Note: We are required to publish rulings from the Press Council to show publicly whether they have been upheld or dismissed.
The Press Council has dismissed a complaint from Cailen Cambeul, of the self-styled Church of Creativity, South Australia, that the News Limited website, The Punch, misrepresented adherents of the church as uneducated, illiterate and prone to committing violence.
Mr Cambeul, who runs the church, complained that The Punch columnist, Tory Shepherd, insinuated that he had a criminal history, and had nullified his church’s right to be accepted as a legitimate religious body. Ms Shepherd’s column, which appeared on July 30, 2009, was written after she explored an array of unusual religious and political websites, including the Church of Creativity. She wrote that Cambeul had “a bit of a chequered history” and that the church’s members were just “a few loners looking for something to do with all their hate”.
In a brief reply to Mr Cambeul’s complaint, The Punch said that Mr Cambeul was a self-confessed racist and that the Church of Creativity was a white supremacist organisation, not a recognised religion.
Mr Cambeul, who describes himself on his website as, “The racist formerly known as Colin Campbell”, argued that he is a white separatist, not a supremacist. However his advice to The Punch that “We do accept that White people are intellectually superior to the other races” fits most definitions of a supremacist belief.
The Council finds that the majority of The Punch’s column to which Mr Cambeul objected in fact referred to organisations other than his own. It is difficult to see how the column could void his church’s claim to religious legitimacy, nor does the description of Mr Cambeul’s career as “chequered” necessarily imply criminality.
The Council accepts that bylined columnists are free to express controversial opinions provided – as in this instance - the opinions are derived from fact.
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