The 5 Worst Texas License Plate Designs

Confederate-plateCalvary-Hill-plateThere’s been national coverage over the recent decisions by the Texas state government to reject a specialized license plate sought by the group Sons of Confederate Veterans and to approve a design that supports Calvary Hill, a Christian anti-gang organization in Nacogdoches.

The Confederate Veterans’ Sons are suing the state for the right to their plates. Meanwhile some groups are complaining about the Calvary Hill plate, which features crosses and the words “One State Under God,” though the slogan is part of the official Texas state pledge, and other plates have featured crosses, like these for the University of St. Thomas.

On what grounds is it OK to approve one and not the other, especially since acquiring either is an entirely voluntary act? The Confederate flag, and the fight to preserve the horrors of slavery that it represents, is seen as a symbol of hate by many. That seems like a sensible enough disqualifier. But do some atheists find the presence of crosses on a government-issued item equally as offensive? Perhaps.

That’s not what I’m here to debate. I’m here to point out the most heinous offense perpetrated by the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles: allowing so many terrible plates on our roads. The following are the five worst.

Marine Mammal plate

5. Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network

The problem here is as much about the name of the sponsored organization as it is the design. Why should anyone be in favor of stranding marine mammals? How cruel are these people?

Arts plate

4. State of the Arts

A plate meant to celebrate the creative energy of our state, with the blandest design possible.


3. Our Energy

This is one of the corporately sponsored plates. I’ll grant that only someone who works for the Houston retail energy provider Our Energy is likely to get this one. But should the state allow any plate to look like a piece of junk mail affixed to the back of your car? At least Mighty Fine Burgers had the decency to make their plate appear delicious.

Aerospace commission

2. Aerospace Commission

Umm, it’s for the Aerospace Commission, yeah? Where’s the space shuttle? Or rockets? Or some super-cool jets? Anything?


1. General Issue Plate

This is the one most of us have, the officially issued primary plate. It’s a mess that looks to have been concocted by a committee of grade-schoolers. Wick already pointed out that the design, which was the winner among several put up for an online vote, is an argument against democracy.

Check out all the available specialty plates here and here.


  • John M

    I’ve always liked the State of The Arts plate and considered getting one before laziness took over and I’ve ended up with the general issue plates the last three times including the current terrible one.

  • Ben

    Who cares? Beginning on January 1, 2012, the use of license plates in Texas becomes optional.

    House Bill 2357 was intended as a non-controversial 234-page update to existing law. It passed the state House on May 29 voted 139-6 and the state Senate 31-0, receiving the signature of Governor Rick Perry (R) on June 17. As part of the update, the new law deleted the license plate statute, returning parts of it to Section 502.473 and 504.943. In moving around the legal language, the bill went through the entire legislative process without anybody noticing that a key line was deleted without providing a replacement: “An offense under this section is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $200.”

    Without the line, it is not clear whether police officers or courts would have the authority to impose a punishment on drivers.

  • kerryokie

    many are offended by our American flag

    I guess since people are offended, you want anything to do with the American flag done away with

  • Eric

    The winners get to write the history…

    The fight was never about slavery. The north didn’t give a damn about slavery and in fact were terrified of freed black labor in the new territories – territories opened for white men.
    The fight was about Lincoln’s (and the Whigs he represented, viz. Henry Clay) so-called “American System” of high tariffs, protectionism, corporatism and publicly funded enterprises such as canals and railroads (all of which , when so funded, turned out to be stupendous cesspools of corruption, waste, fraud and ultimately, bankruptcy). All of these things were specifically forbidden in every state constitution of every confederate state. Note too that the poorer and agrarian south was paying 81% of these American System tariffs.
    In was only when Lincoln found himself late in the war, losing badly, and with by then more than 300.000 American citizens dead, that he tried to seize some sort of moral high ground by writing the Emancipation Proclamation. It was quite transparently a political ploy which freed NO slaves in union held territory ( as was all of Tennessee) but only in rebel held territory – territory Lincoln had no control of and in which, no slaves were freed.
    The union was always a voluntary institution – no state having ever been forced to join at the point of a gun. The threat of secession was always and intentionally constructed by the Founders as a check on federal power. Prior to 1860 northern states frequently threatened secession to score points in political fights. None were invaded by the then sitting president.
    It was Lincoln, the ambitious Illinois politician (you don’t really buy all that log cabin children’s story crap do you?) whose vision of EMPIRE akin to that of the British, who trampled the US Constitution by invading a *sovereign* state, jailing all northern opposition, jailing duly elected representatives of Maryland and Ohio, having Seward’s thugs smash printing presses, and countenancing a war of terror upon civilians by Sherman and his minions. It was Lincoln who started the vast expansion of federal power which has brought us to the point where Arizona, in trying to protect its borders, is sued by that same federal power which has failed to protect the people of Arizona.

    All of that said, the fact is that very few gave a damn about slavery in that war. Many have speculated that if Lincoln had not invaded, the plague of slavery would have vanished by 1880 without a shot being fired – much as it vanished -without war- from the rest of the world. The north, seeing the folly (and negative business impact ) of their protectionist tariffs, would have abandoned them and perhaps the south would have rejoined the union – voluntarily.

    So the winners get to write the history. And federally controlled schools (you think that is hyperbole? just try to hold prayers in one) teach our children that that was a war about slavery, the south was evil, and the confederate battle flag as awful as the swastika.

    There are some, not many anymore, who know a bit more about the history of that rebellion than what the Yankees and proponents of the American System would have you swallow. These people find Lincoln’s last words of his famous address galling rather than inspiring. For it was Lincoln who invaded the south without congressional approval, who suspended the writ of habeas corpus, who trampled the constitution so “he could save it”. Yes, 600,000 men women and children dead and Lincoln had the gall to say the following?
    “…and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

    That fringe elements have co-opted that confederate flag as a symbol of hatred and discrimination does not change the fact of why so many southern men gave their life in that war – for the sovereignty of their state and their home.

    Ah, but the winners get to write the history.

  • Fact checker

    Why are we wasting time with any of these special plates? How much is it costing in legal fees to deal with this issue. Let’s allow license plates to be used for their stated purpose of identifying the vehicle they are attached to. As for the civil war – why fight it again on license plates?

  • As Jason wrote, the acquisition of any specialty license plate is a decision made by the individual. Nuff said.

  • Eric, you need to use the internet to search for information instead of using it to promote ignorance and lies.

    The Civil War was all about slavery. The reason we know this is because those who were willing to go to war explained why they were willing to go to war.

    Texas explains exactly why they were willing to fight and die in a war with the north over states rights.

    [quote]We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.

    That in this free government all white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights; that the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations; [/quote]

    You can find out more here Stuff like 166 to 8 vote for secession. Think about that, 166 to 8 to vote for slavery because it is divine design.

  • mynameisbill

    @Eric, the wars over bro…it’s time to reintegrate back into society and put that whole mess of a thing behind us…godspeed!

  • Neal

    Does anyone else think the Texas State Pledge is the stupidest thing ever? Other than forcing kids to recite it at school?

  • kerryokie


    that tired ol lie again!??

    good people ALWAYS LAMENT BAD

  • PeterK

    The SCV will win in Texas just as they won in other states. They will win because it involves the First amendment. Texas should have done the basic internet research and said “okay you’re approved”.

    I couldn’t care less I’ve only seen one of the SCV plates here in Richmond the former capitol of the Confederacy. they still haven’t stopped fighting the late Great Unpleasantness

  • Eric

    @Harvey – No, you missed my point entirely. Completely.
    I could site all the numbers about how only a fourth of Texans owned any slaves, or that the delegates to that Texas secession convention were 70% slave holders – all out of proportion to the population at large – &tc &tc but none of that matters. It is not relevant to the points I made.
    Maybe this will make it more clear:

    Suppose that in 1860 abortion were enshrined in the US Constitution. And suppose that in the north it had been quietly discontinued but that in the south it was big business. Now some citizens north and south think abortion is evil and some citizens north and south think it is lawful. Some others think it lawful, but they wouldn’t do it themselves. A variety of views exist in other words. For the sake of this illustration, it is entirely not relevant whether you think abortion is “good” or “bad” or “lawful” or “sinful”. Not relevant.
    Now, if one or more of these southern states practicing abortion realize that the northern states are mistreating them in the US Congress and that such mistreatment includes federal policies unfavorable to those southern states, in fact causing financial harm to those states, such that those states withdraw form the union, and the union then invades those states on the grounds that they may not withdraw from the union, can it be said that the war is about abortion, really?
    Remember, the north did not invade the south for practicing slavery. It invaded the south for withdrawal from the union. These are two completely – utterly and completely – different things.

    The point I was making is that the states always had the right to secede – it was designed that way by the founders as a check on federal power. Lincoln had absolutely no constitutional grounds for invading the south – he did it on the pretext of “re-supplying” a federal fort knowing he would be fired upon. He invaded with no Congressional approval. He ruthlessly subjugated the south for *secession* not slavery.

  • towski

    @kerryokie Who are these “many”? Do they exist outside of fevered imaginations?

  • Jeez Eric, the forests consists of trees.

    The reason the south wanted to secede from the North was because their ignorance had them choking on stupidity.

    The same mentality that saw slavery as good also didn’t understand the good earth would only take so much abuse. They had destroyed the soil on the plantations. So they were having to move their plantations to new locations. The North had pretty well sewed up all the land out west so they couldn’t move their slaves and operations out there. Mexico had also outlawed slavery.

    The birth rate of the slaves was much better than that of the whites. The south was finding itself overwhelmed with good fortune you might say. They were not allowed to import new slaves and the ones they were creating naturally were becoming a liability because of the limited market at home.

    The bottom line was the south had shit in their bed repeatedly and often. The North along with good people all over the world were forcing them to sleep in it.

    It’s easy to understand why whites who didn’t own slaves were willing to fight and die for the south. It was a way of life and it was obviously divine design. Keep in mind the Southern Baptists came about only as a vehicle to support the divine right to own Africans. They didn’t apologize for this or repudiate it as doctrine until the late seventies I believe, might have been the early eighties.

    The myth of the chivalrous southerner is hard to understand when you accept ALL women and children as deserving of polite treatment. If we take performance in battle as the mark of southern supremacy then we have to praise our enemies in the World Wars, Viet Nam, Korea, and currently in the middle east. Many soldiers in all of those armies exhibited the same kind of dedication and bravery the southerners did in battle.

    The south dug a hole and then fought a war to keep it a hole.

  • kerryokie


    “many” refers to all those people that say America, the Imperialist nation etc etc etc

    ya know, the dems

  • Bizarro Big Tex

    One State. One vehicle. One Plate. Problem solved,

  • towski

    Democrats hate the flag of the United States. Gotcha.

  • Seek__ The__Truth

    ‎”One State under God” plate passes in Texas. See why, despite what liberal media says, “Under God” License Plate Is Mainstream Texas, Period:

  • Eric

    @Harvey – That is all interesting – and much of it is true. And in fact, many of the points you raise substantiate the speculation that slavery would have ceased to exist by 1880 without a shot being fired (as I mention above, *as it did in the rest of the world*). But I am not debating the evil of slavery – different topic. I am making the point – again – that the north invaded the south for secession, not slavery. I am also making the point that hundreds of thousands of southerners fought against that *invasion*.
    There is simply no lawful basis for Lincoln’s war of aggression. He made it quite clear that he himself was not interested in slaves but union (until, that is, his war that would be ‘over by Christmas’ became a disaster, at which time he emancipated the slaves though, if you will read *that* document closely you will see it really freed no slaves in 1863)

  • DallasMan


    Actually, the South didn’t just dig a hole on their own…they had help. The slave trading companies were owned by Northerners. It took two to tango our nation’s history into slavery, and the North bears just as much guilt as the South. Many Northerners, including many famous Northern leaders were just as prejudiced as their Southern cousins. Abraham Lincoln quotes:

    “If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it.” and “I never have been in favor of bringing about the equality of the white and black races.”

    Your characterization of the North as “good people” trying to stop slavery is comical. The South may have fought the Civil War with the preservation of slavery as one of its goals, but the North most certainly did not fight the Civil War with the abolition of slavery as its primary goal.

    History is not anywhere near as clear-cut as either you or Eric are advocating.

  • towski

    Does it matter? Does it matter if the civil war wasn’t as clear cut as some would argue, or that the war wasn’t necessarily primarily about Slavery? The simple fact of the matter is, the symbol involved, the confederate battle flag, whatever it meant to those soldiers fighting for the confederacy, was co-opted long ago by racists dead set on oppressing minorities. To the public at large, it doesn’t symbolize the noble southerner fighting for his home any more, it symbolizes racism, segregation, and an ugly period in american history.

    I don’t want to get all godwin-y here, but I think the example of the swastika is a valid metaphor. Despite it’s original meaning having nothing to do with the national socialists, nobody is going to allow one on a license plate, are they?