The U.S. Supreme Court ruled yesterday in Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Inc. that license plates are government speech, not open public forums. The state of Texas may thus reject the Sons of Confederate Veterans‘ request for a license plate bearing the Confederate Stars and Bars.
SCV “Commnder in Chief” and celebrator of treason Charles Kelly Barrow offers this specious gripe:
It is unfortunate that the Court has not extended the same sense of inclusion, diversity and tolerance to the estimated 70 million Americans of Confederate descent that is the right of every other American. The idea of inclusion, diversity, and tolerance apparently does not apply under law to those of us whose heritage is unpopular in some quarters.
This is a sad day for the First Amendment and for mutual respect and bridge-building among Americans of different viewpoints [Charles Kelly Barrow, statement, Sons of Confederate Veterans, 2015.06.18].
How willfully certain conservatives misinterpret the liberal “tolerance” they so mock when it suits their needs. Tolerance does not mean granting everyone else license to do whatever they want without restriction or criticism. Tolerance does not demand surrendering certain absolute beliefs, like equal human rights and the supremacy of the Constitution to the racist impulses of certain states.
More succinctly, Chuck, tolerance does not mean putting up with your bovine manure.
Germans do not tolerate the swastika. Their constitution outlaws the symbol of the hatred and inhumanity that led their nation to ruin and shame.
Americans and certainly the American government need not tolerate the symbol of the Southern states’ secession and treason. Quite the contrary: the state may have an obligation to eradicate the traitor flag from its official documents, products, and statehouse grounds.
Of course, the Supreme Court ruling only says may, not must. Thus, incredibly by morals if not by law, the traitor flag still flies at full mast on the grounds of the South Carolina statehouse, even as the Stars and Stripes and the South Carolina state flag fly at half mast in honor of nine black Americans killed in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopalian Church in Charleston by a racist gunman who proudly displayed the Stars and Bars on his license plate as a symbol of his deathly hatred.
But that’s just one racist ruining everyone else’s fun, says Cooter:
“Now to hear that this son of a [expletive] had a Confederate plate,” said former U.S. Rep. Ben Jones of Georgia, famous for his role as Cooter in the television show The Dukes of Hazzard. “That said it all for me. Those people are the ones who are defining this issue and not the millions and millions of good people who see it as a symbol honoring their ancestors. It’s a crying shame.”
He blamed racists for tarnishing a flag that he said should honor all descendants, white and black, of soldiers who fought for the South as did two of his great-grandfathers.
More than anything, it’s that history of hate that led to Thursday’s dispiriting decision, he said.
“There’s nothing we can do about it. You can’t appeal the Supreme Court,” he said. “But it won’t make me feel any differently. Except to make me more angry at the bigots and racists who desecrate the Confederate symbols” [Michael A. Lindenberger, “U.S. Supreme Court: Confederate Flag License Plates Are Government Speech, Not Free Speech,” Governing, 2015.06.19].
Justice Clarence Thomas joined the four liberal members of the Court in ruining Cooter’s day and upholding the state’s right to control the messages placed on license plates. Thomas left the writing to Justice Stephen Breyer, who explains that we cannot compel the government to make speech that undermines its own mission:
Were the Free Speech Clause interpreted otherwise, government would not work. How could a city government create a successful recycling program if officials, when writing householders asking them to recycle cans and bottles, had to include in the letter a long plea from the local trash disposal enterprise demanding the contrary? How could a state government effectively develop pro- grams designed to encourage and provide vaccinations, if officials also had to voice the perspective of those who oppose this type of immunization? “[I]t is not easy to imagine how government could function if it lacked th[e] freedom” to select the messages it wishes to convey. Summum, supra, at 468 [Justice Stephen Breyer, U.S. Supreme Court, Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Inc., 2015.06.18].
By extension, the state certainly does not have to fly the flag of traitors who rejected the very Constitution that sustains the nation and the states that comprise it.
We may have to tolerate yahoos flapping a racist, traitorous flag over their heads, but the state does not have to fly it for them.