Graphic animal cruelty posters to be removed

View from outside Paula Kirkwood's property on Mt Albert Rd in Auckland showing an untrimmed hedge and signs about animal cruelty. Photo / Supplied
View from outside Paula Kirkwood's property on Mt Albert Rd in Auckland showing an untrimmed hedge and signs about animal cruelty. Photo / Supplied

A complaint against an Auckland woman who displayed graphic posters on her fence, including of cats and dogs being burnt alive, has been upheld - for a second time.

The Advertising Standards Authority's complaints board ruled in a re-hearing in November that the animal cruelty posters must be removed from Paula Kirkwood's (who also goes by Peta Feral) fence on Mt Albert Rd in Sandringham.

The complainant, Auckland Council, told the board that "the photos of animal cruelty are graphic and offensive and are being displayed for public view."

Some of the posters, which face a pedestrian walkway and are in the vicinity of a number of schools read:

"Mutilated. Tortured. Murdered. Stop animal torture... Protest dog meat... Save climate. Save the planet."

The complaint was first upheld in April this year, however Kirkwood asked for an appeal on the grounds that she was not notified of the complaint so could not make a submission.

In her submission last month, Kirkwood said it was incorrect to interpret evidence provided by the council as proof that the posters had caused serious or widespread offence.

"There was no evidence of any complaints from the public. There was no evidence of any member of the public being seriously offended or of many members of the public being offended on any level."

Kirkwood went on to provide a dictionary definition of 'offence'.

"Content which is provocative because it is dramatic, confrontational and upsetting is not always offensive," wrote Kirkwood.

She said the signs aimed to stimulate debate, portray a social message and educate.

A majority of the board agreed the posters were offensive as their placement meant they were visible to pedestrians including children.

However the images were believed to be of such poor quality that some members of the board struggled to identify whether or not they were capable of causing offence.

The posters were also classified as 'advocacy advertising' by the board, as they contained images of animal cruelty in a public place. The identity of the advertiser, Kirkwood, was also not clear - a requirement of ASA's Code of Ethics.

In a letter to the Council earlier this year, Kirkwood said the posters were a protest, not advertising.

"It is the practice of vivisectors and other animal abusers to hide their crimes.

"I am trying to expose it. I insist on my rights. If we do not protest animal abuse we condone it.

"There are worse sites online, on TV and in supermarkets and butchers."

- NZ Herald

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