Censorship in 2014
There are innumerable comments I could be posting here, today, on this Blog.
1. Rob Feldman's book has arrived from the printer and is now available for sale from the Comicoz Store.
2. Ned Kelly, Written and Narrated by Monty Wedd is going to have its first National Launch at the Bunker Cartoon Gallery on September 20th.
3. Mark Juddery has written an great article about Ned Kelly and the Southern Squadron in The Spectator magazine, released yesterday.
Instead, I am going to talk about a cartoon published in an Australian daily newspaper on July 26th. This one, by Glen Le Lievre....
Over the past few days, there has been widespread reader and community reaction to Glen's cartoon, used to illustrate a piece of opinionated writing in The Sydney Morning Herald on the Gaza conflict. It seems to me that the reason - ten days later - that the newspaper has decided to issue a public apology for running it in the first place and removing it from the web-site seems somewhat flimsy.
The Sydney Morning Herald now says it "deeply regrets the upset the image has caused", and feels "it was wrong to publish the cartoon in its original form". It was said that the newspaper stands accused of racism for running the cartoon and because it "closely resembled illustrations that had circulated in Nazi Germany...that continue to haunt and traumatise generations of Jewish people".
No matter that the cartoon emanated from the news footage of the more obscene depiction of Israeli citizens sitting in lounge chairs on top of the hills of Sderot and watching the shelling of the Palestinian people in Gaza, almost as casually as if they were watching some live reality television show or playing some sort of computer game.
Although the newspaper now feels "no racial vilification occurred" in the drawing of the cartoon, it was concerned that the use of "the Star of David and the kippah in the cartoon...invoked an inappropriate element of religion" in the cartoon, and for that reason apologised "unreservedly for this lapse, and the anguish and distress that [had] been caused."
My concern is that Glen has illustrated his comment on the Middle East and that someone (apart from Glen) has deemed the subject too controversial to allow it to remain on the newspaper's web-site, and that (retrospectively) it was too hot to run in the first place. The cartoon should be allowed to stand on its own merits as a piece of commentary that, while it may not reflect the beliefs of the Editorial Department of The Sydney Morning Herald, remains an opposing viewpoint to that status quo. Political cartoons are comments just as much as opinion pieces, and both should be allowed to co-exist.
To remove the cartoon, to my mind, is an act of censorship that reflects poorly on where we stand in Australia today. Removing Glen's creative expression smacks of a organisation that is too scared to express an opposing viewpoint or to back its creative personnel. To my thinking, that is a situation that more closely resembles a situation to eras gone by. (Dare I say, like Nazi Germany?) I thought Australian society had moved more forward in its thinking than that, so I find the decision somewhat dispiriting...
Comicoz is Nat Karmichael's publishing imprint. Nat is committed to preserving a permanent collection of Australian comic and comic strips. He feels that there is a need to recognise comics' contribution to and depiction of Australian culture.
Since 2011, Nat has self-published over twelve comic-related books and was Publisher-Editor of
Oi Oi Oi! -- the last series of nationally-distributed comic books of original stories to appear on Australian newsstands. He is a member of the Australian Cartoonists Association and edited the Association's journal Inkspot for 14 issues from late 2015. For numerous years he was the Lead Judge in the Ledger of Honour Awards for the Comic Arts Awards of Australia (formerly the Ledgers). These days Nat dreams of retiring from his occupation as a Clinical Nurse in the Psychiatric Emergency Centre in Queensland's largest public hospital, so that he can spend more time with his long-suffering wife and their six children and fourteen grandchildren. And perhaps publish some more comic-related books.
Comicoz acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay respects to elders, past, present, and emerging, and extend that respect to all First Nations peoples.
Australian Publications since 1976:
1 x Poster
19 x comics (one a co-production with Cyclone Comics in 1988/9, one a co-production with Cowtown Comics in 2022)
2 x Paperback books
10 x Hardcover books