A Christian woman in a headscarf! And the state forced her to take it off!
The American Civil Liberties Union sure knew the media-sexy spin for its lawsuit against Alabama, which wouldn't let Yvonne Allen wear her headgear for a driver license photo. Especially when a court clerk said only Muslims would be allowed to do so.
And mainstream media joined in the spin -- so avidly that none of them even talked to Allen. It's a "religious ghost" that screams for attention: What type of Christian is she? And what church does she attend that tells her to cover her head?
That's just one of several ways nearly everyone has mishandled this story.
Allen, of Tuskegee, Ala., went for a driver license renewal, but a clerk ordered her to bare her head before being photographed. She protested on grounds that her Christian beliefs forbid a woman from showing her hair.
The clerks forced her to do so anyway, saying that only Muslim women are allowed headscarves for photos. This despite the fact that Alabama law allows headscarves in photos -- without naming any particular religion -- as long as they don’t hide the face.
Allen says it was "humiliating and demeaning," and she's suing to have her license photo reshot. The suit also demands unspecified damages.
It's a crazy story, rife with ironies and prejudice, not to mention several constitutional issues. But most reports thus far have done little more than copy and paste the allegations in the ACLU filing.
And, as I say, they’ve also gone along with the spin. Yvonne Allen's headware is more like a turban, as you can see in a picture on the ACLU website. But by using the loaded term "headscarf," the lawsuit echoes the many incidents -- like the two Muslim women recently thrown out of a French restaurant -- of hijab harassment.
Let's start with the much-cited Associated Press: