A minor controversy is brewing in the great state of Tennessee. It seems a tofu-loving individual by the name of Whitney Calk tried get a customized license plate with an ode to her favorite meat-replicating gelatinous substance and was denied because "ILVTOFU" sort of looks like she loves something more fun than eating tofu.
Since the spat, several other states have weighed in--as has PETA.
We asked the Washington State Department of Licensing whether tofu love could be expressed as such here. Short answer: "No."
"Judging by my research that's probably not a plate that we would issue," says Christine Anthony, WSDOL spokesperson about a potential ILVTOFU plate.
It turns out that similar plate requests have been made in Florida, Colorado, and Virginia--each denied, and each followed by a press release from PETA.
Anthony says that no one has requested that particular plate in Washington.
As to how the DOL determines which plates are acceptable, Anthony explains the highly scientific process.
"We look at things like UrbanDictionary.com and Google," she says. "If something offensive comes up, then we may not issue the plate."
For the record UrbanDictionary.com actually has an entry for ILVTOFU which it defines as:
Vanity plate for:
1. I love tofu
2. I love to fuck you
DMV: ILVTOFU? Sorry, but I'm already married.
Woman: To tofu?
UPDATE: Whitney Calk send us this statement about her license plate debacle.
I thought that changing my license plate to read "I LV TOFU" would be a great way to inspire people to try tofu, veggie burgers, and other vegan options. I've experienced so many benefits from being a vegan that I wanted to make others aware of those benefits, and a vanity plate is a great way to share the message.
It's strange to me that the Vehicle Services Division calls this pro-vegan license plate objectionable when what's really obscene is what is done to animals raised for food: Chickens have their throats slit while still conscious and are often scalded alive, and pigs have their tails and testicles cut off without being given any painkillers.
I'm writing a letter to Linda Kelley, the director of the Taxpayer and Vehicle Services Division, asking her to reverse this decision for the sake of promoting healthy, humane meals to Tennesseans.