Colin Craig versus The Civilian

The Civilian is a recent addition to the New Zealand political commentariat, providing a usually very good satirical look at politics and politicians.

But Colin Craig has taken exception to a recent post on the marriage bill – Maurice Williamson looking pretty stupid after floods. – where he gets a mention:

But now that the rain has caused widespread flooding in and around Hamilton and Nelson – while more bad weather looks set to make it worse – Williamson has been forced to concede that he was wrong.

“It was a bit of a silly thing to say, in retrospect,” said Williamson before getting into a car. “Of course rain is a bad thing.”

Conservative Party Leader Colin Craig was among the first to point out the National MP’s mistake.

“Williamson likes to talk about big gay rainbows,” said Craig, “but it would help if he understood what the rainbow actually means. After Noah’s flood, God painted a giant rainbow across the sky, which was a message that he would never again flood the world, unless we made him very angry. And we have.”

The Civilian has now posted Chapman Tripp legal notice – 23 April 2013

The following is a legal notice issued to The Civilian by Chapman Tripp on behalf of Conservative Party Leader Colin Craig.

A displayed letter from Craig’s lawyer is headed:


And it says:

3. We are instructed that Colin Craig never made the Statement. It is a fiction created
by you to make him look ridiculous and the use of quotation marks is designed to
give it the appearance of fact. The Statement cannot be dismissed as sati re in the
circumstances, particularly when it is published alongside quotes from Maurice
Williamson which we understand may largely be accurate.

4. If you wish to avoid being served with defamation proceedings, you should remove
this Statement immediately and permanently from your webpage, but in any event
by no later than 4pm today, 23 April 2013.

And it demands a retraction and an apology, even providing a pre-written apology sheet with provision for a signature.

There has been a large reaction to this on Twitter, Facebook and the blogosphere. Not surprisingly most of it is critical of Craig. And of course it has increased exposure of the post on The Civilian hugely, multiplying the ridicule of Craig substantially.

It does seem to be a remarkable heavy handed reaction by Craig.

6 Mr Craig also seeks a contribution of $500 towards his legal costs and reserves all of  his rights in respect of this matter.

If I received a contribution of $500 every time I have been ridiculed in social media I would be as rich as Craig, and would be able to afford to launch spurious legal attacks.

Anyone getting involved in politics in New Zealand must know that it invites political attack and ridicule. A bit of satire should be well down the scale of worries for Craig – as he might now be discovering.

The Civilian is free to take whatever risks it likes lampooning politicians, and Craig is free to attempt any legal action he likes. Both have to deal with any consequences.

The popularity of The Civilian is likely to soar.

The popularity of Colin Craig probably won’t plummet, he has a loyal base of support, but this action is hardly likely to improve it either. For someone needing to increase his party’s support substantially to succeed in politics he has something to learn about dealing with criticism, and especially satire.

I hope he has learned from his over-reaction.

And the latest post at The Civilian is well worth a read: Opinion: I am the man who decided to insert a hot dog into the crust of a pizza. I must be stopped

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  1. Reaction to Colin Craig versus The Civilian | Your NZ
  2. Colin Craig – binding referendum on satire | Your NZ

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