Saturday, January 21, 2006

Free Speech?

Pasted below is the actual transcript regarding my visit to the DMV yesterday. My question is: does their displaying messages of their choice fall under "free speech," or discrimination? Even if they aren't directly a government entity, they represent such. Although some might think I'm overreacting by reading my description, you need only experience the wall of stupid license plates in their office to see that I really toned it down in this letter. Here you go folks:

Sent By: EleniDate/Time: 1/19/2006 7:20:10 PM

Hello there,
I went to register my vehicle today at your Club Boulevard location in Durham. I must note that your staff are very friendly. However, as I waited in line, I grew increasingly disturbed at the messages the vanity plates promoted. I have found Durham to be a wonderfully diverse city, full of contrasting viewpoints, various religious and non-religious persuasions, richly varied lifestyles, and kind people. Unlike this description, the license plates for sale said otherwise and were quite offensive. They preached the following (if you think I'm exaggerating go check it out):
* Misogyny / Objectification of women (references to driving only with blondes, brunettes, or red heds, a playboy bunny, etc)
* Intolerance (a plate about how marriage is between a man and a woman - I would feel pretty uncomfortable as a homosexual having that plate stare at me from behind the counter while I conduct my supposedly neutral registration business)
*Killing (many pro-hunting plates, even one that says to kill more possums - just the type of message we all need - killing?!)
* One religion: Christianity (Jesus is the "only" answer, God this and that, etc.)
Please consider either diversifying your plate selection (I saw nothing from the list you provide here on your website) or not promoting hatred. I don't know to whom I'm writing, so I can either assume you think I'm taking this too seriously or that diversity doesn't matter. But I hope you can understand you cater to a wide audience, and I don't want my money going toward causes that are inconsistent with compassion and acceptance of others. Thank you for your time. Feel free to contact me if I can do something to assist in this matter. I intend to pursue this through our news media if this issue cannot be resolved otherwise.

Their response:

I have discussed this matter with the Administrator here at DMV that handles branch office matters. The branch agencies are contracted by DMV to handle tag and title transactions. They are not state offices and are not run by state employees. These agencies are privately owned and run. They basically can sell anything in those offices because they are a private business. Example, there are branch agencies that sell make up, furniture, etc. There are other agencies that sell these same type license plates. These privately run agencies are trying to make money any way that they can just like any other privately run operation. DMV has no control over what they are selling in these offices. These plates that they are selling are not endorsed or promoted by the Division of Motor Vehicles in any way. We apologize for any uncomfortable situations that this may cause. Please let me know if I can further assist you in any way.

Customer Contact Center

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Fairness: Are you Just? (yes, cap J)

Off and on I've been listening to the Judge Alito hearings while working on the house (see scraping to the left). Part theater, part predictable, vague responses. As I went off to my interview today, I imagined what it would be like to go through the senate confirmation hearing process. How difficult would it be to handle such a line of questioning, where your past record is brought up for you to defend repeatedly? I pictured myself throwing something at Senator Arlen Specter and storming out. This is why I'm not in the judicial profession.

In many situations I am able to see the complexities of a subject before striking my internal gavel and making a judgment. For instance, when people argue, "S/he should work and not collect government money!" I know it is not that simple:
not every human being comes from the same position of privilege. Therefore each instance of implied advantage-taking can be considered unique. Extended internal debate does not ensue, however, surrounding certain topics in which I hold strong opinions (the rights of animals not to suffer, the right to choose, etc.) Yet one thing guides me: a powerful aversion to suffering of any kind.

Which brings me to my question. How fair are you? (Examples, please.) Do you have a guiding, unshakable principal that is the ruler by which you view the world? Would you be able to endure strong judgment of your life choices?

Speaking of,
pictured below are the infamous and controversial vegan blueberry scones referenced by the Sloping Band House. This was my first attempt at these creatures. Contrary to SBH's opinion, they were pretty good and fluffy.

Sometimes I even take time off from scraping and cooking to play guitar. We're hoping to record our next album in March. Please note that I look angry because I was trying to remember a song I wrote the other day and had difficulty. It is a Greek-infused number that Rob plays an accompanying guitar to.

Tonight we're going to see live music at our local favorite Joe and Jo's, and now I'm off to the "vegan meetup" at a Mexican restaurant. I look forward to judging your responses.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Addicted to Online

As of right now my time is just about up. I am only supposed to be online each day for no more than one hour. Certainly I will not explode if I exceed my limit? No, dear friends. It is worse than that. I made a pact with my best bud. Each of us agreed that:
  1. We have a problem; and,
  2. In order to avoid an all out addiction and inevitable recovery program, we will limit our daily exposure to one hour on this worldwide net of ours.
With the vast amount people and places to frequently check in with (how is so and so doing? Let's check his/her "Myspace" account...oh, and comment of course...) and potential deals awaiting us (Craigslist: *free* items) there are endless opportunities to stay online. I must admit that it can be a bit voyeristic, particularly with Myspace. The aforementioned site takes everything bad about highschool and puts it to work quite brilliantly. Each of the pitfalls of enduring those years is brought back:
  • Popularity - How many friends do you have?
  • Well-liked - Are you in his/her top 8? How many comments do you get each day?
  • Brushes with Fame - Oh, yeah...John Lennon just accepted my friend request (And he commented on my site!)
  • Beauty - Please notice this picture of me. I'm almost naked. Here I am smiling with my friends. They love me, quite obviously, no?
  • Cliques - Look at all the Groups I belong too. And they have cool names that make fun of everything.
And the list goes on. Is the solution to denounce the site and not participate? In that case would I be missing something (the eventual diploma I suppose) and denying the natural evolution of technology? What is the middle ground in this way of relating?

Please forgive me for such a short entry into our new year, however, my time is up. I would like to hear from you. Similar conflicts?

For now, here is a piroshki/pot pie with bell cutouts and the actual bell piroshki itself: