Show some respect

Playboy model Jaylene Cook has created controversy in New Zealand by posting a selfie taken at Mt Taranaki, a Maori sacred site.

Cook at Waikato (from @jaylenecook_)

The Instagram picture was said to offend many in New Zealand’s indigenous community, although it was met with approval from at least one local tourism official. The incident raises an important issue that goes beyond the land of the long white cloud.

It is certainly not the first time a tourist has been accused of cultural insensitivity. In Australia, for example, tourists are urged not to climb Uluru (Ayers Rock) out of respect for the local Aboriginal people.

The picture is also part of a trend of people taking naked selfies at famous landmarks.

In 2015, a group of young tourists who did just that at Mt Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia, were accused of being uncivilised and disrespectful. They were also blamed, by some, for an earthquake that killed at least 16 people.

Many of these issues can be put down to a combination of ignorance by the people taking the pictures and overreaction by others. I have absolutely no doubt that some people genuinely find this kind of behaviour offensive, but amplifying their outrage by going to the media or complaining in popular online forums might just fuel similar or worse behaviour by others.

People considering a nude selfie — or any other act that might offend — should pause for thought. Would you do the same thing in a Cathedral or a cemetery?

If you’re still thinking about it, you should not only consider the feelings of the people to whom the site is important, but also the law of the land.

In some countries, posing nude anywhere in public could get you locked up for a very long time. Or worse.

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