All Kelly Coffman-Lee wanted to do was share her philosophy of life with everyone else on the road. "We're all vegan in my family," the Centennial woman says of herself, her husband and their three kids. "Tofu is a staple, and my car is just a mass of bumperstickers about animal rights and global warming. It displays my philosophy of life." And she thought a vanity license plate proclaiming her love of healthy, animal-free eating would look just perfect in the middle of those messages on her fuel-efficient Suzuki, the smallest car she could find that could still fit three car seats.
So this winter, she filled out the proper forms and submitted her plate request to the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles, which initially accepted it. But not long after, Coffman-Lee got a call from a state bureaucrat informing her that, on second look, the DMV was rejecting "ILVTOFU."
Because it was "possibly offensive to the general public." Because, well, people could get the wrong idea.
"Dirty, dirty DMV," Coffman-Lee says. To her, "ILVTOFU" clearly refers to loving tofu, not loving to fu** you. "I'd never put that on my family vehicle, for sure," she points out.
"Our keen-eyed license-plate reviewers see that saying something else, unfortunately," responds Mark Couch, spokesman for the Colorado Department of Revenue, which oversees the DMV. "That dangling FU on this proposal is what prevented her from getting that plate."
Not surprisingly, PETA has already weighed in on this shocking rejection of not-exactly-free speech (after all, you have to pay for vanity plates). "It's shocking to us that the DMV calls a vegetarian plate offensive," says spokeswoman Lindsay Rajt. "We think the DMV can do a lot of good by reconsidering its decision and allowing people to discover the joy of soy."
But that's not likely to happen, according to Couch. In fact, anything ending with FU won't pass muster with the DMV — and FUC and FUK are also forbidden.
At this point, Coffman-Lee does not plan on going back to the drawing board. "That's really the one I liked," she says. "More people need to start taking responsibility. I feel it's all on the hippie freaks to do the right thing."
Honk if you LVTOFU.
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First things first: After three long weeks of trial, former University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill won his wrongful-termination lawsuit against the school, and one mighty dollar in damages. (For an interesting take from Churchill juror Bethany Newill, log on to the Latest Word blog at westword.com.) But Churchill made the most of his downtime in Denver, turning himself into a one-man promotions machine for Denver tourism, according to a pair of Westword celebrity-spotters. One saw him in line at the Denver Art Museum's latest blockbuster exhibit, The Psychedelic Experience: Rock Posters From the San Francisco Bay Area, 1965 to 1971, while the jury was still out last week; another spied him at Katie Mullen's Irish Restaurant & Pub, where he celebrated his legal victory and blew through that buck fast.
But then, Churchill may have a lot more money to drop in the city if Denver District Court Judge Larry Naves decides to award him a cash settlement rather than force the university to take him back. Party on, Ward!
And the Churchill verdict wasn't the only knock against Colorado for failing to support free speech. The state's just landed in the first and tenth spots in this year's Muzzle Awards, handed out by the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, a nonprofit based in Charlottesville,Virginia.
The number-one Muzzle Award was shared by the Democratic and Republican national committees for their attempts to silence protesters during their conventions in Denver and Minneapolis. "Approximately 47,000 square feet of the Pepsi Center's parking lot was set aside for citizens who wished to direct a message of protest to the delegates," the award says of Denver. "Few delegates heard or saw the protesters, however, as the free speech zone was located nearly 700 feet from the delegates' entrance to the Pepsi Center," closed in on three sides by concrete barriers and patrolled by law enforcement.
Of course, that free-speech zone was actually a creation of the City of Denver and the U.S. Secret Service, so we think we really deserve a piece of that award as well.
The other Muzzle went to Frontier Elementary School in Aurora, which suspended a fifth-grader last September for wearing a shirt that read "Obama — a Terrorist's Best Friend." Sounds like Churchill needn't bother sending a resumé over there.
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We demand a recount: Face the State, the conservative political blog and two-time Best of Denver winner, took a break from its liberal-bashing hijinks Tuesday when it released a bipartisan list of "Hottest Politicos." The seventeen winners include Republicans like Nancy Spence, Democrats like Kevin Neimond and even lovable Libertarian Dave Williams — but there was at least one glaring omission: Morgan Carroll.
It's possible that Carroll, a Democratic state senator from Aurora, declined to participate in the affair (for more on her politics, including her vote against the proposal to grant in-state tuition for illegals, log on to the Latest Word blog at westword.com). If not, Face the State's staffers must have ice in their veins. As you may have guessed, we have a crush on Carroll. Not only would she make us dribble coffee on ourselves while trying to pass laws, but she's a world traveler, a horseback rider, a trained dancer and a disciple of kung fu. That's right, kung fu. And if she was in a Jackie Chan movie, she'd be one of those super-smart badass ladies who always co-star — a witty, foxy politician who, when faced with forces of evil beyond her control, must resort to power plays of a different sort: LEGISLATING WITH HER FISTS!
Scene and herd: The latest rumor about "Mustang," the killer sculpture by Luis Jimenez, is that it's gotten weak in the knees — or is at least cracking around the hooves — and might have to be put out to pasture for repairs. But hold your horses! "It may be undergoing some minor repairs," says Pauline Herrera, communications director for the Denver Office of Cultural Affairs, "but just standard maintenance." And it will stay right where it is while it undergoes any repair work — standing post outside Denver International Airport, frightening any children who come within range of its shining red eyeballs.