Orwellian License Plate Controversy : 2003-01-01
We're nearing two decades after 1984, but Newspeak is going strong. South Carolina judge William Bertelsman claims that "Choose Life" license plates violate the First Amendment
. Let's review the amendment:
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.
The license plate controversy is manifestly unrelated to the press, the right to assemble, or a redress of grievances. That leaves religion and free speech. Since this ruling abridges the freedom of speech of those purchasing the plates, the judge must believe that the license plate slogan establishes religion to such a degree that it overrides the free speech issues. Free speech is typically sacrosanct among those who flee to the First Amendment whenever they want to justify absurdities like a crucifix in urine being hailed as brilliant art, but the cultural Uruk-Hai are never above using the First Amendment in attempts to stifle the free speech of those they oppose.
So it comes to this--a simple slogan like "Choose Life" must be construed as an illegal establishment of religion. Which religion? Apparently an unorganized collection of all those who prefer not to choose death. But wait, when exactly did Congress make a law respecting the establishment of this undefined license plate religion? Bertelsman doesn't have a constitutional leg to stand on, but when has that ever stopped a loose constructionist? Orwell smiles smugly in his grave.
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