Fervent Feminism and Victimology in Indefensible Rage …. and A Cartoonist ‘set on fire’

The strident reactions of a number of women, as well as men, including Billie Jean King and JK Rawling, in defense of Serena Williams and in criticism of Umpire Carlos Ramos (whose history has been exemplary), displays  a form of extremism which is indefensible ,,, and yet another sign of the currents of “secular fundamentalism” in the Western world. It indicates that “victimology” can service extremism. Its absurdity is displayed in the rabid criticism of the cartoonist Mark Knight for pursuing his satirical craft in the pattern of satire  … See some of the news reportage, Michael Roberts

ONE =Paul Zanetti: “As Mark Knight has discovered, it’s a dangerous business being funny,” news.com  September 2018,

IF you made a top 10 list of the world’s most dangerous gigs, Australian cartoonist would surely have to start ranking up there. Mark Knight, one of our all-time greats, woke up to find himself engulfed in a twitter firestorm with an intensity not seen since Bill Leak was tied to the stake and torched by the Twitter offenderati.

If you’re a cartoonist looking for a ‘safe space’, stay away from unsocial media. Knight’s depiction of tennis champ Serena Williams’ weekend meltdown was typically brilliant, honest and plain funny. But some people seem to be off limits regardless of their poor form, usually based on the colour of their skin. The Untouchables. Williams was drawn by Knight as a dummy-spitting spoiled brat having a tanty, because Williams behaved like a dummy-spitting spoiled brat having a tanty.

Herald Sun cartoonist Mark Knight at his home studio following a the viral and negative reaction to his cartoon. Picture: Jake Nowakowski Herald Sun cartoonist Mark Knight at his home studio following a the viral and negative reaction to his cartoon. Picture: Jake NowakowskiSource:News Corp Australia

The 23-time Grand Slam champion pulled out the sexist card when it was clear she wasn’t going to make it to her desired 24th title win to match tennis legend, Margaret Court, over the weekend. The cartoonist’s job is not to excuse or paint a glowing portrayal of bad behaviour, whether by Presidents, Prime Ministers — or sports heroes or heroines, but to cut oversized egos to si

Let’s get some perspective. We’re cartoonists. Cartoonists lampoon and caricature in equal measures. We’re equal opportunity piss-takers. Whatever PR spinners do, we do the opposite. Sometimes it’s a fine line, a high wire balancing act that wavers between laughter and outrage. It depends on the servings of the day.

At the US Open Serena Williams didn’t hold back. So neither did Knight. Nor should he. While Williams had a bad day at the office, Knight had another good day. Thank you, Serena.

Regardless of her gender or race, Williams’ behaviour wasn’t worthy of her status as a champion. Now here’s the thing. If Williams were not an African-American female, Knight’s cartoon would have gone unnoticed outside his immediate newspaper readership and social media followers. He didn’t comment on anything but her behaviour.

I’m struggling to figure out just what Knight’s crime is. From what I can tell, his crime is that he drew Williams as an African American woman, complete with her powerful, muscular build with all the features that clearly identify Williams as … Williams.

Racist! How dare he! What was he supposed to draw? An old white angry dude?

Paul Zanetti's cartoon in support of Mark KnightPaul Zanetti’s cartoon in support of Mark Knight Source:Supplied

For too many online snowflakes, the default position is to take offence. To be outraged. Tweeting their outrage to their tribe of fellow outraged offence-takers. If laughter is the best medicine, a lot of sick puppies out there need a large spoonful of medicine.

Knight has been condemned unfairly over this one cartoon by one-eyed Williams fans. She is a great champion, no doubt. She’s a role model for women and African-Americans. But even champions are not infallible. They’re not off limits simply because they’re champions, or female, or African.

Paul Zanetti says the response to his friend Mark Knight’s cartoon for the Herald Sun is ridiculous. Picture: Jake NowakowskiPaul Zanetti says the response to his friend Mark Knight’s cartoon for the Herald Sun is ridiculous. Picture: Jake NowakowskiSource:News Corp Australia

I’ve known Knight since we were both 18-year-old cadets at Fairfax in Sydney, too many years ago than either of us will care to admit. I still haven’t figured out his political leanings. That’s because he dishes out his humour to all sides fairly and equally. He savages Donald Trump mercilessly, drawing the President with apparent glee as a grotesque, old white man, fairly or unfairly depending on your persuasion. The caricatures are outright cruel. But the online snowflakes aren’t firing up about that.

It’s a real shame, because equality mean that all people should be treated equally in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of cartoonists.

Judge a person not on the colour of their skin but on the basis of their behaviour or idiocy, as Knight certainly did when it came to Serena Williams, as he does to Trump. From a middle-age female, black sportswoman to an older white male politician, they’re all fair game.

To refuse to draw an African female simply because she’s an African female would indeed be sexist and racist. It would also be safer. There’s got to be an easier way to earn a living.

Paul Zanetti is an Australian political cartoonist whose work has featured in major media outlets

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TWO = NDTV News Item, 14 September 2018

An Australian newspaper defiantly republished a controversial cartoon of tennis star Serena Williams on its front-page Wednesday, slapping aside “politically correct” accusations that the drawing was racist and sexist. Melbourne’s Herald Sun cartoonist Mark Knight’s caricature of Williams throwing a tantrum at the US Open was originally printed on Monday, attracting widespread condemnation from across the world.

Under the front-page headline “WELCOME TO PC WORLD”, the newspaper wrote Wednesday that “if the self-appointed censors of Mark Knight get their way on his Serena Williams cartoon, our new politically correct life will be very dull indeed”. The cover included caricatures of other Australian and foreign political leaders drawn by Knight.

The veteran cartoonist added Wednesday he had suspended his Twitter account to protect his family and friends. Prior to disabling his account, his tweet of the cartoon had attracted more than 22,000 comments, most of them critical.

Knight labelled the outcry against his cartoon as a sign that the “world has just gone crazy”.

“I drew this cartoon Sunday night after seeing the US Open final, and seeing the world’s best tennis player have a tantrum and thought that was interesting,” he said in quotes published on the News Corp Australia paper’s website Wednesday. “The cartoon about Serena is about her poor behaviour on the day, not about race.”

The caricature has also sparked renewed debate in Australia about racist and sexist discourse in the highly multicultural nation. “I thought they went over the top. The depiction of Serena was pretty vile,” Melbourne commuter Louise Rodbourn told AFP, echoing the mood of many city workers Wednesday.  “I think it’s disgusting. I find it really, a little offensive,” added fellow Melbourne resident Nowal Kahsai.

But some said the controversy had gone too far. “She’s a fantastic tennis player and we should all see past that,” commuter Donna Weitacher said. “This is his (Knight’s) job, isn’t it? This is what he does for a living and we’ve all appreciated what he’s done over the years in all different cartoons. Some of them very, very funny.”


The caricature showed a butch and fat-lipped Serena Williams jumping up and down on her broken racquet. Serena, a 23-time Grand Slam champion, smashed her racquet and called the umpire a “thief” and a “liar” while she was losing Saturday’s final to Haitian-Japanese Naomi Osaka.

She was she given three code violations by Carlos Ramos, which cost her a point penalty and then a game penalty. That sparked a debate about whether she was treated more harshly than male tennis stars like John McEnroe, who was famous for his angry outbursts.

Knight’s caricature showed a butch and fat-lipped Williams jumping up and down on her broken racquet, having spat out a dummy.

Osaka was portrayed as petite and feminine with jet blonde straight hair — in real life she has dark curly hair with blonde streaks and is taller than Williams.


Knight’s detractors included author JK Rowling, who said: “Well done on reducing one of the greatest sportswomen alive to racist and sexist tropes and turning a second great sportswoman into a faceless prop.”

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*  Chip Le Grande:  “Drawing fire ..,”  The Australian, 12 September 2018 [aals one has to bloody subscribe]

*    Michael Roberts: “Fervent Faces as Sign of Extremism and Deceit? From Lakemba to Lanka,” 12 August 2018, https://thuppahis.com/2018/08/27/fervent-faces-as-signs-of-extremism-and-deceit-from-lakemba-to-lanka/

Serena cartoon fuels debate about 'racist' AustraliaSerena Williams of the United States celebrates match point during her women’s singles semi-final match against Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia on Day Eleven of the 2018 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Sept.6, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Getty Images for USTA/AFP/Chris Trotman)


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2 responses to “Fervent Feminism and Victimology in Indefensible Rage …. and A Cartoonist ‘set on fire’

  1. AN EMAIL COMMENT from an AUSSIE PAL: “Caricaturing public figures is part of the language of cartoons and so to label a cartoon as racist or sexist is so genetically deformed as an argument as to be ridiculous.

  2. Theja Weeratne

    Serena had probably been reluctant to part with her trophy believing it to be her right. Spoilt women whether black or white become a burden to society. This young woman’s hard earned victory was marred by a champion who did not have the grace to accept her defeat.
    The public supporting her behaved badly too.

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