Holly Walker, who served as a Green Party List MP from 2011-2014, but failed to retain her seat in the New Zealand parliamentary election held on 20 September 2014, studied at the University of Otago from 2001, graduating with a BA (Hons) in English and Politics.
In 2005 she was the editor of the Otago University student magazine Critic Te Arohi, the year’s winner of the Aotearoa Student Press Association’s award for Best Student Publication. In September 2005 Critic’s annual “Offensive Issue” included a fictionalised diary of a man who used drugs to stupefy and rape women. The Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC), headed by then Chief Censor Bill Hastings, banned the issue in early 2006, soon after Walker’s tenure as editor had ended. At the time of the ban she said the article was “defendable in that it highlights a very important issue“, but when Critic interviewed her in 2012 she called it “a mistake to publish that particular article the way that we did“.
The Society for Promotion of Community Standards Inc. applied to the Chief Censor Bill Hastings in 2005, to be granted leave” to have the magazine classified by his Office. He did not grant SPCS “leave” but instead acted on on an application from the NZ Police to have the magazine classified. Nevertheless, the Society, as an “interested party” was invited by Hastings to make a written submission to the OFLC, which it did, arguing that the Critic publication should be ruled “objectionable” (and as a consequence banned). SPCS was successful in having it banned.
To read the SPCS submission which destroys Holly Walker’s ‘defence’ of the indefensible “objectionable” date-rape publication, go to:
The Society contends that it would appear that at no point in later years, did Holly Walker ever fully and genuinely resile from the trenchant position she had adopted earlier as a young editor in support of the publication of the drug rape article (based on “the ‘rights’ of freedom of expression” arguments) and totally reject her earlier opposition to its banning. In 2012, while still a Green Party MP and Party Spokesperson for Children and Students, she was interviewed by Critic on the drug-rape issue:
Question: Back in 2005 when you were Editor of Critic, you published a satirical [sic] how-to guide to drug rape. The article caused a lot of controversy and that week’s Critic was eventually banned. Thoughts on this, and the role of student media in 2012? [Note: No competent academic would describe it as a “satirical” piece of writing!]
Holly Walker: I kind of agreed with the reasoning about why it was a problematic article, but I think it probably shouldn’t have been banned. It is better to err on the side of freedom but with a really strong understanding of the responsibility that comes along with that. I’ve since come to think that if I had been the survivor of rape and I had read that article, I would have been extremely re-traumatised…
I’ve said that I think it was a mistake to publish that particular article the way that we did, but that doesn’t mean student media shouldn’t be in the business of pushing boundaries and breaking taboos. I just think it’s really important to have a defensible purpose.
To his credit, Bill Hastings, Chief Censor, embraced the main thrust of the Society’s defensible case that called for a banning of the Critic issue. However, as the Society anticipated, his Office took so long to make a decision that thousands of copies of the Drug Rape issue of Critic circulated far and wide among the Otago University student population in Dunedin’s and among the wider public. Hastings defended the tardiness of his Office in issuing its classification decision, by arguing that he needed wide input from many stakeholders in the debate and he was bound by the law – the Films, Videos and Publications Classification Act 1993 (“the Act”) – to grant defenders of the Critic ample time to prepare and submit their cases. However, the defenders of the drug-rape Critic issue, dragged their heels’ exploiting extension time favours over the summer university recess, to the extreme – such that the whole exercise became a farce.
The Society contends that if the “public good” is to be effectively protected in law against the injurious impact of such “objectionable” publications, promoted at the time by editors such as Holly Walker, the law must be amended to allow for more effective restrictions on the widespread dissemination of such offensive material during the crucial review period. The SPCS has used the mechanism under the Act known as an injunction to effectively block the public from access to publications promoting gratuitous sexual violence, during the important review period. The injunction it was granted by the High Court in the case of the Society’s appeal against the R18 OFLC’s classification of the French Rape Film – Baise-Moi – an injunction granted by Justice Hammond – was the first ever granted under New Zealand censorship law.
“How-to Guide to Drug Rapists” to Chief Censor. SPCS Press Release 23/09/2005