Dan Savage

Dan Savage is the author of "Savage Love," the internationally syndicated sex advice column, and the editor of The Stranger, Seattle's alternative news weekly.

You can read about ITMFA in Savage Love here and here.

Dan Savage writes every day on SLOG, The Stranger's Blog.

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« July 2006 | Main

August 24, 2006

Et Tu, North Carolina?

First, Iowa, not North Carolina.

ITMFAtruck.jpg

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.

Uh-huh

John Kennedy—perhaps "the" John Kennedy—sent in this allegedly un-doctored photo of an alleged ITMFA sighting along the Jersey shore. We await independent confirmation.

ITMFA!.jpg

August 23, 2006

ITMFA Make the News

Geez—I run out of buttons, and suddenly ITMFA is making news. I might have to start shipping 'em again.

Anyway, a quick note: If you're the person in Washington DC who has ITMFA license plates on your car (I failed to save your email), please send me a note at savage@thestranger.com. The Washington Post wants to talk with you about your plates, your politics, and your feelings for our president.

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If this is your car, if these are your plates, please get in touch!

August 16, 2006

ITMFA in Iowa: State Tries to Take Back Glen's Plates!

From the Des Moines Register:

Glen Keenan got his shiny new personalized license plates on Aug. 1.

The polite, but firm, letter from the Iowa Department of Transportation arrived a week later.

If he would be so kind, the state told him, please "voluntarily surrender" the new plates. Within 10 days. In other words, pronto.

"I don't know what to do, but I don't think so," said Keenan, a lifelong Iowan from Jefferson County. "It's not an obscene message. I really don't understand why I wouldn't be allowed to keep them."

Keenan tells me this is what his personalized Iowa license plates say: ITMFA.

...

There were two complaints about Keenan's plates similar to the objection somebody had in Chapter 1 of Iowa's personalized license plate problem.

Surely you remember John Miller of Boone, the guy who put the "F NADER" plates on his Corvair. The state has ordered the plate be revoked, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa is intervening on his behalf.

The first step is an administrative hearing. Keenan says he, too, is in contact with the ACLU.

Miller's and Keenan's are two of the nine state-ordered revocations this year.

"I don't know what the big deal is with mine," said Keenan, 41. "My plate isn't vulgar. It's simply a series of letters than can mean any number of things."

Really?

"Sure," he said. "It can mean 'Impeach the Miserable Failure Already.' Or it could mean 'Information Technology Masters Fine Arts.' You could think of lots of things. I mean, any vehicle with an 'F' on the license plate could be objectionable to somebody."

Which is why they are treating migraines at the Iowa Department of Transportation. And possibly elsewhere.

The Web site also has pictures of vehicles in Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., with the same message on license plates.

What will it take for Keenan to ditch the plates?

"I'll give them up if Bush is impeached or when he's no longer president," Keenan said.

August 4, 2006

It's Been Too Long...

Sorry about the radio silence. I'm working on a long wrap-up post for the site—no more buttons, no more pins. I have to get out of the business of selling and shipping stuff, as I'm really not very good at it. In the meantime, though, here's the latest ITMFA picture...

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That's Glen K., his lovely daughter JoEllen, and his son Jack—all representing ITMFA in deepest, darkest Iowa. Thanks for sharing the pic, Glen!

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More Gear

Want t-shirts, bumper stickers, thongs, mousepads, hats or other ITMFA stuff? Check out the selection at semi-ITMFA-affiliated Slapnose!

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Trash W!

Want to make "ITMFA/Trash W" t-shirts or stickers of your very own? Here's the regular version; here's a backwards version. Of all the ITMFA designs that have come in, I have to say that this one is my absolute favorite.
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Regular Version
Backwards Version