In America, no form of personal expression is greater than the vanity license plate. Vanity plates give ordinary people the platform they need to show the world just how clever or creepy or kind of dickish they really are.
Virginia resident Sean Bjuno's most recent license plate application falls into that latter category. Here's what he asked for: "ICUHAJI." As in, I See You Haji, referring to a pejorative for people of Middle Eastern descent.
Bjuno, a retired Army Sergeant who served in Iraq, has been after the plate for a while, according to this story in The Virginian-Pilot. The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles turned his request down on the grounds that it was deemed offensive, as many states do. Then a judge ruled they couldn't do that, as preventing people from denigrating certain nationalities was essentially blocking free speech. (Our own Ben Preston wrote about that when it happened last year.)
So the DMV came up with a new reason recently. From the newspaper:
In a letter from the DMV to Bujno, the agency said the tag - it can be read, "I see you, haji" - condones or encourages violence and is obscene or otherwise vulgar in nature.
"That couldn't be further from the truth," said Andrew Meyer, Bujno's attorney. "He really means it respectfully."
Uh huuuuuuh. I'd find that a lot easier to believe if not for the license plate that Bjuno requested in 2007: "HAJIKLR." He was turned down for that one too. (His attorney claims it was actually Bjuno's dad who requested that plate.)
Bjuno's fight isn't over. He plans to bring his case back before a judge, arguing that the DMV is denying his right to free speech.
Let me just say this, Sgt. Bjuno — thank you for your service. Now stop being such a dick.
Photo credit Gamma Man