News & Politics

Canada Revokes 'Star Trek' Vanity Plate for Being 'Offensive'

William Shatner Destination Star Trek Convention, Birmingham, UK - 07 Oct 2016 (Rex Features via AP Images)

They do some weird stuff up in Canada. I’m not talking about a love for hockey that a guy from the Deep South will never understand. No, I’m referring to which battles they choose to cave on when pressured by social justice warriors.

For example, a Manitoba man has had his vanity license plate revoked because it was deemed offensive:

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.

The context alone proved a use of the word unrelated to the accusation. The license plate had nothing to do with indigenous cultures, immigrants, or anyone else. Case closed. But even had it been used in the context the accusers mentioned, a Western society that quells speech it deems offensive is no longer a Western society.

Let me make this very, very clear for those in Canada who agree with this move: A right to not be offended can never exist.

That’s the problem with the arguments about so-called “hate speech.” Trying to block any form of speech through legal means becomes problematic to the extreme, because all sides can play that game. Then all that matters is who is in power, because that person can criminalize the opposition.

What then? While public discourse will be far more civil in appearance, it wouldn’t be due to sudden magnanimity. We would simply be living in fear.

Popular, uncontroversial speech has never needed protection, after all. And until now, neither did ridiculously misinterpreted language.