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Resistance is futile for Star Trek fan who must hand over ‘offensive’ license plate

By Brian Murphy

bmurphy@mcclatchy.com

A Canadian Star Trek fan was forced to turn in his personalized license plate after complaints that it was offensive.

Nick Troller’s ASIMIL8 vanity plate referenced Star Trek’s alien Borg. The license plate was held in a Star Trek frame that read “We are the Borg” and “Resistance Is Futile.”

But the Manitoba Public Insurance made Troller give up the plate, saying two people had called and complained that the plate was offensive to minorities, according to The Canadian Press. Troller can get a new plate or a refund of the $100 charge for the plate, according to CTV News.

“But that’s not the point. We’ve become way too sensitive. You can’t say anything anymore to anybody,” Troller said.

According to the MPI website, personalized license plates cannot include “any profane, sexually suggestive, racial or alcohol/drug-related words, phrases or innuendos that may be considered offensive or suggestive, or political messages of any description, in any language.” It includes a note that the registrar of motor vehicles reserves the right to recall personalized license plates that are later deemed to be inappropriate.

Resistance is indeed futile, in this case. There is no appeal process.

A member of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation told the Canadian Press that the word can be too offensive. The center is for “those affected by Indian residential schools,” which were used to assimilate more than 150,000 native children by Canadian state and churches, according to the website.

“For basically the entirety of this country’s history, indigenous peoples have been forcibly assimilated through really extremely destructive means and ways,” Moran told The Canadian Press. “Words like that, meant or not, have an actual impact on many people.”

This is not the first controversy over a license plate in Canada in recent weeks. Lorne Grabher’s GRABHER plate was revoked in Nova Scotia for being offensive to women. A group is suing the government over the plate, saying it is an infringement of freedom of expression.

“Canadians are becoming increasingly less tolerant of free expression,” said John Carpay of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms. “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.”

In the United States, the Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that Texas could refuse to allow license plates with the Confederate battle flag. Justice Clarence Thomas sided with the court’s four liberal judges in determining that the state did not violate the First Amendment. The Court ruled that the plates are “government speech.”

Here is a list of 11 license plates that were revoked at some point, including one that referenced the movie “Spinal Tap,” but some mistook as a reference to a man’s penis. The driver was eventually able to keep the plate.

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