Readers will recall the Nisbet cartoon of last week. A few people called for it to be banned as racist. The PM responded to the suggestion of a law change to allow this with the very mild statement that the Govt has no plans to change the law to ban racist cartoons, as racism is very subjective and hard to define.
The current law makes illegal statements or publications that vilify a racial group, which is a far tougher criteria.
Now I would have thought the statement that what is racist is very subjective was almost beyond argument. Almost every day I see people call other people racist. Some people say the Maori seats are racist. Some people say the Police are racist. I can’t think of something that is more subjective.
So the PM’s comments on not changing the law to ban cartoons that offend were hardly controversial I would have thought.
But to some demented extremists on the left, it seems actually it is akin to lynching blacks in the KKK. They’ve been facebooking the cartoon below.
This just shows the demented extreme world view of those who promote this.
Incidentally National’s caucus has three Asian MPs, two Pacific MPs and eight MPs of Maori descent.
But this is how some people think. If you do not agree with them that the law should be changed to ban cartoons like Al Nisbet’s, then you are akin to a KKK member who lynches blacks.
Tags: cartoons, extreme left, John Key, racism
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.Tags: Al Nisbet, cartoons, racism, Susan Devoy
Paula Bennett has proposed that taxpayer fully subsidise contraception to beneficiaries, on an entirely voluntary basis. A policy which also happens to have widespread support. One can debate the pros and cons of it in terms of effectiveness, but it is a quite middle of the road proposal.
This of course is compared to Josef Mengele who was Chief Medical Officer at the Birkenau and later Auschwitz extermination camps. Mengele once ordered the gassing of 750 women because their block was infected with lice. Mengele also injected chemicals into children’s eyes to try and change their eye colour, amputated limbs for no medical reason, sterilized girls against their will, killed twins so he could dissect them, had two twins sewn together to try and conjoin them.
Cartoonists enjoy a wide latitude by their editors. This is how it should be. But there is a point at which an editor should say a cartoon is so offensive they do not wish to publish it.
The Dominion Post has made a grievous judgment of error in publishing that cartoon, and at a minimum owe an apology to Paula Bennett. There is no room in our political discourse for comparing MPs to Nazis, especially Josef Mengele.Tags: cartoons, Dominion Post, Josef Mengele, Trace Hodgson