West Australian police chief Karl O’Callaghan tells it as it is: the fact of under-parented and neglected juveniles is “not an exclusive problem of the indigenous communities, but it’s over-represented” (“Leak 18C cartoon accurate: top cop”, 21/10).
Yet too many on the Left and in the human rights community are more concerned about the protection of metaphorical safe spaces within our spheres of civil discourse — where precious racial sensitivities are never pricked — rather than being willing to let our modern-day prophets such as cartoonist Bill Leak hold up a necessary cultural mirror to us.
While the sins of the past have a residual effect, today the social shackles bound to our first peoples are not victimhood or entrenched racism, but the self-inflicted social scourges of intergenerational welfare, alcoholism and domestic violence. And, as it has always been throughout history, it is children who reap the whirlwind.
We should recognise that real change is often measured in lifetimes, not government terms. It will be the next generation of indigenous people who refuse to be bound by a cycle of hopelessness — so pertinently displayed in Leak’s cartoon (4/8) — and take ownership of their fortunes that will lead the civil charge for giving our original inhabitants the dignity they deserve.
Peter Waterhouse, Craigieburn, Vic
Look back over Bill Leak’s cartoons and you’ll find constant, scathing derision for the Greens and inner-city latte sippers. The Left’s failure to defend to the death his right to insult them may fall short of the Enlightenment ideal but it’s hardly surprising.
Patrick Ball, Fern Tree, Tas
Bill Leak could never be accused of handling the truth carelessly. It is bewildering that he now finds himself under investigation by the Human Rights Commission for his truthful depiction of Aboriginal parental neglect — a fact further reinforced by WA police chief Karl O’Callaghan.
Perhaps the HRC could do something more useful and investigate the message, not the messenger.
Whoever said we live in the golden age of stupidity must have had the HRC in their sights. A serious rethink on the relevance and purpose of this dysfunctional body is overdue.
Gabrielle Baker, Morningside, Qld
Australia’s legal system is becoming the envy of totalitarians. The Human Rights Commission’s public calls for denunciations of Bill Leak for depicting the truth, in order to prosecute him under federal law, has elevated Australia’s system of political thought control to that of North Korea, where discussion of facts is punishable. Realities represented by Leak, known by those in Kalgoorlie, Meekatharra and other towns, are now also verified by the WA police chief. The truth now seems to be incompatible with the Australian political state.
Nils Marchant, Ocean Reef, WA
It is unbelievable that so many media people are not supporting Bill Leak. The reason for the media to exist in an open society is free expression. Leak’s case is worse because some people are taking offence at the truth. It raises the question of why do we need the HRC in a country where there are no real violations, leaving those in these positions with nothing better to do than make work with a huge salary paid from public funds.
James Hein, Hackney, SA
When William Hogarth produced Gin Lane in 1751, his shocking satire made things happen. By 1752, England’s production of gin was reduced by a third. Bill Leak’s exposure of parental neglect in indigenous communities deserves to be a catalyst.
Beth Johnson, Auchenflower, Qld