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digital_sandlapper

Latest National Spotlight on S.C.: "I Believe" License Plates

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The media is having a field day with this bright idea from our legislators. As reported here in the NY Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/06/us/06license.html

Our state's latest vanity plate will have a cross on it along with the words "I Believe" on it. How do you think this makes our state look to the rest of the country? Does it put us in a positive or negative light?

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I don't see why this is such an issue. The government is not endorsing Christianity or requiring you to use the tag. I see it more along the lines of someone using a bumper sticker. They buy it. They put it on their car. It affects no one else's way of life. It represents the owner's view.

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I think this makes our state look like a bunch of religious fanatics. I wouldn't have a problem with it if it had been requested by a non-profit organization, but the fact that it was the idea of our legislators turns my stomach.

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I am always amazed at the lengths that some South Carolinians will go to prove their insignificance.

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I am sorry to say "Negative".

Bumper stickers are one thing. Government sanctioned and provided licenses are another, even if it is only one of many options.

Unless there are plates made available for other beliefs, it suggests that Christianity has some favored status by the government of South Carolina. It's a slippery slope, isn't it? How can the state reasonably deny any group belief or ideology the same option?

Perhaps the most shocking thing is that the bill passed both the House and Senate UNANIMOUSLY. What a crowd of ball-less wonders in the General Assembly. I think Mark Sanford is sort of kooky most of the time, but he got this one exactly right when he said

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What I got from the NYT article is that if 400 South Carolina aetheists will buy a plate that says "I don't believe," they can have their very own license plate, too.

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Theoretically, I don't have a problem with it since any religious belief can have its own license plate as well. But I'm in agreement with Sanford on this one. I was never one for bumber stickers, t-shirts, etc.--let my life show that I believe if I call myself a believer. Plus, we've got entirely too many license plates already. And don't we already have the "In God We Trust" plates? Why another similar one?

Watch, someone with an "I Believe" license plate will be the first one to flip somebody off in traffic.

I think it says something about the state's priorities when a mere 7 cent cigarette tax increase can't get passed to help prevent smoking and expand healthcare coverage throughout the state, but something like this can.

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Unless there are plates made available for other beliefs, it suggests that Christianity has some favored status by the government of South Carolina. It's a slippery slope, isn't it? How can the state reasonably deny any group belief or ideology the same option?

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Its the perfect legislative act. Someone came up with this idea, and in this state you can't vote against God, lest your political enemies use that against you. So, you have to vote for it. The state isn't supporting religion, its just giving those who want such a thing to buy it.

I don't personally agree with this license plate, but there are people who wear a cross, or the WWJD bracelets, etc. This is not different.

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I don't have a problem with it, but I really do wish they'd go back to a solid background with white letters for the plates. Make it easier for the LEOs.

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The lack of tolerance being exhibited here by the "progressives" is....not a surpise?

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Hey, I don't like Clemson, but I'm not beotching about the Clemson plate. As long as it's not a group like NAMBLA asking for a plate, I don't care. Don't these plates bring in extra revenue to help with building and maintaining roads?

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What do you have against Marlon Brando Look Alikes?

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I presently live in Florida, where we've had (among over 100 other specialty tags) a "Choose Life" plate for about five or six years now. Maybe longer.

Caused a lot of ruckus when it was new but mostly within the state. Of course the pro-choice folks (technically a majority here according the only recent poll I've found) shouted about how they should get their own plate, and certainly they could have, but evidently nobody really cared enough to gather the signatures, design the plate, and find a legislator to sponsor it, because there still isn't one. Says more about the pro-choice folks than the pro-life ones, actually.

I doubt there was a NYTimes article about it. Thing is, the exact same "I Believe" plate could be designed and sold here in Florida and the Times would ignore it because it doesn't fit the media's established narrative of Florida--which is a state too dumb to hold an election properly and besotted with property speculators, pedophiles, drug dealers, Cuban immigrants, and old people. There aren't any comments about Florida in the national media that don't focus on one of those approved areas.

I suspect you'll agree that the national media perspective on South Carolina is that it's a state with a race problem run by religious nuts and confederate flag supporters with way too much influence in the presidential primary process, and any discussion that doesn't reflect some part of that existing narrative is basically ignored. That's why the Times wrote this article: it reflects the national media's preexisting narrative about South Carolina. It's a way for the elite readers of the Times to have their own provincial stereotypes confirmed.

From my perspective as a soon-to-be-resident of South Carolina who is not a Christian (but was raised one)... I think this license plate is fine, and the fact that it was the legislators who did it, well, I live in Florida. It'll take a lot to convince me SC has worse state legislators than we do, and I'm definitely not convinced by this.

I'm fairly sure I could find 399 other Buddhists in SC to put together a Buddhist license plate with the Dharma Wheel on it or something (maybe it could say "I Seek Enlightenment") and SC would become the first state in the country (even before California!) to have a Buddhist license plate. Would that get on the national news? I have my doubts. Doesn't fit the narrative.

But I don't care anyway; I don't have a "Coexist" bumper sticker and my vanity plate doesn't say anything about my faith. Frankly, the existence of the "I Believe" license plate says far more about the people who put it on their car than about the state that promulgated it (call me an intolerant progressive or whatever, but when I see people advertising their faith on their cars I tend to assume they aren't very secure about their faith, or at any rate don't think you can tell their faith by watching their actions. Ever counted how many Jesus-fish cars cut you off in traffic without using a blinker? If you're a jerk you need to advertise being Christian, because Christian and Jerk don't really go together; if you're truly a godly person you shouldn't need to advertise because I'll know it from watching you, as Governor Sanford pointed out). I don't see why we shouldn't have it, actually; the vast majority of South Carolinians are devout Christians and if they wish to advertise to their peers then let them do so. In fact I'd rather have people spending the money on a license plate than on a bumper sticker, since the money goes to the state, even if it's just to fund crossing guards at churches on Sunday mornings or whatever. (Do we know what the extra fees fund in this case?) How about a Support the Troops license plate that funds a VA hospital or something? Do we have that?

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More choice is good in my book. I would like to see other religions get their own plates as well. I think it's very progressive to have custom plates that express ones religion without getting persecuted. It's a pride thing, I'm not sure there is any precedent against having pride in ones religion or state or favorite sport team. The only time we should step in is when someone is denied the right to express themselves within the guiding principles of current law.

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Just to make a point I was thinking of paying for the standard vanity plate with the mountains at the top and seaweed or whatever at the bottom and have them put I DON T on it, and then put a mark between the N & T for an apostrophe, and a dot after the T for a period.

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I think this "issue" is insignificant compared to the other things we're dealing with in South Carolina. With that said, I do not have a problem with the plate, provided that any other religion can have their own plate with equivalent requirements to this one.

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I think this "issue" is insignificant compared to the other things we're dealing with in South Carolina. With that said, I do not have a problem with the plate, provided that any other religion can have their own plate with equivalent requirements to this one.

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IMO if you have no religion then you shouldn't get a special license plate for it. You can't start creating license plates for something people choose not to have. That could get out of hand quickly.

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Well, that's biased. What if enough people get together and come up with $4,000 for a license plate that says "I don't believe anything." According to the attorney general, the way the I Believe license plate is going to hold up in court is that any group with any cause can get a license plate if they put up the money.

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Well, that's biased. What if enough people get together and come up with $4,000 for a license plate that says "I don't believe anything." According to the attorney general, the way the I Believe license plate is going to hold up in court is that any group with any cause can get a license plate if they put up the money.

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I guess my thought is: enough is enough. What is the point of a license plate? I'm afraid we've drifted way off the government-mandated origin of the thing. It's gotten pretty bad when our government gets involved in these rivalries (sports teams, colleges, my religion is better than yours, etc.) that potentially creates hard feeling between us. Vanity plates are kind of silly, but okay I guess, but these "designer" plates are creating an increasingly divisive atmosphere for no reason, IMO.

If people want to tout their allegiance to what-have-you, there are PLENTY of bumper stickers, decals, cling-ons, flags, etc., etc., etc. that can be, are are ad nauseum, adhered to one's vehicle. The government should STAY OUT of these personal preferences, and has a lot of nerve fanning the flames of controversy between "we the people" over a piece of metal to screw onto our bumpers. What ever happened to the benevolent, NEUTRAL embodiment of government?

(Don't get me wrong, I happen to be a Christian, and I believe too. But one could argue that these "I believe" tags are at the very least boastful. The Bible looks down on this, does it not?)

Well, we certainly don't want to debate religion on here, so let me reiterate my point gain: I believe that the tag causes hard feelings for no good reason, and has set a messy and dangerous precedent. :)

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I wonder if I would be stopped by a cop and fined or arrested for defacing state property if I bought an I BELIEVE license plate and put a Buddhist decal over the stained glass and cross. Or how about a calderon to demonstrate the wiccan part of my spirituality? I believe in Chinese Taoism also, but I'm not sure they have a decal - probably not; I have a feeling Taosim, from what I know about it, is of the mind and not of symbols. No, wait, what am I thinking? The ying yang symbol will take care of it. I've often thought I'd make a good reformed Jew in some ways; the star of David should fit nicely. I was born and raised Methodist, as were my parents and their parents, and so on and so forth back to the Episcopal Church - Church of England or whatever, and as Jesus's message has been told to us by the people who wrote the New Testatment, I believe in it. I just don't believe literally that Jesus ever said many of the things about himself that the writers said he said. And I believe the story of his death on the cross to save man from his sins is meant to be taken only symbolically, not literally. Oh, dear, what kind of a decal am I going to be able to come up with to shout to the world what I believe on my license plate? The plate is only so big. Maybe South Carolina's attorney general Henry McMaster can help me come up with something. He's the one who said the I BELIEVE plate would hold up in court because it was done in such a way as to provide the opportunity for whomever, for whatever cause, to have their very own plate also, as long as they come up with the preliminary $4,000 fee, as Lt. Governor Andre Bauer has offered to do for the Christians.

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DS, I think you've hit the nail on the head.

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