I can understand why in the midst of ongoing terror attacks around the world, people might think there is more to worry about than a few offensive slogans on cheap, ugly camper vans.

But good on Paula Bennett, Maggie Barry and Louise Upston for taking on John Webb and his Wicked Campers company and the misogynistic, racist slogans spray-painted on their vans.

The luridly painted vans are highly visible on New Zealand's roads and the street-art spray painting and cheap rates make Wicked Campers a popular choice for young tourists.

But it's the slogans painted on the vans that have made them a target for the ministerial triumvirate.


They are not the first people to try to get the slogans removed. There has been a welter of complaints, official and unofficial, directed at the company for more than a decade but Webb has taken the detractors head-on.

In the world according to Webb, anybody who fails to find the slogans amusing lacks a sense of humour and must be a signed-up member of the much loathed and derided PC brigade.

He doesn't seem bothered by Advertising Standards Authority rulings, and mocks anyone who calls him out on the misogynistic slogans.

This statement was posted on the Wicked Campers' website last year after a complaint from Women's Refuge: "We employed a team of highly intelligent, socially conscious super monkeys to closely monitor the subject matter featured on our vehicles and scream loudly when offended. Moral Monkey Squad are dedicated to satisfying the whims and wishes of the humour-inept, self-righteous moral majority while wearing little monkey tuxedos and funny hats."

That's his strategy and it's not a bad one. If you don't find the "Lads! Lads! Lads!" type of puerile, sexist humour amusing, you're a thin-lipped prude who is either not getting enough (women) or is gay (men and women).

You find yourself having to defend your own sense of humour and that always sounds a bit desperate.

The "hey, chill out, bro" faction advises people to just ignore the vans and their slogans.

It's a little hard to ignore a large slogan painted all over the back of a van when you're crawling along in Easter holiday traffic.


Imagine heading away with the family this weekend, getting stuck behind one of Webb's campers for 40-odd minutes and having to explain to your 7-year-old daughter what various sexual acts are. Or explain the meaning behind: "In every princess there's a little slut who wants to try it just once."

There are those who say they'd be fine with the slogans if the sexism went both ways. But I'd be just as appalled if the signs read: "In every little boy, there's a nasty little rapist who wants to hurt you just once."

And then there are those self-righteous souls - and let's face it, self righteousness works both ways - who shriek about their right to freedom of speech.

The shriekers don't seem capable of understanding that with rights come responsibilities. They always seem to forget that part of the philosophy.

I think the vans are plain nasty. Their slogans reinforce the misogyny that seems to have pervaded our society in recent years and imply that men are simply walking penises with only one thing on their mind and women are only useful as receptacles for sperm.

They demean both sexes and reduce men and women to their most base.

The Kaiteriteri Beach Motor Camp has banned Wicked Campers from their holiday park in the past couple of days.

Travel bible Lonely Planet decided to remove Wicked Campers from its holiday guides a year or so ago. The Department of Conservation has removed Wicked Campers from its website and is looking through the law books to see whether it's possible to ban them from their camping grounds.

So more power to Bennett, Barry and Upston - I'm right behind them in their mission.

Kerre McIvor is on NewstalkZB, weekdays, noon-4pm
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