Rodney Hide on Wicked Campers

Rodney Hide adds his comments to the Wicked Campers debate.

Associate Tourism Minister Paula Bennett is “thrilled” at the ban on three Wicked Camper vans. She thereby proves herself devoid of principle and political nous.

Banning cartoons is not the job of ministers in western democracies.

Not it isn’t. Paula Bennett is showing some Stalinist tendencies.

We should also not be pleased with the Police spending time taking photos of camper vans with naughty cartoons on location such as the public carpark, Te Anau. We would rather they were chasing burglars.

Or people doing 1km over the speed limit?  

The Office of Film and Literature Classification – that by rights should be out of a job – has, thanks to Mrs Bennett, achieved renewed political significance.

The banning has the camper vans labelled “objectionable” and in law equivalent to child pornography. All sense of proportion and principle has been lost.

Simple possession or creating the images on the vans risks 10 years’ imprisonment – the same as for child pornography. The banning is also retrospective. The original creators of the images and those who had the vans are now liable for their past deeds.

And here’s another bit of illogic: I can still describe the images for you. Indeed, I can even publish photographs of the offending vans. It’s only the image on the van that’s “objectionable.”

I will describe the vans, with the advisory that any offence you take is your responsibility.

Van One has Snow White snorting two lines of coke. I am sorry but I think that’s funny.

Van Two has the Cat in the Hat with a bong to his nose and the speech bubble, “I did a bong/I did, I did!/A bong! A bong!/A bong I did!” I laughed. At the cartoon – and at the government.

Van Three has Shaggy from Scooby-Doo puffing a joint with the words, “Someone pass Shaggy the baggy so he can roll Scooby a doobie…”  That’s funnier than anything NZ on Air has ever funded.

Heh. I find it hard to believe that a van is a Film or Literature.

The Police explain that the camper van signage “tends to promote and support the use of illegal drugs in children and young persons through the depiction of the drug use by a popular and easily identifiable cartoon character on the side of the vehicle.”

Say what? My five-year-old knows Snow White but she knows nothing about snorting coke. She’s at no risk.

And when she’s old enough to know, she will understand the wonderful juxtaposition of images that humour and art often provide. I can’t imagine her becoming drug-addled because of a cartoon on a van parked near Te Anau.

Cocaine is a Class A drug. Snort coke and risk six months in prison; drive the van and risk 10 years.

It wasn’t so long ago our politicians were declaring themselves “Je suis Charlie Hebdo.” I guess Mrs Bennett would say that was different. But I bet she can’t explain the difference as a matter of principle.

Paula Bennett doesn’t have any principles.



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