Friday, July 11, 2008

License Plates

Man, timing is everything. So, one of my favorite things to do on road trips is to look for license plates (40 states and 5 Canadian provinces on this trip, so far).

I had started working on a new bit about license plates (You can tell so much about a state from their license plate, just look at the colors. Deep south states like Alabama, North Carolina, Louisiana, Texas -- all red, white, and blue. Vermont has that beautiful deep green that makes you think you have to pick them up in the parking lot behind the DMV where some guy in a van gives them to you in a rolled up zip lock baggie. New Jersey, yellow, but not just any yellow...the exact shade of urine. They're planning a new tribute plate to Jesse Helms in North Carolina -- all white with eye holes cut out.)

And then YKW sends me a link to a story about South Carolina planning a new Christian license plate (the original CNN story is no longer up.) The plate is being challenged on church/state separation grounds, the argument being that this in some way counts as state advocacy for a given religion. The argument against is that this is a voluntary plate and that acknowledgment is not advocacy. Is there a legal problem here?

YKW thought it would be interesting to also consider other possible statements for SC plates.