What Happened to Free Speech in New Zealand?

by Gavin

I read last night that the Whale Oil Moko cartoon by Boomslang has not only been complained about to the Human Rights Commission, but, that the HRC are wanting mediation, which appears to imply there is a case to answer. Perhaps they now have a chance to justify their taxpayer funding, and I suspect much higher than average salaries.

I find it curious that satire in the form of cartooning is now fair game to anyone who disagrees with it. I find this a bit of a double standard and denial of free speech when cartooning has been a valid form of expression for contentious ideas for centuries.

Firstly, cartoons have been around for hundreds of years as a form of political and societal comment. Often disparaging of the ruling elite and issues of the time, In England there was Hogarth in the 18th century making comments via cartoons. France in the 19th century had Daumier doing the same thing. During the last election cycle SonovaMin’s cartoons were the most accurate in predicting actual events and describing them.

Secondly, I wonder if the aggrieved people were upset and went to the HRC, were so, because it was too close to the truth for them to face. After all, if they looked past the messenger, they might have to address the message. I see the collective consciousness has already moved on the housing and the homeless as Moko is forgotten until next time.

So what is acceptable for cartoons? Obviously Mohamed is out, especially for our MSM. The Prime Minister, it appears is definitely in. I only had to go back to May 10, for one of Emmerson’s many depictions of the PM’s caricaturised with a large Jewish nose, as per the historical anti-Semitic depictions of the Jews. This of course is totally acceptable? It was easy to find to, as most of these depictions have the PM with the large Jewish nose, as seen in the MSM on a daily basis.

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No minority, racist or racial stereotype generalisations to see here, move along.

Whilst on the Prime minister and double standards, I noted in the last election Laila Harre was quite happy with Kim Dotcom whipping up the youth crowd with chants of “fuck John Key”. When challenged, she rather sheepishly and without conviction stated they were just expressing themselves. Same with “At Peace” NZ on Air funded muso singing about kill the PM and rape his daughter. A few ruffled feathers and move along to the next hit on the PM.

I am disappointed more people weren’t upset by the Moko cartoon. I would like to have seen a nation upset enough to want to address the issues, not shoot the messenger. Freedom of speech is what separates a democracy from totalitarian regimes.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

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