A tweet posted Monday morning by Paul Fulton, Jr. identified an official Alabama license plate that read “N0H0M0,” raising questions about whether the state tolerates such language on its license plates. “No homo” is a phrase used to distance an individual from any implication that the individual might be gay, and its offensive connotation led to a $75,000 fine when the Indiana Pacers’ Roy Hibbert used it in a press conference last year.
The picture of the license plate was actually taken by Scott Johnston, a Facilities Manager in the Atlanta, Georgia area. He spotted the plate in an office parking lot, telling ThinkProgress that he was “first shocked, then angered” that Alabama would permit such a plate to be issued. “How could they allow outright discrimination to be published on a state license plate?”
Amanda Collier, a spokesperson for the Alabama Department of Revenue, informed ThinkProgress that a process is in place to monitor what plates are banned. When a request for a personalized license plate is filed, a three-person review panel considers each application, sometimes offering alternative lettering for the requested message. Some messages are so explicit, however, that “no alternative can be offered” and the taxpayer’s request is denied. “There is a list of more than 6,000 plates that are strictly banned and will not be allowed on any tag in the state,” Collier explained, including “anything explicit, any profanity, or vulgar language.”
Collier confirmed that the state does have a review and recall process if someone complains about a license plate. She did not specifically address the “N0H0M0” plate, but it clearly was not caught by the state’s screening process.
Specialty license plates like the “Fight Breast Cancer” plate pictured cost an additional $50 but can be personalized at no extra cost. Proceeds from the “Fight Breast Cancer” plate benefit the Joy to Life Foundation, which aims to provide mammograms for medically underserved Alabama women under the age of 50.
This post has been updated with Collier’s confirmation that there is a review and recall process.