Measles Cartoon “Went Far Beyond…Acceptable”

The New Zealand Media Council, a self-regulatory body funded by industry,
has ruled that the Garrick Tremain “spots” cartoon “has no redeeming qualities.”

The New Zealand Media Council’s findings relating to the Tremain cartoon:

Cartoonists employ wit, satire, exaggeration, caricature and humour to make a point.A few deft stokes of the pen and a few well-chosen words can do what would otherwise take many words to express.Cartoons often deal with grave situations and can make fun of unfunny events; by their nature they will often cause offence.That is a freedom to be defended. However even with cartoons there is a line of gratuitous offence and hurt which when crossed can constitute a breach of the professional standards by the media.

This is such a cartoon.It has no redeeming qualities…

The initial responses from the editor and cartoonist showed no comprehension of the enormity of the insult and hurt … The cartoon should never have been published.The initial apologies did not show a grasp of how deeply offensive it was…

Freedom of expression plainly has bounds. With any right comes responsibility for how it is exercised. The editor has now acknowledged that this cartoon went far beyond what can ever be acceptable.The Media Council agrees. To publish this cartoon was a breach of professional standards so serious that it cannot be remedied by reference to freedom of expression…

We find that the cartoon was gratuitously hurtful and discriminatory.Despite the very high bar that must be crossed before a complaint about an offensive cartoon will be upheld, that bar was crossed with this cartoon, and by a significant margin.

The complaints are upheld.

The Media Council’s power to inflict penalties is limited to forcing members to publish a summary of the Council’s ruling. The Otago Daily Times has done so.


Related – Political Cartoonist Garrick Tremain worked up cartoons showing his displeasure that the Otago Daily Times didn’t more forcefully defend their cartoonist. Since that time Garrick has done a couple more about his former(?) employer.