Sunday, March 22, 2015

Supreme Court Abou to Make Decision on Controversial License Plate

                                                                                                             Texas Department of Motor Vehicles/Associated Press
Several states, including Virginia and Southern Carolina, have license plates featuring a Confederate Flag, which aims at honoring the veterans and Southern heritage. Texas did not allow for this plate as it can be seen as an offensive symbol. Heritage group, Sons of Confederate Veterans, sued the state of Texas for a violation of the First Amendment freedom to speech. On Monday, the Supreme Court plans on hearing this case.

In 2011,The Department of Motor Vehicles board voted unanimously against the usage of this plate because of its history and continual usage in the United States. In addition, Gov. Rick Perry agreed with the decision, claiming, “We don’t need to be scraping old wounds."

Many see the Confederate Flag as a representation of hate and slavery. However, this heritage foundation claims it “is a symbol of sacrifice, independence and Southern heritage.” Some think that, although a hateful symbol, the state of Texas does not have the right to take away a citizen’s private speech. Others say that the state has the ability to deny other controversial symbols such as a swastika.

In all, this plate relates to the recent University of Oklahoma fraternity video featuring a Confederate Flag. It brings into questions the legacy of this symbol and its meaning to the people of the United States. 

Do you think the State of Texas has the right to deny the use of this specialized plate? Can the Confederate Flag be deemed as a positive image?


Angelia Fontanos said...

Like with burning or desecrating the American flag, I think people could spend forever arguing whether or not it would be right to do something to the Confederate flag that would disrespect it.
Considering, the Confederate flag's association with the South during the Civil War, I think it would be difficult to deem it as a positive image. Yes, you could argue that the Confederate flag represents things such as "southern heritage," but I don't think this flag would be appropriate as it is so heavily associated with slavery and other atrocities associated with the South. I think it would be a different story if the flag was used for some other purpose? I'm not really sure about that, but the meaning of some signs or symbols can be distorted (ex. the use of the swastika in the general West vs. the use of the swastika in Hinduism and Buddhism)in such a way that the new meaning is entirely different from the original meaning.

Miranda Brinkley said...

I'm honestly a little bit surprised that the Supreme Court is even willing to hear this case, as it seems somewhat similar to other free speech right cases that have come up over the years. However, while I understand the need to acknowledge heritage and what was a big part of culture for some states, I'm not convinced that a license plate would be the best place to display such an emblem. As Emma mentioned, the flag is fraught with controversey over what it actually means and the reality that it means different things to different people. While a car is certainly considered a person's "private property" I somehow feel that allowing people to hang the flag outside their house is different than allowing them to portray it with them everytime they drive somewhere out in public.

Emma Wynn said...

Miranda, I agree. In the article they actually mentioned how it would be hurtful to see the flag following them around on the back of someone's car. It seems almost mocking actually. I'm actually not sure what the Supreme Court will rule because I could easily see this going both ways.