The following item deals with racial insensitivity and contains slurs that are offensive.
The West Australian newspaper, located in Perth, reran a 1971 Modesty Blaise comic strip in its Monday, June 29, 2020 edition and is now taking heat for printing a strip that is seen as outrageously insensitive.
The West Australian newspaper published a wildly offensive cartoon in today’s paper and hoo boy, it’s really… not good.
The Modesty Blaise cartoon made it into the Monday edition of the West Australian newspaper without being picked up for its obvious racism towards Indigenous Australians.
The whole cartoon is incredibly racist in nature, depicting White characters using racial slurs to discuss an Indigenous Australian. Lines in the strip include blatant racism such as “that [offensive slur] will smell us out quicker than a bloodhound.”
The three-panel comic strip contains slurs in every panel.
Aboriginal Australians are upset that the major paper in West Australia would run the strip.
Aboriginal Legal Service WA chief executive Dennis Eggington said he was in utter disbelief the cartoon was still being published given its offensive and racist overtones.
“I cannot believe my eyes. Here you have a cartoon from decades ago that is racist and promotes negatives stereotypes. ALSWA works tirelessly to fight against discrimination and I can assure you that this is not a joke and it is totally unacceptable,” he said.
Mr Eggington said concerns about the comic were not a case of “political correctness gone mad”.
“This is highly offensive and will not be tolerated by any fair-minded West Australian,” he said.
Today, The West Australian newspaper ran a Modesty Blaise cartoon that contained offensive racial stereotypes that have no place in our newspaper.
In fact, it’s the very kind of marginalisation and bigotry The West Australian and its reporters have been trying to stamp out.
The cartoon was written in 1981 and today’s comics strip page was supplied by an outside agency.
The West Australian has been publishing Modesty Blaise as a cartoon strip for decades.
That is now under review and Modesty Blaise will not be published in the meantime.
Again a newspaper editor relied on the syndicate to provide uncontroversial content, and the syndicate should, at the least, warn the clients of any dubious material. But if they are taking features from foreign sources the newspaper editors should be reading the item before publishing it to check against local sensitivities that foreign creators may be unaware of. And certainly when rerunning older material done in less socially aware times.
It is good that they are reviewing the strip, because the racial slurs were not just a one and done thing. The three letter slur is used numerous times throughout the story.
June 30 Update:
The West Australian has also decided it will no longer publish Modesty Blaise.
We have been in touch with the company that produced it to express our deep concerns and have been told it too has instigated an immediate review. We have also re-established an in-house checking process to ensure this type of offensive material is not published again.
The West Australian has also decided it will no longer publish Modesty Blaise. The comic strip had been running for 48 years since 1972 , but it no longer has a place in the pages of The West Australian nor does it reflect our company’s culture or values under my watch.
West Australian Newspapers Editor-in-Chief
Anthony De Ceglie
Digression – – –
Serendipitously – back in 1981 “The Stone Age Caper” was already ten years old when it became the last of the Modesty Blaise comic strips distributed in the United States. No, not because of the current issues but for lack of interest in the U.S. for adventure.
From the July 5, 1981 (Rochester) Democrat and Chronicle: