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ATHEIST tag wins!
March 15, 2002 12:52 PM   Subscribe

ATHEIST tag wins! The State of Florida has ruled that Steven Miles will be allowed to keep his vanity plates. Says Miles, "Actually, we didn't have to fight very hard." Well, you get the ACLU into something, and people start to listen...
posted by LuxFX (22 comments total)

 
This is the form email I got from the Florida DMV. My friends who wrote to protest also got the same letter.

Ms. [name]:

Thank you for your comments regarding the recall of the personalized plate configuration "ATHEIST". Upon further review by management, the decision to cancel this personalized plate has been reversed. It has been determined that the plate does not fall within the criteria of an obscene or otherwise objectionable plate.

The department is reviewing license plate recall procedures in order to avoid recall errors and better serve our customers. A departmental review board will be formed to review all license plates recommended for recall prior to the recall of the license plate. The personalized license plate "ATHEIST" would have qualified for review by such a committee.

Again, thank you for taking the time to express your concerns regarding this matter.

Thanks.

Division of Motor Vehicles
posted by dejah420 at 12:58 PM on March 15, 2002


I think it's more a case of "when you get the press into something, people start to listen". The ACLU is not the most respected organization in the country, especially in the conservative South.

(Also, this probably should have gone in yesterday's thread)
posted by jpoulos at 12:58 PM on March 15, 2002


In case any of you are considering getting custom plates (especially in light of this small victory), here's a nifty list.
posted by insomnyuk at 12:58 PM on March 15, 2002


all i can say is, thank god. maybe civil liberties do still exist.

(hehe, get it? thank god? ATHEIST?... had to say it...)
posted by ab3 at 1:16 PM on March 15, 2002


Here's the thing. That letter they published sounded just like a setup -- people who already knew the departmental procedures. (The letters at smokinggun, for example, are a varied lot -- sometimes cops or judges, other times shocked, shocked citizens.) I'd be curious if the same group of people a) knew somebody in the DMV, or b) has been involved in other plate suspensions.

Then here's the funny thing. Rob Sherman's meeting with him -- somebody who has a history of calculated objections, such as having his son join the Boy Scouts, get rejected (that statement of faith thing), and then suing for $10 million. He's a bit of a celebrity (google him and he's always at symposia and conventions) and an inveterate self-promoter. He's the very model of the busybody, interfering anti-religionist.
posted by dhartung at 1:18 PM on March 15, 2002


So what does "GU812", another recalled plate, mean? The others were pretty clear (though I'm guessing 'MDSEX' was supposed to be 'MD's Ex' and was on a nice alimonyobile).
posted by kfury at 2:43 PM on March 15, 2002


GU812 = Gee you ate one too.
posted by thirteen at 2:51 PM on March 15, 2002


It's nice to see the ACLU actually taking up free speech issues again (though it does appear from the article that it was the bad press that got the decision overturned, and that the ACLU never actually lifted a finger). Too bad they only care about free speech at all any more when it's the left's free speech that's at issue.
posted by aaron at 3:38 PM on March 15, 2002


Huh? The ACLU has been fighting Shays-Meehan alongside the NRA and the Right-to-Life movement. But facts aren't very important to most newspaper columnists anyway.
posted by gspira at 4:27 PM on March 15, 2002


Too bad they only care about free speech at all any more when it's the left's free speech that's at issue.

Yeah, the ACLU's not really too concerned about defending the ability of the low-life rich to buy elections.

But too bad your statement is untruthful in any event. I doubt there are many who would characterize the Watchtower Bible folks as "the left." (SCOTUS 2001 No 00-1737, Watchtower Bible et al v Stratton Ohio). And can you explain to us, exactly when did The Republican Party (SCOTUS 2001 No 01-521) become a part of "the left"?
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 4:34 PM on March 15, 2002


That the NRA and NRLC happen to agree with the ACLU on a single issue doesn't count for much. It's not like they're fighting Shays-Meehan on behalf of the NRA or NRLC; they merely realize their favorite causes could get as screwed over by Shays-Meehan as the right-wing causes. (Why this means anything anyway I don't know, as Shays-Meehan has plenty of fans, and enemies, on both sides of the aisle; you can't deduce someone's overall partisanship based on their feelings about this one bill.

The ACLU even put out a press release referring to their agreement with the NRA and NRLC as an "odd bedfellows" coalition, a statement which is de facto proof that the ACLU prefers left-wing causes over universal free speech.
posted by aaron at 4:57 PM on March 15, 2002


Also, did you know that, pre-Cold War, ACLU used to stand for "American Communist Lawyer's Association"?
posted by EngineBeak at 5:08 PM on March 15, 2002


Hmmm.

John Leo column on the ACLU's steady move to the left over the last few years, not since the beginning of recorded time: Published February 2002.

ACLU Republican Party press release: September 1998.

ACLU involvement with Jehovah's Witnesses' legal rights to distribute literature: Dates back to at least 1938.
posted by aaron at 5:11 PM on March 15, 2002


Also, did you know that, pre-Cold War, ACLU used to stand for "American Communist Lawyer's Association"?

You misspelled "Uhssociation."
posted by kindall at 6:24 PM on March 15, 2002


you can't deduce someone's overall partisanship based on their feelings about this one bill.

Yep, assuming makes an ass out of you and me. But we've all been there.
posted by raysmj at 6:26 PM on March 15, 2002


You misspelled "Uhssociation."

kindall....that is perhaps the funniest thing I have heard today.

Thanks
posted by plemeljr at 7:01 PM on March 15, 2002


a statement which is de facto proof that the ACLU prefers left-wing causes over universal free speech.

Oh, aaron, you and i both know that I could come up with two tons of de facto proof that The Right prefers stifling of individual speech to universal free speech, especially since the days of Civil Rights and the Chicago 7, which is why the ACLU tends to come to the aid of lefties. Of course, to say "Conservatives don't care about free speech" would be as erroneous as your "ACLU only cares about the left" line.
posted by jpoulos at 7:55 PM on March 15, 2002


You're quite right. I should have said "usually only care about free speech any more when it's the left's free speech that's at issue."
posted by aaron at 9:53 PM on March 15, 2002


Um, de facto proof? Bwah-ha-ha.

The only thing that the ACLU proves by saying that the NRA and Right to Life movement are odd bedfellows is that they are odd bedfellows. I could come with 100 different explanations for that. Somehow, I think I'd restrain myself from calling any of those explanations de facto proof.

In reality, the ACLU allies itself with whoever's liberties is most threatened. I wouldn't call that by itself de facto proof that the government tends to attack the civil liberties of left wing groups more than right wing groups, but to each their own. But the next time athiests try and force public schools to teach their students that there is no god or corporations run by gays refuse to hire conservative Christians because of their religious beliefs, I'm confident that the ACLU will come running as soon as you call.

And no, I'm not a member, because I often don't agree with them. Like on Shays-Meehan. I have no idea whether Shays-Meehan actually does anything worthwhile, but I don't equate money with speech. I also find it repellent that over the years the ACLU has ignored certain free speech disasters, such as the assault on the comic book industry in the 1950s, during which the ACLU refused to lift a finger and the entire industry was almost destroyed. (On the other hand, I did agree with them on Skokie.)

Reality: You linked to a column by John Leo whose main point seems to be (though he never actually says it straight out) that the ACLU supports Shays-Meehan because it's a cause of the right, when in reality the ACLU is against Shays-Meehan. You then decided that the ACLU statement that they rarely ally themselves with the NRA was "de facto proof" that they prefer left wing causes over universal free speech. Evidently you think you change the definition of words at will, like Spike Lee does when he defines racism as something other than plain racial prejudice, with de facto proof equaling "because I say so." You want to try for strike three? I think you should stick with "The sky is blue" or something safe like that.
posted by gspira at 12:05 AM on March 16, 2002


> Too bad they only care about free speech at all any
> more when it's the left's free speech that's at issue.

Yeah, yeah, we know. They also don't like fat people, right?
posted by pracowity at 7:26 AM on March 16, 2002


Actually, the ACLU does have at least one example in its history of taking on a weight discrimination case. So feel free to shove your snide irrelevant personal attack up your ass, pracowity.

As for you, gspira, since you wish to argue semantics all day: Fine, I'm willing to concede on my use of the phrase de facto. But I disagree that's what John Leo is saying. And the "ACLU aligns itself with whoever's most threatened line" is one hell of a bwa-ha-ha-er itself. That they have always been left-wing (not merely on matters of speech, but left-wing period) for pretty much their entire existence, and that they've definitely turned that way on the free speech issue alone over the last few years has been so heavily documented that I'm amazed you can claim otherwise with a straight face. (Well, no I'm not, I have no trouble believing you could say that at all.) (1) (2). Would you like (3) through (30) as well?
posted by aaron at 1:52 PM on March 16, 2002


> Actually, the ACLU does have at least...

That was no attack on your weight, whatever that might be. I was alluding to the number of times you have brought up the evil forces of anti-fatness. That and the great Left=Bad, Right=Good theology are your bread and butter here.
posted by pracowity at 12:45 AM on March 17, 2002


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