"Iâ??m an infidel, and Iâ??m proud of it,â?? said Iraq war veteran Michael Matwyuk.
He was told by the Secretary of State that he couldn't use a shortened variation of the word â??infidelâ?? on his license plate. â??It was not under the good taste and requirements; please pick another one,â?? Matwyuk said. That refusal had Matwyuk feeling that his First Amendment rights were being violated and prompted him, with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, to sue the state.
It was on his tour to Iraq that Mike was referred to as an 'infidel', meaning someone who doesn't adhere to the same system of beliefs. In that culture, being called an 'infidel' is an insult, but to Mike, it was something to be proud of. â??Iâ??m an infidel,â?? Matwyuk said. â??I don't believe what you believe, because what you believe is killing people because of what they believe in. You're killing people for freedom of speech. We were there in Iraq, as we are in Afghanistan, because we don't subscribe to a particular belief or system, and that being oppressing people, Sharia Law.â??
The lawsuit filed is asking for clearer guidelines in how decisions, such as the refusal of the license plate, are made. â??It really isn't just about me and my particular story. It seems to be more about, â??is this just kind of an arbitrary way?â?? Who is making these decisions on what is right, what's politically correct, and what's not politically correct,â?? Matwyuk said.
A poll on the TV6 website of over 750 people shows that 92 percent say that wouldn't be offended by the license plate. And while others, like fellow servicemen, said they wouldn't be offended either, they think Matwyuk is going a bit too far. They preferred not to be on camera, but said, as fellow soldiers, the entire lawsuit process gives them a bad label.
Mike hoped the license plate would convey to others that systems of oppression still exist in the world. â??Being silenced because a word may offend somebody then does squelch the truth,â?? Matwyuk said.