A Canadian Star Trek fan is filing a legal challenge after his personalized license plate was revoked by Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) on the grounds that it may be interpreted as offensive.
According to CBC, Nick Troller claims to have used his license plate, which reads ASIMIL8, for the better part of two years with no complaints. However, MPI, which issues personalized license plates in the province, revoked the plate in 2017, deeming the plate inappropriate and potentially insulting to Indigenous people.
"We are considering serious disciplinary action for those who were involved and contributed to approving a plate that is so obviously inappropriate at a time when there was significant media coverage about the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, etc," MPI vice-president Ward Keith wrote in an email to registrar of motor vehicles Carla Hocken in 2017. "This is a very serious lack of judgment for those who were involved in doing the research and/or approving the plate for issue."
Troller claims his license plate is a reference to the popular declaration of Star Trek's Borg, a race of cybernetic lifeforms linked into a hive mind called “The Collective.” The ASIMIL8 plate was enclosed in a border reading: "We are the Borg" and "Resistance is futile." Troller's contention is that revoking his license plate violates his freedom of expression.
The Borg gain technology and information from other species through the act of forced assimilation, injecting victims with advanced nanoprobes and giving them a series of cybernetic surgeries. The Borg have served as reoccurring antagonists on both Star Trek: The Next Generation and Voyager. However, the concept of assimilation often has a particularly negative connotation for Indigenous people in Canada, where they have been subject to often brutal policies of assimilation.