Wicked Campers

Been meaning to post on , and Geddis is prodding me to do so, so here are my thoughts.

  1. I support the self-regulatory model of the Advertising Standards Authority
  2. I think it is regrettable that Wicked Campers refuse to abide by their decisions, as it undermines the self-regulatory model
  3. Their slogans range from the funny to the obnoxious
  4. There is generally no law against being obnoxious or offensive, and nor should there be
  5. There is a difference between obnoxious in private conversation and on the side of a van, driving around NZ
  6. For example, a van painted “Shoot all Jews” would be in breach of the law
  7. I don’t think the slogans used meet the threshold of illegal. They are offensive, but not illegal

Turning specifically to the actions proposed by several Ministers:

Bennett has a hit list of solutions. She’s spoken to Barry: “Maggie Barry is looking at whether they can be banned from DoC camping grounds because they are so offensive.”

Camping grounds are places with lots of kids. I don’t have a problem with camping ground owners (including DOC) deciding what signage is acceptable on their property.

There’s also been conversations with Justice Minister Amy Adams about getting some bite into the Advertising Standards Authority “so they can act against the company”.

No, no, no. Don’t throw out the model we have, due to one company.

There’s community and tourism industry rejection. “I encourage any private company that are giving services to this company to give serious thought as to whether they are a family friendly company they want to be associated with.

“Maybe if people who are travelling in their vans literally can’t go to certain places and made not welcome, maybe that’s stronger than any legislation we can do.”

Yep – community pressure is good. If people object to the slogans, they can refuse service to vans with them.

As the week wore on, Bennett had also landed another possible solution. The Chief Censor was considering if it had a role, given the company was technically publishing obscene material on its vans.

If so, that’s a $15,000 fine for each offence. And wilful offences could mean jail, says Bennett.

No, no, no. Good intentions can lead to ruin. The threshold for something being obscene under the law is very high. An offensive slogan should come nowhere near that.

Women’s Minister Upston, also associate local government minister, is looking to support councils in finding a solution. Local Government New Zealand is looking to see what legal support can be provided to councils looking to tackle the problem.

Yes, she says, the anti-women theme has struck her. “That’s why, personally and professionally, I just find them absolutely revolting.

“There is a very strong level of disgust with this particular business behaviour. We need to dissuade the customers from supporting a business like that.” This is, in her opinion, “nasty, distasteful and abhorrent”.

I would never drive a van like that. I’m all for community pressure to come to bear on campers who do hire these vans. But that is different from Ministers criminalizing offensive slogans. That is several steps too far.

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