Pastafarian Wins Battle To Wear Pasta Strainer In License Photo

from the ramen dept

You likely already know the story of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. If you don't, go read up on it, because it's a delightful example of how a cause can be fought with humor and derision without taking itself too seriously. The admittedly silly non-organization is actually quite an important story for secular government and how it must treat free speech in the context of religious exemptions offered to citizens. Not all governments do this well, as you may recall the story of Australian authorities briefly confiscating a man's legally-owned firearms after he insisted on wearing a pasta strainer on his head for his government ID photo.

Well, reader dave blevins writes about the story of a woman in Massachusetts who made a similar request, and the government managed to allow her to wear the strainer without instigating any such backlash.

A woman who belongs to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is allowed to wear a pasta strainer on her head in her driver's license photo due to religious beliefs, the AP reports. Lowell, Mass., resident Lindsay Miller says wearing the colander allows her to express her beliefs, like other religions are allowed to do, according to AP.
The silliness here is clear, but there is also an important point to be made: a government that promotes free speech as one of its values must allow mockery and criticism of the very things that people may hold most dear. I think that's going to become only more important in the days ahead, given terror attacks, given violence by white supremicists against innocent victims, given the easy divisions that can be created by some of the hardships we face. I don't want to aggrandize this too much, but criticism, reflection, doubt and humor can't become rare currency in the times ahead, and it's great to see any examples of government willing to tolerate, if not actively promote, that kind of speech.

So, while this example may be silly in nature, we ought keep in mind that conversation is, in the end, all we have as a weapon to keep humanity moving forward. And that is going to, at times, include speech that we may not agree with.

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Filed Under: australia, flying spaghetti monster, license photo, lindsay miller, pasta strainer, pastafarian


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  1. identicon
    QW, 20 Nov 2015 @ 7:40am

    Silliness is not really the issue

    Now I say all of the following as someone with deeply held religious convictions of my own, so please don't dismiss my comment as coming from an us vs. them position:

    I think it's unfair to say that Pastafarianism is silly.

    Pastafarians think their religion is no less silly than any other, and that is the point that is being made, in essence, by the whole of their religious movement.

    It is also fair to say that Pastafarians do have significant and well formulated beliefs, albeit they are beliefs about the nature of religion, and not strictly beliefs in the specified pastafarian tenets.

    But let's be honest, almost no people of faith actually sincerely hold to all of the stated tenets of their religion.

    The fact that it is reasonable to think that your average Pastafarian does not literally believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster does not mean that they are not holding beliefs worthy of protection. It does not mean their faith, such as it is, should be automatically dismissed.

    The most important thing for me is that allowing Pastafarians to practice freely is the best evidence that we are capable of allowing religious freedom for religions that we might *personally* believe are not valuable, made up, or worthless.

    After all, there but for the grace of God (sorry) go us all.

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