I wish this stuff would just stop happening, and that people would read the U.S. Constitution. On the other hand, if it did stop, what would I have to kvetch about.
Thanks to several readers who sent various links to the story, which appears to be genuine. According to HuffPo, a New Jersey woman applied for an atheist license plate and was turned down. As a controlled experiment, she then applied for a similar sounding but religious plate with the same number of letters, and it was fine:
A New Jersey woman who says she was denied a license plate referencing atheism filed suit this week, claiming her online application was rejected because it was deemed potentially offensive.
Shannon Morgan, of Maurice Township, said in a federal lawsuit filed Thursday that the Motor Vehicle Commission violated her First Amendment rights when its website rejected the plate reading “8THEIST.” She said she received a message stating that her vanity plate request was ineligible as it “may carry connotations offensive to good taste and decency.”
Really? “Good taste and decency”? Well, if flaunting nonbelief on a public motorway is offensive, what about belief? Morgan cleverly did the control experiment:
Morgan then filled out the online application using the phrase “BAPTIST” as a test, which the website accepted. Morgan claims in her lawsuit that she sent the agency a letter of complaint by registered mail and made several attempts to contact them by phone, all of which went unanswered.
I guess flaunting belief in front of nonbelievers, or even non-Baptists, is perfectly fine. That’s unconstitutional, and good grounds for a lawsuit. What makes this particularly puzzling is that New Jersey, after a bit of foot-dragging, had previously approved a request for a license plate that read “ATH1EST” (with a one instead of an “i”). Maybe it’s the “8” they object to!
More public money wasted on a losing state lawsuit. The second most ironic thing is this:
Messages and emails left for the Motor Vehicle Commission by The Associated Press on Friday were not returned. A recorded message said the offices were closed in observance of Good Friday.