Et Tu, North Carolina?
First, Iowa, not North Carolina.
I'm Myra from NC—I think I had the very first ITMFA license plate. They pulled it about 2 months ago—I got a polite letter, a self addressed envelope for the return, and a new plate in the mail. I HAD to put on the new plate, or I wouldn't have been legal driving. But I did not return the plate. I will hang it up, framed, for my grandson to have. And I did not cash the check they sent to refund my special plate fee. Therefore, the transaction never finished in their computers, and they cannot make me return it. A memento. It was great while I had it on, though. Myra G.
Where are you, ACLU?
In other ITMFA news, my old arch-enemies at the Des Moines Register published an editorial in defense of ITMFA plates.
Who cares if a driver you've never met is Cyclone fan (CYFAN) or likes to play tennis (10SNE1)? Personalized license plates are curious because, like bumper stickers, they reveal the need some people have to announce tidbits about themselves to other motorists who probably couldn't care less.
But in some cases, the government cares a lot. Government-issued plates are subject to government regulation.
The Iowa Administrative Code states personal plates can have "No combination of characters...which is sexual in connotation; defined in dictionaries as a term of vulgarity, contempt, prejudice, hostility, insult, or racial or ethnic degradation; recognized as a swear word; considered to be offensive; or a foreign word falling into any of these categories."
Defining "offensive" is tricky business. And likely a headache for Iowa Department of Transportation officials who take complaints about license plates. This year, the DOT has sent letters to nine Iowans asking them to surrender their plates.
Included in the list are: ITMFA, HORNDOG, GOTWUD1, HUKDFOX, BCHMGNT, 2REDRUM, COOTER, and 3REICH.
We'll admit we were scratching our heads on a few of these until we checked the Internet for the meaning of slang terms.
The DOT also issued a letter to John Miller of Boone for the FNADER plates on his Corvair. He's not only refusing to give them up; he's getting some help from the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa.
There are thousands of words in the English language beginning with the letter F. Is that letter now recognized as always synonymous with a swear word?
We don't think so. Censoring it amounts to censoring thoughts.
Register writer John Carlson elaborated on ITMFA in a recent column. This is apparently taken from an anti-Bush Web site and stands for "Impeach the (expletive) Already."
But how could anyone be offended unless they read Carlson's column or were familiar with the Web site?
Aside from banning plates that spell out profanities, the DOT should leave creative Iowa drivers alone.