A federal court ruled today that an atheist gentleman from Kentucky should be permitted to get a personalized license plate from the state with the phrase “IM GOD” on it. The man is committed to his cause -- this only took three years of legal fighting. Read the rest
In 2016, Bennie L. Hart applied for a vanity license plate emblazoned with "IM GOD." The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet refused to issue the plate, apparently because it was related to religion. With the support of the ACLU and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Hart took the matter to court. And finally, U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove ruled that the First Amendment limits the state's power to put the kibosh on the plate. From WDRB:
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(The judge wrote) that courts have ruled that such plates convey a “personalized message with intrinsic meaning … specific to the owner.” Even the state’s own statute establishing the program describes such plates as consisting of “personal letters or numbers significant to the applicant,” the judge wrote.
Further, the judge wrote, if the cabinet’s permission to use a vanity plate constituted a “stamp of approval” from the state, the government would be “babbling prodigiously” and “saying many unseemly things...."
“If the Transportation Cabinet genuinely wants to avoid controversy on Kentucky’s highways by preventing ‘promotion of any specific faith, religion, or anti-religion’ from appearing on vanity plates,” the judge wrote, “then it should have denied 'IM4GOD', 'ASKGOD', 'GR8GOD', 'LUVGOD'. But it did not," (Van Tatenhove wrote.)
California security researcher Droogie came up with what seemed like a good way to avoid having to pay any parking tickets issued to his vehicle: He ordered a vanity license plate emblazoned with "NULL," expecting that (like in this xkcd comic) when the ticket was entered into the the DMV database, it would consider the "NULL" entry to be "the special marker used in Structured Query Language to indicate that a data value does not exist in the database." But that's not quite the way things went. From Ars Technica:
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First, Droogie got a parking ticket, incurred for an actual parking infraction—so much for being invisible. Then, once a particular database of outstanding tickets had associated the license plate NULL with his address, it sent him every other ticket that lacked a real plate. The total came to $12,049 worth of tickets. Droogie told the DEF CON audience that he received little sympathy from either the California DMV or the Los Angeles Police Department, both telling him to just change his plate to something else. That remains something he refuses to do.
Although the initial $12,000-worth of fines were removed, the private company that administers the database didn't fix the issue and new NULL tickets are still showing up.
In another example of life imitating Seinfeld, Melville, Saskatchewan citizen Dave Assman (pronounced Oss-men) applied for a personalized license plate of his last name but the Saskatchewan Government Insurance (like the DMV) put the kibbosh on the request and also his appeal. So Assman created a large decal inspired by the Saskatchewan plate design and slapped it on the rear end (ahem) of his truck. Based on the SGI's Twitter post below, they seem to be ok with that.
"It's just a name and censorship should be out of the window..." Assman said. "It upsets me, but I'm not one of those guys to take offence to it."
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Champ, the lake monster that reportedly lives in Lake Champlain, may soon appear on Vermont license plates. Representative Dylan Giambatista (D-Essex Junction) introduced legislation to create the plate to raise money for the state's clean water fund and raise awareness about water conservation. From WCAX:
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"For me, it involves thinking out of the box about how are we gonna fund our challenges," (Giambista says). One way we could do it is to offer a license plate. I would call it a 'Be a Champ' water license plate..."
The bill creates a conservation plate -- several styles already exist that feature deer and loon. But Giambatista says it could also be a special issue plate. like the Vermont Strong ones issued after Tropical Storm Irene that helped raise a million dollars for recovery efforts.
"We would want to put Champ on it because we want folks to be a water champ and to focus the conversation about water quality in this state. We gotta go to what people know, so let's start with a beloved figure like Champ. Let's get the conversation started and let's raise money for a good cause," Giambatista said.