2HOT4U: How Vanity Plates Became the Symbol of Wealth and Crime

Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom had 18 luxury automobiles with license plates like "EVIL," "GOD," "GUILTY."

When Kim Dotcom was arrested over the weekend for operating the illegal file-sharing site Megaupload, he was found in a fortified safe room of his New Zealand mansion protected by his gun collection. As authorities continued the raid on his property, they seized millions of dollars worth of personal property, including a collection of 18 luxury automobiles. In a detail that has delighted followers of the Dotcom story, each car featured a personalized license plate, each inscribed with a single bold word: "EVIL," "GOOD," "GOD," "STONED," "CEO," "MAFIA," "HACKER," "GUILTY."

The vanity plates fit in perfectly with Dotcom’s image as a wealthy mastermind villain. That association has been forged through decades worth of films in which custom plates often mean the bad guy is rolling in. Most notably, Auric Goldfinger, the infamous antagonist in the 1964 James Bond film, rolled in a 1937 yellow Rolls Royce complete with custom plates reading “AU 1,” a reference to the abbreviation for gold on the Periodic Table of Elements. And when Chris Evans's character steals a lawyer's car in the film Cellular, the plates read, “WL SU YOU 2.” Although they’re now available to the average motorist, customized license plates have become associated with the obscenely rich, taking on a negative connotation as separating the common man from the unfeeling high rollers of upper society.

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Are Religious Vanity Plates a Sin? UDECIDE

From Jesus to Hitler to anti-abortion slogans, there is no end to the politics of the plates-license plates, that is.

From Jesus to Hitler to anti-abortion slogans, there is no end to the politics of the plates—license plates, that is.

Recently, a United States circuit court judge overruled a Vermont statute that said you can’t use your license plate to send religious messages. The case in point was a would-be 2004 plate saying "JN36TN"—which meant John 3:16, according to its owner Shawn Byrne. The judge who overturned the anti-religion statute said that since other types of personal beliefs and affiliations were all OK—such as “THINKPOS” and “ARMYMOM”—there’s no reason a religious message shouldn’t be allowed as well.

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