to believe this was a First Amendment decision.
Okay, it was, but there was another more important lesson.
Consider what happened. The student used Snapchat to talk privately to her friends. Snapchat deletes items after 24 hours. The message should have come and gone.
Instead, some of those friends copied the message and started passing it around. Next thing you know, the United States Supreme Court is talking about a cheerleader turned rogue.
The lesson: you are not immune to posterity on Snapchat.
Secondary lesson: your “friends” may not be your friends?
You have been warned.