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Offensive offence

By Steven | February 16, 2012

A few years back, the censor banned┬áthis T-shirt (scroll down)┬ádepicting a masturbating woman and the words “Jesus is a cunt”. I questioned the ban.

Now the retailer who sold the T-shirts has been convicted for possessing them. I note that this offence also applies to everyone who owns such a T-shirt, whether they wear it or not. Are they to be prosecuted too?

Topics: Censorship, NZ Bill of Rights Act | 9 Comments »

9 Responses to “Offensive offence”

  1. Graeme Edgeler Says:
    February 21st, 2012 at 11:50 am

    IF the t-shirt itself is banned, are we really allowed pictures of the t-shirt, or would the same reasoning apply?

    Also, I assume someone made, or imported the t-shirt. Will they be charged? If they had reasonable cause to believe the t-shirts were objectionable, will they get 10 year prison sentences?

    And finally, couldn’t the definition of “publication” be read down? It does seem a bit of a stretch for a t-shirt to fall within the words of the definition in the Act. It can be made to fit, sure, but I’d have thought some summary offences act offence was a better fit for people using (or encouraging others to use) t-shirt for the purpose of intimidating others.

  2. Steve Parkes Says:
    June 28th, 2012 at 12:35 am

    “IF the t-shirt itself is banned, are we really allowed pictures of the t-shirt, or would the same reasoning apply?”

    Well, according to the article, the ban made by Bill Hastings specifies “…any act of possessing, wearing, distributing or selling the T-shirt, or another top with the same wording and imagery, illegal.”

    If that’s a fair summary of the ban, then merely having, or pointing to the image, is not in itself banned. The ban imposed by Hastings seems specific to the format.

    Interestingly, that seems to me to mean that one could make another version of the same kind of thing – the same text, the same or similar image – and put it in a non T-shirt/top format, and not be covered by the ban that lead to this conviction.

    For example, a comic depicting this series of events (either directly or approximately) featuring images of people in the comic wearing just such a T-shirt, would not be covered by the original ban.

  3. Steven Says:
    June 28th, 2012 at 10:46 am

    Sure. The decision is about a t-shirt. And it’s possible that the same picture on a different format would not be banned. But isn’t that very unlikely?

  4. Steve Parkes Says:
    July 2nd, 2012 at 12:20 am

    Well, we have a different chief censor now. How much are they bound by precedent? Does it work that way?

    I think you made a pretty strong case in your questioning of the ban. I feel it was a borderline call, and Hastings seemed a bit … harsh on this one. (For example, I fail to see how it is misogynistic, and what are they doing ruling on blasphemy?)

    Also, in the scenario I used, there would likely be a stronger argument in terms of artistic or literary merit.

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