License to shill 


Bumper stickers that make you laugh out loud in the street like the village idiot are rare, but I saw one awhile back. It read, "I do whatever my Rice Krispies tell me to." Makes you wonder if it's true of some people. In fact, I can picture a few in the Florida Legislature who, before voting on bills, have their ear pressed to the bowl, brows furrowed, furiously deciphering which way Snap, Crackle and Pop want them to go. It's the only explanation I can come up with for some of their decisions.

There are other modes of expression you see along on the road that, far from inspiring the much-needed giggle, are just depressing, or make you wish you drove a tank so you could knock the bumper clean off the vehicle in front of you. And because we need more divisiveness on the highway, the Florida Legislature heard Snap, Crackle and Pop and decided to expand an already excessive list of 41 designer license plates by adding one that says "Choose Life." It will also picture a bunch of happy, fictional children.

"Choose Life" is OK on a bumper sticker, OK on a T-shirt, OK if you want to put it on a big bass drum and bang it up and down the street. It is absolutely, 100 percent not OK on a state-sponsored message board like license plates.

Choice words

"Choose Life" is an obvious chant of the anti-abortion movement. Choosing life is something Dr. David Gunn might like to have done, also something Dr. John Bayard Britton and his bodyguard might like to have done, had they not been murdered outside their clinics by people who, if they had been available at the time, might have driven away from their crime scenes in cars with license plates that said, "Choose Life."

Backers of these plates say they are not advocating anti-choice; they are advocating the option to adopt. This doesn't explain why the legislative motion to have the plates read "Adopt a Child" was shot down. (Those Choose Lifers are really some marksmen, aren't they?) "Adopt a Child" would have been fine with me. I often wish I myself had been snapped up in infancy by some family with chauffeurs and Bentleys and summer homes in the Cote d'Azur instead of being stuck at home, but you know, sometimes you just have to accept what fate hands you.

But you don't have to accept the line of pig swill being offered by those who say that "Choose Life" is not a political statement. You are smarter than that. It's a message from a faction that ... well, it isn't even that they hate women. They won't even give women that much dignity. They just dismiss women and our right to choose altogether. To them, we are like cows in a barn, lorded over by farmers who decide when we're gonna breed, like it or not.

It's not much of a leap in il-logic to decide that if there is potential for life at conception, there is potential for life before conception, and if a woman has her period instead of fertilizing her egg, she's a common murderer. And if you think forced pregnancy is a paranoid myth, look at the reigns of Pol Pot and Nicolai Ceausescu. It has happened. It can happen. It can happen to you.

It was an Ocala-based group called Choose Life Inc. that collected 10,000 signatures and spent $30,000 to bring the measure to the Legislature. Thirty thousand dollars could buy a lot of diapers and formula and health care for infants that already are here and desperately need that kind of thing. But they're right -- much better to spend it on a metal pep rally. That's much more humane, really. I shudder to think how many could have gotten real care with that cash.

Plate expectations

The "Choose Life" plates will have an annual fee of $20, money that will go to nonprofit groups that counsel and pay living expenses for women who give up their children for adoption. The Florida House (which clearly needs a good cleaning) defeated an amendment that would have filtered some of that money into pregnancy prevention. Our legislators would rather just let the place flood until it rots instead of patching the roof. I guess if God wanted us to think ahead he would have given us brains, which, in some cases, apparently didn't happen.

At $20, it's easy to "Choose Life." At $20, "Life" is cheap. How about if everyone who is willing to shell out $20 for "Choose Life" lip-service is then required to put their $20 where their mouth is and actually adopt a child? Something tells me they wouldn't sell so well if they required action instead of mere words.

In fact, I'll go you one better. I'll see your $20 "Choose Life" plate and I'll raise you $40 for one that says "For god's sake, just wear a condom." How about $80 for a plate that says "Not everyone who lives in Florida is a backwoods ignoramous"?

Tell you what. I'll pay a full $100 for a license plate that says, "Choose to mind your own damn business."


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