For more than six years, Jesse Nieto drove to work at Camp Lejeune, N.C., in a car that left no doubt about his views.
"Islam = terrorism" asserted one sticker on the back window of his maroon Scion. Another decal showed a cartoon boy urinating on the image of a turban-wearing man. A third, paraphrased to eliminate a curse word, said, Disgrace my flag, and I will defecate on your Quran.
His feelings stem from a personal tragedy: His son died in a terrorist attack on the Norfolk-based destroyer Cole in Yemen in 2000.
In August, base officials told Nieto, a retired Marine and civilian employee, to remove those stickers. He did.
Two weeks later, Nieto was ordered to remove two other decals critical of Islam on his car, or stop driving it onto base altogether.
Nieto refused to get rid of two sets of stickers, both of which show a star and a crescent moon - symbolic of Islam - with a red circle and line through them. One says, "We died they rejoiced." The other reads, "No quarter Islamic terrorist."
In November, Nieto filed a federal lawsuit contending that base officials violated his free speech and equal protection rights. If decals of Confederate flags and silhouettes of busty ladies are permitted on private vehicles at the base, the suit reasons, Nieto's political sentiments should be, too.
"It's political correctness run amok," said Robert Muise, an attorney with the Thomas More Law Center in Michigan, who is working for free on Nieto's case. "It's remarkable that given the situation we're in today, the wars we're fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, that our own military would prohibit this speech."