A Virginia man says his Osama bin Laden-inspired license plates are being taken away by the Department of Motor Vehicles for being offensive. But he says the DMV's new plates are even worse.
Rick Sanders has had his "F.OSAMA" license plates for seven years. He received a letter this week from the DMV saying the plates would be replaced because they are "profane, obscene or vulgar in nature."
"Right after the attacks of 9/11, I decided I wanted to do something to show that I'm patriotic," Sanders told ABC affiliate WVEC.
The plates are being replaced with "6668UP."
"I'm offended by this," Sanders told the station. "I don't like anything with 666 on it."
The numbers 666 are widely viewed as a satanic symbol and Sanders said he reads his new license plate as, "The devil ate you up."
According to the Virginia DMV website, the "DMV reserves the right to recall and cancel any personalized license plate that was issued if the agency subsequently determines or discovers that the personalized license plate was not in compliance with these guidelines when issued or if, due to changing language usage, the personalized license plate has become non-compliant with these guidelines."
"Language is an ever changing thing," Pam Goheen, a spokeswoman for the Virginia DMV told ABCNews.com. "Sometimes are we overly cautious? Sure, but we rely on the public to notify us when they see messages that are potentially objectionable."
Although Goheen said she could not discuss Sanders' case specifically, she said anyone whose plates are deemed offensive can work with the DMV to come up with an alternative message.
Sanders told WVEC he will probably exchange the plates for new ones, but is also considering challenging the DMV's decision to pull his plates.
"People come up behind me, they're laughing, they're giving me the thumbs up. They're laughing at me. I've never had anybody look at me and tell me I can't believe you have that on your license plate," Sanders said.
Sanders says "F.OSAMA" can mean anything you want, but for him it's a symbol of his patriotism. "I didn't want to offend anybody by it. I wanted people to realize that I don't want you forget what those folks did to us."