Md. high court up­holds ban on van­ity plate ob­scen­ity

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND WORLD -

It doesn’t mat­ter what lan­guage you write it in — you can’t put s — — on your li­cense plate, Mary­land’s high­est court has af­firmed. The Court of Ap­peals last week up­held the Mo­tor Ve­hi­cle Ad­min­is­tra­tion’s de­ci­sion in 2011 to re­scind a van­ity li­cense plate that read “MIERDA,” a Span­ish word which can re­fer to filth, dirt, com­post, or the re­lated ob­scen­ity. Re­tired Judge Glenn T Har­rell Jr. writes that the MVA was rea­son­able and “view­point-neu­tral” in tak­ing away the plates. The MVA main­tains a list of more than 4,000 let­ter-and-num­ber com­bi­na­tions that are off lim­its, in­clud­ing ob­scen­i­ties, drug ref­er­ences, words that could be mis­con­strued as be­long­ing to gov­ern­men­tal ve­hi­cles, and scat­o­log­i­cal hu­mor. The pe­ti­tioner, John T. Mitchell, ob­tained an agri­cul­ture com­mem­o­ra­tive plate with the word in 2009. Two years later, the MVA re­ceived a com­plaint and looked up the word on the plate, de­ter­min­ing it fit the cri­te­ria to be banned. Mitchell ar­gued that “mierda” has a “va­ri­ety of non-pro­fane and nonob­scene mean­ings, and that some of which, such

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