IT’S a bit rich for Paul Winter (AJN 21/10) to talk about society only protecting noisy, aggressive minorities subverting democracy.
Part of our democratic society is to protest about things we see as wrong. Signalling disapproval to a supplier, such as a hotel, is a legitimate way to make it known that you disapprove of their business practices. Threatening people is never acceptable and every protest has those on the fringe. It’s unfair to suggest that all protesters hold the same opinions or use the same actions. Similarly, overlooking that a vast majority of Australians support marriage equality and that it’s a small minority of religious people who object is to ignore reality.
As a society we must look after our minorities and listen to their needs so that people aren’t simply ignored or regarded as insignificant. The gay population is about two per cent, while the Jewish population is around 0.5 per cent.
Minorities always struggle to have their plight seen as important by the larger population and struggle to gain recognition and relevance in a world that mostly considers minorities unimportant.
In his letter, Geoff Bloch (AJN 14/10) downplays the obvious Nazi connections with the Leak cartoon. He said that the cartoon did not depict marriage equality advocates as Nazis, seeming to avoid the only words written on the cartoon “Waffen-SSM”.
Speaking as a man who is gay, I found Leak’s cartoon to be in extremely bad taste and Bloch’s letter equally objectionable.
Dr Dvir Abramovich, Chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC) said he understood why cartoonists are drawn to the Nazi analogy but described the comparison as repulsive.
The ADC describes itself as one of Australia’s leading civil and human rights organisations. The Australian Jewish community organisation aims to fight anti-Semitism and all forms of racism.
“I recognise how irresistible the Nazi analogy is for cartoonists looking to generate shock and headlines and grab attention. But no matter how strong Leak’s objections to marriage equality advocates, to compare them to the Waffen SS, part of Hitler’s demonic regime and responsible for the murder of millions, only adds to the cynical debasement, twisting and abusing of the Holocaust so prevalent today.” Dr Abramovich said.
“To draw such repulsive equations is deeply offensive, shows a gross lack of understanding of the historical truth, and only fans the flames of hatred and demonisation of the LGBTI community. It also insults the memory of the victims, which included gay people, as well as hurts the survivors and all those who fought valiantly against the Nazis in WWII.
“Such analogies are totally unacceptable, even in satirical cartoons, and only serve to coarsen public debate. They have no place in Australia’s civil discourse and must be repudiated.” Dr Abramovich concluded.
I refer to Bill Leak’s cartoon (“Waffen SSM”, 21/9). It can be readily accepted that hyperbole is a stock in trade of any cartoonist, and Leak is entitled to give satirical expression to his opinion that certain advocates of same-sex marriage are intolerant to any contrary point of view. Yet to compare them to Nazi SS divisions does little credit to the point he was presumably trying to make.
To liken any advocate of SSM to the perpetrators of mass murder and cruelty in the Nazi era is an inversion of history. In Nazi Germany, about 100,000 suspected homosexuals were arrested and up to 15,000 of them were interned in concentration camps where many were killed.
As a political cartoonist, it is Leak’s job to be provocative and controversial, but this was not his best work.
Peter Wertheim, Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Sydney, NSW