Thursday, June 24, 2010

Spinning Plates

Recently the Massachusetts RMV (what most states call the DMV) began offering license plates with the “choose life” message. The money raised from the sale of these plates goes to anti-abortion groups.

A lot of people have a problem with this. They argue that it is a political statement and the government should not be seen as endorsing one side over another.

I don't agree. I say that we should have more specialty plates. I'd like to see plates that support abortion rights. I want to see pro and anti gun plates, marijuana legalization plates, wind farm plates, casino plates, marriage equality plates, universal health care plates, immigration reform plates, war plates and peace plates. How about plates that identify our political parties (GOP, Dems, Libertarians, Green, Socialist, Whig), our religious affiliation (RC, UCC, UM, Baptist, Christian Science, Episcopal, UU, Scientology, Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Orthodox, Reform, or Conservative Jew, Hindu, Shiite, Sunni, Zoroastrian, atheist), and whatever sexual proclivities we might want the world to know about (gay, straight, bi, polyamorous, B&D, S&M)? We've got plates that proclaim our affiliation to a sports team. Why not plates that tell the world our favorite store or designer? People who buy that one would get a discount when shopping.

There is, of course, a danger here. Once we open this thing up we'll begin seeing plates that support repulsive things. Imagine special plates for racists, sexists, homophobes, or Yankees fans. But that's the price of freedom. When you turn your license plate into a means of personal expression you're going to see rather a lot of personal expression.

Of course the alternative is to stop allowing these special plates. But then how would people who want to express themselves on their cars and send money to their favorite causes proceed? Bumper-stickers and donations? How quaint. And then what would our plates be for?

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