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Canadian Man Named ‘Grabher’ Has ‘GRABHER’ License Plate Revoked for Being Offensive to Women

A Canadian man has been involved in a legal battle with the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation after having his vanity license plate revoked for featuring a “socially unacceptable slogan”. The problem is that that slogan is also the man’s family name.

In December of 2016, Lorne Grabher, of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, was informed that his license plate – which read ‘GRABHER’ – would be canceled because people could “misinterpret it as a socially unacceptable slogan”. The Department of Transportation had apparently received complaints from “some individuals” who considered the plate “misogynistic and promoting violence against women”, and had decided to revoke it. At the time, the phrase “grab her” had taken a political significance, following the leak of a 2005 tape of US President Donald Trump making his now famous statement about grabbing women by the… Well, you know.

Photo: YouTube screengrab

However, Lorne Grabher made it absolutely clear that his plate had nothing to do with The Donald’s controversial statement, adding that he was no fan of the President. Furthermore, the GRABHER plate was registered in 1991, as a gift to his father and a way to honor their German last name. His father passed away during the 1990s and the plate had remained in the family ever since.

Authorities didn’t care much for his explanation, though, and revoked the plate. It should be noted that the personalized plate program, introduced in Nova Scotia in 1989, reserves the right to refuse plates deemed offensive, socially unacceptable or in bad taste, but Mr. Grabher and his legal consider that in this case, the decision to have the plate revoked qualifies as discrimination against a person’s name.

“I was taken aback. How can you say my name is a slogan when it is not?” Grabher told CBC News, last year. “Where does the province of Nova Scotia and the government of Nova Scotia get the right to discriminate against a person’s name?”

“I’ve never once had anybody come up to me and say they were offended,” Grabher added. “They would look at it and say, ‘Am I reading this right?’ And I would go, ‘Yes.’ And they would go, ‘Is this your last name?’ And I would go, ‘Yes.’ And they would always just give a little chuckle.”‘

 

A spokesperson for the Department of Transportation told Canadian media that there was no way for the institution to denote that GRABHER was the plate owner’s last name (really???) and that it “determined it was in the public’s best interest to remove it from circulation”. Although the department understand’s Mr. Grabher’s frustration, it would not reconsider its decision. Instead, it offered to print alternative wording or to reimburse the man for the cost of the remaining life of the plate.

Last year, Lorne Grabher took the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation to court over his right to have his family name displayed on vanity license plates, and is currently involved in a legal battle. He wants his name back on the plates and argues that he shouldn’t be discriminated against just because he has an unusual family name.

Grabher told reporters that according to the arguments invoked by the Department of Transportation, he should erase his name completely because it might offend somebody.

“I guess now I’m going to have to take my name out of the phone book because a person’s been offended by it,” Grabher said. “I guess my wife has to change the name of her consulting company, Grabher’s Consulting. That has to be taken away? I guess I’m going to have to change my birth certificate.”

 

Interestingly, Troy Grabher, Lorne’s son, also has “GRABHER” license plates, only they are registered in Alberta, and the Department of Transportation here has not revoked them.

This controversial and somewhat silly case is scheduled to go to trial in September 2018.

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