I recently commented on an older posting regarding the confederate flag. This has made me think of another symbol that I have been frustrated by: the “Respect Life” license plate offered by the state of Colorado. This specialty plate was created after the Columbine incident, purportedly as a way of commemorating the event and raising funds for the survivors.
However this plate has clearly come to stand for something else entirely. Despite becoming one of the most popular specialty plates in the state, selling nearly 90,000 plates over the past 8 years and raising more than $2 million in state fees, the plates have resulted in less than $12,000 in contributions to the Columbine fund. Other specialty plates require the driver to make a donation to the benefiting charity, while the “Columbine” plate only suggests a donation.
I am just amazed at the fact that this plate was able to sneak in under the guise of standing for the Columbine tragedy while the design makes nearly no reference to the event itself. The design of the plate came from one of the parents of a student who was shot, and chose the phrase “Respect Life” as a summation of all that had gone wrong. They gave cryptic answers when asked about the plate’s relationship to the abortion debate: (emphasis added)
“Our nation has always had guns, our nation has always had children, our nation has always had adults,” began the statement. “I believe what our nation has not always had is parents murdering their children, and children murdering other children and their parents.
“An ingredient that has made America different in the past couple of generations is changes towards the understanding of what is right and wrong, what is good and evil,” continued the statement.
“I believe that they will not find the source of our nation’s character flaws in their children, only a reflection of themselves. As kids we hear what you say, but we see what you do. It is my hope that these Columbine Respect Life license plates will in some way help the adult society to find the true sources of this evil and to find solutions to the serious problems within America,” he concluded.
There is not a single person who could look at this plate and claim that it stood for anything other than a pro-life agenda. This phrase is also available on plates in Missouri, but there the donation goes to a pro-life organization. Several other state have similar plates that use the phrase “Choose Life” instead.
It depresses but does not surprise me that we allowed this thinly-veiled propaganda into our state. It makes me even more sad to think that parents would exploit the violence against their children as an opportunity to push a separate political agenda. If you want a pro-life plate, at least be honest about what you are doing.