GET OSAMA Tag Banned in New York

New York has retroactively decided that a man’s GET OSAMA vanity tags are offensive and can not be displayed on his vehicle.

GET OSAMA Tag Banned in New York LIL2FAR: Retired NYPD Sgt. Arno Herwerth, in front of his "Kill Bin Laden"-mobile, says the DMV is "unpatriotic" for outlawing his plates. 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.

Elsewhere:

  • 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.

via Memeorandum

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Bureaucracy, Terrorism, , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    This is an example of why I have rejected several job offers in NY!

  2. rodney dill says:

    BAGOSAMA

  3. Christopher says:

    I first saw this and thought, why are they banning a political license plate? Then I realized, it wasn’t Obama! It was Osama! It is so hard to keep these muslims straight!

    One’s a terrorist, another is someone who could care less about terrorism. One wants to control the world, another wants to control American’s pocketbooks. One of them hopes we don’t protect ourselves from Islamic terrorism, the other doesn’t want us to protect ourselves.

    One is a muslim with extremist views. The other certainly seems like a muslim with extremist views. We are trying to hunt down and kill on of them, the other we are trying to get elected president. Only in America!

  4. Anderson says:

    One of them hopes we don’t protect ourselves from Islamic terrorism, the other doesn’t want us to protect ourselves.

    One is a muslim with extremist views. The other certainly seems like a muslim with extremist views.

    JJ, is Christopher banning a site policy against sheer stupidity? Could such a policy be enacted retroactively?

  5. iralarry says:

    So much for free speech. Even then he had to pay extra for this. I hope they at least refund him. What a sad day when you can not express your opinion in public. Oh, wait a minute: GETOSAMA, BAGOSAMA, KILOSAMA, BRNOSAMA, HNGOSAMA, XQTOSAMA. There!

  6. Christopher says:

    JJ, is Anderson violating a site policy against being a political neophyte? Could such a policy be enacted retroactively?

  7. anjin-san says:

    Maybe he could send the plates to Bush, who certainly seems to have forgotten about justice for the thousands of Americans murdered on 9.11

  8. anjin-san says:

    Oh, and I have to agree that maybe it’s time to give Christopher the hook. He really gives idiots a bad name.

  9. Mark Jaquith says:

    This is certainly a baffling decision. Who exactly is offended by the idea that we should “Get Osama”?

    Rabid GWB fans. “Get Osama” is embarassing to them — they’ve moved on to Iraq and Iran.

    By the way, check out this license plate by a wounded Iraq combat vet: FIRAQ. Maybe FOSAMA would fly.

  10. Christopher says:

    Censorship, anjin-asian? Typical liberal way to look at something you don’t agree with.

  11. Anjin-san says:

    Nothing to do with political leanings Christopher. Educated, cultured people from across the spectrum just don’t care to mingle with bigoted, ignorant, fools (see a mirror if you are confused about what one looks like).

    btw, I voted for Reagan, twice.