cross-posted to Blue Jersey
There’s a brouhaha brewing here in New Jersey about an anti-choice advocacy group that wants to allow residents to purchase disingenuously-named “Pro-Life” license plates for their automobiles. State law bars such advocacy groups from promoting their cause in this manner, but the Children First Foundation is petitioning the Governor for an exception and is also resurrecting the already-decided court case.
The bigger question here is, should the state, and especially the Motor Vehicle Commission, be in the business of advertising on license plates?
Of course, this problem is not unique to New Jersey. Recently, an Islamophobic organization fought and won a fight with New York City’s MTA to put misleading advertisements on busses protesting the construction of an Islamic cultural center in Downtown Manhattan. This is the same MTA that rejected advertisements from another advocacy group critical of Mayor Bloomberg.
The Children First Foundation argues that its “Choose Life” license place is allowed under their exercise of free speech. Perhaps. Certainly the state needs whatever revenue stream it can garner from the added fees these plates provide. But allowing the anti-choice zealots to have their way starts us down a slippery slope. Do we allow white supremacy groups to have their logo on plates? What about Communists? Or Democrats?
The state and the governor should enforce the existing law, and ban all advocacy groups from having their slogans and logos on what is essentially state property. The revenue from these plates would most likely not offset the legal fees the state will expend in the unending court cases. If you want to advertise your advocacy for a cause, do what I do – just buy a license plate frame and send your money directly to your favorite group.
If Governor Christie allows these “Pro-Life” messages on our plates, I can see the day when I’m driving down Route 295 being passed by a “pro-life”, pro-death penalty, anti-health insurance advocate driving at 75 miles per hour through the construction zone yakking on a cell phone. That’s not quite my definition of pro-life.