GET OSAMA Tag Banned in New York
The federal government may have a $25 million reward for fugitive terrorist Osama bin Laden, but a retired city cop says the Department of Motor Vehicles has banned his “GETOSAMA” vanity license plates as offensive.
Arno Herwerth, 42, a retired NYPD sergeant from Hauppauge, in Suffolk County, told The Post he’s flabbergasted by the DMV’s kibosh, terming the agency’s move as “unpatriotic” and political correctness run amok.
“This is unbelievable,” an angry Herwerth told The Post, insisting he’s puzzled at how his support for a US foreign policy goal can be viewed as objectionable. It’s unpatriotic and absolutely disgusts me that anyone would consider that in any way offensive other than if you’re a member of al Qaeda,” Herwerth said. “You look back at Pearl Harbor and WWII and you wonder, would they be offended by, ‘Get Hitler’?” he lamented.
DMV spokesman Nick Cantiello insisted the “GETOSAMA” plates violate a regulation that bans any tag that is “obscene, lewd, lascivious, derogatory to a particular ethnic or other group or patently offensive.”
This is certainly a baffling decision. Who exactly is offended by the idea that we should “Get Osama”?
Then again, this sort of nonsense is what happens when we give bureaucrats the right to unilaterally declare things “offensive.” The rulings will often be arbitrary, inconsistent, and downright silly. The incentives, though, reward CYA rather than maximum free speech.
Given that people can display virtually anything they want on bumper stickers and other displays on their vehicle, it’s far from clear what’s accomplished by policing the statements which may be purchased on a vanity plate. Further, while court rulings have given the government great latitude in these matters, this would seem to obviously violate the letter of the First Amendment.
- Pam Gellar finds blowing up buildings and killing thousands more offensive than the plate.
- John Clark notes that this isn’t the first time the license plate police have gone overboard.