Guy Wins Fight to Get 'Come On You Whites' License Plate

Department of Motor Vehicles admits soccer team slogan isn't racist in settlement
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 29, 2020 4:09 PM CST
After Lawsuit, DMV Issues Plate Reading 'Come On You Whites'
Southampton's Nathan Redmond, center, reacts as he suffers an injury from hitting a shot during the English League Cup second round soccer match between Fulham and Southampton at Craven Cottage stadium in London, on Aug. 27, 2019.   (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

A California soccer fan has won in his attempt to honor his favorite soccer team with the vanity plate "COYW"—an acronym for the slogan "Come On You Whites." The state DMV initially said the tagline has offensive connotations, but on Tuesday said it would give Jonathan Kotler the license plate after settling a free speech lawsuit in federal court, per the AP. Among other terms, the DMV acknowledges that "COYW" is not a racist term, according to the nonprofit Pacific Legal Foundation, which represented Kotler. He supports London-based Fulham, whose fans often chant "Come On You Whites" for their players in white jerseys. "Upon further administrative review, the DMV determined Mr. Kotler's personalized plate request for ‘COYW’ should not have been rejected and is expediting the approval to get it to Mr. Kotler as quickly as possible," a deputy director with the DMV wrote in an email.

The DMV had previously told Kotler "COYW" has "connotations offensive to good taste and decency." Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Wen Fa said the initial denial shows that "giving government officials unbridled discretion to ban speech they find offensive will inevitably lead to arbitrary results." Kotler said in a statement that "the freedom to speak as one wishes in the face of government opposition to it is central to what it means to be an American." Other English soccer clubs have similar taglines. Tottenham Hotspur uses "Come On You Spurs" or "COYS," while Manchester United players recorded a song called "Come On You Reds" in 1994. In refusing to dismiss the case last fall, US District Judge George Wu also rejected the DMV's claim that vehicle license plates constitute speech by the government. Wu said it's unlikely "viewers perceive the government as speaking through personalized vanity plates."

(More vanity plates stories.)

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