Saturday, February 18, 2012

Oh, Now There's A Problem With License Plates

Indiana is one of many states that allows itself to be a fundraising instrument for private organizations via vanity license plates. My position has always been that the license plate serves a particular function, and the bumper sticker goes on the bumper. The state should never be an instrument for private fundraising.

There are somewhere near 100 organizations for which the state wrongly acts as middleman- for sports organizations like the Colts and even the Tony Stewart Foundation; civic clubs like the Rotary and Lions; unions; and many more. Up to there, I had never heard a complaint from anyone but Libertarians. But, once a gay group gets in? Oh, conservatives finally decide the state shouldn't be involved. From the Indy Star:

Indiana began printing new plates in December for the Indiana Youth Group, which supports gay youths. The state's Bureau of Motor Vehicles approved the plates after a 2010 court battle with IYG and the Indiana American Civil Liberties Union.

Yet in the waning days of the 2012 session, Advance America -- an Indiana-based nonprofit led by conservative stalwart Eric Miller -- is lobbying state lawmakers to ban IYG and other gay support groups from offering special Indiana plates.

State Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-Lizton, has tried three times this year to ban the IYG plates by pushing amendments for unrelated motor vehicle bills. House Republicans rebutted his latest attempt this week for fear that the controversial issue would damage support for their broader effort of cracking down on the recent rapid growth of specialty plates -- there are 105 of them, according to the House's Transportation Committee chairman.

Oh, they want to crack down? First I'm hearing of it. Interesting. Once there are 100, it's out of hand. What about principle? What about the very question of the role of government in private fundraising? Why wasn't that attacked at the onset?

I suspect that if Indiana Youth Group was first to request, the conscience of the conservatives would have been alive and well.

The state shouldn't be a middleman for fundraising. It's time to eliminate this practice altogether- not because a gay group wants to play the game too, but because it's wrong.


Anonymous said...

It will just make it easier for god to spot the fags... Just pray one of those cars doesn't rear end you... May get aids...

patriot paul said...

I'm a little surprised at your position on this, and I believe you are on the wrong side of this issue. It represents no intrusion of government into the public or private sector. It is not mandatory. Freedom of expression and speech is foundational, and if 'we the people' are afforded a voice within the provided guidelines, then we should applaud it. I say the more the merrier. In fact, I've seen no libertarians or others in the streets demanding the government to cease expanding freedom. I say more freedom; not less.

Mike Kole said...

Anon- That is perhaps the dumbest comment I've ever received here.

Paul- As regards speech, my position is similar to religion in that it is not the proper role of government to either interfere or facilitate speech or religion. That's purely a private matter. And, that doesn't address the government as fundraising arm of private organizations.

Moreover, if the vanity license plates go away, are you arguing that the speech of any of the groups is being infringed?

patriot paul said...

Mike, I don't think arguing in the reverse gets us anywhere. Theoretically, it's like saying if the official language of the U.S is bilingual (English & Spanish), then if we remove Spanish do we infringe on that previous language. I don't think it's really a helpful argument.
I would also disagree with the notion that the government bears no responsibility to facilitate speech. It is obligated to protect speech and in so doing we cannot deny that it is faciliated and flourishes because of that.

It does bring up a point about whether the corporate personhood argument.

Thirdly, the government regulates (restricts) certain forms of speech. The government regulates cigarettes but allows name the brands, the same with alcohol. By your argument, you would have to claim the government is the fun raising arm of Newports and Jim Beam, which it is not.
What about the naming rights of city parks and stadiums or adopt a highway? As long as it's volunteer and capitalism is at work, the government would be remiss if it did not use the opportunities afforded to it. And I see a participatory freedom for people to engage themselves further in our government.

Mike Kole said...

Arguing in reverse? Not at all. I'm getting basic here. I assert that it is not the proper role of government to provide avenues for the exercise of speech.

Just as surely as I do not argue in favor of government providing a TV transmitter, a printing press, or a website, I do not argue in favor of making the license plates a means for private groups to gain recognition.

patriot paul said...

There is a history of seminars, dissertations, debates about the issue of whether the government should be in a vaccum or whether the free speech carries with it the underlying principles of promotion of speech. Good people on both sides. For me, the tenor suggest promotion for the common good and is therefore activist for the good in contrast to tyranny and dictatorial oppression.
Again, the government is offering certain freedoms of voluntary expression for which you can pay a premium. No one is twisting your arm. Just my viewpoint.

Mike Kole said...

It's kind of like the difference between Jefferson and Hamilton. In some ways, seen as very far apart or even opposites, but truly, if this was the gulf today in politics, what a wonderful world it would be. I respect you and our differences, which are minor.