Your Constitutional Right To Be A Redneck

The Confederacy is rising again in Texas.  At least in the form of specialty license plates.  The Texas division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans has filed a lawsuit in Texas federal court arguing that the Department of Motor Vehicles violated its it’s First Amendment rights  by refusing to issue a license plate featuring a Confederate flag.  As a point of clarification, vanity plates are plates in which you pick the license plate symbols.   Specialty plates are plates the state issues with various organizations.   For instance, here in Texas, we now have a Dallas Mavericks specialty plate.  The Sons Of Confederate Veterans would be a Specialty Plate.  If my license plate read “CUBES”, that would be a vanity plate.

When I think of the Confederate flag I think of rednecks, racism and NASCAR not necessarily in that order.  Before you hang me from the nearest Texas Motor Speedway light-pole,  I have admittedly not watched many NASCAR races.  In the one race I did attend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, there were many confederate flags draped from RV’s in the parking lot with the occupants engaging in activities that would simply be drunkenly boorish in any other venue but adding in the Confederate flag screamed redneck.  I don’t think I am going out on a limb in opning that some of them would not know the Battle Of  Fort Sumter from Bunker Hill.

NASCAR aside, this is a case in which the Sons will probably prevail or the DMV will relent and issue the plate before it gets that far. Regardless of the varied meanings the flag embodies and that the state actually owns the plates, it can not engage in viewpoint discrimination.  Nine other states have approved Sons Of Confederate Veterans’ specialty plates, several only after being sued.  There are other issues that could come in to play such as the fact that the plates are actually the property of the state and therefore  constitute a non-public forum or whether the plates constitute  goverment speech as compared to private speech.  This could change the standard of review more in favor of the state.  I however, don’t see those issues affecting the constitutionality of the Sons Of Confederate Veterans plates.

As Jeff Foxworthy would say:  “You might be a redneck if…”   Having confederate flag plate would certainly make my list.  If it does not make yours and you want one in Texas you will have to wait a bit before branding yourself one to the motoring public.   Never fear however,  you will get to  do it.  It’s your constitutional right to be a redneck.

 

2 Comments For This Post

  1. True Grits Says:

    Your article regarding the Confederate Flag certainly brings to the forefront the old adage, "It depends on who's ox is getting gored." Being a Yankee from Pennsylvania I realize you have no first hand knowledge of being Southern, or the pride Southerners have related to the Confederate flag. Linking the Confederate flag to Rednecks and all the other anti-Southern symbol-isms is modern day bigotry on the part of most northerners.

    The Stars and Bars is a symbol of Southern pride. While we understand it is linked to slavery by the northerners who can only see the forest and not the trees, the South fought for and stands for much more than that. The general perception of northerners is stereo typically displayed in your article. Linking the Stars and Bars to rednecks is just as disgusting to modern southerners as linking all terrorist to Muslims, or all Germans to Nazis. Last I checked the Stars and Strips fly over every Nacar track. Had you bothered to talk to any of the Nacar fans displaying the Stars and Bars you would have probably been surprised at how many of them knew that Bunker Hill was not a civil war battle, and Fort Sumner was the first battle of the Civil War. Prejudice comes in many forms and fashions and while I find your blog generally takes a stand against such prejudicial views, I was surprised to see you take the position you did regarding the license plate honoring the Confederate Soldiers.

    The civil war was started over the issue of slavery, but it was the deeper issue of states rights to govern themselves verses the over reaching power of a central government that lay behind the cause of the conflict. As most politicians would, Lincoln chose to make slavery the issue to prevent England from entering the war on the South's side. The truth is the north had just as many black vs. white issues as the South, but as in all wars, the victors write the history books.

    The Stars and Bars were not the battle flag of the Southern troops. The Bonnie Blue flag was the battle flag. The Stars and Bars are a symbol of Southern pride which means many things to different people and should not be painted with the sins of a few slave owners and relegated to the role of a redneck banner as your article so amply does.

  2. bcuban Says:

    Of much more societal importance is that it is a pervasive symbol of racism. No ifs ands or buts about that.

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