Please open the link to USA Today and vote in favor of Chief of Heritage Operations Ben Jones' opinion piece.
My license plates, my free speech: Another view
As long as Texas is in the business of specialty plates, it is also in the business of state-supported 'bumper stickers.'
A case before the Supreme Court has again brought the issue of the Confederate battle flag onto the public radar screen. At issue is whether a state-issued specialty license plate is an expression by the state government or by the individual who purchases it, and therefore protected by the First Amendment.
Many legal experts believe the court will uphold the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in favor of the Texas Sons of Confederate Veterans to allow a specialty license plate that honors the heritage of those tens of millions of Americans whose ancestors fought for the Southern cause 150 years ago.
As long as the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles is in the business of specialty license plates for non-profit organizations, it is also in the business of state-supported "bumper stickers." Discriminating against an honored heritage group such as the Sons of Confederate Veterans is an obvious infringement on the right of free speech, the most basic of the guarantees that anchor our great Bill of Rights.
Human slavery existed in America from 1619 until 1776 under the British flag. It existed from 1776 until 1865 under the American flag. The highest good that came from America's Civil War was that slavery was abolished forever.
Recent scholarship such as Complicity: How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery, by writers from the Hartford Courant, document how slavery was a national sin, not a Southern sin.
American history is filled with complexities, canards, myths and ironies. Our national capital is named after one of the biggest slave owners in Virginia. Our Declaration of Independence was written by another. And the man behind our Bill of Rights also bought and sold human beings. Yet they are revered in our nation.
It is long past time to stop these divisive attacks on Confederate heritage and to "sit down together at the table of brotherhood." That was Dr. Martin Luther King's dream, and it is my dream also.
Ben Jones is a former two-term Democratic congressman from Georgia. He is perhaps best known for his portrayal of Cooter on The Dukes of Hazzard. He serves as the volunteer national spokesman for The Sons of Confederate Veterans.
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