Lorne Grabher’s last name has been deemed “socially unacceptable” by the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. The province’s motored vehicle registrar sent him a letter last December telling him the name “Grabher” on his car license plate is unacceptable because it might be “misinterpreted.”
Grabher announced Thursday that he might be going to court over the matter.
Grabher, who describes his name as Germanic in origin, says his surname is unique and a source of pride for himself and other family members. He has the name emblazoned on the front of his house as well as his car.
“Well, I am the only one in Eastern Canada,” says Grabher. “I originally had it done for my father back in 1991 for his birthday. It was to have our name be put on something and be proud of it,” he told CTV News.
Then came the letter of reproof late last year.
Grabher isn’t taking it lying down and is vowing to fight the provincial government for the rights to advertise his last name.
“Where does the Province of Nova Scotia and this government have a person with that kind of power to discriminate against my name?” he asks.
The Grabher plate has not just been registered in Nova Scotia. Grabher’s son, who lives in Alberta — far from his father’s Atlantic home — also has a personalized Grabher plate, the third Grabher generation to follow the tradition.
The provincial motor vehicle office has responded to the Grabher controversy by issuing an “explanation.”
According to Janice Harland, the road safety director at the provincial registrar, the public can’t be trusted to properly interpret the plate’s messaging. “While I recognize this plate was issued as your last name, the public cannot be expected to know this and can misinterpret it as a socially unacceptable slogan,” she wrote.
The registrar doesn’t stop at “Grabher” as an example of an offending word: it has a 67 page list of words subject to provincial censorship.
“My father was a very proud man, and he always instilled in us that we should be very proud of our name…and this hurts,” Grabher said.
Grabher hasn’t given up hope of getting his plate back. He’s investigating the possibility of suing the provincial government to restore his license plate.
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