With the attack of the killer (but can-able) tomatoes in our vegetable garden, it had been a couple of days since we last checked the Minnesota 7th Congressional District Republican Party's Facebook page for the delightful brew of urban legend and misinformation posted there.
We were not disappointed, for a wealth of Internet comedy had accrued there; two posts rise to the top of the bath water. We'll look at the second gem in another entry, as that nugget relates more to a seasoned flack funded by energy interests flooding a policy discussion with misinformation, material the admin dubs "some easy information."
Oh noes! Sharia Women Drivers
The post is the page administrator's outrage over a Joe For America (that's 2008's Joe the Plumber for those readers who aren't tourists in the right side of Snake Oil America) post State of Illinois Caves to Islamic Religious Practices.
We've placed a screenshot at the top of this section to given readers the full flavor. The MN07 GOP Facebook page admin posted this headnote above the article:
Not sure 'surrender" is the right word here. Someone Explain the use of taking an ID Picture if the State is going to allow Pictures of full cover - for Islamic Reasons? And they will try Minnesota next.
Unpacking this one will take two steps. First, as the Snopes Urban Legend Reference page notes in Hat Chancy, this take on Illinois' policy is mostly false:
WHAT’S TRUE: Illinois issued a flyer to DMV employees reiterating religious exemptions to driver’s license photo requirements after a Sikh advocacy group lodged complaints about DMV compliance.
WHAT’S FALSE: Existing state guidelines for photo ID changed under pressure from Muslim extremists and now allow Muslims to pose for ID pictures with their faces obscured.
Readers can check out the explanation, which includes the fact that while religious exemptions of head covering is allowed, the driver's face must be uncovered. Henry Haupt (Deputy Press Secretary for Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White) emphasized nothing had changed:
The next step? Looking at Minnesota's law. we found this help page of examples of acceptable photos online at the Minnesota Department of Public Safety website:
Illinois law allows a person to wear a religious head covering when photographed for their driver’s license or identification card, provided it does not cover the person’s face. This is because the photograph plays an integral part of identifying the holder of the driver’s license and identification card.
To clarify further with an example, a head scarf covering the hair of a customer would be allowed, but an article of clothing covering the entire face, except the eyes, would not be allowed.
In addition…. we did not change any procedures; this has simply been a public awareness effort to ensure that customers and employees are aware of the long-standing procedures that govern photos for driver’s licenses and identification cards in Illinois.
We also recalled that changing Minnesota's law to make everybody become bare-headed in their driver's licenses had come up sometime in recent memory, and Mr. Google quickly took us to Sharon Schmickle's March 2009 MinnPost article, Bill in Legislature prompts dispute over Muslim women's headscarves:
Muslim women dressed in flowing headscarves have become a familiar image in Minnesota's human landscape even while debate flared elsewhere over head garb worn for the sake of Islam.
Now a bill before the Minnesota Legislature shows that this state isn't immune to the global controversy.
The bill makes no mention of any religion. Instead, it would require that the full head and face be shown on driver's license photos and state ID cards except for headwear needed in connection with medical treatments or deformities.It's a simple matter of public safety, the bill's chief author Rep. Steve Gottwalt, R-St. Cloud, told the St. Cloud Times. Law enforcement officials need unobstructed images in order to identify people, and it isn't safe or fair to allow some people to partially cover their heads.
Read the rest at MinnPost. According to the revisor's page for the bill, the language was never heard in committee in either chamber. The MN07 GOP is simply and plainly ignorant of Minnesota law and recent legislative history--but that won't stop it from fear-mongering on Facebook.
For ourselves, Bluestem is grateful that DPS drew the line at allowing hipsters to wear stingy-brimmed fedoras, as there ought to be some boundaries. Seriously.
Screengrab: Another cray urban legend posted as fact by our brethren and cistern at the MN07 GOP Party Facebook page. It doesn't provoke outrage but hilarity.
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