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They Refused to Allow Him To Use His Last Name On His License Plate, Because it's "Socially Unacceptable"

CBC News

Names are special, which is why we're bothered when someone pronounces either our first or last name wrong.

I've had people ridicule my first name for as long as I can remember, but it's never bothered me.

The only reason is because a first name essentially belongs to you, so if someone wants to say something about me, so be it.

However, if someone was to ridicule my last name, that means they're making fun of a name that represents my family's history.

And as we all know, history has always been greater than us. For that reason, having something connected to our roots be denied or become the subject of mockery is simply insulting.

I've heard last names like Dick, Death, Crook, Shatakokov; and even though people can be easily teased for having these last names, we forget that it wasn't of their choosing.

It belongs to their ancestors, and the least we can do is respect that.

That's all a 65-year-old man from Canada wished for when the Nova Scotia Registry of Motor Vehicles canceled his personalized licence plate.

After more than 25 years of driving with a plate that had his family's last name on it, someone complained that it should be changed.

He's been fighting to get it reinstated, arguing that he received it as a gift from this father for his 65th birthday.

However, his provincial government agrees with the complainant that the plate is "socially unacceptable."

Should He Change It?

In April 2017, Lorne Grabher argued that making him change the licence plate with his last name on it would be infringing upon his right to freedom of expression.

“We aren’t going to be suing for damages or monetary compensation,” Grabher's lawyer told CTV Atlantic. “We just want a reversal of the government’s unjust decision.”

The letter he received by the registry explained that the public "can misinterpret it as a socially unacceptable slogan."

In an email sent to CBC News by a spokesman from the Department of Transportation, Brian Taylor wrote, "A complaint was received outlining how some individuals interpret [the name] as misogynistic and promoting violence against women."

"With no way to denote that it is a family name on the plate, the department determined it was in the public's best interest to remove it from circulation," the statement added.

Lorne told local reporters that he had only been praised for showcasing his Austrian-German heritage, until President Donald Trump's controversial video bragging about how he grabs women by their genitals went viral.

"Donald Trump is a totally different person. He's ignorant. He doesn't care about anybody and I shouldn't be put in a class like him," he told CBC.

Grabher said he's not going down without a fight: "If I back down than they can do this to anybody. I guess a last name doesn’t mean anything to them.”

His trial is scheduled for September 2018.

It’s unfortunate that Grabher’s last name is being shunned by members of his community, but I did manage to find a few hilarious license plates for you to giggle at…

“Think Of The Children”

I thought Virginia was famous for peanuts?

“This Plumber Means Business”

“This Is For My Friend Amanda”

“Duct Tape For The Win”

“Is He Still Married?”

“Now We Know Why He Hates His Wife”

"Don't Worry"

There's one case where a judge ordered parents to change their daughter's name - or else he would...

"Gender Confusion"

A French couple chose to name their daughter Liam, until the government stepped in and ordered them to change it.

French officials were concerned the name, which is traditionally given to a boy, would be "likely to create a risk of gender confusion."

The court prosecutor added that the name was "contrary to the interest of the child and could harm her in her social relations and told a judge to ban the parents from using it."

The anonymous parents were forced to postpone their newborn daughter's baptism, and hope to receive legal aid to fight the order.

Surprisingly, this isn't the first time a child's name has stirred controversy.

Banned Baby Names

The French government seems to very particular with names. In 2015, a French court refused to allow a girl be named Nutella.

They've also stepped in when people have tried to name their child Fraise (Strawberry) or Manhattan.

We can understand the banning of names that have a sexual nature, and maybe names that are a little unusual, but certain countries have banned even common names.

For example, in Iceland, parents must choose from a list of approved names for their children. Popular names like Duncan, Camilla, and Harriet didn't make the cut.

Do you think Grabher should have his licence plate revoked? What would you do if you were in his shoes?

Moojan has been a writer at Shared for a year. When she's not on the lookout for viral content, she's looking at cute animal photos. Reach her at moojan@shared.com.