Here's one of those stories in which everybody comes out looking much dumber than they went in -- and for some of the folks involved, that's a stretch.
You might have seen that photo there at right in the last couple days. It was taken in northern Virginia and went viral soon afterward. And, yep, it's pretty much every Southern stereotype you can think of, all wrapped up in a neat little package: Confederate flag, pickup truck, intolerance of all things different.
Well, predictably enough the photo caused all kinds of outrage. And since outrage can get halfway around the world before common sense can get its pants on, to paraphrase Mark Twain, the scrutiny of Those Who Would Be Offended moved from the mural on the back of the pickup truck to the license plate.
As the Washington Post noted, that "14CV88" was deemed to be a code for neo-Nazi white supremacists. "14" is an abbreviation of white supremacists' 14-word motto, "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children." And H is the eighth letter of the alphabet, so "88" is code for "Heil Hitler."
Of course, if you think about it, "14" and "88" could have different meanings, right? Like, say ... side-panel numbers.
Yep, turns out the driver's no white supremacist; he's one of ours. Dammit. [UPDATE: OR NOT. READ INFO BELOW WHICH TOTALLY CONTRADICTS WHAT I WROTE THERE.]
The "14" and "88" refer, of course, to Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr., [UPDATE: Though not, apparently, in this case] while the "CV" is an abbreviation for "Confederate Veterans." So instead of some hardcore neo-Nazi, what we've got here is that rarest of all breeds: a Southerner who likes NASCAR.
You know, we could have NASCAR drivers stand up at Carnegie Hall and recite Henry the V's St. Crispin's Day speech, perform all of Beethoven's piano sonatas and explain the Grand Unified Field theory, and all it would take to undo all that is one of these yahoos -- no pun intended -- reeling off beer burps in the audience. Come on, people! Rise above the stereotype!
[UPDATE: Well, well, well. Look who appears to be leaning a little more toward Berlin than Daytona, via Jalopnik. Sorry about the incomplete information above; feel free to ignore most of what I said.]
Look, there's nothing wrong with painting the back of your car [UPDATE: To a point], and there's nothing wrong with being a NASCAR fan. Why not unite the two a little more closely? Behold the car parked next to me at Talladega:
Aw, yeah. Dale Earnhardt as The Lion King and Obi-Wan Kenobi all wrapped into one!