For the perpetually enraged Bill Leak explains his thinking behind his cartoon.
“….The Guardian Australia’s media correspondent Amanda Meade sent me an email yesterday morning, telling me the cartoon I had drawn for the same day’s paper was being slammed on Twitter and, incredibly, asking me to explain what I was “trying to say”.
While I can accept that a firestorm on Twitter might be of some interest to The Guardian’s media correspondent, what I can’t understand is that someone in her position would need to have the meaning of a cartoon spelled out for her when it was so glaringly obvious.
And it wasn’t only Meade and god knows how many sanctimonious Tweety Birds that couldn’t work out the meaning of my cartoon without external assistance.
By lunchtime, a quick Google search showed people working at any number of media organisations all over the country were struggling to understand it too.
When little children can’t understand things, they often lash out and throw tantrums.
Workplace and safety considerations prevent adults stamping their feet and hurling themselves onto the playground, so they have to content themselves with spewing invective all over the virtual playground of Twitter.
They take aim at whoever confounded them, claim to be offended and engage in a cathartic process of name-calling and abuse.
This therapeutic process is effective, but flawed.
By enabling tantrum-throwers to re-establish their feelings of moral superiority they can walk away purged, but it doesn’t get to the root of their problem: Chronic Truth Aversion Disorder.
The CTAD epidemic that is raging unchecked through Australia’s social media population is rendering impossible any intelligent debate on serious social issues, such as the rampant violence, abuse and neglect of children in remote indigenous communities.
The reactions of people in an advanced stage of the condition to anything that so much as hints at the truth, while utterly irrational, are also so hostile that anyone inclined to speak the truth understandably becomes afraid to do so.
The cartoon I drew for yesterday’s paper was inspired by indigenous men and people who, without regard for their personal safety, feel compelled to tell the truth whether it incites the CTAD sufferers to attack them en masse or not.
It’s their prescriptions for improving the lives of Aboriginal Australians that inform my own understanding of the subject.
Before the howls of outrage and accusations of racism that were directed at me started filtering through into my Twitter-free world yesterday, I received an email from Anthony Dillon — whose father Colin was Australia’s first Aboriginal policeman and whose evidence was pivotal to the Fitzgerald inquiry into police corruption in Queensland — congratulating me on the cartoon.
In it, Dillon included a message he’d written to his father, in which he said: “Have a look at Bill’s latest cartoon.
“Half of me was crying and the other half was laughing. He has an incredible talent that enables him to blend humour and tragedy without losing the seriousness of the situation.”
So, Amanda, in answer to your question, I was trying to say that if you think things are pretty crook for the children locked up in the Northern Territory’s Don Dale Youth Detention Centre, you should have a look at the homes they came from.
Then you might understand why so many of them finished up there.
Bill Leak has been a cartoonist on The Australian for 22 years. He has won nine Walkley Awards.