THE LEFT HAS FINALLY GOT ITS GRUBBY HANDS ON CARTOONS
Four-time Walkley Award winning political commentator and Churchill Fellow, has returned to the fray over concern that the integrity of news dissemination is continually being threatened by a partisan media.
When I first started cartooning for Fairfax I often wondered why cartoons were always vetted. If I wrote a story or completed my column there was no argument about the substance, after all it carried my byline. Funny thing was that my cartoons also carried my byline (I signed the damned things). Yet a cartoon was seen as something dangerously persuasive that needed editorial attention.
The Australian’s Bill Leak has worked with the same luxury I was afforded by Murdoch... complete freedom. And that is why I departed Fairfax for News Ltd, because Fairfax used censorship by omission, which is the most insidious form of censorship, because no reader ever had the opportunity to make a judgment.
My cartoon captions were always printed under the cartoon and Fairfax would alter the captions in what ever way they felt better explained the message. To me this was unacceptable so I started to print my own captions within a balloon and I have done so ever since... they couldn’t change them.
But the Left that inhabits all newspapers were not impressed that each Saturday I had a full page to do with whatever I wanted in The Australian. The Left hated me.
The only Press Club address I ever gave they threw their lunch at me with Mungo Macallum leading the charge with roast beef and gravy on behalf of Gough Whitlam, who also hated me.
Stiff Cheddar fellas, I was drawing and writing for readers, not editors or other journalists, they could hate me all they wanted.
Another Fairfax paper I worked for was the free-wheeling National Times whose editor was a red-headed Lefty named Max Sutch. He was an exception to the Fairfax rule. He would tear me to pieces over a cartoon, it would get close to swinging punches as he explained why Aborigines or Chinese must not be drawn that way, or depicted saying those things.
But Max always published the cartoon... I figured it was me who he was trying to convince of his ideology, not his readers. Don’t know where Max is now but if he is reading this, then “thanks mate, you were a fair dinkum editor and you deserved the respect you never got from Fairfax, but you certainly got from me".
But Bill Leak is facing a new threat to freedom of speech and it doesn’t involve editors or other journalists. It involves a Human Rights Commission that can drag you into court when it disagrees with what you say and, because it can only act on a complaint, it touts for business from the friends of the Left who will object to anything they feel is objectionable.
Bill’s only defence is the eventual abolition of 18C, one of the most un-Australian laws ever enacted when you consider Australia always bred a consistent line of the world’s best cartoonists for well over 100 years, starting with Smith’s Weekly and The Bulletin.
The use of 18C breaks that chain of free comment the public loved, and they still love in The Australian with Bill’s provocative work.
Bill must not be lost to the whingeing Left that wants to drown all comment that differs from theirs.
For as long as I have remaining, I will continue to “stick it up ‘em”, but my days in newspapers are gone forever, PC will not allow what was allowed 40 years ago. Only a private blog can get away with unbridled comment and I enjoy that freedom, despite the never ending attempts to snuff it out.
Although a few of my readers unfortunately conduct private wars on my blog I still remain determined to have as many and as varied opinions as possible. After I arrived home from hospital there were 24,000 comments on my latest article and that says something about free speech to cowards like Turnbull.
You hang in there Bill mate and don’t lose any sleep. We will soon have a government that has the balls to recognise that 18C is destroying our hard-won precious culture.
[I hope to annoy those Lefties for a while yet as I have gained 25 kilo and I’m feelin’ great despite those doctors’ dismal prognoses. And I can thank my many close friends for that.]
Your friends will get you through this one too Bill.