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Standing up against Nannies

By Don Aitkin - posted Friday, 10 March 2017


In this way, Canberra is continuing to show leadership with a commitment to challenge attitudes that underpin domestic, family, and sexual violence against women. It is well known that the attitudes casually displayed by Wicked Campers play a large part when it comes to this kind of violence.

I thought it was Queensland that was showing the leadership. Actually, there was a fuss about Wicked vans three years ago, and Commissioner Tim Wilson of the Human Rights Commission* then said, among other things, that:

Government shouldn't be going around telling people what they can and cannot say, unless it leads to direct and explicit harm. Just removing things that are offensive, while it may seem attractive, is a very dangerous precedent at least because people always have very different views about what is offensive and therefore should be limited.

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He got a lot of stick for saying that. And while Ms le Couteur thinks it 'is well known that the attitudes casually displayed by Wicked Campers play a large part when it comes to this kind of violence', I'd be astonished if she could show any evidence to that effect.

It is easy to stand up against censorship when the majority is with you. It is much harder when what is being attacked is something you don't like all that much yourself. But that is the test. I think that Wicked camper vans are displaying coarse humour. I wouldn't engage in it myself, at least on my website, or in public. But it would be idle, let alone untruthful, to say that I haven't engaged in coarse humour in the past. If you don't like this sort of stuff, ignore it. You don't have to watch it on television, or buy magazines that use it. If you feel strongly about Wicked vans then write to the company, and urge others not to hire the vans. But bringing out the big Government stick to 'stamp it out' on the excuse that your grand-daughter might ask questions hard to answer or might develop bad messages about men, seems quite over the top to me. That is not what governments are for.

If you are worried about 'negative messages' that might be 'internalised' then do something about it as a parent or grandparent. That's part of our duties as parents and family. You want to stamp it out? Be very careful. One day people you don't like might want to stamp out what you are saying or doing. That is the trouble about democracies. You have to allow other to say things you don't like, so that you have the licence to say things they mightn't like.

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This article was first published on Don Aitkin.



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About the Author

Don Aitkin has been an academic and vice-chancellor. His latest book, published in 2015, is Turning Point, the second novel in The Hogarth Trilogy.

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