Virginia's Division of Motor Vehicles has opened Pandora's Box, it seems to us, by revoking a motorist's specialized license tags on the grounds, stated in a letter, that "It is our policy not to issue licenses that may be offensive to any person or group of persons."

The letter, signed by B.F. Moore, assistant manager of titles and registration in Harrisonburg, was sent to Arnold Via of Grottoes, who sports the tag, "ATH-EST" on his Cadillac.

An unidentified Virginian took offense, believing that the tag meant atheist and was shortened only because the state permits only six letters on its so-called vanity tags.

True, Via responded in a letter to the state, but "so what?" He's proudly atheistic, a constitutional right, and is, in fact, state president of the American Atheist Organization.

His first choice for a tag, he wrote, was "NO GOD," but that was ruled out because "GOD," "JESUS," "LORD" and "ALLAH" are among the tags proscribed by Virginia in its not-very-infinite wisdom. Why in heaven's name are religious names, devoutly displayed, outlawed? Or, for that matter, proclamations with another view, so long as they're not blasphemous?