To the point week of 4/26/07

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MY DAUGHTER HAS A LICENSE plate on the back of her car that says “In God We Trust”. It was an option when we went to get the plate, so she decided that she wanted to put on the back of her vehicle.

This week, the Indiana Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the State of Indiana. The suit claims that the Indiana Legislature violated your individual rights when it passed the law creating the “In God We Trust” license plate.

There are all types of specialty plates hanging on vehicles around the state. You can show your support for everything from breast cancer research to the Black Expo to your favorite college or university. In each case, there is an additional fee attached to the cost of your license plates.

Of that fee, $15 goes to the state; while the rest of the money, which is normally $25 on a $40 plate fee, goes to the organization that you are supporting.

Want to support Riley Childrens Hospital? Buy a plate and they get some cash. Same with the FFA or the environment.

If you’ve got a cause, there’s a plate for it in Indiana.

But when the State Legislature created the “In God We Trust” plate, part of the legislation is that the $15 plate fee was waived. Since there’s no specific organization to get the other money, if you go to the license branch and want one of these new plates, it’s the same price as a normal plate design.

The state isn’t making you take one, it’s just making them available for those who want one.

Enter the ACLU, which has determined that the plate violates your rights because it allows you to express an opinion or position without having to pay for the privilege. Because you don’t have to pay the extra $15, it violates your rights.

According to the ACLU website, the organization was founded in 1920 on “two counterbalancing principles: that the majority of the people governs, through democratically elected representatives; and that the power even of a democratic majority must be limited, to ensure individual rights.”

On the American Civil Liberties of Indiana’s webpage, I found the following statement:

“If you want personal freedom, the ACLU of Indiana is on your side. When your rights to privacy, free speech and equal protection of law are threatened, the ACLU will help.”

The site goes on to say that the organization “makes sure we are on hand to oppose legislation in Congress limiting human liberty.”

Okay, I’m all for human liberty, too.

I would like the liberty and the freedom to have a license plate on my car that says “In God We Trust”.

What the ACLU won’t tell you is that they don’t support individual liberties of some groups of people – specifically people of faith are not welcome to join in the ACLU vision of individual rights.

As I said earlier, no one is making you put one of these plates on your car. The government also isn’t making you carry cash and coin that carry the exact same message. Don’t want to express that? Then leave your cash at home.

I believe that there was a time and place for organizations such as the ACLU, and at one time in my life I wholeheartedly supported their vision; but don’t you think they have more important things to attack than a license plate in Indiana?

Individual rights of all sorts of groups are limited in all sorts of ways, but I find it hard to believe that the biggest issue facing the ACLU is me having the word “God” on my license plate without paying an additional $15.

By the way, The Indianapolis Star ran an online poll asking people if they agree with the lawsuit challenging the license plate. A total of 66-percent of the people responding are not in favor of the lawsuit – a clear majority of people.

So, if – as the ACLU’s webpage says, they were founded on the principle that the majority of the people govern. If they truly believe that, then the majority of the people, using our elected representatives, chose to make a certain law.

Sure sounds like an individual freedom to me.

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My friend Tom Gettinger from the Sullivan Daily Times sent me a copy of a newspaper article that appeared in his newspaper on April 16th, 1917, and concerns Vevay.

The article says:

“What is believed to be the first ‘printless newspaper’ in America is not a flourishing institution in Switzerland County. The ‘newspaper’ is a daily telephone bulletin furnished to the subscribers of a telephone company.

“At a certain hour each day the exchange operators in all parts of the county call the subscribers to the telephone and report news developments of interest. Weather forecasts, births, deaths, weddings, accidents, serious illness, elopements and divorce suits are reported.”

“Looks like Vevay was a hotbed of innovation even before you showed up,” Tom wrote on his attached note.

Looks like Switzerland County invented the Internet, not Al Gore.