Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thankful for the ACLU

And the Freedom From Religion Foundation.  And proud, loud, courageous Freethinkers like Bennie L. Hart.

Because a state that issues "In god We Trust" license plates at no extra change to any random motherfucking freakazoid has no standing to refuse a far less offensive and obnoxious specialty plate to a follower of reason and freethought.

An atheist's request to say "IM GOD" on his license plate was denied by the state of Kentucky, which said it might distract other drivers, could spark confrontations and would be in bad taste.

Bennie L. Hart says that by driving around with the "IM GOD" message, he simply wants to spread his views about religion — that it's impossible to disprove anyone's claim to being "God."

Besides, Hart says, he had the same plate for a dozen years when he lived in Ohio, without causing any problems.

Hart sued Kentucky's transportation secretary, Greg Thomas, on Tuesday on free speech grounds, asking a federal judge in Frankfort to strike down some Kentucky laws and rules for personalized plates.

"Under the First Amendment, government officials do not have the authority to censor messages simply because they dislike them," said William Sharp, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, which helped file the lawsuit. "And in this instance, personalized license plates are a form of individual speech equally deserving of First Amendment protection."

State Transportation Cabinet spokesman Ryan Watts said the agency doesn't comment on pending litigation.

Hart, who moved to Kenton County in northern Kentucky in February, intends to reapply for the "IM GOD" plate, his suit says.

When Hart was first turned down in March for the "IM GOD" plate, an administrative branch manager for Kentucky's Division of Motor Vehicle Licensing cited state law and regulations forbidding vulgar or obscene personalized plates, the suit says. That characterization is "demeaning" to Hart and his views and amounts to censorship, the suit says.

"I simply want the same opportunity to select a personal message for my license plate, just as any other driver," Hart said in an ACLU release Tuesday. "There is nothing 'obscene or vulgar' about my view that religious beliefs are subject to individual interpretation."
Right now, the ACLU is the only thing standing between us and the Republic of Gilead. Donate today.

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