A COMPLAINT about a Dominion Post cartoon depicting Social Development Minister Paula Bennett alongside a Nazi concentration camp doctor has not been upheld by the Press Council.
The Trace Hodgson cartoon, published on May 14, depicted Ms Bennett in a dress emblazoned with skulls and introduced her “new consultant”, Joseph Mengele. The minister had just announced Government plans to offer free long-term contraception to women beneficiaries and their teenage daughters.
Mengele was a doctor at Auschwitz, known as the Angel of Death. He was infamous for performing experiments on camp inmates. In the cartoon, Mengele was shown in Nazi uniform, saying he was looking forward to “cutting costs with some social development experiments”.
Richard Hall complained to The Dominion Post, saying the cartoon was unclever, unfair, distasteful and highly offensive.
Mr Hall then complained to the Press Council, saying no comparisons could legitimately be drawn between the minister’s policies and Mengele’s acts.
Editor Bernadette Courtney replied to the Press Council, saying cartoons were an important part of any newspaper. Not everyone agreed with them. The points made by letter writers about the Mengele cartoon were noted and the column reflected all views.
She was sorry Mr Hall and others were offended but said free speech incorporated the freedom to be cutting and unkind.
In its comment, the Press Council said it strongly supported the right of newspaper cartoonists to express their views, particularly when their work featured on a page clearly labeled “Opinion”. The majority of council members felt there were sufficient parallels in social and reproductive engineering to warrant the reference made in the cartoon .
The cartoon did not cross the threshold of going beyond what was acceptable as opinion, and the complaint was not upheld.
Source: The Dominion Post, Monday, 9 July 2012.