Tuesday, April 24
SO last year America's Third-Worst State Legislature™, ramrodded by Rep. Woody "Yes, Difficult As It Is To Believe, Dan Has A Duller Brother Who Also Has A Political Sinecure" Burton, created the In God We Trust plate, because, you know, they could. And because lawmakers are uniformly devout men--and occasionally, somehow, women--of God.
Well, now it turns out that, unlike the three or four dozen other specialty plates available to the Hoosier motorist desirous of showing something of his personal interests to the guy stuck behind him at a traffic light, the God plate carries no fee. All the other plates include $15 for the BMV, and generally some additional fee which goes to the sponsoring organization. The Indiana ACLU--hands tied over the religious aspect of the plate because white Christian males have already ruled that the "God" of "In God We Trust" is not a religious figure--is now bringing suit over the fee on behalf of a man who purchased an "Environment" plate and paid the $15 fee, plus $25 to a state land-acquisition fund.
We believe in equal protection under the law around here, but it strikes us as fitting that people in Indiana can show their devotion to God without lifting a finger to help anybody else and while, in fact, actually taking from their neighbors, since the plate costs the state an extra 50¢ to produce. (According to Woody--and he wouldn't lie--there's a half million of the plates out there already, meaning the Small Government radicals in the legislature have managed to cost us a quarter million dollars so far on a stunt. And these would be the same guys who spent uncounted numbers of taxpayer dollars challenging a court ruling that told 'em to quit shouting about Jebus from the speaker's podium under the guise of non-denominational prayer.)
I don't really care about the plates. It's the Let's Rub People's Noses In It business I find objectionable, and it would be nice if the Citizen Legislature of Indiana either felt an obligation to respect the beliefs of all its fellows or found something important to worry about, for once. Still, if our public displays of religion must come, not with genuine reverence but with the distinct emotional aura of some punk kid wagging his fingers and sticking out his tongue at you from the safety of his third-story bedroom window, I think it's time the matter were settled once and for all. Put God on every license plate and the Ten Commandments on every courthouse lawn. Put 7th Heaven and old Billy Graham tapes on every channel, 24 hours a day. And if, at the end of twelve months, the 80% of Americans who claim to be Christian are actually attending church every week; if there's no more extramarital sex or killings over Thanksgiving dinner or parking spaces; and if the Cubs win the World Series, then magical thinking rules. Otherwise you keep it to yourself.