A Nova Scotia retiree fighting to get his personalized “GRABHER” licence plates back after they were revoked is arguing the government is being hypocritical because it often endorses potentially offensive phrases and names itself.
Lorne Grabher had his plates withdrawn by his provincial government after an anonymous complainant argued “GRABHER” was a “socially unacceptable slogan,” reports the Canadian Press. Introduced in 1989, Nova Scotia’s personalized plate program lets the province refuse plates deemed offensive or in poor taste.
In an affidavit filed this month to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, however, Grabher argues the government’s definition of “offensive” is “arbitrary” and that its use of equally distasteful language is “hypocritical.”
“Grabher cited Halifax Water transit ads headlined ‘Our minds are in the gutter,’ ‘Powerful sh..t,’ and ‘Be proud of your Dingle,’ the last one a reference to a prominent waterfront tower,” explained the Press.
He went on to offer as examples official place names like Dildo, Red Indian Lake, and Blow Me Down Provincial Park in Newfoundland and Labrador; and Crotch Lake and Swastika in Ontario.
Grabher, whose family had used the plate 27 years before it was withdrawn January 2017, says he has not intended to offend anyone, and is “profoundly insulted and humiliated” that his name had been deemed offensive.
“I am dismayed that some anonymous, misinformed, overly sensitive individual, hiding behind their anonymity, can dictate to an entire province that my good name is suddenly an ‘offensive slogan,’ when it has never before been any such thing, nor is it today,” he wrote in his affidavit.
His fight has been taken up by the Alberta-based Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, which says the vagueness of licence plate regulations could impinge on freedom of speech rights.
Nova Scotia’s Transport Department has said it understands “Grabher” is a Germanic surname but that the general public who view the plate lack that context, making it potentially offensive to passersby. The case will be heard by the province’s Supreme Court in September 2018.
(Canadian Press via CTVNews.ca)