In 2018, Ethics Alarms questioned the wisdom and ethics of a state denying permission for drivers to have whatever vanity plates their little vain and often juvenile hearts desire. I happen to live in the state with the most vanity plates of all, Virginia, which not only seldom exercises government power over license plate speech, but also makes vanity plates extremely cheap…and, of course, being so close to Washington. D.C., the state has more than its fair share of narcissists.
What I wrote in 2018 still holds, unedited:
Utah, for examples, bans vanity plates with profanity, “derogatory language,” drug references, sex talk, references to bodily functions, “hate speech,” targeting a particular group, or advocating violence advocates, as well as alcohol references and the number combo “69.” Ethics verdict: None of their business. These are words and numbers, and the state is declaring content and intent impermissible. When I see a car with an obnoxious vanity plate, I’m grateful. This is useful information. Racist or vulgar plates translate into “I am an asshole, and want you to know it!”
Thank you, sir! I appreciate the heads up.
Last time, the post concentrated on the plate censorship by New Hampshire and Utah. Now we have access to the banned words and numbers in Illinois, which include, for some weird reason, “BIDEN.” It takes a lot of gall for the state that plasters “Land of Lincoln” everywhere to tell drivers they can’t have the name of Abe’s current successor on their cars. Also banned:
Ooooh...I’m so scared! And this one…
AAAAIIIIII! Now I’m REALLY scared! Take it away! TAKE IT AWAY!
The Illinois Secretary of State is empowered by law to refuse misleading plates or those which create “a connotation that is offensive to good taste and decency.” The state currently has a “Inhibit List,” a compilation of more than 7,000 phrases that won’t be put on a vanity plate. Here are just the As and Bs. And what’s the matter with…
…I wonder? Mentioning beer is in bad taste? Does Illinois still have a Prohibition hangover?