Fam­ily name un­der at­tack

Cape Breton Post - - Editorial -

When does po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness su­per­sede com­mon sense? Or per­sonal rights? Those ques­tions will soon be sorted out in a Nova Sco­tia court­room.

The case may not re­sult in any land­mark de­ci­sions im­pact­ing the Cana­dian Char­ter of Rights and Free­doms but it should re­sult in a favourable ver­dict for Lorne Grab­her of Dart­mouth.

Grab­her wants his name back and his hon­our re­stored. Both were taken away last fall.

For 27 years, the Grab­her fam­ily name was on per­son­al­ized li­cence plates. Lorne is proud of his Aus­trian-Ger­man her­itage and his son car­ries on the fam­ily tra­di­tion in Al­berta.

The brouhaha be­gan in late 2016 when two com­plaints from the pub­lic al­leged the plate was of­fen­sive to women. The Nova Sco­tia Reg­is­trar of Mo­tor Ve­hi­cles agreed and can­celled the plate, in use for al­most a gen­er­a­tion.

Grab­her, a re­tired cor­rec­tions of­fi­cer, is not ad­vo­cat­ing as­sault­ing women or sup­port­ing sex­ual mis­con­duct. His name is not a slo­gan. If in­tent is an is­sue, Grab­her ex­plained he put the fam­ily name on the li­cence plate decades ago as a gift for his late fa­ther’s birth­day.

Now some peo­ple have de­cided to stick their in­ter­fer­ing noses and in­sert reg­u­la­tory red tape in an area where it’s none of their busi­ness.

Grab­her is now seek­ing jus­tice in the pro­vin­cial Supreme Court. He is sup­ported by the Jus­tice Cen­tre for Con­sti­tu­tional Free­doms, which cor­rectly ar­gues that re­vok­ing the plate is dis­crim­i­na­tory and strips Grab­her of his Char­ter rights to free ex­pres­sion.

Grab­her fam­ily mem­bers are “deeply of­fended and hu­mil­i­ated.” What say you, two mem­bers of the pub­lic and pro­vin­cial bu­reau­cracy? Per­haps next time, use some com­mon sense.

A pro­vin­cial spokesper­son said the re­jec­tion of Grab­her’s li­cence plate wasn’t re­lated to ob­scene com­ments made by Don­ald Trump in which the pres­i­dent said he grabbed women. Of course it was. If Trump hadn’t made those in­flam­ma­tory com­ments, it’s un­likely that this case would have sur­faced.

Diver­sity is what makes this coun­try so spe­cial. Var­i­ous eth­nic groups and their fam­ily names are im­por­tant com­po­nents of Cana­dian his­tory and cul­ture. In­stead, we hear that the Grab­her name is a so­cially un­ac­cept­able slo­gan, hate­ful to­wards women, misog­y­nis­tic and pro­mot­ing vi­o­lence against fe­males.

Is the de­part­ment and the two mem­bers of the pub­lic sug­gest­ing Grab­her change his name to sat­isfy their sense of moral out­rage? If the Grab­her name is un­ac­cept­able on a li­cense plate, what’s next on the banned list? Where does it end?

It’s time to stop ha­rass­ing a fam­ily and dis­crim­i­nat­ing against law-abid­ing cit­i­zens. There are more im­por­tant is­sues to worry about in Nova Sco­tia and else­where in Canada than wast­ing tax­pay­ers’ money on a sense­less court­room bat­tle.

Fam­ily mem­ber Tracey Grab­her joined the fray.

In a Face­book post she joked, “I’m still look­ing for a His­cock. Tracey Grab­her-His­cock has a nice ring to it.” Touché, Ms. Grab­her.

Lorne Grab­her doesn’t want an apol­ogy. He just wants his li­cence plate. The prov­ince is well ad­vised to give him both.

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