New Jersey DMV reverses position that ‘ATHE1ST’ license plate is ‘offensive’ after publicity on Reddit, Twitter

By David Ferguson
Wednesday, August 28, 2013 14:47 EDT
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David Silverman via Flickr
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The New Jersey Department of Motor Vehicles initially refused to allow American Atheists President David Silverman to order a vanity license plate that said “ATHE1ST,” but relented when the refusal began to draw media attention.

Raw Story spoke to American Atheists Public Relations Director David Muscato, who relayed Silverman’s story.

Silverman, he said, “applied online for a custom plate that reads ‘ATHE1ST.’ ATHEIST with an ‘i’ was already taken. He got a reply on the 26th that they’re denying it because it’s ‘Objectionable or Need Further Clarification.’”

Silverman called the DMV and was told by an employee that his request was denied on the grounds that the message on the pate would be considered “offensive.” In response, Silverman sent an appeal letter to the head of the Special Plate Division, Myriam Segui.

“On Tuesday night,” Muscato said, “this went up on Reddit and he tweeted about it and then Richard Dawkins re-tweeted it and it just took off.”

On Wednesday, the DMV informed Silverman that it was reversing its ruling and allowing him to have the license plate after all. Muscato said that the agency blamed a “clerical error” for its initial refusal to grant the request for the custom plate.

[image of David Silverman via American Atheists' Flickr photostream, Creative Commons licensed]

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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