COLUMBIA — In a decision that would surely prompt a round of boos from Tiger fans, the Missouri Court of Appeals Western District found that a license plate emblazoned with the message "MZU SUX" is not offensive.
The Missouri Department of Revenue, the state office in charge of personalized license plates, attempted to recall the plate in May 2010 after receiving a complaint about it.
The attorney for the department said that the plate, read as "Mizzou sucks," was offensive because the word "sucks" has a sexual connotation. State law authorizes the director of the department of revenue to recall personalized license plates that are obscene, profane, offensive or could create danger.
St. Charles resident Toby Gettler, a self-proclaimed University of Kansas fan, ordered the plate in 2009 to "proclaim his belief that the University of Missouri's athletic program is inadequate and inferior to the University of Kansas's athletic program," according to court documents.
Gettler, representing himself in court, said the word in its modern use does not always insinuate a sexual act. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word as "to be objectionable or inadequate" when used as slang.
He offered examples like film critic Roger Ebert's book "Your Movie Sucks" and a Nicorette gum advertisement that said the gum "makes quitting suck less" to prove that the word is used in this way.
Gettler isn't alone in raising eyebrows for his use of the word "sucks." The department of revenue sent notices to two other Missouri vehicle owners whose plates read "2WD SUX" and "WTR SUX."
Nor is it the first time the rivalry between the two schools has played out via the legal technicalities of license plates.
In 2012, KU fans tried to create a Missouri license plate that would have featured the school's Jayhawk mascot. In response, Missouri lawmakers enacted a law that required the Missouri General Assembly to approve all collegiate and military specialty plates to derail the Kansas fans' attempt.
Of 34 Missouri state senators, 10 are MU graduates and one is a KU graduate.