Prime Minister John Key has urged critics of cartoons about the the Government’s breakfast in schools programme to accept cartoonists can blow things out of proportion.
While he had not seen the cartoons, Key said he had heard second hand reports about them and understood they may not be to everyone’s taste.
“By the description I was given it certainly could be offensive to people.”
As a general rule, however, he tried not to comment too much on cartoons.
“I’m often the source of the humour in them, if you like, and I try and take it all with a grain of salt because cartoonists are notorious for taking a mile out of an inch.”
Wise advice. I suspect what many hate about it, isn’t the skin colour of two of those featured, but the political message the cartoon sends.
I wonder how many of them complained when a cartoonist compared Paula Bennett to Josef Mengele, because she (shock horror) supported free contraception for beneficiaries?
His comments came after Race Relations Commissioner Susan Devoy said the cartoons were offensive and appalling.
Her distaste for them has spurred her to question the high threshold required for a finding of racism within the commission’s inquiries and complaints process. The threshold under the law was “very high” and was about inciting racial disharmony.
“Perhaps it is not right that the threshold is that high,” but that was a matter for the Government she said.
Asked why anyone should make a complaint about the cartoons when the threshold for what was considered racism was so high, she replied: “I ask myself that all the time”.
I’m against any change to the threshold. The threshold for the state to actually prosecute people for what they say should be incredibly high.
If people don’t like the cartoon, then they should express that to the newspaper. They can choose to boycott it. They can set up criticism sites. The best antidote to speech you don’t like is more speech, not less speech.
I don’t actually like the cartoon myself. I wouldn’t publish it on Kiwiblog* if a cartoonist submitted it to me, but that is my decision to make.
* Yes, it has of course now been published here, but that is in the context of reporting on the controversy about it.