In these trying times, it’s good to know nobody can stop you from wearing a pasta strainer on your head in a driver’s license photo.
You may or may not be aware of the pointedly absurd bit of satire/irony known as the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster; their belief system hinges on the existence of a creature made of cooked pasta (though their website makes it clear that literal belief is not required for inclusion in the church). It’s an actual secular religion, practiced by people who enjoy pricking the more pompous edges of religious institutions while asserting their right to believe in whatever higher power they choose.
The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, apparently, are not believers. And so when Bostonian and fervent FSM churchgoer Lindsay Miller showed up at the RMV to have her photo taken with the colander crown—an acknowledgment of her “Pastafarian” identity—they had the nerve to ask her to remove it. Head coverings are not permitted, they said, except for “medical or religious reasons.”
“They were kind of laughing at me,” Miller said. “I thought of other religions and women and thought that this was not fair. I thought, ‘Just because you haven’t heard of this belief system, [the RMV] should not be denying me a license.’ ”
Pasta-based religions may be amusing, but the First Amendment is no joke. So Miller pushed back, and took the Registry to court. Lawyers suddenly sprang forth to assist, including Patty DeJuneas, a member of the Secular Legal Society. An administrative appeal was issued.
It didn’t take long for the MRMV to see this was probably not the best use of their time. And so, the bureaucracy relented, the registry allowed it, and now every time Miller buys a bottle of wine (presumably, not to have with a plate of spaghetti?), the person checking IDs will see this:
As groundbreaking as this event seems in the battle for Pastafarian rights, it’s actually not the first time a heartless transportation agency has attempted to deny someone the right to be pictured with their sacred headgear; in 2011, the BBC reported on Niko Alm, an Austrian citizen/Pastafarian who fought for three years to get approval for his driving license photo. He was even asked to get a doctor to certify that he was “psychologically fit” to drive.
Similar battles have been fought in Missouri and Utah, while last year, a town council member in Pomfret, NJ was sworn into office wearing a colander.
For her part, Miller seems happy to leave the fray and get on with her life. “I haven’t had an ID for quite a few months, and that’s kind of been a problem on certain things,” said Miller, “so I’m glad I don’t have to wait any longer.”
Image courtesy of venganza.org
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