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Maine Begins Recalling Explicit License Plates

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Photo: Paul VanDerWerf from Brunswick, Maine, USA, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Y’know the CA DMV Bot account, on what’s left of Twitter? It posts real vanity license plate requests made in the state of California, along with the customer’s explanation for their text — and the DMV’s response. It’s an incredibly fun account, where you can look through people’s entirely normal requests (“FISH”) and the DMV’s reason for denying them (“SEXUAL CONNOTATIONS”). Now, it seems someone may need to spin up a similar account for Maine.

See, a few years back, the state all but eliminated any rules for vanity plate text. Any swears, slurs, or shock value that you could pack into seven characters was fair game. But it seems those unmoderated days are coming to an end, according to AP News, and it’s all thanks to complaints from Maine residents. Someone just had to go and get the plate “FUCK YOU,” and ruin it for the rest of us.

The state estimates that 400 explicit license plates will be recalled, with paperwork already in the mail to some of those owners. The new rules ban license plates that specifically attack religions or ethnic groups, contain obscene language or sex references, or just look too similar to official government plates. Far from California strict, sure, but the rules will still put a damper on the most enthusiastic Mainers.

Of course, banning ethnic slurs and explicit calls for violence on a license plate is an objective good. A bit of moderation goes a long way towards making the world a better place to exist in, and having no rules at all can quickly turn a public forum sour. Let’s just hope that Maine doesn’t go too strict on its vanity plate denials — no one needs to start banning the names of foods.

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