Saskatchewan

'Not ashamed': Assman says his name shouldn't be rejected for personalized licence plate

Dave Assman of Melville, Sask., says SGI has rejected his request to allow him to use ‘Assman’ on a personalized licence plate, calling it an ‘unacceptable slogan.’

SGI has said 'Assman' is an unacceptable slogan, and may be read as offensive

Dave Assman says he'd like a personalized licence plate with his name, because he's proud of it. (Submitted by Dave Assman)

It's his name, he's proud of it, and he wants it on his Saskatchewan licence plate.

But Dave Assman of Melville, Sask., says SGI has rejected his request to allow him to use "Assman" on a personalized plate, calling it an "unacceptable slogan."

"It's my last name, I've always had it," he said, of the name with German roots, that he pronounces as "Oss-men."

"I'm not ashamed of it. There's nothing bad about it."

In 1995, the name even sparked its own "Assmania" craze, when late-night talk show host David Letterman found and interviewed a Saskatchewan gas station worker and manager by the name of Dick Assman.

Saskatchewan's Dick Assman became famous in 1995 after a mention by David Letterman on his late-night talk show. That mention sparked a sensation dubbed 'Assmania.' (CBC)

That Assman is a distant relative to Dave Assman, who said the family has other Assman relatives sprinkled through Saskatchewan.

His great-grandfather's legacy

For Assman, the name is important, because it's one he shares with his great-grandfather, whom he's learned was a well-off farmer from Neudorf, Sask.  

"Farmers would come in the early '30s and they borrowed money from him," he said. "Instead of him foreclosing on their land, he just either forgave it, or let them pay when they could."

This week, he called SGI for an explanation on why his name was rejected and was told it could be misread and cause offence. He chalks up that answer to "too many hurt feeling reports given out."  

Assman rejection upheld

SGI spokesperson Tyler McMurchy said SGI does have guidelines for slogans, and pointed to its website, which says SGI won't approve licence plates the general public may find "offensive, suggestive or not in good taste."

"Even if a word is someone's name and pronounced differently than the offensive version, that's not something that would be apparent to other motorists who will see the plate," he said in an email.

The personalized licence plate review committee, made up of employees, will review if people appeal a decision, but McMurchy said the committee has upheld a decision to reject "Assman" in the past.

Assman says he'd like to get his personalized licence plate but he's not holding his breath.

"I don't think that's going to happen, because SGI is SGI. They'll do what they want anyway."

About the Author

Janani Whitfield spent 10 years working in the newspaper industry in Alberta before joining CBC Saskatchewan as a web writer in 2017. Contact her at janani.whitfield@cbc.ca on on Twitter, @WhitfieldJanani.

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