May 29, 2003

By Michael Strickland

Stupidity, Unveiled

Florida resident Sultaana Freeman got her day in court yesterday. In case you haven't heard, Freeman is the Muslim woman suing the State of Florida because the state's highway department suspended her driver's license when she refused to remove her veil for her driver's license photo. Her argument claims that the state interfered with her religious practices by requiring her to lift her veil for the photo.

Time after time, I find myself amazed that certain lawsuits ever make it to the courtroom without being dismissed. This is one of them. If the State of Florida had required Freeman to show her face in order to apply for food stamps or board a plane—thus infringing on one of her basic rights—I could understand the rationale for a lawsuit (though the latter situation would be a problematic issue, certainly). But there is no constitutional right to obtain a driver's license. Driving a vehicle is a privilege, not a right—a privilege that can be taken away for a variety of reasons.

I'm sure the assistant attorney general defending the state will put forth a variety of defenses, not the least of which would be if Freeman wins the right to wear her veil for her driver's license photo, any garden-variety terrorist can get a virtually anonymous I.D. But I just don't see how this lawsuit found the legs to stand in the first place. Freeman's rights weren't violated, because she doesn't have the right to obtain a driver's license. Whether the wearing of a veil is a strict tenet of Islam or a matter of interpretation of Islamic law by religious scholars with differing opinions is irrelevant. Whether security concerns in a post-9/11 world should require all drivers to have licenses with photos is irrelevant. No rights were violated, hence there should be no lawsuit.

The only clear issue illustrated by this case is every American's right to file a frivolous lawsuit. In this Age of Entitlement, when most people feel they have the right to do whatever the hell they want and God help the person or entity that tries to stop them, the lawsuit is the primary instrument used to gain justification for one's actions (right or wrong). More often than not, however, such lawsuits don't reveal the truth, but instead unveil the stupidity of the person who filed them in the first place.


©2003 Michael Strickland ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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5/26: Back at the Rancho
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