Offensive License Plates

So, yesterday I was stuck in traffic behind a silver Chevy Avalanche. Since this that really bad Friday night, rush hour traffic, I had a lot of time to stare at it. At first I thought “Jesus Christ, that’s an ugly car. Is that a ‘Join Arnold’ bumper sticker? Go figure..” Then I noticed that license plate number : NUK OPEC.

That’s right, “Nuke OPEC“. This dumb asshole, who’s driving one of the most fuel inefficient cars on the road, wants to nuke the Middle East (I’m assuming he’s not referring to Venezuela and Indonesia). To most conservative wingnuts (the kind who would vote for Arnold Schwarzenegger), I’m sure this is a hilarious thing to say. I, on the other hand, don’t think this is funny at all.

What do you think the reaction would be if I had a license plate that said “NUK ISRL” (Nuke Israel)? Well, I’d probably get my ass kicked, my car keyed, and be labeled an anti-Semite. So is advocating the nuclear annihilation of Arabs hate speech any less than advocating the deaths of Jews? I don’t think so.

Of course, even if I tried to put something that hateful on my license plate, there’s a good chance I wouldn’t be allowed to in the first place. Section 5105 of the California Vehicle Code says the following about personalized “environmental” license plates :

The department may cancel and order the return of any environmental license plate heretofore or hereafter issued, containing any combination of letters, or numbers, or both, which the department determines carries connotations offensive to good taste and decency or which would be misleading.

If you agree with me that advocating the nuclear destruction of the Middle East (jokingly or not) “carries connotations offensive to good taste and decency”, I invite you to call the California Department of Motor Vehicles at 1-800-777-0133 sometime this week.

One thought on “Offensive License Plates

  1. What are the chances that the clerk at the Motor Vehicle Department who processed the nuke OPEC plate has ever heard of OPEC, or put the 2 together and realized it was advocating. It has been 20+ years since OPEC was the name used to frighten children in America, plenty of time for most Americans with five minute memories to latch onto whatever new boogeyman the administration is pushing (Osama… Saddam… next up, Kim Jong Il?)