Yesterday, thousands of Australians were calling for The Australian to apologise for cartoonist Bill Leak’s latest shit-stirring panel. 

Today, it’s been revealed the paper is facing another challenger to the doodler-in-chief, from none other than the Australian Human Rights Commission.

The AHRC has received allegations Bill Leak’s infamously haphazard and demeaning depiction of absentee Indigenous parents directly resulted in someone experiencing “racial hatred.”

Therefore, it’s alleged the cartoon violates Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. That’s the section which covers acts intended to “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate” based on “race, colour or ­national or ethnic origin.”

According to The Australian, the AHRC is basing its review of Leak’s work on the alleged “racial discrimination, racial profiling, and racially ­offensive material” contained within.

The complainant also alleged Leak’s works “illustrate hateful and derogatory material specifically relating to indigenous Australians, their relationships with their children, alcoholism and domestic violence.”

Leak and the paper have until October 28 to pony up material to the AHRC with the intention of reaching some kind of conciliation between the three parties. If not, the Commission has indicated it’ll take the allegations to court to be solved there. 

Just FYI, The Australian’s defence of Leak and his work has, and will likely continue to be, absolutely resolute. Editor-In-Chief Paul Whittaker said yesterday that “Bill’s cartoons are often confronting and prompt readers to think about unpalatable truths,” but aren’t racist.

That aligns with the take Whittaker gave amid the original furore surrounding the cartoon. Back in August, he said “too often, too many people skirt around the root causes and tough issues. But not everyone.”

It seems likely that this particular case will further galvanise commentators who want Section 18C repealed. While there are a set number of defences within the Act the paper could reasonably utilise, 18C as a whole has been slagged by many who just, you know, “tell it like it is”.

People like Andrew Bolt, who has also commented on today’s developments. He reckons the “law is disgusting. It stifles debate. And in this case it is being used to shut down the telling of truth.”

Buckle the hell up Australia, ’cause in all likelihood, the commentary around this issue will somehow get even uglier.

Source: The Australian / The Herald Sun.
Photo: Bill Leak / The Australian.