Outrage after Paula Bennett told a 'bit of sexual violence never hurt anyone'

By Solbin Kang

Paula Bennett has been leading the charge against Wicked Campers.
Paula Bennett has been leading the charge against Wicked Campers.

The man who trolled Associate Tourism minister Paula Bennett over her charge against the sexist slogans used by Wicked Campers says he was just joking.

John Lehmann wrote on Ms Bennett's Facebook page that a "bit of sexual violence never hurt anyone", sparking outrage from anti-violence campaigners.

Ms Bennett is trying to find the best way to get the troubling sexist advertisements on the Wicked Campers off the road.

These include going to the the Office of Film and Literature to rule on the offensive slogans nd imposing stiff five-figure fines or even jail time if rulings were breached.

READ MORE: Wicked Campers - 100% offensive

"Most of [the slogans] I find offensive as a woman, as a mother and as a grandmother. They are deeply offensive and I don't easily offend."

Mr Lehmann wrote on Ms Bennett's page yesterday: "Bit of sexual violence never hurt anyone Paula. Your should try a bit. Lol ."

This post from John Lehmann deserves to be reposted. It speaks for itself "Bit of sexual violence never hurt anyone Paula. Your should try a bit .Lol ."

Posted by Paula Bennett on Saturday, March 19, 2016

Ms Bennett replied saying: "John Lehmann seriously!! I'm so tempted to block u but think I might just let your comments speak for themselves. U need help."

Mr Lehmann replied back: "Lighten up Paula."

He told the Herald the comments he made were tongue-in-cheek. "I certainly would never suggest violence is okay. The whole thing is out of proportion," he said.

Ms Bennett was "trying to make an issue and get mileage over her failed efforts in combating this family violence", he said.

"There is more family violence now since her government got in than ever before. It's something she should not be proud of at all."

Ms Bennett said this morning: "We've recently been talking to the chief censor of Film and Literature and they think that it certainly might fit under their criteria for objectionable material so they are looking at it.

"If they are found to be objectionable and then be banned they can then fine them and those fines are significant."

Penalties included fines of up to $15,000 and if the company continued to breach orders there was even scope for a jail term.

She said the chief censor had started a process to take action against the owners of Wicked Campers which would take around a month.

The police had also laid a complaint with the chief censor's office about the offensive hire campervan slogans.

If going through the Office of Film and Literature did not get the vans off the road the Government would then explore other options.

She said while the Advertising Standards Authority had already upheld complaints against the slogans they had no teeth to fine them or enforce the complaints. Another avenue that had been looked at included introducing bylaws at local government level but this was proving to be an unwieldly option.

Mr Lehmann's comments have been met with a number of unimpressed Facebook users who support Ms Bennett.

"This guy needs rehab now," said Lani Lopez.

Andrew Hunt wrote: "That's appalling and totally unacceptable. PS - delighted you are having a crack at the camper van slogans - have always been astounded that they can get away with that crap."

Victims' rights advocate Louise Nicholas described the man's comments as "appalling".

"I put it to this guy, if you've got female members in your family and something bad happened to them, would you think that was okay? You come and walk in my shoes for one day."

She said it was "very, very rare" for Kiwi men to think sexual violence was acceptable. "This guy is one out of the packet," she said. "What angers me is people like him hiding behind a computer. That's a sign of weakness. If you have something to say, come and say it to our face. That's the challenge I put to him."

Mrs Nicholas described the slogans on the Wicked campers vans as "misogynistic".

"Why haven't they taken the slogans off them? We are a country that doesn't want it. They have to be removed," she said.

She commended Ms Bennett for speaking out against the slogans.

"Thank you. It needs to come from the higher end but as a country, we need to get behind her and others in stopping people that say sexual violence is okay. It's not good enough in New Zealand."

- NZ Herald

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