“Aryan” number plate subject of complaint

August 31, 2010 by J-Wire
Read on for article

Lisa Thompson’s relationship with her boyfriend Andrew Ryan has been and gone…but she wants to hold on to her car number plate “ARYAN1”.

The plate has been the subject of a complaint by a motorist to the New Zealand Transport Agency.

32-yr-old Ryan has told media that she is going to research the meaning of Aryan.

The NZTA has told media that they will not insist on the cancellation of the plate and have told media that doing so would “breach Mrs Thompson’s rights”.

According to media reports, Thompson paid NZ$700 for the offending plate four years ago. The NZTA told J-Wire that they could not monitor the sale of the plate should Thompson decide not to keep it. They told J-Wire: “We record changes of ownership for motor vehicles, but personalised plates are the property of the owner and may be bought and sold freely.”

The  complaint about ARYAN1 to the NZTA  stated “This is really offensive for pretty obvious reasons. How can somebody even have a plate like this approved?”

In the meantime, Geoff Levy of the New Zealand Jewish Council told J-Wire: “The NZJC has considered this matter and is not inclined, at this stage, to take any further steps. We will of course keep the matter under review.”

A spokesman for the NZTA told J-Wire:  “All applications for personalised plates are made through Personalised Plates Ltd (PPL).  PPL will decline an application for a personalised plate if it considers that it is offensive.  The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) does not hold a list of these applications and therefore can’t provide a list of plates which haven’t been issued.  PPL and the NZTA have however, agreed guidelines with a view to avoiding the issue of offensive plates.  The criteria applied generally is:

o   Abusive

o   Derogatory

o   Obscene

o   Profane

o   Promotion of violence, or

o   Discrimination or bias against

o   Race

o   Religious or ethical belief

o   Ancestry

o   Place of origin

o   Age

o   Citizenship

o   Sexual origin

o   Family or marital status, and

o   Disability or handicap

The NZTA may also require the surrender of personalised plates that have been issued, for which a complaint is received and the NZTA considers that the plates are offensive.  We consider all such complaints carefully.

While the NZTA has the jurisdiction to require the surrender of any registration plate once a complaint has been received (under section 9D Transport (Vehicle and Driver Registration and Licensing ) Act 1986), in exercising the powers to require the surrender of a plate, we must apply an objective test –  weighing the potential for a plate to offend others with the plate holder’s freedom of expression under the Bill of Rights Act (BORA). Making this determination can be very difficult, and in this case it was especially so.

Generally, the Courts will interpret legislation in a way that is consistent with the rights in the BORA if possible. Such rights are also subject only to ‘such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society’ (s 5).  It is likely that the power to require surrender of offensive plates would be interpreted so as to interfere with the plate holder’s freedom of expression to the minimum degree possible.

Also, from a practical standpoint in this case it is arguable that the plate in isolation does not offend – in this case it is the association with the plate owner that appears to create the connection to white supremacist beliefs.

While the white supremacist connotations of the word ‘aryan’ are offensive for obvious reasons, the word ‘aryan’ in isolation is arguably not offensive, nor would the letters  A-R-Y-A-N on a registration plate necessarily be offensive.

For example, Ryan is a common surname. A quick search of the New Zealand on-line telephone directory shows more than 100 listings for ‘A Ryan’ or similar. Would we be expected to decline a personalised plate application from any of these individuals for a plate bearing their own name?

While much less common, ‘Aryan’ is also a surname itself, and there are several similar surnames incorporating the same letters. There is in fact a plate similar to ARYAN1 in circulation now which does incorporate an individual’s surname.

The NZTA finds racism and racist speech as abhorrent as all right-thinking New Zealanders, which is why this was not an easy decision to make. However, for the reasons outlined above we consider that the original decision not to require the surrender of the plate was correct.

Some further background:

Complaints:

In the last 12 months we’ve received nine complaints abour personalised licence plates, and have recalled five of these.  These are:

Recalled:

VOKJOU (Afrikaans for F*** you)

UDOOS (Afrikaans for You C***)

RDY24Q (Ready to f*** you)

ZYKLON (Zyklon B gas was used in WW2 gas chambers. We received two complaints about this plate, independently of each other)

DARKIE

Not recalled:

URS0UL

XFTPX (F*** the Police, bordered by the two X’s)

MYBICH

ARYAN1

Price Ranges

$399-$939 (note we don’t set these – prices are set by Personalised Plates Ltd).

Number of vehicles as at 31 July 2010 with personalised plates issued

185113

Number of new personalised plates sold by Personalised Plates Ltd per annum

approx 10,000

Comments

4 Responses to ““Aryan” number plate subject of complaint”
  1. paula says:

    I would just like to say that some people obviously have TOO MUCH time on there little hands and maybe should get off their bottoms and do something recreational like work or volunteer to help people that actually need help rather than sitting around having a bitch moan (as this is all it is – sorry vindictive behavior of some one you do not like) GROW UP!!! rather than worrying about some ones number plate status – get over your self’s move on and stop wasting peoples time !!! im sure the world has more bigger fish to fry than freakn number plates – ie: homeless people, people in your own country that cant afford to eat because the govt. and politics- actual crime domestic volience, murderers etc. im sure u get my drift !!!

  2. Davy says:

    Funny when Lisa Thompson got this plate she her partner was called Jon T,

    I bet she also forgot to mention she is a leading member in Neo Nazi organisation Blood & Honour.
    Or that she helped set up a concert on Hitlers birthday at a well known bikers pad.
    Was she asked as to why she has a hitler youth diamond symbol tattooed on her arm?

    I am also pretty sure she has never had a boyfriend call Andrew Ryan

    • admin says:

      Can you send us some evidence?

      • paula says:

        I would just like to say that some people obviously have TOO MUCH time on there little hands and maybe should get off their bottoms and do something recreational like work or volunteer to help people that actually need help rather than sitting around having a bitch moan (as this is all it is – sorry vindictive behavior of some one you do not like) GROW UP!!! rather than worrying about some ones number plate status – get over your self’s move on and stop wasting peoples time !!! im sure the world has more bigger fish to fry than freakn number plates – ie: homeless people, people in your own country that cant afford to eat because the govt. and politics- actual crime domestic volience, murderers etc. im sure u get my drift !!!

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