If you have a car and want to express your personality, then a vanity license plate may be for you! In a mere seven characters, vanity plates give American motorists to tell their fellow citizens what they stand for. Unlike a bumper sticker, it doesn't even detract from the vehicle's value.
A lot of Americans stand for their favorite sports teams, of course, and that means they often use their plates to rep those organizations. Sometimes, though, hate gets the better of love.
That's exactly what's happened in Ohio, where state officials have had to reject several plates that expressed hatred of Miami Heat star and former Cleveland Cavaliers standard-bearer LeBron James. From Amelia Robinson for the Dayton Daily News:
When it comes to vanity license plates, the State of Ohio is not amused. It recently released a list of more than 500 rejected license plates and boy are there some doozies.
Some requesters clearly wanted to blow off a little steam. That would explain IH8LBJ, LBJSUCK, LBJSUX.
Either Lyndon Baines Johnson did something I don’t know about or Clevelanders really hate LeBron James. [...]
“It was deemed that they were inappropriate based on those guidelines,” Robin R. Matthews, a BMV Associate Legal Counselor, told me.
The rules are as followed:
In reviewing requests for special license plates, the BMV shall reject any request that contains words, combinations and/or phrases (in any language or when read either frontward or backward) that
1. Are Profane (that is swearwords or expletives)
3. Sexually explicit or
4. Scatological (having to do with fecal excrement);
5. Are so offensive that they could reasonably be expected to provoke a violent response rom viewers without additional comment; or
6. Advocate immediate lawlessness, or
7. Advocate lawless activities.
[Related: Kobe Bryant delivers dunk for the ages]
As noted by Rob Mahoney at The Point Forward, only brink-of-profanity requests like "LBJFU" and "EFFLBJ" would seem to break any of these rules — the rest are in poor taste but not over the established lines. While we can argue that Cavs fans should embrace this LeBron-less team and its electric point guard Kyrie Irving, it's unclear why these specific plates would be rejected.
Yet Robinson raises another possibility, and I think she's too quick to dismiss it as a joke. Ohio went for Lyndon Johnson in 1964 (though not for the JFK-LBJ ticket in 1960) and President Barack Obama in the last two elections, but it is always considered a key swing state and currently boasts a Republican governor in John Kasich. It is very possible that these Ohio car owners simply wanted to make known their distaste for the Civil Rights Act, the War on Poverty, and Johnson's escalation of the Vietnam War. Politics can be just as combative as sports, after all.
If that's the case, it's likely that Ohio rejected these plates to protect the interests of the government. As a response, I present this photograph:
Does this man look like he wouldn't think of the interests of the common man? He's with cattle!
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