Al­ways room for satire

The Queensland Times - - OPINION | YOUR SAY - SHAN­NON NEWLEY shan­non.newley@qt.com.au

THERE are a cou­ple of im­por­tant points that need to be made in re­sponse to Wayne Of­fer’s let­ter to the ed­i­tor (page 19).

Firstly, The Queens­land Times ab­hors dis­crim­i­na­tion against our LGBTIQ com­mu­nity.

As the ed­i­tor of this pa­per I used this col­umn to throw the QT’s sup­port be­hind Same Sex Mar­riage this time last year.

And I cel­e­brated be­ing a part of a com­mu­nity in which the ma­jor­ity of peo­ple voted in sup­port of it as well. It made me ex­tremely proud.

Of course those with op­pos­ing views were also al­lowed to have their say – such is the na­ture of these pages, we don’t all have to agree.

Se­condly, there is cur­rently a de­bate go­ing about whether or not re­li­gious schools should have the right to dis­crim­i­nate against gay stu­dents and teach­ers.

It’s a thor­oughly dis­turb­ing de­bate and one I hope does not re­sult in the same vit­riol as the anti-same sex mar­riage de­bate.

School can be hard enough and we know that our LGBTIQ chil­dren al­ready have a much higher rate of sui­cide due to feel­ings of not be­ing ac­cepted and be­ing bul­lied.

So it’s un­fath­omable that there could be law put in place which would al­low schools, places that should be safe spa­ces, to treat our kids this way. And this is ab­so­lutely not some­thing the QT would sup­port in any way.

But none­the­less de­bate around this is hap­pen­ing right now.

Thirdly, car­toons have an im­por­tant place in so­cial and po­lit­i­cal com­men­tary.

The use of a car­toon to spark de­bate or com­ment on the hap­pen­ings of the day is an im­por­tant one and can take many forms.

Car­toons can be satir­i­cal, they can be se­ri­ous, hu­mor­ous, con­tro­ver­sial, sad, funny, an­gry and more. And of course they can be to­tally sub­jec­tive and open to in­ter­pre­ta­tion – some­times that’s also the point.

And clearly that’s what has hap­pened here be­cause Wayne Of­fer and I have in­ter­preted yes­ter­day’s Zanetti car­toon in a com­pletely dif­fer­ent way. Per­haps it’s wish­ful think­ing on my be­half but I saw it as satire, hav­ing a go at the ridicu­lous­ness of the cur­rent de­bate go­ing on.

To me, it was hav­ing a dig at those who be­lieve hav­ing gay chil­dren and teach­ers in a school will elicit some kind of neg­a­tive in­flu­ence over the aca­demic and so­cial ed­u­ca­tion of other stu­dents in the school.

To a lesser ex­tent it also spoke to me on the level of the ever-chang­ing and some­what con­fus­ing at times LBGTIQ acro­nym.

I’m al­ways con­cerned about get­ting it wrong but it’s quite fluid and changes and it can be hard to keep up with.

Ul­ti­mately the main goal of car­toons is to spark de­bate and con­ver­sa­tion and Zanetti has suc­cess­fully done that here. Wayne, a passionate let­ter writer has strongly jumped to the de­fence of our LGBTIQ com­mu­nity and re­gard­less of our dif­fer­ent in­ter­pre­ta­tions of the car­toon, I’m glad to be able to pub­lish a let­ter that so strongly throws its sup­port be­hind a com­mu­nity which is vul­ner­a­ble, never more so than dur­ing the kind of de­bate we’re likely to see play out over the com­ing weeks (hope­fully not months).

TALK­ING POINT: Zanetti’s re­cent car­toon drew a neg­a­tive re­ac­tion.

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