Updated: Identification Cards in the Campus City


Close readers might catch an interesting detail in Dan McGowan’s WPRI article about Providence’s planned ID cards:

“Simply put, the municipal ID cards affirm your residency here in our city regardless of immigration status, housing status or your criminal history,” [Mayor Jorge] Elorza told the crowd. The mayor said the cards will not be used as a driver’s license or as a voter ID in statewide elections.

In an email exchange, McGowan told me that it’s still an open question for which he’s seeking clarification whether the ID will be valid for citywide elections.  Joined with the “immigration status” aspect, obviously, this becomes a very important question in our state’s capital city.

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Even more-concerning questions may be raised by Steve Ahliquist’s article on the progressive RIFuture site.  This paragraph, for example, brings to mind an analogy that may give some substance to anybody’s vague sense that these IDs may not be entirely appropriate:

Elorza’s deputy chief of staff Theresa Agonia ran the meeting and is heading up this new initiative. Agonia explained, (third video below) that the municipal ID card typically features the photo of the cardholder, along with other basic identifying information such as address and date of birth. The cards are “typically accepted as proof of identity by all local government agencies and officials, including the police.” The cards may provide the cardholder with benefits at businesses, museums and entertainment venues. The cards might also provide “access to financial services” as a pre-loaded debit card.

The “pre-loaded debit card” detail makes the city’s proposed IDs sound a lot like the IDs that colleges give to students, which parents can often “pre-load” with money for use at select retailers, such as dining halls and the book store.  The progressives who run Providence, in other words, seem to be moving their city toward their most-preferred social and economic structure: the college campus.

A commentator could pivot in multiple directions from that observation.  If a city begins to look like a college campus, how long will it be, for example, before it effectively bans speakers of a particular political persuasion?  That’s not really a speculative question if one recalls the mayor’s police-heavy reaction to the distribution of anonymous fliers he didn’t like.

For the purposes of this post, though, I’ll stick to the more-general notion of the campus city, starting with this paragraph from Ahlquist:

For the LGBTQ community, the ID cards will allow the cardholder to choose the sex they want to be identified as. At least three options, male, female and neither, will be made available. This allows a transgender resident the ability to have identification more in keeping with the way they identify.

Depending on what directions this ID takes, isn’t it at least possible that such an ID should actually be biologically descriptive?  Refer back to the second block quote above.  These IDs are intended to be “typically accepted” by “all local government agencies and officials, including the police.”  Not to be morose, but if the police find a dead body, it won’t be able to explain its preferred gender identity.

Moreover, if one data point that is supposed to match an ID to an actual person is up to the daily whims of the ID holder, the ID would be significantly less useful to the government.  In the surreal world of Facebook, pick-your-own-biology may be tolerable, but out in the real world, it’s nothing less than an attempt to grease reality.

A key premise of a college campus’s way of handling students is that it isn’t dealing with anything really serious — as in, grownup serious.  That’s why they indulge in safe spaces, on the one hand, and feel they can persecute male students without due process based on allegations of sexual impropriety, on the other.  They act as if they must give students the protections of childhood, but not the protections of the adult world, because theirs is a “learning environment,” without permanent consequences.  For most students, parents are still out there to provide a backstop, and the world is full of possibilities for their young lives.

That’s an arguable premise even within the context of higher education, but if progressives succeed in making the real world more like the campus — which you’ll see to be their goal, even if they don’t realize it, once you consider the idea — we’re headed toward a great drunken belly flop into a waterless pool.  Reality doesn’t play that game, and setting up government as the backstopping parent (a) won’t work and (b) will prove to be the very definition of tyranny.

ADDENDUM (8:44 p.m. 8/10/17):

After publication of this post, Dan McGowan emailed that the city had responded to him that it has no plans to use the IDs for purposes of voting.

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