Confederate license tags would help I.D. folks to avoid

By Frank Cerabino
Thursday, Dec. 3, 2009

This is my amicus curiae brief in the federal lawsuit filed by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Florida Division against the state’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

U.S. District Judge John Antoon has his hands full, so he might appreciate a friend-of-the-court opinion.

I will be arguing in favor of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. For clarification, I am not a Southerner, unless being from the south end of Long Island counts.

And I am not one of the Floridians who intend to purchase a "Confederate Heritage" specialty license plate if approved by the state of Florida.

My interest in this case is purely practical.

Legal requirements met

The Sons of the Confederate Veterans may still be fighting an imaginary war, handing themselves fictitious military titles, and dividing the state into 55 fanciful "camps." And it’s also plausible that an underlying purpose of celebrating the "heritage" of the Civil War’s insurrectionists is little more than a transparent glorification of an inglorious past of slavery and treason.

After all, Florida was about 45 percent slaves during the Civil War. And showing the Confederate battle flag more than a century later has taken on a subtext of racial animosity at a time when the nation their forebears sought to divide has made united strides toward equality. That being said, it’s a good idea to let them have license plates that display their 19th century battle flag.

I didn’t think so at first, but consider the numbers.

They fulfilled the necessary requirements of getting 30,000 Florida drivers to say they would get the Confederate Heritage license plate, submitting the application fee, and completing the design and marketing strategy. And they got their license plate bill sponsored by a legislator from the Florida Panhandle. (Just one more reason we ought to gift that part of the state to Alabama and Georgia.)

Say yea for public safety

The only reason we don’t have a Confederate Heritage license plate in Florida is that the bill died in committee because the plate was deemed too "controversial."

Lawyers for the Sons of Confederate Veterans sued, arguing that the denial violated their First Amendment right to free speech and equal protection.

This week, Judge Antoon refused to grant the state’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, giving the Sons of Confederate Veterans hope that they might actually win this war.

And they should — for practical reasons of public safety.

I want to know who those 30,000 people are. And if I see them on the road, I want to avoid them. Anybody willing to spend $25 to display that license plate probably doesn’t care much for an Obama-voting, ex-New Yorker. (While you’re at it, is there a way you can make them have blinking lights on the plates too?)

Let the ass bray. That’s my motto. The gun laws in this state are so lax that we should encourage any additional points of identification. After all, we can’t expect them all to have truck nutz.

Copyright © 2009 The Palm Beach Post.

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