My personal motto is "Look on the Sunny Side of Life!" I confess I adopted it while watching the closing scene in Monty Python's film, Life of Brian. Reluctant messiah and martyr Brian is painfully crucified to a cross, along with a dozen other criminals. But does life get them down? No way! They smile, tap their toes, snap their fingers, whistle and sing, "Look on the sunny side of life...la la...la la...la la! La la! La la!"
Do I, a conservative, let federal judges dampen my spirits? Fat chance!
U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval gave my temperament a test, however, when last week he ruled that the state of Louisiana could not issue specialty tags for license plates with the wording "Choose Life" and the picture of a pelican carrying a baby (see the constitutionally affronting image at www.chooselifela.org). Previously in 2000, he forbade the entire "Choose Life" specialty license plate.
Will somebody please tell me this guy is a Clinton appointnik?
Duval's reasoning? Thimk [sic] hard. That's it, free speech. According to Duval, a plate that says "Choose Life" is really saying "Choose Violation of First Amendment," because there are no plates available for the opposing view. Further, offering only one '"viewpoint" means the state is promoting an exclusive ideology.
La la! La la!
But wait, there's more!
Duval writes, "If the state built a convention hall for speech and then only allowed people to speak with whom they agreed with their message, the state's actions would be in contravention of the First Amendment. There is no significant difference in the case before the court."
I suppose in The Grand Cosmic Scale of Things the difference between a license plate and a convention hall is rather piddling, but then I live down here on earth and not in Judge Duval's celestial quarters.
Keep in mind that Louisiana, along with many other states, offers 150 different specialty plates for an extra $25 each. The money supports wildlife conservation, Girl Scouts, you name the cause.
Duval's ruling has effectively disallowed all these specialty plates by declaring illegal the manner in which they are issued, i.e., selectively and exclusively by the state legislature. In order to keep the dangerous Girl Scout and Choose Life plates, Louisiana will likely follow other states in requiring a minimum number of people requesting a particular specialty plate.
Which opens a delightfully entertaining chapter of free speech that can only be fully appreciated by conservative connoisseurs of comedy.
I wonder what picture will accompany the "Right to Choose" plate? A scalpel?
And when will the first lawsuit be filed against Louisiana's state motto, Union, justice, and confidence? We know Duval wouldn't want the state to exclusively promote the ideas therein. An alternate motto will be necessary. Perhaps Diversity and Disarray?
La la! La la!
California's Governor Davis will be the first to ask that Eureka (I have found it), be changed to or balanced by Dude, where'd it go?
Idaho's Let it be perpetual will be amended to Until the U.S. District Judge changes it.
Illinois' State sovereignty, national union will more aptly be stated, National sovereignty.
Will Indiana's Crossroads of America become America's Dead End merely to placate the anti-corporate factions?
And while I generally await the ever unfolding humor of a non-conservative world, I tremble at what changes feminists might demand in Maryland's beautiful Fatti Maschi, Parole Femmine (Manly deeds, womanly words). Ouch.
Imagine what rights Judge Duval will see squelched by Ohio's With God all things are possible and Oklahoma's Work conquers all. Those state governments may be paying out court decreed financial settlements to plaintiffs unwillingly oppressed by those mottos.
No changes predicted by Duval for Nevada's All for our country. Though I personally would support an optional motto of 15% Flat rate for our country. The Clintons will file a brief requesting transposition in North Carolina's To be rather than to seem, thus creating To seem rather than to be. Howard Dean will gain votes by urging an optional license plate for New Hampshire's Live Free or Die: Live Globally or Be Shunned.
Montana's Oro y plata (Gold and silver) evokes materialism, untrammeled capitalism and mines that created ecological wastelands. Organic herbs and vegetables will offer a healthy alternative motto.
Don't ask me what will happen to New York's Excelsior (Higher). Or New Mexico's It grows as it goes. Or Washington's By and by.
Will Wisconsin's Forward be reversed?. Will Texas (Friendship) be influenced by the Girl Scout Council of America, which recently deleted "Be cheerful" from its ten laws for girls. Will we see grumpy Texans driving cars with specialty plates saying Up Yours?
(Judge Duval may be among the first to lay down $25, in currency printed with the pagan-placating national motto In Satan We Trust, to purchase such a plate.)
The big winner: Al Gore! The man with vision! For surely the most politically correct national motto to be court mandated will be E Unum Pluribus!
"La la, la la! La la! La la! La la!"