Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Wicked campers and freedom of speech

Wicked campers appeal to foreign dickheads by putting sexist slogans on their vans. Its offensive, and its led businesses to refuse to deal with their customers. All of that is fine, the push and shove of a free and democratic society. What's not fine is politicians like Paula Bennett calling for them to be banned.

(Also, Paula Bennett's "troll" just happens to be a former National Party spindoctor. Are we being scammed here?)

To point out the obvious: we have freedom of expression in this country. And this includes the right to offend. The Chief Censor has pointed out how high we set the bar before we can justify banning something: basicly it has to be "injurious to the public good". Specifically:

[A] publication is objectionable if it describes, depicts, expresses, or otherwise deals with matters such as sex, horror, crime, cruelty, or violence in such a manner that the availability of the publication is likely to be injurious to the public good.

You might not like what's written on a wicked camper van, but it simply doesn't meet this standard. Neither does it clearly meet the standards of "highly offensive language" allowing it to be age-restricted (which would effectively be the same as a ban). Any attempt to classify them in this way would be asking for a BORA challenge.

(So, BTW, is the Department of Conservation. The BORA applies to every act by the executive branch and therefore requires them to consider freedom of expression when attempting to ban Wicked from their campsites or prevent them from selling passes, and impose only such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society. DoC banning vans or acting against the company which hires them because it doesn't like what they have written on them is basicly asking for a lawsuit, which they would probably lose).

Yes, Wicked vans are offensive. So's Paul Henry. And we put up with both because the alternative is Paula Bennett telling us what we can and can't say. And that's the truly offensive prospect in all of this.