Let’s talk: Is this cartoon racist?

The Australian has earned a reputation for publishing satirical cartoons that push boundaries and commentate on current affairs. While they

The Australian has earned a reputation for publishing satirical cartoons that push boundaries and commentate on current affairs.

While they usually draw a giggle, it’s latest cartoon has done anything but, causing uproar from many who have accused the paper of blatant racism in a cartoon depicting a police officer, and Indigenous father and his child.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion has slammed the paper, saying he is appalled they published it.

The cartoon by Bill Leak published in the Australian.
The cartoon by Bill Leak published in the Australian.

“Although Australian cartoonists have a rich tradition of irreverent satire, there is absolutely no place for depicting racist stereotypes,” Mr Scullion said, reports ABC.

The Australian editor-in-chief Paul Whittaker stood by his paper though, citing comments made by Indigenous leaders this week, including Noel Pearson on Lateline who said:

“Blackfellas have got to take charge and take responsibility for their own children. That part of the message really struggles to get traction.”

In his statement, Mr Whittaker said: “The Australian is proud of its long-standing and detailed contribution to our national debate over the crucial issues in Indigenous affairs.

“The current controversy over juvenile detention in the Northern Territory has lifted these matters to the forefront of national attention again.

“Bill Leak’s confronting and insightful cartoons force people to examine the core issues in a way that sometimes reporting and analysis can fail to do.”

The cartoon has divided readers with some seeing the funny side and others saying they were shocked to see that kind of content in one of Australia’s leading papers.

What are your thoughts? Is the cartoon racist? Or is it just satirical fun?

  1. Unfortunately for the politically correct, it may well be true of some people – black and white. If the cartoon had depicted a white man being handed his child back and he didn’t know its name, then not a word would be said. Everyone would laugh ruefully and shake their heads.

    We laughed and sighed with disgust at the so-called “racist” cartoons of Charlie Ebdo (don’t know how to spell it) and his team which were the same type of cartoons depicting truths which the recipients didn’t want to hear because they were true of many situations. So now we want to ban cartoons which depict situations which are true in some instances in our own country because we don’t like the truth here?

    We can’t have it all ways, so we need to look at the sadness and horror BEHIND the truth which is being shown to us and focus on that, not get all hot under the collar about racism.

    Cries of racism are being used to deflect the public from the fact that we as a nation need to get to and help to change these things.

    PS: I am sure if there is a way, Pauline Hanson will be blamed for all of it.

    • Bob  

      Well said Diana. It is only the leftist PC brigade that get on the soap boxes and declare racism because they can’t handle the truth.

    • Russell McMahon  

      Diana – Please note that the following is NOT intended to come across as offensive or angry towards you or confrontational. If it manages to achieve any of that to any extent then you have my apologies in advance.
      > Peripheral to the issue of THESE cartoons.
      re ” We laughed and sighed with disgust at the so-called “racist” cartoons of Charlie Ebdo… which were the same type of cartoons depicting truths which the recipients didn’t want to hear because they were true of many situations. ” ->
      No. (In fact No !!!!!!!!!!!). It’s possible that you have not seen the full extent and depravity of CH’s work. While the CH cartoons to a variable degree contained elements of truth and (arguably) fair comment, many of them were largely pale attempts at excusing vile filthy racist muck that had no justification in any civilised society. And SOME of them were almost pure vile racist muck, aimed far more at causing offence to the innocent and uninvolved in any questionable activity that at making fair comment*. To compare this cartoon to the CH ones is to do this a disservice, no matter how PC it may not be, and to excuse CH’s vile trash far more than it deserves.
      * If you think my judgement questionable, send me an email and I’ll be very pleased to send you a copy of or link to an example which I would truly hope you’d be appalled at on behalf of both ALL women AND all Muslim women and which I can see no glint redeeming merit (and which is not suitable for providing links to from this sight). Your opinion on it would be of genuine interest. (Anyone else is also welcome to contact me – but please do NOT post anything from CH that I send or refer to back here).

      And, fwiw 🙂 – of course this Australian cartoon aims to be offensively racist, and of course it highlights some solid truths that need addressing. Using the 1st to draw attention to the attention can have its place, but it’s a very dangerous & difficult path to walk with honour.
      Russell McMahon [ nzphotonz @ gmail … ]

  2. Peter DOBBIE  

    I agree with Diana. Sometimes the truth hurts. It’s not racism.

  3. Susan Knowles  

    Racist, racist, racist. You don’t need to blame Pauline Hanson for racism in the Australian. It is their basic viewpoint.

  4. Claire Hancock  

    I have great respect for Indigenous leader Noel Pearson: he never shies away from telling it like it is. In today’s social climate, it appears that it is OK for Noel Pearson to “tell it like it is”, but it’s not OK for a presumably white cartoonist to “illustrate” the point Noel Pearson was making.

    As for Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion’s comment that “there is absolutely no place for depicting racist stereotypes”: in the cartoon the police officer (representing those at the ‘front line’ trying to deal with the issues facing NT indigenous youth) and the father (representing one of the causes of these issues) are both Aboriginal … so in the cartoon, Indigenous people are fairly represented as being on both sides of the equation.

    There is nothing racist about stating a fact that the issues of many Indigenous youth are magnified by a lack of parenting skills and poor role models. Just as the issues of many Caucasian youth who find themselves in the juvenile criminal system are in a large part due to exactly the same issues of poor parenting and poor role models.

  5. its only racist cos there is an aboriginal looking man in it. we have gone from the old way of ignoring them to the other extreme where everything seems to be racist and its all white mans fault. the towns where alcohol is a problem amongst aborigines to the lack of health care out the back of no where.

  6. Is it racist? Perhaps! Is racism entirely a question of how the person offended sees the situation? Is there no room for considering the intent of the “perpetrator”? What about truth? Are we to avoid truth, hide it or ignore it because speaking out might offend.

  7. Geoff  

    For God’s sake, what is all this b..s about racism. Get back to being normal. It is part of the Aussie culture to take the piss out of one another and I’m sure our Italian and Greek friends are not offended by that culture. They accepted it. So who started all this bad-mouthing? “Get a life”.

    • Janet Foster  

      Agree with your comments, very well put.

    • Rob  

      It was a gay politician who it all Remember ,. AL Gasb y. A laboir politician

  8. Jefrob  

    I suppose everyboby would be happy if the young lad was white.

  9. Roger Hallett  

    It is neither satirical nor fun. It is a clear statement supporting Noel Pearson’s statement about parental responsibility. Asking about the child’s name could be allegorical for parents really not knowing their children well, which I feel is the case too often.

    • I agree with this statement. Many parents (white and black) today should be more aware of what their children are doing and have better control of them!

  10. rex peirce  

    what the hell is racist about that —–3 australians talking ??? doesn’t make any difference if they are blue black white brindle how is it racist. when white australians are denigrated by aboriginals i.e. (white barstards etc etc) how come we dont hear from Mr Scullion??

    • Maxwell Hart  

      I’m with you Rex.They can call us anything but if we retort, we are racist. You Ethnic prick, You Aussie bastard. Who Cares.We are all on this earth together. This is Aussie culture.

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