- vanity plates are fun, but they can lead to trouble: the controversy in alaska is over plates that read fuhrer and 3reich, and one local politician has been reprimanded for saying they're no big deal.
- in idaho, people tried to get four versions of poop onto their plates. all were denied.
- in california, rep. katie porter is taking her role on the house oversight committee to her minivan with a plate that reads ovrsite.
personalizing a license plate can be a clever way to tell nearby drivers what you're into. i might have a pearl jam–themed plate myself, for example. but every year some people take this avenue for self-expression too far. that's the situation for a black hummer h2 caught driving through the streets of anchorage, alaska, recently, and its offensive plates have people asking how these phrases managed to get by the regulators.
alaskan law says that the state dmv will not approve any license plate that "demeans an ethnic, religious, or racial group," among other reasons mostly relating to vulgarity or having sexual connotations. it also says that the dmv will recall any personalized plate that the department later determines was issued in error.
which is why people are asking the dmv why the h2's plates—which actually seem to be two different plates, fuhrer and 3reich, that the owner switches back and forth, according to the anchorage daily news—haven't yet been recalled, given their obvious nazi references.
as the controversy grew in alaska, conservative anchorage assembly member jamie allard was removed from the alaska human rights commission on january 26 by gov. mike dunleavy. alaska public media reported that allard had defended the fuhrer and 3reich plates as merely harmless foreign words, saying on social media that "progressives have put a spin on it and created their own definition." rabbi abram goodstein of anchorage wrote an open letter to allard in the daily news saying, "we may have the right to say certain things, but that does not mean we should say them, endorse them, or allow them to be said without pointing out how harmful they can be."
it's not like the alaska dmv doesn't keep an eye out for what it says are inappropriate plates. in 2017, the daily news said around 11 percent of the vehicles registered in the state have vanity plates. the paper collected a list of all the plate requests that the dmv rejected that year and the year before. included in these lists are s7, which was intended for an audi; zviggn for a saab 93; and ur2big for a mini cooper. so there are limits.
car owners try to slip their middle-school jokes past the authorities in idaho, too. there, the state dmv rejected 60 plate requests in 2020 and 180 in 2019, including doodie and p00ps (and also poops and p0ops and po0ps, so points for persistence). more offensive plates than those were denied as well, and a spokesperson for the idaho transportation department told local news outlet ktvb that "these were rejected because simply they are not tasteful." meanwhile, according to ktvb, a plate reading okkaren was just permitted, but pb4ugo got a big "no."
for a less negative story about a lawmaker getting her own specialized license plate, let's finish with a visit to california, where meme-able rep. katie porter, who sits on the house committee on oversight and reform, recently told vanity fair that she's getting new plates that read ovrsite. "i'm very excited," she said. "i'm getting it on the minivan, so i see the value in accountability."