A technical glitch at Kiwiblog stopped this post on Paula Bennett et al's crusade against Wicked Campers from appearing. Fortunately I've managed to retrieve it and post it for you to read.

[Updated: For the real deal, see here.]

Yesterday's Herald on Sunday carried a big splash story from David Fisher about three National Party cabinet Ministers - Paula Bennett, Maggie Barry and Louise Upton - ganging up to try and force Wicked Campers to stop putting puerile, misogynistic slogans on their camper vans. 

The news had me wondering, as every right thinking person does, "What Does David Farrar Think"? After all, as a committed classical liberal and ardent defender of free speech values he must have some concerns about the Government threatening legal sanction against a private business based purely on the fact it offends some people.  So I went over to Kiwiblog to have a look and was surprised to see ... nothing.

Well, of course, maybe DPF is a wee bit busy and somehow missed the story. Sure, he noticed that Tim Wilson - "a fearless defender of classical liberal values, and was a Human Rights Commissioner dedicated to free speech" - got the Liberal nod for the Sydney seat of Goldstein. But maybe a really big free speech story in NZ somehow slipped right past him?

But that seems a bit less likely today, as the Wicked Campers story (and some really stupid responses to the Ministers' position) made the NZ Herald editorial and then the RNZ website. Yet still Kiwiblog appears to ignore the issue, despite having time to note how crap Labour is, and how crap Labour is, and how the only thing criminals understand is the iron fist.

What could be going on, I wondered? Surely the issue wasn't being ignored on NZ's best read blogsite just because the Ministers proposing the action against Wicked Campers - up to and including legislation, no less! - happened to be of a distinctly blue tinge? I mean, let's take a second to ask "What Would David Farrar Think?" if this proposal had come from (say) Helen Clark, Margaret Wilson and Lianne Dalziel in 2008.

No. That couldn't be it. So I approached a certain blogger whom we couldn't name even if we wanted to (for reasons we all know of but cannot talk about), and that certain blogger put me in touch with people who have some mad hacking skillz. They then got to work on Kiwiblog's laughably inadequate security system and discovered the following post, which for some technobabble reason failed to appear publicly as planned. And so I give it to the New Zealand blogosphere.


The Fun Police

March 21st, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

From RNZ News:

The Chief Censor is considering whether to ban some of the slogans painted on Wicked Campers vans after a complaint from police.

The company's controversial slogans have previously been the subject of numerous complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority.

Wicked Campers have built up a highly successful brand marketing themselves to young people with edgy humour. I'm not saying that I find all of their slogans funny. Some of them are pretty tasteless, in my opinion. But if they want to push the boundaries of taste with their slogans and people want to travel in vans that have those slogans on them then why should the fact other people are offended by them be a reason for them to stop? 

As I said in 2013 when reviewing Richard King's On OffenceThe Politics of Indignation  in The Listener:

King’s book is an excellent insight into the growing culture of intolerance. He does not defend those who give offence. He says they are often zealots, bigots and badmouths who should be condemned as fools. But he implies the larger fools are those who don’t condemn the threats (or actions) of violence from those offended, and those who demand censorship to prevent offensive views.

So if people are offended by the slogans, stop reading them! The problem is you, not Wicked Campers.

But back to RNZ's story:

Police said in a statement that they were also looking into the controversial slogans.

"While police understand the public concern about this issue, there are a number of complexities involved from a law enforcement perspective.

"A message may be widely regarded as offensive and inappropriate, but this does not necessarily make it a criminal matter.

Exactly. People - including Wicked Campers and the people who hire from them - have a right to be offensive if that's what they want to do. As I've said before, "We have a growing group of people who think they have a right not to be offended. All comedy has a degree of offensiveness." If the Police could arrest everyone who offends anyone else, then I'd be in a lot of trouble! After all, I do like me a joke about dwarves, Hamilton and abortion.

 Associate Minister of Tourism Paula Bennett told Morning Report she would not rule out legislating against the company, but would rather the Chief Censor dealt with the problem.

"I'm pretty determined to find an avenue to close these slogans down," she said.

No! No! No!

This is just so wrong. As John Key said back in 2008 when in full cry against the disgraceful Electoral Finance Act: "New Zealanders are sick of being told what to do. They are sick of having [Government] control every part of their life ... ."

Having Government ministers dictate what is and what is not acceptable to write on the back of a private motor vehicle is PC run mad. It's the Nanny State treating us like children. It's like being in North Korea or communist Cuba. It's the sort of thing that would drive someone to raise money from other activists and put big billboards all over the place. 

If one were so inclined.

If the company did not stop using the slogans soon, it could affect its business in New Zealand, Ms Bennett said

That should be the test. If people don't like these vans and the slogans on them, they won't rent them. But just because other people don't like reading them is no reason for the Government to try ban speech!

Comments (17)

by mudfish on March 21, 2016

So does DF think it's ok for the (nanny) state to treat children like children?

by Gilbert on March 21, 2016

Where would we, DPF and the Nats be without duplicity?


by Ian MacKay on March 21, 2016
Ian MacKay

If "bad" speech is in a theatre or on TV we can boycott them. On the road we can keep our eyes on the road. Unless we really want to read the slogans so that we can be shocked?

It is not possible that certain woman MPs are showing the flag and brandishing the cane for votes? Surely not. Next thing they will dealing to naughty Banks with legislation to control their excesses. Andrew could give advice on how tricky that might be.

by william blake on March 21, 2016
william blake

Same week Penny Bright gets arrested for dressing up as Key at Pacifika festival. (I know we have all wished it to happen but the reality  a peaceful protester in handcuffs is chilling)

by Brett Cooper on March 21, 2016
Brett Cooper

Paula Bennett in her RNZ interview failed to say what penalties these van could face, and that was after a couple of weeks looking into the matter.  Said also noted we have freedom of speech in NZ, which is wrong, it's Freedom of Expression.  The lady is confusing USA rights with New Zealand ones.  She's gone on a warpath and left reality big time behind her.

by Ian MacKay on March 21, 2016
Ian MacKay

What William? Penny has been arrested for dressing up as Key? Surely not. Links?

by Tom Semmens on March 21, 2016
Tom Semmens

Farrar is pretty predictabe in bad news situations for National. His MO is to wait a few days to get the framing right, then post briefly, and if it really bad for National then rapidly put up several other posts to bury it. He is like Pravda, when tractor production is down, he doesnt talk about tractors.

by Simon Connell on March 22, 2016
Simon Connell

[Bennett] also noted we have freedom of speech in NZ, which is wrong, it's Freedom of Expression.  The lady is confusing USA rights with New Zealand ones.  She's gone on a warpath and left reality big time behind her.

The USA doesn't have a monopoly on the phrase "freedom of speech" just because their first amendment mentions it. "Freedom of speech" can be a reference to the specific right set out in the constitution of the USA, but it can also be used to refer to the idea of a moral/human right to freedom of speech. In New Zealand, freedom of speech in the latter sense can be said to be protected/promoted via "Freedom of Expression" in the Human Rights Act.

by David Farrar on March 22, 2016
David Farrar

I guess it is university holidays at Otago and Andrew is bored :-)

My post on Wicked Campers will appear at midday today so Andrew can get back to the staff club!

by Andrew Geddis on March 22, 2016
Andrew Geddis


But I've already written it for you! I shall be looking very hard for evidence of plagiarism.

by Rich on March 22, 2016

It's not easy being a right wing blergher.

One has many factors to consider and balance: whether persons referred to are part of your favoured National party faction of the moment, whether you're expecting blogola (as in "media consulting" cash) from the parties involved, whether your National party friends are mates of the parties, etc, etc

by Rich on March 22, 2016

But srsly:

- should the Censor actually concern themselves with puerile jokes on the side of vans? 

- and there is another venue: rental vehicle operators have to hold a license which requires one to be a "fit and proper person". And it sez: : "the Transport Agency may take into account any other relevant matter which they consider is in the public interest when determining a person’s fitness to hold any licence"

Apart from anything else, wouldn't a blank refusal to engage with Ministers, DoC, local authorities and the Advertising Standards Agency cast doubt on "a persons fitness"?


by Rich on March 22, 2016

Interestingly, Wicked Campers in the USA don't have offensive slogans. I guess they don't want to be fixing them bullet holes.

by Lee Churchman on March 23, 2016
Lee Churchman

Apart from anything else, wouldn't a blank refusal to engage with Ministers, DoC, local authorities and the Advertising Standards Agency cast doubt on "a persons fitness"?

Not really. I'd ignore the authorities if they were nagging me over something that wasn't actually illegal.

The war against wowsers never ends. I'm personally prepared to put up with quite a lot of offensive speech to avoid having "the average New Zealander" ban things I like.

by KJT on March 24, 2016


Farrar had an original thought once. About 1992 I think it was!

by KJT on March 24, 2016

It's legal.

like shorting the NZ dollar and costing every man woman and child in NZ thousands.

Like leaving 300 000 children in poverty when you can do something about it?

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