Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Cartoonists need to realise they too could one day be at risk from the stiflers of free speech


The Wairarapa Times-Age published the above cartoon yesterday. I wrote the following letter in response, which the paper published this morning.

Shaun Yeo’s cartoon depicts a sulky-looking Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull, aka Posie Parker, leaving New Zealand in a huff after a violent mob prevented her from speaking in Auckland on Saturday.

It’s a “good riddance” cartoon. The caption reads: “We will respect your right to free speech … if you will respect our right not to listen.”

This is nonsensical. No one challenged people’s right not to listen to Parker. People could choose not to listen to her by simply staying away.

That’s not what the noisy rabble in Auckland did. They were determined to ensure that no one was allowed to hear what Parker had to say.

The New Zealand Bill of Rights Act doesn’t only guarantee freedom to speak. It also upholds people’s right to hear opinions “of any kind in any form”.

That right was denied to New Zealanders on Saturday, and what makes it worse is that the police stood by and did nothing. They didn’t even arrest the person who poured tomato juice over Parker – a clear case of assault witnessed by everyone who saw the TV news.

Not only is Yeoh’s cartoon a perverse distortion of what happened at Albert Park, but he should pause to reflect on the fact that all cartoonists depend on the right to free speech.

Regardless of what he thinks about Parker’s opinions, he should be alarmed at the denial of her right to express herself. All it takes is a change of the political wind for his own right to be threatened.

Incidentally, I don’t regard myself as a Parker supporter. How could I be, when I’m not allowed to hear what she wanted to say?



Andy Espersen said...

Not only is Yeo's cartoon a perverse distortion of the events at Albert Park - it is also a perverse distortion of Posey Parker's personality. She is never, and was never, a "sulky-looking person" or "in a huff". Quite the opposite, in fact.

Bravo, Karl.

Nicola R said...

Amen Karl

Trev1 said...

According to the eloquent testimony of eyewitnesses recorded by Sean Plunket today, Kelly Jay Keen could have been killed by the deranged thugs who engulfed her at Albert Park. Several women supporters were brutalized by men in dresses. The Police, who to their everlasting shame stood idly by while the violence was inflicted, told KJK they could not protect her. Who directed them to abandon their responsibilities? Mr Yeo is an idiot and his cartoon is a lie. Well done Karl.

Trevor Hughes

Alex said...

I watched Hipkins answering whether he agreed with Posy's right to speak.

He said he agrees with freedom of speech as long as it's factual and respectful !

Does he mean that if the police think that what someone says is incorrect they will stop them from speaking?

If they speak in a way the police consider disrespectful will they be stopped for that also?

Freedom doesn't sound free anymore .

Eamon Sloan said...

Karl, you were not sure if you could regard yourself as a Parker supporter. If you read this blog post it might help you to decide. It is the guest post from a very brave lady who was in the middle of the chaos on the day.

Semi long read but worth the time :


Doug Longmire said...

Well said Karl,
This incident has exposed a very ugly side of our once proud nation.
The Police deliberate inaction is shocking !!

Simon Cohen said...

Political cartoonists in this country are appalling. The very rare exceptions like Garrick Tremain have been denied any space in the main stream media.
Particularly bad are those on Stuff who firstly seem to be of only one political bent and who also don't appear to understand that the point of a cartoon is to lampoon politicians of all persuasions.

David McLoughlin said...

Kia ora Karl

Cartoonists are indeed vulnerable to being cancelled, should their work not reflect the prevailing establishment view.

Garrick Tremain, for example, is an unperson in all mainstream NZ media after being dumped by the ODT after he drew cartoons that offended the mob (which is often nowadays closely Venn-paired with the establishment). His work continues to appear on fringe websites like those run by Bob Jones, Don Brash and Cam Slater, which I suspect will ensure he'll not again appear in mainstream media, a sad end to a long career.

In Australia, the lovely Michael Leunig -- far from a conservative; he was a mainstay cartoonist for decades for the Left's The Age -- was censured in 2021 and dumped for a time for a cartoon making fun of vaccine mandates.

This kind of cartooning fate is not recent. When I was a junior reporter on the NZ Herald way back in the 1980s, cartoonist Malcolm Evans (whose bent was Left on a conservative paper) quit because the editor wouldn't run his cartoons critical of Israel. In 1997, Malcolm returned to the Herald when the Herald modernised, but he was sacked in 2003 because, he said, of his cartoons opposing the Israeli government. Twenty years on, and given the near-universal media antipathy to Israel displayed today, I don't think a cartoonist would be sacked for an anti-Israeli cartoon now. More likely for one supporting Israel.

Malcolm's cartoons still appear today on Left websites, such as Bomber Bradbury's glorious Daily Blog, but I don't think he appears anywhere mainstream, a shame, as his cartoons cover a wide range of issues, not just Israel.

My personal motto is: "Beware for whom the mob bays; lest next it bays for thee." It was front of my mind at the weekend as I watched the screaming mob in Albert Park. Their cause is righteous today, but it will not always be, and I fear that their very extremism will put them at extreme risk when the wind turns and another mob bays for them.

Ka kite anō, David McLoughlin

Paul Peters said...

MSM is having a ball with the sauce thrower...Herald has her poor little innocent frail me so afraid of arrest... one sided as usual. Media and ex-media people I know here in Taranaki are quite happy with the bias as ''they are telling the truth''. Giving no oxygen, a favourite term, to fascists, white supremacists and gender haters (as defined by the ''truth'' bastions

Hilary Taylor said...

Thanks Karl, for holding the line. Again.
I heartell PP's audience has doubled...
These bullyboys won't win.
And now Lal is young NZerOTY....ha! Could they be more pathetic?