Dom Post on Wicked Campers

A rare good Dom Post editorial:

The use of drugs by favourite childhood characters is likely to encourage impressionable young people  to see drug use as funny and cool, the office finds. That is surely right. So now the firm will face serious trouble if it allows these vans to hit the road again. 

It’s hard to object.

However, this finding deals only with the drug-themed camper vans. The sex-themed ones will be dealt with separately, and they might prove a tougher nut to crack. If there is no kind of incitement to breaking a law, for instance, the case against them becomes harder to sustain.

And here the argument for finding them objectionable and in effect banning them becomes more fraught. To repeat, even oafs have the right to express themselves, even when they are just using their freedom of speech to manufacture outrage in order to make money.

In this case the company’s “jokes” are disgusting and anti-women and many people have taken offence at them. And of course anyone travelling along the highway can’t avoid seeing them. They are not like sexually explicit or offensive material available in private to consenting adults.

It is also true that the material is arguably far more offensive than anything else on public display. But does that mean they must be banned in the way that the company’s drug-use material has been?

That is a tough call for a liberal society.

And one that should not be made, and if so would probably be illegal.

Yes they are offensive, but it is not the role of the state to ban things merely because they are offensive. The test is objectionable which is far higher – torture, rape, child abuse etc.

I’m all for private citizens and business owners putting pressure on to remove the offensive slogans. Campgrounds can refuse to allow their vans to camp in them. Petrol companies can refuse to serve them. That is the way to deal with them. Having the state ban a sexist slogan is not a power we want to encourage.

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