Star Trek Number Plate Causes Offense
Manitoba’s public insurance company has revoked a Star Trek inspired custom licence plate after receiving complaints that it’s offensive. Nick Troller’s two-year-old plate reads “ASIMIL8.”
Troller keeps it inside a licence plate holder that says: “WE ARE THE BORG. RESISTANCE IS FUTILE.” He says Trekkies will recognize that it’s a reference to the cyborg villains who bellowed “you will be assimilated” on various Star Trek series and movies.
He says strangers have complimented him on the plate and taken photos. “I thought it was funny,” he said.
But Troller got a phone call Wednesday from someone at Manitoba Public Insurance, who he says told him two people had complained that the word “assimilate” is offensive to indigenous people.
The dictionary definitions of assimilate include “to absorb into the cultural tradition of a population or group” and “to take into the mind and thoroughly understand.”
Troller disagrees that it’s offensive.
On Thursday, he was served with a letter that states: “…it has been brought to the attention of this office that the personalized plate ASIMIL8 is considered offensive.” The letter demanded that he “surrender” the plate immediately.
The letter says Troller can either get a new personalized plate or a refund on the $100 charge.
“But that’s not the point,” he says. “We’ve become way too sensitive. You can’t say anything anymore to anybody.”
Ry Moran, from the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, is among those who agree with MPI that the word “assimilate” is too offensive to be on a licence plate.
“For basically the entirety of this country’s history, indigenous peoples have been forcibly assimilated through really extremely destructive means and ways,” he said.
Moran added that “words like that, meant or not, have an actual impact on many people.”
MPI’s policy states that “plates cannot contain a slogan that could be considered offensive.” MPI said in a statement that it takes such complaints “very seriously” and will investigate why the plate was approved in the first place.
Licence plates are property of the Crown and there is no appeal process.
Troller’s situation is reminiscent of a controversy in Nova Scotia, where a man named Lorne Grabher’s personalized GRABHER plate was revoked after a complaint that it was offensive to women.
The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms said earlier this month that it plans to sue the Nova Scotia government over the revocation, which it sees as an infringement on freedom of expression.
The JCCF’s John Carpay said the GRABHER licence plate revocation is part of a wider trend in Canadian society.
"Canadians are becoming increasingly less tolerant of free expression," he said. "You have more and more people who believe that they have a legal right to go through life without seeing or without hearing things they find to be offensive."
How close a series of letters or numbers are to a real name of word: if the match quality is high (and the numbers and letters are very convincing in making a popular word), the value of the registration plate will be higher. This means that a match like 5IMON, for the name Simon, will be worth a lot more than a more obscure set of letters and numbers that are not as convincing a match, such as S17 MMM for the name Sam.
The style of the plate: this means establishing if it is a new-style plate, an older-style format or if it is dateless or Irish, for instance. Other options are that it is a prefix-style plate or a suffix-style plate. New-style number plates, which have been produced since 2001, tend to be the least valuable because they are a bit less appealing to some collectors, plus the rule about not having plates that are newer than your car can also come into play, putting people off from buying a newer-style plate for their older car. Prefix-style number plates, which were in production between 1983 and 2001 can be more popular as more vehicles are entitled to have those licence numbers, and they may have fewer characters in total. Suffix-style plates, issued from 1963 to 1983 are relatively rare, which means they can attract higher prices than prefix-style plates and newer designs. Dateless number plates, also known as cherished number plates, were produced between 1903 and 1963 and are nearly always the most valuable number plate configurations; they have fewer digits and their dateless nature means that people can hide the age of their car. Irish number plates are similar to dateless number plates, especially because they don’t have a year identifier. They also tend to be cheaper than other types of vehicle registration plates.
Established For Over 25 Years
the Cherished Numbers Guild
- Free transfer service - your paperwork is handled by our trained team
- Over 25 years expertise - long established and trusted company
- DVLA Recognised Reseller - linked directly from the DVLA website
- DVLA Registered Number Plate Supplier - in line with all DVLA & MOT regulations