catallaxy files

catallaxy in technical exile

Ludicrous Leunig

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I’d never publish a cartoon making fun of the Holocaust. But as political stunts go, I thought the Iranian newspaper Hamshahri‘s Holocaust cartoon competition was clever. It neatly highlighted the distinctions easily lost in the other cartoon controversy, about portraying the Prophet Muhammad, between what should be legal (just about everything, in my view) and what’s appropriate (a much smaller category). I thought a second stunt, sending in a Holocaust cartoon by Age cartoonist Michael Leunig, was clever for a similar reason. Leunig’s supporters have several times cried censorship and called in Media Watch when even The Age refused to print one of his tasteless and unfunny cartoons – as it did in the case of Leunig’s Holocaust cartoon. Like many others, Leunig’s supporters have trouble seeing the difference between editing and restricting free speech.

Leunig’s response to this affair, in a op-ed this morning, gives us some insight into why this once-funny cartoonist is now a rather sad and ridiculous figure, much like some of the characters in his cartoons. Take this persecution by the Nazis fantasy:

You see, I’ve had more than a gutful of hostility and hate mail in the past three years, all because I have resisted the rise of fascism – the idea of war. I can identify with the Von Trapps, particularly so tonight; they meant well but got a hell of a hiding for it and were forced to flee. But they sang so beautifully, so harmoniously. In their own way they made sense of the chaos in the world around.

That Sound of Music DVD must be nearly worn out in the Leunig household.

And it gets worse:

Sleep came but then faltered about 3am, so I rose in the solemnity of this grim hour and wandered out into the brilliant moonlight to see if God was out there in the paddock somewhere. Yes, God is there.
I wandered back inside and in a reckless moment I opened the laptop lying on the kitchen table and went to the Iranian website. Lo and behold, the cartoon and the fake words were gone and God came in from the paddock and placed a reassuring hand on my shoulder.

And this about TV news crews arriving from Melbourne:

Helicopters descend into God’s paddock, where the ibises wander looking for grasshoppers. The helicopters have flown from Melbourne but the ibises have flown from Indonesia. Muslim ibises, or Hindu perhaps.

Leunig, Lifeline’s number is here.

Update: Crikey is running with the story that the Leunig hoax was, contary to earlier reports, carried out by a member of the Chaser team, that well-known bunch of ‘fascists’. It was a simple case of the satirist being satirised.

Further update: Leunig’s old boss, Michael Gawenda, attacks yesterday’s op-ed as well.


Written by Admin

February 15, 2006 at 7:00 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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