State Demands Man Remove His ‘Inappropriate’ License Plate

State Demands Man Remove His ‘Inappropriate’ License Plate


Maine officials are cracking down on custom license plates that they deem inappropriate, resulting in recalls of nearly 300 plates. One of the plates in question belonged to a vegan man who expressed his love for tofu with the message “LUVTOFU,” which the state rejected for its potentially sexual connotation. Peter Starostecki, the owner of the tofu-loving plate, argued that his tofu stickers made the message clear. He clarified that his license plate was his way of protesting the consumption of meat and animal products. Maine’s new regulations ban derogatory language based on age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, religion, or disability, as well as language inciting violence or deemed offensive.

Heather Libby had matching license plates with her best friend that included a word for a female dog, resulting in their recall. “People are so sensitive nowadays,” she commented. Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows countered criticism against the state’s decision, arguing that drivers can still express themselves with bumper stickers. “We must keep profanity and language that can provoke violence off the roads for the public good,” she emphasized.

Earlier this year, “LUVTOFU” plate was declined in Texas, which drew flak from animal rights organizations. Meanwhile, a federal judge in California ruled in 2020 that the state’s ban on plates that are “offensive to good taste and decency” was too broad and violated free speech rights. 

The Maine officials in charge have received 13 appeals against recalled plates so far, but more may come. If a hearing examiner rejects an appeal from a driver, they can move on to Superior Court, but no one has done so yet. Mr. Starostecki was offered the plate V3GAN instead but opted for a randomly selected combination of letters and symbols chosen by the state. Ms. Libby lost her offensive plate but received one honoring her dog Zeus. “That could be offensive to someone because it’s a Greek god,” she joked. “But I hope not.”

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