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Dear Tesla and Prius owners, enough with the sanctimonious license plates

Technically Incorrect: Why do owners of greener vehicles feel the need to crow about their eco-superiority? Is it pride, or a need to make the rest of us feel bad?

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


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That's it, Tesla owner. Air it out. Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

I know we're supposed to be saving the world so that our self-centered millennial children can destroy it in their own individual ways.

And I'm prepared to do my bit in order to recycle magazines I never ordered and wine bottles that remind me of an evening with people whose names I forget.

I struggle, however, with all the people who point their fingers at me and tell me I'm not green enough. Or at least not as sanctimoniously green as they are.

The worst thing is that they don't even know me. But it's clear that they need to stick a billboard on their car in order to laud their own holiness and, simultaneously, snort that their greenness is far superior to mine.

I am overtaken by this emotional climate change as I contemplate news from greener climes. On Thursday evening of this week, Tesla Motors is set to make a big announcement about batteries, perhaps expanding its reach beyond its automotive microclimate. And Toyota last week began trying to build momentum for its hydrogen-fuel car, the Mirai, with a new campaign called Fueled by Bulls***." We get it. Green is it.

I am fretful that yet more people, on buying a musky Tesla, Toyota's Prius or Mirai, or the greenly named Nissan Leaf, will create a license plate that reminds everyone that they've bought a Tesla, a Prius, a Mirai or a nonphotosynthetic Leaf.

Even before their own license plates arrive, they sometimes enjoy a factory-made one that is equally haughty. How many times do I see a Tesla with the printed words "Zero Emissions" poking out of its behind?

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Because if you don't, we'll all be dead. Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

We know, we know. Do we have to be told again and again? It's even worse than one of my neighbors who insisted on having a "Who's Your Farmer?" sticker on his Subaru, in order to make me feel guilty -- I assume -- that I once bought ground beef at Safeway and had no clue where it came from.

Why do green car owners, as spotted in my vicinity, need to tell me to TNKGLBL? I find it hard enough to TNKSTR8. I am imperfect. My car is only a diesel, and I sometimes feel driven to get a license plate shouting out ASHAMED. Why must they try to make me feel worse?

Why do they insist that a license plate exists to shriek about carbon dioxide or any other aspect of saving this cheerily doomed planet?

Are even BMW owners and their license plates this high and mighty?

Perhaps I am more sensitive because here in California, vanity plates are not so common. Some years back, a study showed that the Golden State couldn't even crack the top 10, so rare were such pressed-metal displays of vanity.

It's even worse when they congregate around the charging station outside my local supermarket. TNKGLBL, meet HYBRDIZ and chat about the farmer who grows your kale.

You bought a Tesla. You have a lot of money. You feel slightly guilty about this, so you're telling me you're saving the world (and I'm not) while driving around in a deeply swish car? Does your shrink know?

There's one Prius owner in my area who actually performed a commendable act of creativity. He or she bought a Prius and decided the license plate should be SMUGCAR.

There is something so deeply self-aware about this that every time I see this car, I just toot my horn because the owner has tooted theirs in such an honest manner.

So green car owners, we know that your car is green. We know that you are superior to us, society's grim detritus, in every way imaginable.

Have you ever thought of having a license plate that just says: LPLATE?