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Monday, February 4, 2013 - Page updated at 06:00 p.m.
Sometimes a PIPLYR is just a pipe layer
By Erik Lacitis
Seattle Times staff reporter
PORK. Russ Strum, 53, a carpenter in Aberdeen, got the nickname “Pork” as a kid. He didn’t mind. Andin the late 1970s, he bought a Camaro with money he had earned in high school, and got a vanity plate that read, ”PORK.”
He sold the car a couple of years later and didn’t renew the plate. But in later years, he kept wanting to have that plate back, except it was taken. Then, in 2011, it became available.
Except then, the state Department of Licensing denied the application, saying its Google search came up with offensive meanings for the word.
Strum appealed, explaining it had been his nickname for four decades.
The agency’s Personalized License Plate Committee decided in his favor.
Strum says the only reaction he has gotten on the plates is that he’s been asked, “Are you a pig farmer?”
PIPELYR. A complaint was made that the vanity plate “is a sexual euphemism that describes a sex act.”
The owner of the plate replied that, in fact, he was a pipelayer. “This is my profession with the union,” wrote the Tumwater man.
He was allowed to keep the plate.
BLINGX3. A gang officer from the Mount Vernon Police Department complained that the plate referred to a particular gang.
The plate’s owner said all the plate referred to was “bling times 3.”
The owner wondered if whoever reported his plate “has way too much time on their hands or just does not understand short hand messaging.”
The committee allowed him to keep the plate.
FUDUB. A Pasco couple said it was their dog’s name, “Foo-Dub.”
The committee concluded the plate was meant “as an obvious slur” against the University of Washington, “especially since it is on a Cougar plate.
The application was denied.
RUNOVAU. The applicant said he and some college buddies had started a Chevy Nova restoration club.
“We thought it would be fun to use our initials and the nova u to personalize each of our cars,” he wrote.
The committee said it could be read as, “Run over you” and have “the potential of being perceived as aggressive in nature.”
The application was denied.
FMLYJLZ. The application was initially rejected.
The woman applicant wrote that she didn’t mean it to be interpreted as “Family Jewels” but that since childhood, “I have been called Jules.”
And, she said, her fiancee‘s friends and family call her “Family Jules.” Hence, FMLYJLZ.
The committee agreed to issue the plate.
UBUNTU. In 2010, Casey and Jennifer Thomas, of Newcastle, got a letter from DOL stating their UBUNTU plate was being revoked.
The agency said it had determined the term was “sexually suggestive.” The agency said that its research showed the term “bunt” was slang for “buttocks.”
Thus, “coupled with the ‘u’ at the beginning and end makes it offensive to the reader,” said the agency.
The Thomases were flabbergasted and wrote back that the term was used in South Africa and that Archbishop Desmond Tutu had said “Ubuntu” as “A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good ... ”
Jennifer Thomas had spent time volunteering in that country and so the term had meaning for her.
Casey Thomas said the couple asked the Nelson Mandela Foundation and others to write the DOL on their behalf.
The agency reversed its decision and approved the plate.
“They told us they were using the Urban Dictionary,” says Casey Thomas. “Yeah, well, I don’t even know what that is.”
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