The Old Hat Trick | Letters | Chicago Reader

The Old Hat Trick 

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Dear Reader editor:

The inconvenience Wendy Maislen Frank suffered when she tried to obtain a driver's license wearing a hat because of her religion beliefs ("Hat and Soul," December 10, 1999) is a small price to pay to protect the freedoms we enjoy. I am sure that this inconvenience could have been avoided if the drivers' services facility employees had studied religion as part of their public school education, or if the license bureau had a religion indoctrination program for its employees. Either of these alternatives, however, would have stood in clear violation of our precious right to separation of church and state.

The drivers' services facility employees are to be applauded for their courteous handling of the situation--Ms. Frank got a temporary driver's license which is more than she deserved under the circumstances. Everyone experiences the delays that Ms. Frank describes and hopefully Mr. White's administration will take heed and do something about it. No one, however, warrants preferential treatment because of their religion. This is an important element of the separation of church and state and Ms. Frank should have to abide by it like everyone else. She could have easily avoided the situation, but chose not to. Even six-year-olds have heard the slogan "phone first." She knew full well that it was unlikely that the staff in Libertyville would be well versed in the tenants of the Jewish Orthodox religion. Since she was from another state it was obviously both imperative and logical to telephone and determine Illinois' requirements. Failing to do the most logical thing, she could have done the next most logical thing and that is to bring documentation to explain her special requirements. She didn't do any of the most logical things. Instead she chose to wear the most ridiculous hat possible knowing full well that she could not expect the drivers' services facility staff to believe it was a religious adornment. How stupid does she think they are? How shameless too, to drag her one-month-old child into it as a sympathy gambit.

Actually the whole thing sounds like a staged event deliberately designed to weaken our freedoms. My guess is that, given the recent revelations of fraudulent license pedaling by Secretary of State's Office employees, she knew that she could expect the drivers' services facility staff to be especially vigilant for people who would attempt to break the rules. At the same time she could expect a media sympathetic to any claims of drivers' services facility staff maleficence. I'm surprised that she didn't call the media beforehand. Of course to have done so would have tipped her hand to the true purpose of her mission. Unfortunately she thought that she could slip her true purpose by the Reader's editors and regretfully she was right.

It would be unwise to indoctrinate the drivers' services facility staff in a particular religion, even one with such a rich and beautiful history as Orthodox Judaism. It would violate the separation of church and state to begin such a practice. It takes perpetual vigilance to detect and expose those who would weaken our freedoms and trample our rights. It is easy to see how Ms. Frank's cause celeb could be the camel's nose under the tent and we must not let that happen. Each citizen has rights that must be protected and respected, but each citizen also has responsibilities. No one violated Ms. Frank's rights, but she would like to require an indoctrination that would violate the rights of our public servants. Shame on her for even thinking such a thing and shame on her for trying to trick the rest of us into supporting her. It would be nice if we could pass this off as a stupid act of irresponsibility on her part. Unfortunately it has all the earmarks of a charade deliberately designed and perpetrated to tear apart our constitutional freedoms and I for one would appreciate the Reader exposing it for what it really is.

Thank you for the outstanding articles you continually present to your readers. It makes us think even if we don't always agree with the motives of the persons you write about.

Ray Mostek

Lombard

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