Chief Censor vs Rodney Hide

Rodney Hide squared up against the Chief Censor at NBR.

New Zealand’s chief censor has defended claims he is “unfit for office” after banning several Wicked campervans and labelling them objectionable.

Another Wicked campervan was banned by the Office of Film and Literature Classification this week that features a depiction of a Japanese sexual act that is “denigrating to women.”

Former politician Rodney Hide believes political pressure was involved in the decision and has taken issue with chief censor Andrew Jack’s ban being retrospective.

“While [the classification office is] not in charge of what the courts might do, once you’ve labelled something objectionable, those who are involved in producing that material are breaking the law,” he says.

Mr Jack confirms “if something’s deemed objectionable it is objectionable and always has been objectionable.”

The highest punishment for distributing objectionable material is a $200,000 fine for a corporate or up to 14 years in jail for an individual.   

Mr Hide notes the ban applies only to the Wicked campervans themselves, not images or descriptions of the campervans, which can be freely distributed. But chief censor Andrew Jack warns such distribution would be “irresponsible.”

“You have to think about how likely it would be that that photograph would be classified as objectionable and as you’ve noted, once it’s been made objectionable you have committed a whole bunch of offences yourself. You need to think very carefully,” he says.

Mr Hide says such a warning demonstrates why Mr Jack is “unfit for the office”.

“You’re threatening me that if I took an image of that campervan and sent it to someone, that someone could make a complaint and retrospectively I’d be liable for jail,” he says.

“Well you’re entitled to your opinion Rodney, but you’re wrong,” Mr Jack responds.

Actually most Kiwis would agree with Rodney Hide. I think the role of Chief Censor is a Victorian anachronism and should be abolished, especially when you look at the context.

Mr Jack says the office executes only the first part of the classification process and has no mandate to issue punishments.

“After we deem something objectionable, the complainant has a number of options and once they’ve made their mind up it’s open to the courts. They don’t automatically dish out the most serious punishment,” he says.

This, Mr Hide says, is inappropriate when displaying images of Snow White doing Class A drugs attracts a higher sentence than actually doing Class A drugs.

“I have no mandate to involve myself in your snorting coke on a public street in New Zealand. But most New Zealanders would accept you cannot advertise the consumption of Class A drugs on a four-foot high moving billboard and drive it around the city,” Mr Jack says.

Actually I think it is Mr Jack who is on crack.

Rodney Hide is right, the Chief Censor is unfit for the office.


Hide: “If I actually had an image of that camper van on my computer could I distribute it to my friends?”

Jack: “Look, the camper vans are objectionable and it would be grossly irresponsible of you to put a picture of those camper vans — a different publication — but if someone then took your computer screen — if you sent it to somebody — you would have to think about how likely it would be to end up being classified as objectionable and — as you have noted — once it’s been made objectionable — then you have committed a whole bunch of offences yourself — so you need to think carefully about that.”

Hide: “That shows why you are unfit for the office because what you are doing is threatening me that if I took an image of that camper van and sent it to someone you are saying, “Yes, that would be quite lawful to doing it right now — but just understand sonny, if you did it, someone, i.e. the police, would make a complaint, and retrospectively I would be liable for (14 years) jail” now if that’s the way you think of your job, you should not be in your job.”



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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.