I am not convinced that a proper government should be involved in administering the registration and licensing of motor vehicles for operation, but it is the case in most jurisdictions.
It ought to be a straightforward procedure to perform the necessary recordkeeping for processing payments, issuing vehicle tags, tracking expiring registrations and perhaps issuing reminders for renewals pending.
But of course, when government goes beyond its proper scope of protecting individual rights, all manner of inefficiencies and injustices are certain to occur. [The primary source of information for what follows can be found in a National Post article, which is recommended reading for what it reveals about the panicked actions within a bureaucracy.]
Take the case of Nicholas Troller of Winnipeg, Canada who is an enthusiastic fan of Star Trek. In 2015 Troller availed himself of the “vanity plate” option offered by Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI), the “Crown corporation” responsible for “approving” and issuing license plates for motor vehicles.
Troller chose from his favorite entertainment media an innocuous reference to the legitimate concept designated by the word “assimilate.” In fictional Star Trek subculture the reference is to the actions of the “Borg,” a science-fiction species that “assimilates” into its “collective” by force other species, using surgical and other techniques. The “Borg,” a partially cybernetic species, confronts other acceptable species with the admonition that “We are the Borg, resistance is futile.”
So, Troller came up with a clever configuration that would fit within the restrictive parameters for the number of characters permitted for his personalized license plate: “ASIMIL8.”
Troller installed the issued plate on his vehicle with a frame bearing the slogans: “WE ARE THE BORG,” and “RESISTANCE IS FUTILE.” He drove away happily, renewing the registration as required in 2016 and apparently, attracting favorable attention that was reflected ultimately in social media postings. Shortly thereafter all hell broke loose.
In April 2017, more than two years after originally issuing the plate, MPI contacted Troller ordering that he immediately return the plate because it was deemed “offensive.” Although he complied it was in the context of a near threat since MPI, as demanded by Carla Hocken, the Registrar of Motor Vehicles, indicated that it “wants the plate off the road immediately.”
Troller asked but was not told who complained about the plate which was deemed offensive to “Aboriginal people.” In fact a decision to revoke the plate was made before a complaint was filed. Later, a complaint was formally filed by MaryAnn Wilhem, the “outreach director for the New Democratic Party’s Aboriginal Commission.” I don’t know what that position entails but it is clearly something with political power.
Thus, if some bureaucrat says your license plate is “offensive” it must be so. Resistance is futile.
But Troller is resisting. He has filed a court challenge supported by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCFCF).
By the way, the National Post article, which is otherwise informative has gratuitously labelled the JCFCF as a “conservative” organization. The implication therefore is that such value concepts as “justice,” “freedom” and “free expression” are “conservative” ones rather than what is predominantly understood in Canadian culture as “liberal” or “progressive.”
A court date has not been set but this is a case to watch in Canada, where sadly there are assaults on “free expression” on a regular basis in the name of “political correctness,” “multiculturalism” and “egalitarianism,” whether expressly stated as the rationalization or not. Whenever a collective is taken as the unit of reality rather than the individual, all manner of evil can be anticipated. The group, the tribe, the race, the political party in power or the “Borg” if you will, assimilates or obliterates the individual. Unless met with principled resistance.