Three of Wicked Campers’ most offensive vehicles have been banned from New Zealand’s roads, following a landmark ruling.
In a ruling from the Classification Office – the first time it has made a decision about a vehicle – the organisation ruled that slogans on three of the controversial Australian company’s vehicles qualify were “objectionable publications”.
The ruling means that the vans are banned from public places in New Zealand with immediate effect, and Wicked could face a fine of up to $200,000 per offence if it continued to use them.
The banned vehicles depict a cartoon of the Cat in the Hat with drug paraphernalia, Snow White about to snort cocaine and Shaggy and Scooby Doo about to smoke marijuana.
I was worried that the Classification Office might get too enthusiastic and use their powers to ban slogans which are sexist. That would be a step too far. Yes they are offensive and I support the efforts of campgrounds and the like to say vehicles with them are not welcome on their private property. But banning sexist slogans on vans would be like banning offensive t-shirt slogans.
But by only banning the three designs showing children’s characters doing illegal drugs, the Classification Office has not gone too far.
In its ruling, the Classification Office says the “size and colourful nature” of the images on the vans – including a depiction of Snow White using cocaine – means they would attract the attention of children and young teenagers.
Drug use as promoted on the vans would have “serious short and long term harmful impacts on the psychological and physical health of children”, the ruling said.
While there was “a certain tolerance” for the depiction of drug use in films and DVDs, their viewing could be controlled, while the Wicked vans “cannot be easily covered, or displayed only in restricted areas or to select persons”.
The Classification Office said it considered an R16 classification, but it would have been too difficult to enforce for a vehicle.
“The classification of these campervans as objectionable removes all doubt as to their unsuitability for their intended purpose.”
So far so good, but …
It would now consider a number of other vans submitted by police for classification.
It will be interesting to see if any others are banned.