Canada, a country known for being casually stereotyped as a polite and apologetic people.
Manitoba, a Canadian province that’s fun to say out loud.
A Star Trek inspired number plate that’s been banned.
That’s right, Manitoba has revoked a Star Trek inspired custom licence plate after receiving complaints that it’s… offensive.
Nick Troller has owned the number plate for two years. It simply reads ASIMIL8. The number plate is kept inside a holder that reads “WE ARE THE BORG. RESISTANCE IS FUTILE.”.
You probably recognise it as a pop culture reference. The fictional antagonist cyborg enemy race from Star Trek would say “you will be assimilated” and then force other species into the Collective hive mind of the species. Think of them as slightly kinder Daleks. If that’s still not a cultural reference you understand, then I can’t help you.
Nevertheless, Troller received a phone call from Manitoba Public Insurance to tell him two people had complained that the word “assimilate” is offensive to indigenous people. If you check the dictionary then definitions of assimilate do indeed include “to absorb into the cultural tradition of a population or group”
However, the dictionary definition of assimilate also includes: “to take into the mind and thoroughly understand.”
Ry Moran, from the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation says:
Which is, frankly, insane. If you don’t take into account intent when it comes to words and statements then almost anything can be defined as offensive, and free speech is dead. Canada is already a place where free speech is slowly being squeezed. It’s reached the point where comedians have to be careful with their acts on stage.Things like this that seem silly at first glance are often an indication of what’s going on underneath. Context is everything. Wether you’re talking about sexism, racism or any kind of ism.
Now, when a number plate is literally framed with context from a science fiction franchise. One that’s been firmly ingrained in world culture for over 50 years. One that originated in North America in the first place, then we really shouldn’t have a problem here.
Thankfully there are sane minds getting involved in the form of he Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms. They are planning to sue the Nova Scotia government over the number plates revocation. John Carpay of the JCCF said:
Assimilate: To take into the mind and thoroughly understand.