"Gays are OK" is OK

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Elizabeth Solomon had to go to court to win the right to express herself on a vanity license plate. Apparently, the state of Utah takes exception to the notion that "GAYSROK," and even to the concept of "GAYRYTS." Judge Jane Phan disagrees:

"The narrow issue before us is whether a reasonable person would believe the terms 'gays are OK' and 'gay rights' are, themselves, offensive to good taste and decency. It is the conclusion of the commission that a reasonable person would not," Phan wrote.

But the story isn't over, as Utah is considering an appeal. A public servant at the Utah DMV explains why:

"It kind of opens up the door for all types of people who want to make a license plate a public forum, for every initiative," he said.

I'm sure Rick Santorum would agree that once the courts approve of GAYRYTS, it won't be long before license plates start promoting BSTLITY and PLYGAMY.

Story here; link via Lindsay Beyerstein.

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  1. “BSTLITY”

    Maybe “HOT DOG”? *ducks*

  2. I wonder if UTAHSUX would be considered offensive…

  3. I think I’d like “SNTORUM” as a license plate. Assuming, of course, that the WA Dept. of Licensing doesn’t know what it means.

  4. If you’ve got an agenda, get a bumper sticker.

    I’m opposed to vanity plates, even as a voluntary excess contribution to the State DMV. The line-drawing games as in Utah are inevitable, and may well cost the State more in prosecutions and bureacracy than the extra revenue can sustain.

  5. Only now did the problem of a PLYGAMY plate in Utah occur to me.

  6. “It kind of opens up the door for all types of people who want to make a license plate a public forum, for every initiative,” he said.

    And what’s wrong with that?

  7. Off-topic, but I haven’t seen it much of anywhere on the web yet and it seems right up H&R’s alley–the debate rages over “middle finger” or “thumb”: http://forums.therandirhodesshow.com/index.php?showtopic=60094

    On-topic, my only proper response is WTFDUDE.

  8. Then, Syd, would you object to me replacing my ID card (or driver license) with a rainbow-colored chocolate-coated 3-speed talking dildo? The DMV photo just doesn’t capture my essence.

  9. The State should either stick to issuing random plates, or have absolutely no censorship regarding the lettering on vanity plates. It should not be the role of government to decide what message is offensive and what isn’t.

    I doubt the people of Utah would tolerate a plate plate that says “FCK BUSH” so I have to agree with Dynamist. Get rid of vanity plates all together, and if you have an issue, slap on a bumper sticker.

  10. I think I’d like “SNTORUM” as a license plate. Assuming, of course, that the WA Dept. of Licensing doesn’t know what it means.

    It means “Big self-righteous asshole with control issues”, right?

    Or do you mean the other definition?

    Either way, it’s not appropriate for children to be reading about in traffic.

  11. Is it just me or does Andrew Napolitano look like a troll doll in that picture on the righthand side of the page?

  12. I think she doesn’t notice, but her license plate has a much cooler meaning: GAYSROK = Gays Rawk!

  13. GAYSROK = Gays are OK?
    Are you sure it doesn’t mean that “Gays ROCK!!!”?

    ‘Cause they do, you know.

  14. “It kind of opens up the door for all types of people who want to make a license plate a public forum, for every initiative,” he said.

    I thought the punch line to this was going to be something like RYTOLIFE. They would never allow something CRAZY like that, would they?

    I also object to the whole thang where license plates are about everything except licensing a vehicle. It starts out with cute little phrases, next thing you know they’re selling different themed plates to raise money for 50 different causes, and then someone gets in a tizzy because their cause is excluded. Best just not to have them at all.

  15. Randolph Carter and Trey: I had seen a story about this somewhere earlier, and it didn’t even occur to me that it could mean “Gays are OK” until I saw this headline. I just assumed the rocking.

  16. I agree that gays rock. I was going with the judge’s interpretation. And I do find vanity plates irritating.

  17. As we all know, that who merely seem to be supporting homosexual equality “Gays R Ok”, are actually preaching gayness as a preferable lifestyle choice to heterosexuality “Gays Rock”. They want to convert your children, I say.

  18. When I first read this story on another site, I thought it was “Gays Rock” too. I guess that’s a succinct statement for Pet Shop Boys or Frankie Goes to Hollywood fans.

    Since we’re having fun with vanity plates and mashed-together wording (wished this one fitted on a vanity plate), write the following on a piece of paper and ask your theistic friends what sentence it spells out:

    GODISNOWHERE

    9 times out of 10, I find that even the staunchest fundies read it as

    GOD IS NOWHERE

    as opposed to

    GOD IS NOW HERE

    which, when I point it out to them, really fucks with their minds because maybe you revealed some subconcious disbelief deep within their psyches.

    Sorry. Been reading too many vanity plates on the road. The consonant amalgamations are driving me crazy …

    LBTARIN

  19. To those saying use “bumper stickers instead,” why is a bumper sticker that says, for example, “FUCK JEWS” any less offensive than a vanity plate that says “FUCKJEWS”? And don’t say because the state is sponsoring the license plate. They’re likely using prison labor to manufacture them, but it’s the speech that is either sponsored or not, and if people pick what goes on the plate there is absolutely no government sponsorship. It’s when censorship gets rolling that sponsorship or (more accurately) negative-sponsorship of speech is endorsed.

    That’s ironic because when a DMV bureaucrat gets to arbitrarily decide what vanity plate submissions are offensive and people know this, then there is a presumption that any approved plate DOES have the sponsorship of the state. But if a plate can say whatever you want it to, just like a bumper sticker placed 2 inches away, then nobody would presuppose state sponsorship or endorsement of the speech espoused on the vanity plate.

    The same people who would say “GAYISOK” is offensive are the same people who are probably driving around with a state-issued pro-life license plate that says (and was approved without question) “GAYSTOHELL” (or something along those lines that fits on the plate).

  20. Vanity plates are another sign of the downfall of civilization, promoted by self-centered individualists.

    I BLM NTCHE

  21. Will the DMV, like the NFL, ban RN MXICO?

  22. Be careful what you approve of today. In Missouri a couple of years ago, the DMV was forced by the courts to issue a vanity plate “ARYAN1”.

    If this is the type of political discourse you want on drivers’ license plates, brace yourself for things much more socially unacceptable than homosexual politics.

  23. Dan, is that the type of faith you have in human beings? Yeah, if we let this happen, we’ll be back to Jim Crow laws right. Because we all know the government was the only factor that contributed to ending slavery.

    The fact that only 2 parties are allowed to debate in this country could maybe tell you something about why these plates exist in the first place.

  24. If you’re paying for it, you should be able to put whatever the hell you want on your plates.

    I for one wish to have the following: FUH CUE

  25. Mad Scientist–

    Is that real, or Photoshopped? I didn’t know it was POSSIBLE to install a license plate upside-down.

  26. Jennifer, I have no idea. A friend sent me this picture and who knows where she got it. It looks real enough to me. The holes in Cali plates are symmetrical top and bottom so nothing would prevent you from mounting it upside down. I wonder if there’s a law stating that you have to mount it right side up? This blonde sure has a sense of humor, but will the cops appreciate it?

  27. Why is it as soon as gays achieve some sort of free expression, critics say the floodgates are about to open on bestiality and polygamy. They get picked on as apparently the most heinous. Let’s explore the realm of offensive (Sexual related) license plates shall we

    DOMNATX
    LVSLAVE
    BUKKAKE
    SCTSTYL
    ILUV69
    ANLDLDO

    or even the boring

    PENIS
    VAGINA

    they both fit on license plates.

    I’m not sure if I had a point, but I do like to explore how offensive I can be.

  28. Be careful what you approve of today. In Missouri a couple of years ago, the DMV was forced by the courts to issue a vanity plate “ARYAN1”.

    If this is the type of political discourse you want on drivers’ license plates, brace yourself for things much more socially unacceptable than homosexual politics.

    what’s wrong with that? he’s advertising himself as a racist. so what. I can walk around with a bedsheet cone on my head in the middle of Harlem and I’m not doing anything wrong, though I’ll probably be shot. There’s a certain public distaste for such things, but license plate profanity is by far pretty benign.

  29. Ideally, it would be great if everyone could freely express themselves without harm.

    In reality, though, if someone was to have something that says “Gays Rock” on their car, I would bet my life’s savings that some asshole will slash the tires, bust in the tail-lights, etc.. and there’s absolutely nothing the car owner can do about it.

    Common sense..

  30. Ideally, it would be great if everyone could freely express themselves without harm.

    In reality, though, if someone was to have something that says “Gays Rock” on their car, I would bet my life’s savings that some asshole will slash the tires, bust in the tail-lights, etc.. and there’s absolutely nothing the car owner can do about it.

    Common sense..

    Freedom expression comes with the risk of violent disagreement. Tolerance is hardly overnight.

  31. LiT:

    I agree to your statement. However, given a finite amount of energy and time, what is better: participating in protests, marches, ad campaigns, etc, or constantly finding alternate ways of transportation, calling tow trucks in the middle of the night, and knowing that evil fuckheads get their jollies and escape scot-free?

  32. But “ARYAN1” is perfectly fine (legally I mean) on a bumper sticker?

  33. Mr. Nice Guy-

    I think it would be pretty dumb to have a license plate that attracts tire slashing. But I also think that some idiots need to learn their lessons the hard way.

    So I’m all in favor of free speech on license plates.

  34. t-

    I’m in favor, too. I would love to have a tag that says “420NOW” 🙂

  35. ..but then I would be an idiot..

    I might as well have a tag “PLMEOVR” 🙂

  36. SCTSTYL – Supreme Court Style? Like reverse cowboy?

  37. What if it says “Gay Senior, OK?”

  38. I’ll stick to sayings on t-shirts. That way I can wear it when I want to talk and leave it at home when I don’t. Like my “Christianity is stupid: Give up” shirt. I’ve had some long conversations wearing that one…and some short, heated ones as well.

    I don’t have a problem with the vanity plates, even if I find the message offensive.

  39. Donate now and get your “NOTGNNLS” H&R plate!

  40. Mad Scientist, you’d think that could only happen in California, but that’s actually a new style Maryland plate: black letters on white, black “Maryland” in script.

    I’d go with forcing everyone to have the standard boring letter-number combination on the plates, but we couldn’t lose out on all that revenue, could we!

  41. Vanity plates generate revenue from people who are willing to pay extra. Why are libertarians upset?

    (Yes, I know, if license plates weren’t required by law then not all vanity plate holders would get them, and others would get ornamental plates from competing private sources. But, all things considered, vanity plates still strike me as the sort of things that libertarians should encourage government to pursue.)

  42. There’s a guy who lives in my building whose license plates read: DADDYSBOI. His boyfriend has license plates reading BOISDADDY. They’re on the verge of breaking up, so if anyone wants DC plates with either of those monikers, they’ll probably be available soon.

  43. 6UL DV8

    .. still looking for that one ..

    . Hobbit

  44. Vanity plates are beyond stupid. The purpose of a plate is only to show a cop that you’re paid up and to make it easy to track people who either didn’t put another quarter in the meter or got caught by traffic nanny cams. Should we get vanity parking passes, vanity inspection stickers, vanity beach permits, etc.?

    Let’s see, given a couple thousand pounds of metal canvas, I need to make a statement in under seven letters that no one will understand, makes it easy for the psycho that takes everything personally to identify and provides the cops with a mnemonic. Yeah, that’s a good plan.

    If you are going to get a vanity plate the least you could do is to try and make it hard to read or hard to remember like I11II1. But if you just want to pull one off on the DMV go for the pair FULBA6 and ILBA9, or get creative and go for mirrors like 3M TA3

  45. thesmokinggun.com has a fantastic list of vanity license plate rejects, and complaint letters by idiots to the DMV. My favorite was a lady bitching about BEARLVR.. apparently a “bear” is a hairy gay man.

  46. I agree with Thoreau, if someone wants to pay for the stupid things, then what difference does that make to the libertarian?

    Now, if I could only get the state of Washington to meet me half way and A) not require a plate on the front of my car and B) not require me to replace my plates every 8 years…

  47. Of course, Florida has like 100 different ‘official’ plates; one of them, ‘Choose Life,’ was approved by the courts, as the state argued it was not endorsing any specific position.

  48. I used to love “Bumper Stumpers”. Best license plate I ever saw:

    3M TA3

    (Hint: Imagine seeing it in your rearview.)

  49. PENIS

    I totally want that for my license plate now. I would soooo be the coolest kid on the block.

    FULBA6 and ILBA9

    Eddy,

    What do those mean? Pardon my ignorance/naivity.

    Eddy, you also make a good point about why vanity plates are stupid (making yourself and your car obvious — and sometimes offensive — to many people and certain undesirables.) But I do have to say that vanity plates are vanity plates because they’re stupid and pointless. You don’t need a reason to have vanity plates. To paraphrase Charlie from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: “Candy (i.e. vanity plates) doesn’t need to have a point — that’s why it’s candy (vanity plates)”.

    Personally, I have been contemplating getting Eleet-speak vanity plates….something on the lines of, “IRTEHOWN” or “STFU”.

  50. Then, Syd, would you object to me replacing my ID card (or driver license) with a rainbow-colored chocolate-coated 3-speed talking dildo? The DMV photo just doesn’t capture my essence.

    Comment by: Dynamist at July 28, 2005 08:55 PM

    As long as I’m there the first time you try to cash a check with it.

  51. FULBA6 and ILBA9

    I believe that’s supposed to mean, “If you’ll be a 6, I’ll be a 9.” It’s part of a series.

  52. Thanks, Mo. I figured it was part of a “69” joke, but for some reason my eyes aren’t deciphering visual puns very well today.

  53. Thanks for the update, Highway. Ammended: Only in Maryland.

    Eddy, what possible difference does it make if someone wants to have something special written on their license plate? You have this expensive vehicle and the state mandates that you have to put this ugly piece of metal on it, so you may as well make it something “personal” since you have the option, so that the ugly piece of metal is marginally less annoying. If someone wants to promote gay rights or protest abortion or show allegiance to Hitler, what difference does it make? The state isn’t sanctioning anything other than free speech, and if people can’t tell the difference they need to get an education. (Vanity plates demonstrate why we need to abolish public education!) Since people are voluntarily paying for vanity plates, I figure my taxes are one penny less for every one I see. (Of course I already spent all those pennies on a plate for my Italian motorcycle that says “SPAG8TI”)

  54. Crap. My typing sucks today. Only in Maryland

  55. thoreau and B.D.: If you can demonstrate that the excess revenue compensates fully the bureaucrats and litigations which arise, you’ll still be stuck with some additonal state control over speech.

    REDACTED

  56. If you can demonstrate that the excess revenue compensates fully the bureaucrats and litigations which arise, you’ll still be stuck with some additonal state control over speech.

    Which is why I propose that the gov’t innoculate itself against lawsuits by allowing people to put anything they want on their plates as long as nobody else has the same plate number. 100% content-neutral.

  57. Eddy, what possible difference does it make if someone wants to have something special written on their license plate?

    It doesn’t, I just think it’s stupid. I actually don’t see any real reason to have a plate in the first place other than to placate the tax man’s muscle and catch stupid car thieves.

    I figure my taxes are one penny less for every one I see.

    I doubt it but we can hope it’s not just lining a pols pocket. Oh, sorry for the late response, I’ve had OS issues.

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