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The car dealer, the MP and the rap song - Dutton embroiled in Twitter battle

Politics

A Queensland importer of American cars – who used Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton in his marketing material – is taking social media giant Twitter to court, and wants tweets labelling him a racist to be taken down.

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He also wants damages, claiming he was defamed as people sought to attack Dutton.

A year ago, SCD America Vehicles released a promo video online, with a US rap song as the backing track and featuring the Home Affairs Minister touring the premises in Brendale – as the words “baddest MP” and “Dutton” flashed on screen.

“Thanks for the official visit Peter Dutton. Looking forward to creating more jobs in your electorate!” SCD America Vehicles wrote under the video.

But the video enraged Dutton’s critics and came as he was overseeing the deportation of a Tamil family from Biloela. The response on Twitter was largely negative.

A year later, SCD America Vehicles co-owner Eddie Kocwa has served legal papers on Twitter in a bid to remove critical and allegedly defamatory tweets by three users, who are not part of his action in the District Court of Queensland. A fourth user was named in the lawsuit but has already agreed to delete posts.

In court documents, Kocwa claims an old photo published on Twitter after the promo was released showed him making a circle with his fingers during an end-of-season soccer event. He says it was made out on Twitter to be a white supremacist gesture, but was actually a prank popularised by the TV show ‘Malcolm in the Middle’.

Kocwa says another photo showing him in a red cap with the letters MAGA (Make America Great Again, the political slogan of US President Donald Trump) was merely an attempt to be seen “promoting all things American”.

“I am not a racist, nor a white supremacist,” Kocwa states, referring to the people from different backgrounds and religions employed by his company.

“Indeed, one of my friends in the first photograph is a man whose heritage is African-American.”

As a result of the backlash against the Dutton promo, Kocwa claims the business has lost future contracts and his friendships with professional sportspeople have been strained because they can no longer be seen with him. He is seeking $250,000 damages for defamation and $50,000 in aggravated damages.

Twitter has yet to respond to Kocwa’s lawyers. There will be a directions hearing for the case next week in the District Court.

SCD also did a video promo featuring state Liberal National Party leader Deb Frecklington, who was portrayed as “the boss”. The rap song used as a backing track for Frecklington’s promo contained lyrics that prompted Di Farmer, the Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women, to tweet that it was “disgusting and degrading to women and people of colour”.

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