Just a couple of weeks ago, a judge ruled that Kentucky officials went too far in rejecting an atheist’s “IM GOD” license plate. In 2018, Kentucky officials reversed course after rejecting a Christian woman’s “PRAY4” plate.
Now Shaun DeWaters, an Iraqi war veteran and Marine, is suing the state for telling him his “INFDL” plate violated their guidelines. DeWaters says the “infidel” plate is hardly an expression of a political or religious belief, as the state alleges. It’s the nickname he took on in war, an expression that the other side called him.
“The term infidel has a totally other meaning to me being a Disabled Marine Corps combat veteran,” DeWaters wrote in response. “It has been well documented in the media and literature that the insurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan called American troops infidels. We actually took it as a badge of honor that our enemy had given us a nickname.”
He’s not making any of this up. He has an “Infidel” tattoo and this license plate wasn’t a problem when he first got approval for it 12 years ago. It was only recently that they said the rules prohibited his plate specifically. The lawsuit calls this a violation of his free speech and free expression.
Even though his story is unique and fascinating, it wouldn’t even matter if he believed in Satan. The plate itself isn’t anti-anyone else. It’s just a harmless word. At some point, Kentucky needs to decide whether it wants to keep picking these fights. It would be far easier to allow political or religious speech — or plates that presumably have a connection to those areas, like in this case — and just prohibit language that’s deemed hateful. Either way, there’s no reason to say no to DeWaters’ plate under the state’s current rules.
(Thanks to Brian for the link)