Thursday, August 14, 2008

Booby prize 2

It’s almost time for Auckland’s “Boobs on Bikes” parade down Queen Street, but the right wing majority on the Auckland City Council has decided to try and stop it.

As I wrote last year, the parade is held to publicise the adults-only Erotica Expo. In 2006, Former Mayor Dick Hubbard called it “morally repugnant” and in 2007 he called it “Auckland’s day of shame”. If he’d worried a bit more about Auckland and a little less about “Boobs on Bikes,” he might still be mayor, but I digress.

The elections installed a right wing mayor and majority on the City Council. The majority decided to seek a court injunction to block the parade (thank goodness they’ve solved all Auckland’s many other problems so they can waste use ratepayer money for this legal manoeuvre!).

It’s not illegal for a woman to expose her breasts in public, depending on the circumstances, and this parade is thoroughly promoted so those who are offended by the female breast can avoid the spectacle. It’s hard to see what legal justification the Auckland politicians could point to in support of their crusade.

One Councillor, Cathy Casey, was indirectly quoted as saying the parade “is just free advertising for a porn show, and the council finds the parade offensive.” It’s not a porn show, as she ought to know; in fact, it’s an adult show that features sexually related products (like toys, lubricants, etc.), as well as totally non-sexual, expensive consumer goods. Or, so I gather from the news: Like Ms. Casey, apparently, I’ve never been to the show.

Personally, I couldn’t care less whether Ms Casey or any other Councillor finds the parade “offensive”. Plenty of Aucklanders don’t, and it’s probably fair to say that the majority don’t really care about it at all.

But no one needs Nanny Auckland City Council politicians to be the moral guardians of the city. They should stick to their business—running the city—and leave moral judgements to the people themselves. As adults they’re perfectly capable of making adult decisions, regardless of the offended sensibilities of the majority of the Council.

Update 15/08/08: GayNZ.com reports concern that the actions of Auckland City Council’s politicians may endanger the resurrection of the GLBT HERO Parade in 2010. The politicians recently enacted a bylaw saying that the Council can withhold consent for events like a parade if there is any “objectively justifiable and reasonable grounds for declining consent—for example that the event will be or is likely to be offensive." Whether the politicians’ dictates would prevent the HERO Parade will depend on the outcome of the current court action. But it’s a certainty that at least some among the right-wing politicians on the current council would want the HERO Parade banned.

Update 2, 19/08/08: The Auckland District Court rejected the bid by Auckland City Council politicians to stop the “Boobs on Bikes” parade. The judge said, correctly, I think, that the parade couldn’t be legally classified as “offensive”, as the politicians had claimed. Clearly even tacky events are protected by the Bill of Rights Act.

However, when Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast found out that the organiser planned a similar parade in the Capital, she reportedly said through a spokesperson, "I'm not sure how it fits with our reputation for being the sophisticated arts and culture capital." I wonder if she can spell the words “elitist snob”?

1 comment:

d said...

I still don't understand how a breast is offensive. We all have them, and many women feed frickin' babies from them! *sheesh*