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ILVTOFU:

From the Denver Post:

Kelley Coffman-Lee's plan to advertise her love of tofu on a license plate ran afoul of censors at the Division of Motor Vehicles.

The 38-year-old mother of three asked the DMV to approve a special plate emblazoned with "ILVTOFU" for her Suzuki SL-7....

The agency turned down the request, saying the plate might be offensive to some people....

It turns out that "FU" is on a long list of letter combinations barred by the division, said Mark Couch, spokesman for the Department of Revenue. Think of it as "Eff you," he said.

Thanks to How Appealing for the pointer.

ShelbyC:
Well Eff you too and give me my f'in license plate.
4.9.2009 10:30am
Cornellian (mail):
A clever ruse on her part - no one actually loves tofu.
4.9.2009 10:32am
corneille1640 (mail):
I haven't actually heard it yet, but apparently there's a song out by Brittany Spears called "If you seek Amy," which if you say it fast enough sounds like something else.

By the way, and I say this with all due respect to my vegetarian friends, I really don't like tofu.
4.9.2009 10:33am
cboldt (mail):
I wonder if they'd approve SOFA-KING -- for the confirmed couch potato.
4.9.2009 10:35am
Ken Arromdee:
The plate could easily be interpreted as "I love to F. You". The "I love tofu" explanation is exactly what would be sayd by someone who really does want to put a profanity on her license plate and decided to sneak it through with a halfway plausible cover story.
4.9.2009 10:41am
rick.felt:
A clever ruse on her part - no one actually loves tofu.

Maybe. Experience tells me that the number of people who genuinely love tofu far exceeds the number of 38-year-old married mothers of three who love to "F."
4.9.2009 10:44am
ShelbyC:
Cornellian:

A clever ruse on her part - no one actually loves tofu.


I knew it!!! You mean she's lying to save my ego?
4.9.2009 10:44am
snarky dad:
I don't know, rick.felt. You claim that


Experience tells me that the number of people who genuinely love tofu far exceeds the number of 38-year-old married mothers of three who love to "F."


But how else do you explain 40-year-old mothers of four?
4.9.2009 10:51am
Anderson (mail):
But how else do you explain 40-year-old mothers of four?

They're just doing it for the children.
4.9.2009 10:55am
Anderson (mail):
Incidentally, the DMV seems to have similar criteria to my e-mail filter -- the oddest things get bounced into the spam folder because, say, the letters "ass" appear in the middle of someone's name.
4.9.2009 10:56am
PIzza Snob:
Somebody bought an SL-7?
4.9.2009 10:58am
Matt Tievsky (mail):
How does the DMV's refusal pass muster under Caliornia v. Cohen?
4.9.2009 10:59am
Anderson (mail):
How does the DMV's refusal pass muster under Caliornia v. Cohen?

EV should answer this, since I don't know what I'm talking about, but:

I would guess that the license plate, being issued by the state, can at least be construed as speech by the state, in a way that a bumper sticker reading "I Love to Fuck" could not be (at least, if it's not on a cop cruiser's bumper).

A comparable issue's come up re: some of the "specialty tags" that encourage people to "Choose Life" or extol the Confederate Veterans of America.
4.9.2009 11:02am
trad and anon (mail):
I actually saw "I love to eff you" before I saw "I love tofu."
4.9.2009 11:07am
Thales (mail) (www):
Clearly someone should get right on this egregious violation of civil liberties. It's worse than Guantanamo.
4.9.2009 11:12am
Dan D:
I don't know what is more appalling here. The supposed need to broadcast the car owner's love of tofu to the world, or the idea that she had not considered how that combination of letters would be interpreted. I mean, I love Brussels Sprouts, but does anybody else really need to know that? Especially since one of the most logical abbreviations has other connotations.
4.9.2009 11:21am
Tony Tutins (mail):
Alternates:

ILVDOFU (Consonant can be transliterated as T or D)

Or if FU is FUBAR, always:

LVBNCRD
4.9.2009 11:23am
Doug Sundseth (mail):
Matt Tievsky: "How does the DMV's refusal pass muster under Caliornia v. Cohen?"

The short answer is that there's no short answer. Vanity plates are either government speech, and thus not a public forum, or private speech, and thus a public forum in which viewpoint discrimination is prohibited. Similarly specialty plates are either one or the other, depending on where you live.

This article by David L. Hudson, Jr. at the First Amendment Forum seems to be a fair overview.
4.9.2009 11:24am
Chris 24601 (mail) (www):
Cf. the great CA2 "Shout Happiness" case.
4.9.2009 11:30am
Ex-Fed (mail) (www):
Is VTM DFNCY still available?
4.9.2009 11:31am
JoelP:
Maybe she could go with SOYBOMB
4.9.2009 11:35am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
That is pretty funny. My first reading of the letter combination was:

I LV TO FU

So probably the DMV's reasoning has merit.

Of course, if you could group them:
ILV TOFU it might be easier to avoid confusion.
4.9.2009 11:41am
Oren:
The Supremes really ought to clear this up. Having 4 different rules for different circuits is beyond silly.

Maybe Congress should amend the cert law to stipulate that the SCOTUS must review in cases where a circuit has expressly declined to follow the lead of her sister circuit?
4.9.2009 11:52am
ASlyJD (mail):

I haven't actually heard it yet, but apparently there's a song out by Brittany Spears called "If you seek Amy," which if you say it fast enough sounds like something else.


And as a woman named Amy, I'm left wondering why everyone has to look for me. Why can't we go back to "If you see Kay" for our clever hidden vulgarity?
4.9.2009 11:56am
zuch (mail) (www):
DMV has it wrong. The obscene one would be "ILUV2FU". This is obviously about tofu.

Cheers,
4.9.2009 12:02pm
TomHynes (mail):
Apparently,

"STFU MAN" got past the California license plate censors.
"STFU MAN"

Also Virginia approved "EATTHE" when the motto at the bottom of the plate was "Kids First"
"Eat the Kids First"
4.9.2009 12:07pm
John Armstrong (mail) (www):
If you see kay
Tell him he may
See you in tea
tell him from me
4.9.2009 12:08pm
Anderson (mail):
Why can't we go back to "If you see Kay" for our clever hidden vulgarity?

Because Britney consoles herself for her vacuous existence by telling herself that at least everyone wants to fill her, uh, vacuole.
4.9.2009 12:10pm
Volokh Groupie:
I second trad and anon's post, though it probably says more about us than the plate.

On the other hand Coffman-Lee might just be a very clever (or dumb) nympho.
4.9.2009 12:14pm
Ex-Fed (mail) (www):
None of this is nearly as traumatizing as the time I saw a license plate that said "GMILF."

In my church parking lot.
4.9.2009 12:14pm
ispress:
Reminds me of a famous Florida license plate. Not a vanity plate, but A55 RGY gets lewd in a hurry when there's a giant Florida orange in the middle that looks like an "O".

Still not as clever as the Florida diesel Mercedes with the plate 2FNSLO. Ah, good times.
4.9.2009 12:15pm
Dan M.:
Yeah, it took me a minute to realize it could mean "I love tofu" when I first saw it.
4.9.2009 12:22pm
DNL (mail):
I saw a car w/PA plate LTS LXIX. Immediately knew what it said, and wasn't surprised it got passed the censors. One of the few times I honestly wished my cell had a camera on it.
4.9.2009 12:25pm
Verimius (mail):
Honi soit qui mal y pense
4.9.2009 12:47pm
KeithK (mail):

The Supremes really ought to clear this up. Having 4 different rules for different circuits is beyond silly.


Seriously? To me, the fact that people go to court and then appeal over vanity license plates is beyond silly.
4.9.2009 12:58pm
Matt_T:
Tofu is disgusting.
4.9.2009 12:58pm
Eric Jablow (mail):
Here in Virginia, I have seen two license plates of note: "YOU-STFU," and "K8ZAHOR". Poor Kate.
4.9.2009 12:59pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
DNL:

I saw a car w/PA plate LTS LXIX. Immediately knew what it said, and wasn't surprised it got passed the censors. One of the few times I honestly wished my cell had a camera on it.


That is really, really funny. Blame the decline in good education, like Roman Numerals.

Interesting trivia: Roman numerals are derived in a very simple way from tally sticks. Damian McManus goes through this process in "A Guide to Ogham" as a way of showing the different ways tally sticks evolved into both Ogham and Roman Numerals and what the ramifications were for their utility.
4.9.2009 1:02pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Someone managed to get "I[heart]BDSM" past the CA DMV, because a friend spotted it on the highway. (The only way you can get the [heart], icidentally, is by paying an extra fee that goes to the Child Health and Safety Fund. I guess the driver believes in "safe play.")
4.9.2009 1:07pm
GuestCommenter:
The Smoking Gun has an archive of vanity license plates that were rejected due to profanity, some of which are truly inventive.

Florida

New York

Wisconsin
4.9.2009 1:08pm
Sarcastro (www):
Tyranny!
4.9.2009 1:23pm
MarkField (mail):
Very well done, Verimius.

My personal favorites involve obscenities in foreign or dead languages.
4.9.2009 1:26pm
Steve:
Add me to the list of those who doubt the original intent was really about tofu.
4.9.2009 1:26pm
c1:
On Monday I saw the vanity plate GOD. I was initially surprised that it was issued. I think it probably should have been, but was nevertheless surprised.
4.9.2009 1:36pm
Just Dropping By (mail):
Maybe she could go with SOYBOMB

Only works if she's a Bob Dylan fan too.
4.9.2009 1:38pm
Malthus:
I like the foreign languages bit. "Pinto" in Brazil means "pecker" and everybody's been talking about the Conficker Worm.
4.9.2009 1:42pm
ChrisTS (mail):
Ex-Fed:

I don't get GMILF. (Don't mock, please; just explain as best you can given the limits of decency.
4.9.2009 2:15pm
ChrisTS (mail):
For a Suzuki SL-7, would not 'G*sshole' be more appropriate?
4.9.2009 2:20pm
H. Simpson:
My father owns a blue 911 in california. BLUE911 was taken as a license plate option so he tried to get BLEW911. This request was denied because it could be interpretted as a statement regarding the government's failure to prevent the attacks of September 11, 2001. He ended up going with BLAU911 which was approved.
4.9.2009 2:20pm
Smooth, Like a Rhapsody (mail):
Chris
MILF is a fairly well-known acronym.
the "M" stands for "mom".
"GM", would be "grandma"
4.9.2009 2:23pm
Piano_JAM (mail):
MILF - Man I Love Fishing!
4.9.2009 3:08pm
jeffry house (mail):
Something similar happened in Ontario when a Mr. Egon Halfyard requested the plate "18inch". The authorities refused to issue this plate to Mr. Halfyard, and when asked why, refused to give a reason.

Mr. Halfyard indicated that he could not understand what was wrong with his proposal, and suspected that the authorities might have dirty minds.
4.9.2009 3:08pm
Mark E.Butler (mail):
I feel like Oscar Madison (to Felix Ungar):

"I just spent a half hour trying to figure out what F.U. meant."
4.9.2009 3:28pm
Oren:

Something similar happened in Ontario when a Mr. Egon Halfyard requested the plate "18inch".

Could you proffer a non-obscene meaning for that plate?
4.9.2009 3:30pm
OSU2L (mail):
Someone in Ohio has NOBAMA...
4.9.2009 3:37pm
FantasiaWHT:
This isn't vulgar, but my favorite vanity plate ever is

GHOTI

I actually stopped and talked to the driver in a parking lot.
4.9.2009 3:42pm
Rohan (mail) (www):
Oren, his name is Mr. "Halfyard". A yard is 3 feet or 36 inches. So half a yard would be 18 inches.

It's still slightly obscene, but it's more of pun than actually vulgar.
4.9.2009 4:33pm
TerrencePhilip:
Well, even the bureaucrats can't think of everything- the funniest plate I've seen, which is a non-vanity plate and appears to be on an Early Bird Special-mobile, which makes it funnier.
4.9.2009 4:54pm
Ken Arromdee:
Could you proffer a non-obscene meaning for that plate?

His name is Halfyard. Half a yard is 18 inches.
4.9.2009 5:31pm
Fub:
FantasiaWHT wrote at 4.9.2009 3:42pm:
This isn't vulgar, but my favorite vanity plate ever is

GHOTI

I actually stopped and talked to the driver in a parking lot.
So, was he a fan of George Bernard Shaw, or William Ollier; a Christian punk fan; just saving the cost of buying a decal, or what?
4.9.2009 5:59pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Halfyard should have tried to register i8 1n.
4.9.2009 6:15pm
Steve H (mail):

This isn't vulgar, but my favorite vanity plate ever is

GHOTI

I actually stopped and talked to the driver in a parking lot.



I just saw the Utah version of that plate about three weeks ago.

Let's not forget TP U BG.

(16 Cal.App.4th 159)
4.9.2009 6:25pm
Struthius:
My favorite plate was seen in the vicinity of the Jet Propulsion Labs in Pasadena: 40 86. I'm guessing he was a rocket scientist prone to distraction.
4.9.2009 6:46pm
ChrisTS (mail):
Smooth:

Thanks for the hint. But, really, 'fairly well-known"? I'm hanging out with the wrong crowd, I guess; I had to google MILF.
4.9.2009 7:11pm
kentuckyliz (mail):
I have a breast cancer license plate issued by the state of Kentucky...that has an outline of boobies on it. The pink ribbon is on the right, the boobies are on the left. My niece was visiting last week and she thought it was funny and took a pic of it and posted it on fb.

the boobie plate
4.9.2009 8:12pm
Volokh Groupie:
@Ex-Fed

Did you mention it at confession?


GMILF Definition
4.9.2009 9:06pm
Cornfed (mail):
The Iowa Supreme Court upheld the DOT's decision to rescind "3M TA3" after it received a complaint about it. (Check your rearview mirror.)
4.9.2009 10:35pm
ChrisTS (mail):
I just don't think this thread should end on 69 comments.
4.11.2009 3:20pm