Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Save thecongressman.net!!!
So, I have a friend named Byron. He collects license plates and he offends people.
Byron is an asshole. But he's a good guy.
He has a website that combines those two activities (plates and offending).
Well, the State of Ohio is coming down on him. Hard.
They showed up at the Deputy Registrar agency he works at, took his plates showed his boss pages of printouts of his website. They also basically demanded that his boss fire Byron for something he did ON HIS OWN TIME ON A WEBSITE HE PERSONALLY OWNS.
So now, if you look up his site...you get this message...

Thecongressman.net


is temporarily down


due to the State of Ohio.


Please check back later.


Fuck.

This is a First Amendment issue. They're going after Byron for speaking his mind on his privately owned website. They're going after him for ordering an offensive license plate (BUKKAKE). Where's the line drawn? Well, I'm drawing the line here.
Harass them. Harangue them. Let them know that you won't allow them to stamp on our First Amendment rights.
Here's all the information you need...

Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles
1970 West Broad Street
Columbus, Ohio 43223-1101
(614) 752-7500

Mailing Address:
Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles
P.O. Box 16520
Columbus, Ohio 43216-6520

E-mail the BMV

General Information
614-752-7500
Driver License Information Center
614-752-7600
License Plate Registration Information and Special License Plate Requests
614-752-7800
or
1-800-589-8247 Ohio Only (Request BUKKAKE or any other offensive plate [up to 7 characters] that you can think of)
Pass the message along, too. PLEASE pass it along. And instruct the recipients to pass it to others. It doesn't matter what state. What country. What planet...just get more people on the BMV's case. This. Can. Not. Stand.
We CAN beat these fuckers.
***UPDATED***: So, I looked up BUKKAKE on the bmv's website, and it's been added to the list of offensive or inappropriate combinations. You know...I'm offended by religious slogans on plates. Why the hell don't they recall all of those? Why have personalized plates at all???
Also, I've been informed that the state is looking at MY website now. Hi, state folk! I like Freedom of Speech. You don't. Let's talk about it...(there's a comment link right below, or you can click on the e-mail link to the right...)

5 comments:

Adam said...

My letter to the BMV...

I understand the need to protect the public from naughty words, since they do such immense damage to the fabric of society. However, at which point does a word become offensive?
I'm offended by right-wing propaganda and religious extremism? How many people do I need to get with me to have all religious and politcal messages removed from license plates? Frankly, I'm tired enough of extremists and fundamentalists rubbing their 'beliefs' in my face. How many more complaints do you need before it becomes a 'problem'? And, if it takes a group of complaints to make an issue valid, does that not trample on the lone individual with a concern?
If you haven't guessed, I'm writing you on behalf of my friend, Byron Gunter. Byron is a license plate aficianado and collector. He recently had his plates, BUKKAKE, seized by the BMV.
Byron might not have meant it in quite that way, but the word 'bukkake' is pretty innocent at its root. Bukkake noodles are a popular variety in Japan. Essentially, the word means to pour or spatter. That means, if you order bukkake udon at a restaurant, you'll receive a bowl of udon noodles with meat and/or vegetables on the side to pour into the noodles.

For some pictures of bukkake noodles, visit the following links...
http://www.kurakibi.jp/e/tivoli/eat.htm
http://cwaweb.bai.ne.jp/~ricchan/sanukiudon-tour/kannsai/bukkaketei-e.htm
http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&lr=&client=safari&rls=en&q=bukkake+udon&btnG=Search

Yes, I'm aware that Byron might have meant the term in a different context. However, many seemingly innocent words have other connotations. 'COWGIRL' sounds innocent, but is a sexual position. As I said before, I'm offended by religious imagery (as I see it as an overt attempt to convert me). Pretty much any word can offend someone. When does this offense matter to the BMV? At what point does a word become offensive? The rules, and their enforcement are completely arbitrary.
The only reason Byron knew of the plate was that he was alerted by a customer to the fact that, at one time, the plate had been issued to someone else in the State of Ohio. Why was that driver allowed to have the plate, and not Byron? The same issues about the slang meaning of the word still applied then. And yet he's the one punished for it.
Protecting the public from offensive words is a futile effort at best. A person can put a bumper sticker or even paint an offensive word on their car and operate it on the road with impunity. There's no law that says they can't. In fact, their right to is protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution. Why is it that the government decrees that a word cannot be on a license plate, then? Since when is it the governement's job to decree what words cannot be said in public. And, if that's the case, based on the separation of Church and State also guaranteed int he First Amendment...why are people allowed to get religious messages of any kind on a government-issued plate? If the issuance of a so-called offensive word would constitute government approval of that word, does not the issuance of a religious message constiture an endorsement of that message?
The double standard that is created by the arbitrary enforcement of the supposed 'guidelines' for what can and can not be issued is quite frankly ridiculous. Considering that the intent of his plate order was discovered on a privately-owned website that he maintained on his own free time, you might not have EVER known he had any ill motive for the order.
Also on that note, to aggressively attempt to punish or censure a person for a website or an internet posting that they do off the clock and does not make any attempt to represent their employer is dangerous, chilling and wrong. If he merely voiced his opinions in public and was overheard, or if he wrote a letter to the editor of a publication, he'd be free to express himself. A website is no different. The views he expressed on his website were wholly his own, and he often stated that fact. Does the State intend to go after every blogger who expresses an unpopular view, or disagrees with the policies of the State?
Are you going to put them all on a list? Are they enemies of the state, now, merely because they use New Media to express their feelings? As I said before, this witch hunt is rather chilling in its context.

Adam Bicsanszky

Adam said...

Odd that I post a story about the BMV harassing someone and then Google sends me an add about brain tumors, isn't it???

Anonymous said...

Awesome adam, awesome.

Thank you.

Lord Byron. Owner, operator, and the god of thecongressman.net

Adam said...

The BMV responds!...sort of...
Thank you for your email and opinion on this issue.

Have a great day.

Smiley McCustomerservice
Constituent Liaison, Registrar's Office

Adam said...

I wrote a long letter about Constitutional liberties and they dismissed me with two lines.