CRNI responds to a week of heated debate about portrayals of race in editorial cartooning.
CRNI has been in touch with Mark Knight, the Melbourne Herald Sun‘s cartoonist whose drawing of tennis player Serena Williams has been the subject of intense speculation, controversy and criticism this week. After threats were received via social media accounts belonging to Mark and his family he has withdrawn from public discourse for the time being. CRNI utterly condemns the actions of anyone who steps beyond the bounds of passionate debate and enters the realm of harassment, bullying and criminality. No cartoon, regardless of its content, warrants harm to its creator or indeed innocent people who happen to be connected to that creator.
Mark himself is safe, well and in good spirits.
We note that colleagues around the world are divided over the cartoon itself. Some think it was too redolent of racial stereotypes confined to the past, others question how cartoonists can be expected to caricature people of all kinds without potential vulnerability to accusations of prejudice when their subjects are of ethnicities or genders other than their own.
This is a conversation with merit and is the only process by which social mores can be changed for the better. “Dog-piling” achieves little and more often than not entrenches positions, allowing the freedom of speech agenda to be highjacked by bad actors. This surely is the worst possible outcome for all concerned.