Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

July 21, 2014

Go, Read: Al Nisbet Cartoons Case Being Heard This Week

I haven't seen a ton about these Al Nisbet cartoons since the initial furor about their depiction of people taking advantage of a government school system in what seems like the most brutally dumb and obvious and insulting way, but it looks like a human rights case is being heard this week.

It also looks like that case has lurched into borderline absurdity from the start, focusing on whether or not the depiction of red hair on some of the crudely-designed figures may slip them out of being depictions of the peoples involved. If I'm getting it right, the basic argument is that something in these depictions that may not be a whopping, goofy stereotype may somehow absolve the cartoons despite everything that is. Although I guess that red hair is being argued tribe to tribe, so who knows? I don't believe that free expression should be curtailed even when it's insulting speech, but I certainly don't enjoy seeing a case tried by people dancing around authorial intent in such a bizarre manner. My preference would be cartoonists claiming their work says what it seems to be saying without having to back away from it for fear of legal evisceration, even if what that work says is dumb and viciously upsetting.

The cartoons appeared last year in the Marlborough Express and Christchurch Press.
posted 8:25 am PST | Permalink

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