The Myth of Fingerprints


Religious disputes in the news:

Matt was serious about taking away Lobster Girl. If you don't donate, we'll give you nothing but panels from old underground comics, from here to eternity.

A 22-year veteran kindergarten teacher in the Texas Bible Belt could lose her job for refusing, on religious grounds, to give fingerprints under a state law requiring them.

The evangelical Christian, Pam McLaurin, is fighting a looming suspension, claiming that fingerprinting amounts to the "Mark of the Beast," and hence is a violation of her First Amendment right to practice her religion….

The U.S. Supreme Court has yet to decide whether the First Amendment is implicated in fingerprinting, especially at a time when states, local governments and civic organizations are increasingly making them mandatory for anyone wanting to drive a car or coach a youth basketball team….Texas lawmakers approved the fingerprinting measure in 2007 in a bid, [McLaurin's attorney Scott] Skelton said, "to catch somebody with a criminal background or a history of preying on children."

"She's willing to undergo a background check," Skelton said, "just not fingerprinting."

I'm on the teacher's side, of course, but I think her theology is shaky here. Everyone knows the Mark of the Beast is a UPC symbol, not a fingerprint.

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  1. If her fingerprints are the Mark of the Beast, doesn’t that imply that she is the Beast?

    1. Logically, yes. Is she serious? Maybe. She probably just doesn’t want to give her prints for other reasons.

      The mark of the beast is something you are to refuse, not something you are born with. A teacher should under stand the difference.

      1. “The mark of the beast is something you are to refuse, not something you are born with.” You are absolutely right.
        Something else to consider: First the true believers are taken to heaven. Next, the rest of the population suffers under the Anti-Christ which is when you accept or refuse “the mark of the beast”. After that, Christ returns to earth. She is assuming she was left behind and is enduring the reign of the Anti-Christ now? How bad must she have been to have been left here with us?

  2. That Matt Welch is one super asshole.

  3. Everyone knows the Mark of the Beast is a UPC symbol, not a fingerprint.

    Sorry, but the Mark actually involves RFID chips. 😉

    1. Have to concur. Although, before RFIDs were invented, it was just talk about an electronic chip, usually to be implanted by the Federal government in everybody’s forehead.

  4. When did the Mark of the Beast stop being our SSN’s?

    1. When the UPC had 666 in them.

      Purveyor of wackery Rense tries hard to be logical with this in depth analyis:

  5. It’s your IP address.

    1. No matter how hard I try, I can’t get 666 out of

      1. That’s not you IP adress, that is mine. 🙂

        Although I guess mine will someday change to ::1

      2. Let me try:

        .0.0. is an ancient symbol for subtraction (I read it on the internet somewhere), so really means 127 MINUS 1, which is 126.

        According to Biblical math (or something like that), all three-digit numbers can be broken into smaller components, leaving us with 12 and 6. Twelve is 6 twice, so we get 66 and 6, or 666.

        The trick is to change the rules as you go along, doing whatever the hell you want at each step.

        1. Damn, Moose, yer a natural.

  6. Woe to You Oh Earth and Sea
    for the Devil sends the beast with wrath
    because he knows the time is short
    Let him who hath understanding
    reckon the number of the beast
    for it is a human number
    its number is six hundred and sixty six.

    1. No, no, no. It’s 999 – not 666. Someone fucked up during the transcription of the old records.

      1. They didn’t use the Arabic number system back then. So, no.

      2. If anyone should know, it’s r. heinlein: the number of the beast is 6^6^6.

    2. That was a good song, but a disappointing album overall.

  7. The night was black was no use holding back
    ‘Cos I just had to see was someone watching me
    In the mist dark figures move and twist
    Was this all for real or some kind of hell
    666 the number of the beast
    Hell and fire was spawned to be released

  8. I tried a million years ago to give the “Left Behind” series a fair go. About 20 pages into book one, the new President says something like, “I created these new ID numbers for the country, and I’ll go ahead and make mine 666 because [mumblemumble].”

    That’s where I stopped.

    1. They were truly appalling books. I think they were designed for those who never read Revelations, but get their eschatology from Weekly World News.

      1. Do not mock the Weekly World News: The Third Testament.


  9. Everyone knows the Mark of the Beast is a UPC symbol

    I beg to differ.

    1. Wow, a “Dark Angel” reference that didn’t even set off the Dork Alarm. Well done.

  10. She’s willing to undergo the background check. Surely that’s a reasonable alternative, they don’t need the actual fingerprint so badly do they?

    1. I would imagine the “logic” is about gathering fingerprints to clear old cases more than future ones. I bet not a lot of child rape gets solved or proven by fingerprint evidence.

      Not to be all paranoid, but fingerprinting everyone is the goal, most of this is just the fan dance to get around flat out demanding them.

      If the police spent as much effort in fighting crime as they do circumventing the 4th and 5th Amendments, we might live in crimefreetopia.

    2. Some school systems require it.

    3. “She’s willing to undergo the background check.” Could she explain how she thinks they can do that? The 1st reason they need fingerprints is because some people use false names. The 2nd reason is that even if she only used one name for her whole life, you still need to compare fingerprints. Is she Mrs. Jane Doe the axe murderer, or Mrs. Jane Doe the librarian, or Mrs. Jane Doe the pedophile, or Mrs. Jane Doe the local volunteer….There are too many people in the world for everyone to have a totally unique name.
      What if she has been the victim of identity theft? If someone used her name when they were arrested, her fingerprints could prove that she was not the arrested person. I’d want law enforcement to compare my fingerprints if it proved my innocence.

  11. It’s interesting to note the distinction between me and my honorable libertarian friends here. I would feel the same way whether her employer was the government or not (that is, she should not have to choose between her job and giving them the finger(print)). If it were a private employer putting her to the test libertarians would wax eloquently on how she is free to simply go to another job and it would be TEH SLAVERY to tell the employer he cannot fire her over this.

    It strikes me the tension is exactly the same in either case, in either case what is being held over her head is her continuted employment and she is asked to curtail her choice or have that come down on her…

    1. Actually, MNG, I completely agree with you about the hypocrisy of libertarians on issues like this. I don’t think the First Amendment (or any of the rest of the Bill of Rights) should even be considered in the government-employee relationship. No one has the inalienable right to a government job.

      IMHO, the Bill of Rights applies to the government-citizen relationship only. As a citizen, she has freedom of speech and religious practice. As an employee, she doesn’t. If they were going to throw her in jail or fine her for refusing to be fingerprinted, it would be a different story.

      1. That’s consistent. What do you think about what we were talking about the other day on H&R, government as property owner. Should it be able to have basically the same rights as a private property owner, say it could ban the carrying of firearms on the property? Can a government ban guns in cars parked on its employee parking lot? As employer or owner of the lot, or both?

        1. Government shouldnt own property. Period. Problem solved.

          1. BTW, I realize that doesnt work. Im okay with that.

        2. I don’t think the two situations are comparable. Unlike government employment, members of the public have a right to the use and enjoyment of public property, so conditions placed on that use and enjoyment are limited by the Bill of Rights etc. Of course, on some types of public property there are compelling interests that trump constitutional rights (free speech in a public school classroom, bearing arms in a jail or a courthouse).

      2. It’s infinitely easier to get another job than it is to get another government.

        Employers to not exist in order for their employees to have jobs. They exist to make money. If employees don’t want to help with that project, there’s the door. No one has a right to a job.

        Employees being fingerprinted, peeing in cups? The vast majority of that is because of the insanely skewed litigiousness that you support constantly. If a business can be sued because their employee is drunk, they have a right to demand he not be drunk and have to have a way to enforce that demand beyond taking his word for it. Businesses usually fingerprint because bond companies demand it when you are handling expensive goods or cash. There a thousands of jobs that don’t make you pee in a cup. There are thousands of jobs that won’t take your fingerprints.

        1. This was for MNG, sorry.

        2. But SF, we’re talking about the government AS employer here. Certainly if she doesn’t like the conditions that her government employer has set, she is as free to go to another employer as she is as if a private employer had set similar conditions…

          1. I was responding to the following:

            If it were a private employer putting her to the test libertarians would wax eloquently on how she is free to simply go to another job and it would be TEH SLAVERY to tell the employer he cannot fire her over this.


            I agree about her. But it is not a requirement set forth but the government as her employer, but rather state law.

            Personally, I’m fine with her being shown the door if she doesn’t want to be fingerprinted. No one has a right to a government job, either. But the state having these laws for criminal purposes as opposed to a business interest does at least get to a larger issue of the state tying employee to giving up rights. Imagine how far that could go.

            And, of course, the nightmare scenario of all jobs being government jobs at some point.

            1. Ok, that seems consistent too. I disagree, but at least I now disagree consistently with your position 🙂

        3. I guess you haven’t been in the job market lately. I got a new government last January, whether I wanted it or not. Haven’t found a new job yet.

  12. Pee for enjoyment, not for employment. Or fingerprints. Whatever.

    1. You sick, sick bastard.

  13. I tried a million years ago to give the “Left Behind” series a fair go. About 20 pages into book one, the new President says something like, “I created these new ID numbers for the country, and I’ll go ahead and make mine 666 because [mumblemumble].”

    Wuss. I made it all the way through the book and thought parts of it were pretty funny, especially the scene where the narrator mentioned how the Antichrist is an incredibly gifted speaker who never, ever stumbles over his words or makes a grammatical error, and on the very next page the Antichrist said something grammatically incorrect that none of God’s Holy Copyeditors caught.

    You read the book while you were sober, didn’t you? THAT is why you failed to appreciate its brilliance.

    Also, modern theologians know the real mark of the beast is THREADED COMMENTS, and Reason’s use of them is why libertarians never win elections.

    1. There hasn’t even been an election in which a Libertarian was running since Reason had threaded comments.

      1. Reason merges with CERN in the near future, and subsequently the LHC begins sending anti-vote particles back in time.

        On a tangential note, do anti-christ particles annihilate on contact with Jesus particles?
        Are they Islamitrons, perhaps? See, cause they blow themsel…
        Aisle seat, exit row, please.


  14. There are none so blind as those who will not see, Tulpa. None.

  15. It is dangerous to have your fingerprints on file with the government. There was a case in the UK where the police were investigating a break in, and found prints on a broken vase which did not belong to the occupants. They searched their database, found a match, arrested and convicted the guy. No other evidence. He had been involved in burglaries many years ago as a teenager.

    Problem was, for about 20 years he had been the owner and operator of a store, with a wife, kids, and no problems with the law. It would not surprise you that, among other things, the store sold vases of the exact same kind.

    So basically his fingerprints were found at the scene, because he had handled the vase when it was in his store, and that was enough to convict him.

    1. that’s some fucked up shit.

    2. …and then reputable ethical experts came to his defense from all over the world….

      1. … which did absolutely no good, as he still spent 30 months in prison and his appeal to clear his name was rejected

        all because his fingerprints were on file

  16. behold, the power of google:…..504335.stm

    1. I said that’s some fucked up shit.

    2. he spent 30 months in prison, lost his subsequent appeal to clear his name

  17. So…let’s say she gets busted for DUI. She’s going to get fingerprinted, period. If she refuses she’ll get tazered until she stops refusing. Does that mean the police have then doomed her immortal soul?

    Or is there some “out” where a person can refuse to be booked under religious grounds?


      If she was pious enough and prayed hard, I mean really really really hard, God would have sent a gust of wind to knock the fingerprint inker out of the officer’s hands, or sent a warbler or chickadee to his shoulder to peck at his ear, or helpful caused a horrific schoolbus accident across the street to draw his attention, or any such other marvelous ways The Good Lord helps out His Kind.

      After all, did not the Lord send a humble earthworm to comfort Moses in his torment?

      No? Well it’s the sort of thing he might have done if he wanted.

    2. I believe she would qualify for martyr-light then, unless the tazing killed her.

  18. Render unto Caesar …

  19. Why does the beast need a number?
    And who or what are numbers 665 and 667?

    1. 665 are monkeys, 667 are space aliens

    2. I will not reply directly to this.

      However, my first, middle, and surnames each have six phonemes.

      And my handle has six letters.

      Can I tempt you with something?

  20. On the subject of fingerprints as forensic evidence:

    Has there ever been a peer-reviewed study which has validated the claim that each fingerprint is unique? If I understand the use of fingerprints correctly, the matching systems use a series of arbitrary “points” to compare prints and obtain a match.

    I realize that it is not feasible to match 60 billion fingerprints – even if everyone on earth were willing to give them – but I would accept a study which showed that there was less than a one in a million chance of a false match.

    There are certainly enough sets of prints now in databases and enough computing power on hand to run this test.

    1. I don’t know – and neither does anyone else – if all fingerprints are definitely unique. But the chances of a false match because some fingerprint tech screwed up the analysis are way, way better than one in a million.

      1. It would also be possible for two fingerprints to be different, but still match on ten particular points.

        1. Actually, it has been proven to be impossible. Go ahead and find one. You’d become an instant billionaire.

      2. I think reason has reported on another case in the UK were the fingerprint analysis was messed up.

  21. 665 are monkeys, 667 are space aliens

    Actually, I think the 667 are a sportbike club in Utah called Satan’s Neighbors.

    1. Haha, excellent.

  22. 667 the neighbour of the beast

    1. 668 is the neighbor of the Beast. 667 lives across the street.

  23. I suspect the post is tongue-n-cheek, but unless the law serves a secular purpose that is designed to serve the public.

    I don’t see how the 1st amendment applies.

  24. I suspect the post is tongue-n-cheek

    We don’t tolerate anilingus in these here parts.

  25. That’s what that old army post was for

  26. I guess my decision to support her depends on her political stance. If she’s a nanny-stater then fuck her, I hope she’s fired for non-compliance. What’s good for the goose and all that jazz…

    Now, if she regularly opposes state oppression and nanny-statism and she chooses to teach at a public school in the hopes that she can convince some of those kids not to believe everything the government tells them, well good for her and hopefully she wins her case.

    Or maybe she should realize that fingerprinting is not the Mark of the Beast because the Beast is a figment of some dead dudes imagination that she has hijacked for her own delusional spirituality and she should get a friggin’ grip on reality.

  27. 6 is the number of man. One less than perfect which is seven, the number of God. 3 represents the Godhead (Father, Son, Holy Ghost). Arranging three sixes supposes man’s usurpation of God.

    Kinda like Obama thinking he’s God. Damn! This belongs on the Glenn Beck Show, for sure.

  28. If fingerprints are the mark of the beast, doesn’t she realize she left her beast marks all over her can of Diet Coke?

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