Sunday, July 21, 2013
New Zealand cartoon accused of racism before Human Rights Commission
Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy has questioned the high threshold for a finding of racism after newspaper cartoons about the Government's breakfast in schools programme created a storm of controversy.
The cartoons, by award-winning cartoonist Al Nisbet, were printed in The Marlborough Express yesterday and The Press today.
The Marlborough Express cartoon featured a group of adults dressed in school uniforms heading to school with bowls in hands. Among them were a man and woman who looked to be Maori or Pasifika.
The man says to the woman, who has a cigarette hanging from her mouth: "Psst. If we can get away with this, the more cash left for booze, smokes and pokies."
Devoy told reporters she had seen The Marlborough Express cartoon and found it offensive and appalling.
"It continues to stereotype certain populations, and it continues to stigmatise people who live in poverty, particularly children," she said. The cartoons were stereotyping Polynesian people as spending their money on cigarettes and gambling, and "that is wrong".
The cartoons did not reach the level of racism within the commission's inquiries and complaints process. The threshold under the law was "very high" and was about inciting racial disharmony.
The Press editor Joanna Norris said the newspaper would not be apologising for a piece of comment that expressed a strong view.
The cartoon was offensive because it was broadly accurate. Maori do in general have poor delay of gratification and many (31%) depend on welfare payments. And they do have a lot of "parties" (drinking sessions). If the cartoon had portrayed Maori as rich bankers in top hats it would not have been offensive because it would not have been in any way accurate.
The cartoonist was actually using recognizable types in order to criticize a government program -- but the types were too recognizable, apparently