We Floridians often require close supervision. Left to our own devices, we’re not a very rules-oriented people.
We have two new measures of this: guns at the airport and vanity license plates.
The Transportation Security Administration reported a “dangerous pattern” of record-breaking incidents of people trying to carry handguns onto commercial airline flights from Florida airports.
Must be all that “free state of Florida” hokum.
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The state set a new high of 666 would-be airline passengers last year who imagined they could board a commercial flight from Florida with a firearm in their carry-on bags. Many of the guns were loaded too, the TSA reported.
(That seems like an extreme way to persuade the flight attendant to give you the whole can of soda.)
Most firearms at Fort Lauderdale airport
Top of the list was Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport with 130 gun-toting travelers stopped at TSA checkpoints. That easily beat the existing record at that airport, which was 100 guns in 2019.
Miami International Airport also set a new record with 80 guns, beating the previous record of 60 set in 2020.
While the TSA was keeping Floridians from bringing guns onto planes, the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Department was playing defense against automobile owners in Florida, who were trying to send overt messages through the personalized license plates they were requesting.
The department advises applicants that personalized license plate messages that are “deemed objectionable or obscene” won’t be approved.
And it allows applicants to see if their proposed vanity license plate is eligible to be issued. Floridians can go online and type in the number and letter combinations of their desired vanity plate to get advance notice for whether their choice is available.
So, for example, if you type in “1ANGRYB”, “DEZNUTS”, “FJBIDN” or “YRUGAY” into the department site – actual rejected submissions last year – it will tell you that you can’t get those messages on a Florida license plates.
Too crude for highway Florida plates
But Floridians try for those plates, anyway, and for more than 500 others in last year alone that have already been flagged either as too objectionable or obscene.
I looked at the list of rejected plates from last year, and it’s pretty obvious that the department is already wise to the usual trickery.
For example, any license plate that has the combination “A55” is going to get rejected. Nice try “GR8A55” and “HLNA55,” but the censors are hip to your guile.
It also doesn’t help to slightly misspell a word in an effort to get by the censors. Replacing an “F” with a “PH” doesn’t do the job.
There were multiple drivers who wanted to be identified on their license plates as someone to be feared, as evidenced by three separate rejected requests last year for “KLLER”, “KLLR” and “K-LR”
And the department won’t give you the benefit of the doubt, if you ask for “HOLYSH” and make the argument that it’s an abbreviated form of “holyish” – an acknowledgement of your desire to be more spiritual, while falling short.
I’ve got to believe that sometimes the license plate censors don’t even understand what they’re censoring, but they’re inclined to err on the side of caution.
After all, who knows what “BIGAZUL” is really up to? “Azul” is blue in Spanish. Maybe the requester of that plate is an Hispanic graduate of the University of Michigan.
And does anybody really believe that a car with a personalized license plate “THEFBI” needed to be rejected because other drivers might actually believe that the real FBI has unmarked cars with FBI vanity license plates?
The large number of Florida drivers who push for lewd messages on their license plates probably drives the department to prune out license plates requests that may not be objectionable in nature.
For example, if your request has “HO” or “HOE” in it, it’s probably going to get rejected, even when it’s “HOEDWN1” and “HOHO” – two rejected requests from last year which may have just been made by a country dance enthusiast and a mall Santa.
And “N0THUNG” might just be plate requested by a picture framer or a jury selection expert. And maybe “RAYPE” was imagined as a personalized license plate of a physical education teacher named Ray.
If not, do you really think there’s a Floridian depraved enough to think it’s a good idea if his license plate serves as an endorsement of rape? OK, that’s very possible. I withdraw the question.
Personalized plates that referenced an ethnic or racial group were rejected out of caution, leading to the demise of last year’s requests for “JEWCAT,” “NE6R0,” “WHTRA5H” and “BIGWAP.”
I would argue that sometimes the rejection of personalized license plates is doing a public disservice to the rest of us. It’s useful information to know that a motorist you encounter is a feeble-minded QAnon conspiracy theorist.
Yet, Florida scrubs QAnon personal license plates. Sorry about that, whoever submitted “QSNTME.” I hope you’ve put lots of bumper stickers on your car to help your fellow travelers to evaluate your judgment.
There’s no penalty for trying to get an obscene or objectionable license plate past the state sensors. As for guns at the airport, there is a cost to trying to slip one by the TSA screeners.
Firearms violators not only are arrested and taken to jail, but they face a civil penalty from the TSA that can get as high as $13,910.
There are several rejected personalized license plates that offer a commentary on that.