ID me, please

August 20, 2013 

Why are we afraid to show ourselves?

I ask this because there have been several arguments lately about how oppressive certain states’ voting laws have become, with North Carolina the latest in the crosshairs. Maybe I’m missing something here, but why should I be offended if somebody wants me to prove who I am?

Think about the innocuous times when you are asked to present your ID. If you buy beer or cigarettes, the clerk wants to verify your age and won’t just accept a card with how old you are – they want picture ID. If you want to pay by check, credit card or debit card, you should almost want the clerk to match your face with your name.

But go to a voting place, and people want to present their flimsy, worn voter registration card and be done with it.

“You want to know who I am? How dare you!”

Perhaps my moral bankruptcy in this area plays a part in my viewpoint. After all, in high school, I had an ID from some guy seven years older than me who had roughly the same shade of hair color. I bought beer once as Henry Wong with a likely faked Chinese passport and totally got away with it. Maybe there’s some residual guilt.

Ever since I’ve had identification, people have wanted to see it. Bartenders, airport security, bank tellers, possibly police officers, employers, car dealerships, and even stadium ticket window workers. My ID actually sits in a window so when I flip open my wallet it is there for the person in front of me to see. I don’t have visions of Big Brother watching me. I don’t have visions of being inconvenienced for more than a couple of seconds and I certainly don’t have visions of discrimination or harassment.

So why does showing ID when voting seem to signal the end of our personal freedoms to a whole lot of people?

You know what freedom we have? The freedom to not vote if you feel infringed upon. You have the freedom to not travel commercially if you want to remain anonymous. You have the freedom to be smoke and booze free, which might make us a heck of a lot more healthy, to boot. You even have the freedom to pay cash wherever you wish, keeping that ID with your bad hair day hidden from the public view forever.

In fact, we have choices all over the place. Unfortunately for many, they spend more time worrying about being offended than to actually concentrate on those things that actually do offend. When somebody makes a fuss about flipping open their ID, I’d like to flip something up at them. Then they really could be offended.

Reach Scott Cost at

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