Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Colin Craig warns on satirical quote

Colin Craig. Photo / Wairarapa Times-Age
Colin Craig. Photo / Wairarapa Times-Age

Conservatives leader Colin Craig says his threat of legal action against a satirical website for a post on the gay marriage bill does not mean he lacks a sense of humour - but warned any attempts to attribute false quotes to him would get similar treatment.

The Civilian website, a satire site by Ben Uffindell, posted a mock news story on National MP Maurice Williamson and gay marriage, headed "Maurice Williamson looking pretty stupid after floods" - a reference to the recent floods after Mr Williamson dismissed claims that gay marriage had caused the drought.

The post included Mr Craig, an opponent of the same-sex marriage law, apparently talking about Noah and the meaning of rainbows.

Mr Craig's lawyers emailed Mr Uffindell to request the quote be removed immediately and a retraction and apology published. Otherwise, defamation action would be taken.

The Civilian responded by posting the letter on its site and adding an explanation to the top of the original post, without removing the quote.

Instead it added: "We retract the statement and apologise to Mr Craig for any harm we have caused to his impeccable reputation. We would like to note that we have also taken the additional measure of bolding the statement in question so that everybody knows which thing it was that Mr Craig did not say."

Mr Craig said he knew the post was satire, but others had not recognised it as such.

"I've had people say, 'Gee, I'm surprised you said that Colin'. Not everybody is able to tell the difference.

"I take these things pretty seriously. We are a serious political party and want to go a long way, so making sure that what is reported on what I have said, is accurate is important."

When the Civilian's response was read out, he laughed and said he would consult his lawyers about whether it was enough to halt further proceedings.

"It does clarify the point and that was what was important for me."

Mr Craig said he did have a "well developed sense of humour".

"But when it comes to statements being reported in the public sphere ... there is no room for humour."

The false quote

What Colin Craig did not say in the satirical post on the Civilian:

"Williamson likes to talk about big, gay rainbows, but it would help if he understood what the rainbow actually means. After Noah's flood, God painted a great rainbow across the sky which was a message that he would never again flood the world, unless we made him very angry. And we have."

- NZ Herald

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