Cartoon action ruled out

One of the Dunedin city councillors depicted as a Nazi in a controversial anti-stadium cartoon has ruled out taking legal action, as debate over its publication appeared to divide some anti-stadium campaigners.

Cr Michael Guest - one of five pro-stadium figures depicted in the cartoon - yesterday told the Otago Daily Times he would not be pursuing anyone involved in the cartoon "because they haven't got any money".

"I'm not going to do anything, but I hold them in contempt," he said.

Asked if he was referring to Stop the Stadium, the organisation that published the cartoon on its website on Thursday, Cr Guest would only say he meant "whoever is responsible".

Cr Guest's decision came one day after he said he was considering legal options, after learning the cartoon had been published on the Stop the Stadium website and sent to Prime Minister John Key and other politicians.

The cartoon showed Cr Guest, fellow pro-stadium councillors and Mayor Peter Chin marching in Nazi uniform, goose-stepping and arms raised in a Hitler salute. Carisbrook Stadium Trust chairman Malcolm Farry was depicted crushing opponents in a tank labelled "stadium".

The cartoon's creator, Dunedin woman Patricia McCarty, was unrepentant when contacted, saying she was "pleased" by the reaction.

Stop the Stadium president Bev Butler - who was emailed the cartoon directly by Ms McCarty - has declined to say who placed it on her organisation's website, or whether it would be removed.

The cartoon was still on the website when the ODT checked yesterday.

Its publication appeared to have divided even some of Dunedin's anti-stadium campaigners.

On the "What If? Stadium of Dunedin" website, one person named Jody posted a message asking: "Please, please don't attribute that revolting cartoon to all anti-stadium people."

"Rarely have I seen such an offensive cartoon!"Another, David, agreed the Nazi reference was "OTT" [over the top], but otherwise believed the cartoon "makes a valid point".

Human Rights Commission spokesman Gilbert Wong, of Auckland, said when contacted yesterday the HRC had not received any complaints about the cartoon.

The HRC was unlikely to investigate unless a complaint was received, and from someone directly involved, such as one of the councillors depicted, Mr Wong said.

The need to balance freedom of speech and expression, while protecting individuals' sensitivities, meant there was "quite a high" threshhold to overcome before an investigation was launched, he said.

A spokeswoman for Mr Key - who is part Jewish - said the Prime Minister had not seen the cartoon.

- chris.morris@odt.co.nz

 

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