Thursday, February 21, 2013

An Open Letter To The Guy Who Tried To Get His Driver's License Photo Taken With A Pasta Strainer On His Head

Dear Guy Who Tried To Get His Driver's License Photo Taken With A Pasta Strainer On His Head,'re kinda being a douche right now. Seriously. Knock it off, okay?

I know, you think you're making an Important Serious Point about religion, and you're pretending it has something to do with your religious freedom, but everyone knows that you're not really religious. That's the whole point of Pastafarianism. It's a satirical religion.

When it was created, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster was brilliant an on-point satire. It was created in response to the Kansas schoolboard declaring that their public, taxpayer-funded schools should teach creationism as well as evolution. The point of the satire is to draw attention to the fact that teaching creationism in schools is a violation of the 1st amendment because for a government entity to teach creationism is for them to be respecting a particular establishment of religion over other religious beliefs - a serious constitutional no-no.

It is a violation of my 1st amendment rights to have my government teaching a religious agenda. I don't have kids, but I also don't want to live in a world where children have been indoctrinated into a particular religious belief, because that will create an oppressive environment for me and other non-creationists down the road.

But you know something, pasta-strainer dude? You're not wearing that damn pasta strainer on your head because it really has any meaning for you, you're wearing it because you know full well that they won't let you take your picture with it. And you know that the REASON they won't let you take your picture with it is because they're a government agency with a serious job to do and that doesn't include letting people dick around with their photos. You're hoping that you can use this circumstance to kick up some fuss about the fact that some religious people are being allowed to have photos taken while wearing the religious headgear that they habitually wear. You're hoping to be able to make them stop wearing their headgear for photos.

Here's the thing, though, and this is very important: your rights are not being violated by other people wearing hats.

It's very clear that what you're trying to do, here, is put restrictions on how other people display their religiosity in public. People who do that sort of crap aren't likely to stop with ID photos. Once you've stuck your nose into one thing that you have no business sticking your nose into, you or someone like you will want to take it to the next level, then the next, then the next. Just like any Evangelical Christian, you want beliefs you don't agree with to go away, even if the people practicing those beliefs aren't infringing on the rights of others in any way.

Even if we ignore the fact that it makes perfect sense to take an ID photo of someone wearing their headgear when they already wear it every day (just as it makes sense to take a photo of a nearsighted person in their glasses), letting someone wear a yarlmuke or a wimple or a headscarf in a photo meant for identification of their *face* is a pretty damn small indulgence. These items are also widely-recognized enough that the poor, overworked administrators in the DMV/DVS will know that the people wearing them are legitimately taking an accurate ID photo and not trying to use the government office as their own personal stage for a performance piece mocking other people's cultural and religious heritage.


*sigh* Okay, look: even the guys who write South Park understand this point: tolerance is exactly that. Tolerating things you don't agree with when they're not hurting anyone. Not celebrating them, not liking them, but recognizing that if you want to live in a truly free society that requires putting up with the fact that some people will use their freedom in ways you don't like.  We are not, nor should we be, a direct democracy that argues and fights until most of us can agree on the One True Way For Everybody. We are ( or are trying to be) a society built on the idea of freedom, and that means the only things we should be arguing about are the best ways to make everyone equally free.

You, my friend, are doin' it wrong. Knock it off.


  1. Last time I had my pic taken for my driver's license I was wearing my Morocan fez. They didn't ask me to remove it. I was cool with that.

  2. It's entirely possible that the only thing they care about is whether part of your face is covered.