A Canadian man’s Star Trek-inspired license plate has been revoked after his public insurance company received complaints that it was offensive to indigenous people. The two-year-old plate, which reads “ASIMIL8,” is a sly reference to the Borg, evil aliens in Star Trek who “assimilate” their prey and go by the motto “Resistance is Futile.”
Manitoba local Nick Troller was informed by an agent from Manitoba Public Insurance on Wednesday that they had received complaints from two people about the word “assimilate,” which they claimed is offensive to minorities. He was then served a letter informing him that “it has been brought to the attention of this office that the personalized plate ASIMIL8 is considered offensive,” and was ordered to surrender it immediately.
MPI has given Troller the option to replace the personalized plate with a new one free of charge or refund the $100 he paid for it.
Troller disagrees with the contention that the plate is offensive. “But that’s not the point,” he said. “We’ve become way too sensitive. You can’t say anything anymore to anybody.”
He told CTV News that prior to being notified of the complaints, he was only ever complimented for the interesting license plate by people who took photos of it.
The term “assimilate” can refer to the process in which members of a group are absorbed into the culture of another population. In the Star Trek franchise, the malevolent Borg forcibly assimilate sentient lifeforms into their machine “hivemind”.
Speaking to CTV News, a spokesperson for the National Center for Truth and Reconciliation, Ry Moran, said that the word “assimilate” is indeed too offensive to be displayed on the plate, regardless of intent.
“Words like that, meant or not, have an actual impact on many people,” said Moran—as if one man’s Star Trek reference was capable of oppressing millions of Canadians.
In Manitoba, license plates are the property of the government and there is no appeal process for rejected or revoked slogans. MPI policy states that plates are prohibited from containing slogans that could be considered offensive. The Manitoba licensing bureau is treating complaints over the ASIMIL8 plate “very seriously” and will investigate why the plate was ever approved in the first place.