Senator David Leyonhjelm Says Wicked Campers Are 'Funny,' Lashes Out At Critics

28/04/2016 4:33 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:52 PM AEST
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The debate over the controversial Wicked Camper vans has reached federal politics, with Senator David Leyonhjelm saying critics of the vehicles were "particularly wowserish."

The distinctive vans, spray-painted with slogans such as "in every princess, there's a little slut who wants to try it just once" and "fat chicks are harder to kidnap" have been a source of controversy in recent years amid accusations they are misogynistic and incite violence towards women.

That debate was reignited on Thursday, with Byron Bay council reportedly passing a ban on the vans in the northern NSW town.

Leyonhjelm and his Liberal Democrats party, noted critics of what they call "nanny state" regulations, responded to the Byron campaign to ban the campers by posting tweets supporting Wicked and criticising its opponents.

"If you want to take offense that's your choice and you've got to remember it's a choice and other people make different choices," Leyonhjelm told the ABC.

"Most of the statements I've read from the vans are able to be interpreted in a couple of ways and they require a degree of sophistication to know what they're getting at."

Leyonhjelm told the ABC Wicked made funny statements, "which obviously have sexual connotations."

"But surprise, surprise sexual connotations are part of life. You need to be a particularly wowserish type of person to not find them funny," he said.

NSW Premier Mike Baird reportedly wouldn't support the ban when asked about it on Wednesday.

Greens MP Tamara Smith told the national broadcaster the slogans could incite hatred and violence towards women.

"These are things that are inciting violence, condoning violence and they could be seen as vilification," she said.

Popular music festival Splendour In The Grass, based at Byron Bay, also said that the vans would not be welcome at their coming July festival.

"If you’re booking a campervan, please steer clear of sexist slogans! You know who you are. It’s 2016, get with the program," the Splendour website stated.

Campaigns for Wicked to be banned, or to have certain slogans censored or removed, have happened before. A 2015 push tried to get the company to alter potentially offensive words; while in 2014, a petition signed by 119,000 people prompted Wicked boss John Webb to admit "we have taken things out of proportion and out of the realms of what is considered to be 'socially acceptable."

In 2008, the Advertising Standards Board upheld complaints and ordered Wicked to remove slogans including "if God was a woman, sperm would taste like chocolate" and "women are like banks - once you withdraw you lose interest". The vans even spawned their own protest page, 'Wicked Pickets,' where opponents of the slogans post pictures of the most offensive examples.

On Thursday three wicked camper van designs were reportedly banned by New Zealand's Chief Censor after they were deemed 'objectionable'.

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