This seems odd to me. What will regulators think of next? Will they ban actual snot?
The BBC explains the risk in an article humorously called “DVLA says ‘offensive’ SN07 number plates are snot allowed“.
The change means that cars registered in the capital are the only ones in Scotland not to begin with an S.
A DVLA spokesperson said the decision to change the plates was taken to avoid offending car buyers in the capital.
She added: “It is our policy that any registration mark that can be construed as being offensive to people will be suppressed.
“In this case, the SN07 marks would have been too similar to the word ‘snot’ and, as that could possibly offend some buyers, they were replaced with new TN07 registrations.”
Snot is really offensive to people? Another story by the BBC suggests the opposite, that poetry about snot is a good way to help children learn about health and medicine. Yes, poetry about snot:
North London GP Nick Krasner, has harnessed the fascination for all things “icky” to entertain and educate.
In ‘Oozing Medical Poems’ he tackles the issues of bugs, appendicitis and personal hygiene through 11 poems aimed at seven to 11-year-olds.
How offensive. Well, at least now plates from Scotland will be harder to identify. Wait, wasn’t that the point of the S?
Maybe they should have changed the N instead of the S? Is SP07 offensive to anyone? What about SC07?
Meanwhile, in American news, a federal judge has ruled that the state of Illinois is required to offer license plates with controversial political slogans:
A federal judge yesterday ordered state officials to offer license plates with the pro-adoption motto “Choose Life,” brushing aside claims that the slogan is really a thinly disguised anti-abortion message.
No, that’s not an anti-abortion plate. It’s an anti-war message. Maybe the pro-life lobby will push for a plate that says “If you’re running on gasoline, you just killed a marine.” Too controversial? To be clear the plate perhaps should read “choose life, unless it gets in the way of oil and pride, then shoot freely”.
Former state Sen. Patrick O’Malley, R-Palos Park, another sponsor, said in a telephone interview last night that it made no difference even if “Choose Life” did represent an anti-abortion slogan.
“Does that make it bad?” O’Malley said. “Whether it is or it isn’t you should still be allowed to express yourself.”
O’Malley clearly does not have a problem with SN07 on his ID. I guess he would also support the MPEACHW plate owner who is being asked by the state of South Dakota to surrender her personalized ID. The Rapid City Journal explains:
State law declares motor vehicle licenses plates to be the property of the state as long as the plates are valid. The law also allows personalized plates with as many as seven letters for an extra $25 fee. But it gives DMV officials the right to refuse to issue â€œany letter combination which carries connotations offensive to good taste and decency.â€?
Hillmer said MPEACHW meets that criterion. The plates never would have been issued if DMV officials had caught their meaning at the time Moriah applied, Hillmer said.
â€œThis was one that we apparently missed when it came through originally, and we received a complaint from an individual that found it offensive,â€? she said, declining to identify the individual or provide the contents of the complaint. â€œI donâ€™t think we ever would have issued it if weâ€™d have picked up on what it was inferring.â€?
So there you have it. A manual process, perhaps a mere individual, sitting and looking at untold license plate applications and trying to decipher meanings to protect the public from harm. Is that person a trained linguist? A code analyst? Will computers be increasingly used to search a database for offensive patterns? The concept of a state-owned identity that can be personalized presents interesting cross-section of philosophy, security and technology.