CROTON-ON-HUDSON, NY – "I don’t think states should issue specialty [license] plates with religious or political messages. The good news is that an acceptable forum for this kind of self-expression already exists: vanity plates," Stefan Lonce, the author of the forthcoming book, LCNS2ROM – LICENSE TO ROAM: VANITY LICENSE PLATES AND THE GR8 STORIES THEY TELL, wrote in an op-ed article that The New York Times published today.
Lonce's op-ed article explains that courts have held that the First Amendment's right to freedom of speech applies to license plates and protects some vanitized speech. "Deciphering, evaluating and potentially rejecting a 'vanitized' message because it could be construed as offensive places department [of motor vehicles] officials in an awkward position. What we need is a database where requests can be logged and evaluated by experts," Lonce wrote. DMV officials are considering the proposed database. "Vanitize" means, "to embellish a motor vehicle with a vanity license plate or plates."
LCNS2ROM examines the vanity and specialty license plate phenomenon, by using compelling prose, photography and graphics to tell some of the great stories that inspired American and Canadian motorists to vanitize. According to the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators-LCNS2ROM Vanity License Plates Survey, there are 9.3 million vanitized motor vehicles in the United States, and 440,000 vanitized motor vehicles in Canada.
The CBS News program "Sunday Morning" will broadcast a story this month featuring interviews with Lonce and several LCNS2ROM profilees.
"I'm circulating my book proposal to publishers and looking for Americans and Canadians who have told great stories on their vanity plates. Vanitizers who want to be considered for inclusion in LCNS2ROM, or who just want to tell me about their vanity plates, should visit my web site (www.lcsn2rom.com) and click on the appropriate button on the home page," Lonce said.
"Vanity plates are minimalist poetry in motion; they are message platforms that empower motorists to tell stories, or promulgate phrases. And vanity plates are fun," Lonce said.
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