My Old Kentucky Homesite

In Gobbledygook We Trust

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 02/02/2010

So I opened my local rag this morning, and found a short paragraph on this minor story: “In God We Trust plate advances.” It turns out that the license slogan was approved in the Kentucky House of Representatives by a vote of 93-1. (The lone dissenter was a brave Louisville Democrat named Mary Lou Marzian.)

Obviously, if the license were produced on the recommendation of legislators, acting in their legislative capacity, it would violate both the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and Section 5 of the Kentucky Constitution. And I’m told by some new atheist friends that this is not the House’s first attempt to advocate moving violations of the Establishment Clause.

However, in this post I’m not going to discuss the legal issues. I’ll leave that conversation to folks who have been formally educated in the subtleties and nuances of Constitutional Law. (I’m referring, of course, to TV pundits.)

Instead, because I’m new here and haven’t yet fathomed the Kentucky mentality, I’m going to pose a few simple questions to those who support the official enshrinement of the above-mentioned motto. I’d appreciate some answers, since I find it hard to understand exactly what the license plate is intended to mean.

1. If you actually do trust in a god, why do you need to emblazon that fact on your license plate? I trust my wife, but I don’t feel compelled to cart that message all over town. Does your god require you to make public affirmations of your trust in him/her/it? Shouldn’t your license say:
In God We Trust (Did You Read That, Lord?)

And then how does your god decide whether your trust is sincere or just something you tow around as a way to amass eternal brownie points? Shouldn’t your license say:
We Swear to God in God We Trust
Or perhaps:
In God We Trust (The People in this Vehicle Really Mean It!)

2. Is there a difference between trusting “in” your god and just plain trusting your god. If not, why don’t you suggest the more straightforward:
We Trust God
If there is a difference, how about:
In God We Trust, although we Don’t Necessarily Actually Trust Him/Her/It

3. If someone were to add a picture of, say, Thor or Bacchus, would that be OK? If so, the plate ought to make that clear:
In All Gods We Trust
On the other hand, if there is some specific god or gods you folks have in mind, the license should broadcast:
In Our Own Specific God (or Gods) We Trust

4. What, exactly, do you mean by “trust.” Do you mean that you’ll never have any accidents, or flat tires, or dings because your god is going to prevent them from happening? If so, shouldn’t you just come out and say it:
In God We Trust to Keep This Automobile Out of Accidents, and Supported by Good Tires, and Free of Dings
Or does your “trust” mean something else? For example, might the license read:
In God We Trust to Make Sure Our Kids Aren’t Grotesquely Ugly
Or how about:
In God We Trust to Cure Grandma’s Hemorrhoids

5. Who is this “we” that’s doing the trusting? Surely it’s not every single person in Kentucky. So can I opt out? Can I insist that the words on the license plate reflect my position:
In God We – Except Larry Wallberg – Trust
If the “we” is not all the people of Kentucky, why wouldn’t you change the words to state the truth:
In God We (Who Trust in God) Trust

Thanks (in advance) for your responses.


18 Responses to “In Gobbledygook We Trust”

  1. I think what they mean is:

    In My/My Preacher’s Particular Version of the Idea of God I/We Trust

    It shouldn’t amaze me, but it does, that there are almost as many versions of god(s) as there are believers in god(s). Almost like god(s) was created in man’s image, neh?

  2. (((Billy))):

    I would have thought that your version would go something like:
    In God We (or (in the case of Myself (Alone)), I (and Not Necessarily You (the remainder of the “We”))) Trust

  3. Are you trying to make a point about my (admittedly odd (though grammatically correct)) writing style?

    How about:

    In (My/My Preacher’s Version of) God (the idea therof) We (But Only Those Who Believe Exactly the Same Thing About the Same Things) Trust.

    More what you (sarcastically) expected?

  4. srsny said

    There are better ways to have a supernatural being protect you on the road than just a slogan on a plate. All through your post, Larry, I remembered you playing this on the guitar when we were teenagers. However your lyrics were different than this version: On the Dashboard (Instead of the Bumper).

  5. the chaplain said

    Damn, the dashboard dude made me dizzy!

    As annoying as these yokels are to the rest of us, I suspect that their primary reason for wearing their faith on their sleeves, cars, rifle-scopes, etc., is to convince themselves that their beliefs are credible.

  6. Billy:
    Oh, (definitely) yes (!(?)).

    I’d completely forgotten that I used to sing “Plastic Jesus” when we were kids. Of course, it was so long ago, that Jesus himself (or the folks who made him up) might have been listening nearby.

    I think you’re right. But then, the phenomenon you describe just goes to show that they don’t really trust in their god, do they?

  7. yunshui said

    I note that, with a quick shuffling of letters, “In God We Trust” quickly becomes, “Wigeon Turds”. Perhaps some secret Kabbalistic reference to the importance of guano in a Christian’s life?

  8. yunshui said

    Ah crap, no it doesn’t. I missed a “T”. How about “Wendigo Strut”, referencing the faithful’s need to adopt the arrogant swagger of a man-eating Canadian monstrosity?

    Actually, isn’t there a car called a Wendigo?

  9. yunshui said

    Oh no, I’m thinking of a Winnebago. I’ll shut up now. As you were, folks.

  10. Yunshui:
    If the license plates are produced, not only will we atheists find the rudest towing that thing on the backs of their cars, but there will be many dittoes wrung all over Kentucky. My fellow freethinkers and I will have to undergo twits wherever we turn.

  11. the chaplain said

    My fellow freethinkers and I will have to undergo twits wherever we turn.

    What makes matters worse is that, according to you (and who would know better), you and your fellow freethinkers will never, ever be able to turn left; we’ll have to keep turning farther and farther to the right. But, we can still outsmart them – we just have to stop turning once we’ve gone 270 degrees.

  12. Chappy:
    Your suggestion works perfectly, unless you’re driving a red car.

    But, as you’ve proven, left and right are relative. The Kentucky House of Representatives is made up of 64 Democrats and only 35 Republicans. However, in the God-Rammer license plate vote, only one of them dared to turn in another direction. (Five drivers must have gotten lost, since their votes don’t show up among the pious yeas yays.)

  13. ildi said

    Yunshui: I went to my handy-dandy anagram builder, and found

    Urged Twits On
    Weird Got Nuts
    Stud Towering….

    oh, oh, oh, this is the one!

    Rusted Towing

  14. Ildi:
    Rusted Towing

    I’m assuming that the first word applies not to the theocrats’ vehicles, but to their brains.

  15. srsny said

    It strikes me – how strange is the political color wheel. There was a time that being branded a “red” meant the absolute opposite of what it means now. Shocking! All those upper west side red-diaper babies grown up must be really confused. The reason for it, of course, once again, is: blame the media. I can safely say that, after having spent 35 years on the local side of that particular salt-mine. (Glad to say it’s all in the past now.) The Network graphic arts departments made the color choices for the election day maps, frames and backgrounds – and that was that. Interestingly – you may or may not recall – for many years, NBC was bucking the trend by using the opposite colors – red for Dems, Blue for GOP. They were forced to switch because of the popular acceptance of the metaphorical use of the current color arrangement. I can’t remember what year that was, or which election that was, but I’m sure Larry can find it on wikipedia.

  16. Srsny:
    Seek (on Google) and ye shall find (on Wikipedia).

    Since I’m an independent, I’ve never thought of myself as either blue or red. Nor am I purple, because I wouldn’t classify myself as a mix of both Gee O’Pee-ers and Dem Other Party. I’m not green, because I’m not a rabid tree-hugger. Black, brown, and yellow have been co-opted by ethnic minorities. White doesn’t really work for me because it usually connotes Christian too. And I’m far too cantankerous to be referred to as “a rainbow.”

    Maybe that traditional song is political, even though we’ve never thought of it as such:
    “When You Are Old and Grey.” That’s me.

  17. Catherwood said

    Suffering as I am from a severe case of bronchitis, it was all I could do to catch a breath in between bouts of laughter. The consequences of these acts by our Bible thumping legislators aren’t remotely funny of course. They seek to reinforce the divisions that have made for strained relations between adults and caused untold suffering for our children. I’ll never forget little Barbara Raderman, whose brunette curls and brown eyes had me panting and passing notes in our 4th grade class. She was Jewish, the only non Christian in our room. I got into 2 fights trying to defend her honor when her refusal to recite the Lord’s Prayer earned her the condemnation of several of our class’s self appointed guardians of the faith: Joey Garcia and Bobby Zalewski, two kids I was in Cub Scouts with. Sadly, even rushing to her defense wasn’t enough to sustain a relationship. She couldn’t see me for anything other than the noisy big guy who bothered her with notes. But she shouldn’t have been placed in a position of being attacked for following the tenets of her faith. Back in 1955 we said the Pledge of Allegiance and the Lord’s Prayer at the start of every school day. If these yokels have their way, those days and worse will return. And they’ll be lead by clean living white guys like Tim Tebow and politicians like Sam Brownback.

  18. Catherwood:
    If you think you’re having trouble breathing now, wait till you come to Kentucky and smell the stupid in the air. Did you read what the vote was? 93 to 1. Ninety-three. To one! Nearly every single representative in Kentucky’s lower house — regardless of party affiliation — is eager to spit on both the federal and state Constitutions.

    I’ve been here for only four months now, but I can already see that democracy is not a workable system in a god-crazed society. Kentucky provides an example of everything the Founding Fathers feared about the mob mentality.

    On another topic: Maybe at the next meeting of the International Jewish Cabal, I can put in a good word for you with Barbara Raderman.

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