Wicked Campers: Police complain to chief censor as DoCs dumps firm

Action has ramped up against Wicked Campers' controversial slogans.

Police have complained to the chief censor's office, a Change.org petition has begun to have the slogans removed, and government ministers have taken up the cause.

Wicked Campers has also been dumped from the Department of Conservation's tourist information listing for those wanting to hire campervans.

The actions follow an uproar over the slogans on the vehicles and an express determination by ministers Paula Bennett, Louise Upston and Maggie Barry to have the company rejected because of sexual or anti-women overtones in its slogans.

Wicked Campers - 100% offensiveWicked Campers dumped from DoC list

The Office of Film and Literature will rule on the offensive slogans. Penalties can include five-figure fines or even jail time if rulings are breached.

The spokesman for Ms Barry said DoC was also investigating a Wicked Campers deal selling cheap access passes to public campgrounds.

Police said they were looking into the slogans on some Wicked Campers vehicles. "A message may be widely regarded as offensive and inappropriate, but this does not necessarily make it a criminal matter," a spokesman said.

Auckland Council compliance manager Max Wilde said any vehicles displaying signage breaching the 2015 signage bylaw were not welcome in council-owned parks and could lead to prosecution.

The company has ignored Advertising Standards Authority rulings upholding complaints about the slogans.

The man who trolled Ms Bennett over her charge against the sexist slogans says he's had threats made against his daughter since he posted his comments.

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

He has had a barrage of angry messages from strangers, some more extreme than others.

"I had one that sent me a photo of my daughter and said 'let's try some abuse on her'.

"Those are the nutters bringing your kids into it," he told the Herald.

Mr Lehmann, an Auckland resident, said his comments were "taken out of context" and admitted it was tasteless and he didn't in "any way advocate violence". "It was a joke, just a wind up," he said.

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

However, he said the actions of Ms Bennett singling out his comment on her Facebook page was "quite malicious". "She set the population against me and is trying to get political mileage," he said.

While he received negative messages, he's had many say the actions of the associate tourism minister were "tacky".

"A vast number of people were horrified a member of public was used as a target."

He said while he found the slogans on the Wicked Campers vans disgusting, it was up to the council and holiday park owners to stop the vans from parking in their properties.

"They [Government] seems to think they can run the country with legislation and regulation by fining people and penalising people," he said.

He hoped the incident would "die a natural death".

Victims' rights advocate Louise Nicholas described the his 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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