Another day, another license plate controversy.
New York State is taking steps to ban a vanity plate belonging to a Queens man who has been described as “an ordinary Fox News conservative until Trump came along and a co-worker showed him The Daily Stormer.”
The license plate displays the anti-Semitic acronym “GTKRWN,” which, when spelled out, means “gas the k—s, race war now.”
The New York Daily News reported in an exclusive on Friday that the license plate belongs to Paul Schmieder. It was reported that the driver of a Chevy Silverado was spotted pulling up to Schmieder’s address and that driver responded to questioning by saying, “I have the right to put anything I want on my car.”
EXCLUSIVE: State DMV to yank license plate over anti-Semitic acronym used by neo-Nazis; @nily: "“This specific language serves to agitate and incites violence against the Jewish community.” https://t.co/wPPdid6Er4
— ken lovett (@klnynews) November 2, 2018
Actually, as Law&Crime’s Colin Kalmbacher reported on an unrelated license plate controversy in Texas on Thursday, that’s not the case at all.
The Supreme Court has previously ruled, however, in another case involving the Texas DMV, that states can easily censor license plates because they are effectively government speech.
Indeed, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) reserves the right to censor license plates that are obscene, lewd, lascivious, derogatory to a particular ethnic or other group, or patently offensive.”
The DMV said that “in response to customer complaints” about the license plate it is moving to have it banned. It happens that this will occur not long after Robert Bowers allegedly walked into the Tree of Life Synagogue and Pittsburgh, Pa., murdered 11 Jewish worshippers and expressed that his motive was to “kill Jews.”
Knowledge of the license plate eventually reached the desk of Queens Assemblywoman Nily Rozic. She said in a letter to the DMV that the acronym “serves to agitate and incites violence against the Jewish community.”
In response to Rozic’s complaint and others, the DMV is going to revoke this license plate. In response, the DMV said it has a “zero tolerance for hate speech” and the “plate has been invalidated.”
Schmieder was asked about whether he felt strongly enough about his “right” to fight this in court and he said, “I can’t afford a lawyer … I dig holes for a living. I still have dirt in my ears.”
The Daily News noted that Schmieder and alt-right supporters in general were previously exposed in an undercover investigation. Jay Firestone concluded that Schmieder was radicalized by the rise of Donald Trump and by The Daily Stormer, a message board haven for neo-Nazis and white supremacists.
[Image via Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images]