Among the many unsatisfying aspects of what remains of American newspapering are its dull editorial cartoons. Aside from having way too many explanatory labels in them, they affect the same anesthetized tone of the surrounding writing. By contrast, the Australian press still has provocative cartoonists, which may be why, in the years since the Danish Motoon frenzy and the Charlie Hebdo massacre, they now seem also to have all the cartoon crises.
The late Bill Leak was no stranger to these. Last year, it was the turn of Mark Knight for his comment on Serena Williams' lousy behavior at the US Open. Among those defending Mr Knight back then was the Sydney Daily Telegraph's Warren Brown. So now it's Mr Brown's turn to face threats of Press Council complaints and "Human Rights" Commission investigations - over the cartoon at top right.
As Americans may not know, Australia has a refugee policy Donald Trump can only dream of: would-be "migrants" are intercepted before they set foot on Oz soil and taken to offshore detention centers on Nauru and Manos Island (part of Papua New Guinea). However, a somewhat American-like boondoggle recently got the nod from Parliament to enable those in medical need in the camps to be evacuated to Australia for treatment. Warren's cartoon shows a randy person of Islamic inclination chasing after a young woman in surgical scrubs and ignoring Member of Parliament Kerryn Phelps' plea at least to hold off until the bill's passed.
My only quarrel with the cartoon is that I think it would have been funnier had the lady been in old-school nursing garb rather than the drab gear of today's hospitals. But perhaps that would have been too much Carry On Nurse meets Carry On Up the Khyber.
Alas, it seems I'm missing the point. Apparently the only quarrel you're meant to have with the cartoon is that it's "shockingly racist".
Be that as it may, the scene depicted by Warren Brown is not speculative but actually happened, just the other day:
An Afghan asylum seeker allegedly grabbed two nurses' bottoms after being rushed from Nauru to Australia for medical treatment.
The asylum seeker allegedly carried out the assault a week after he arrived at Sydney's Royal North Shore Hospital on January 4...
He was bailed after being charged with common assault, touching a person sexually without consent and stalking or intimidating intending to cause harm.
As readers know, this has become rather a common occurrence, and sometimes fatally so, in Germany, Sweden and other parts of Europe. A while back, I spent a very enjoyable day with a delightful Norwegian lady who, after a similar spike in sexual assaults in her own country, was hired to teach western courtship rituals to Afghan "refugees" - so that, instead of simply dragging you into the undergrowth, a romantically inclined Pushtun might instead proffer amusing lines such as Roger Moore successfully deployed in Octopussy and The Spy Who Loved Me. Afterwards, I passed several hours with the lads one evening at the nearby bus station, and I came to sympathize with their predicament: You have never seen a woman out of her burqa other than a female relative, and suddenly you're surrounded everywhere by bared female flesh - arms, calves, thighs, cleavage, back, belly...
We watched the women pass by - shop assistants, lawyers, students, accountants - and several of the chaps told me they now think about sex all the time ...because, to a fellow who's spent his entire life in an Afghan village, it's suddenly all around, closing in on you from all directions.
So the nice Norwegian lady and I wound up saying exactly the same things, about the constant, simmering, sexual frustration of these Afghan refugees. Of course, we did so to make different points - she to argue that this is why we need to redouble our efforts, expand her classes, offer more follow-up education, etc; me to argue that it's far more trouble than it's worth and no prudent immigration policy would encompass such a mad experiment.
But neither of us are as deluded as the entire Australian establishment - whose position is, as usual, that there's nothing to see here, and therefore nothing for Warren Brown to draw. Their outrage at him is intended to cow the citizenry into not even raising the question. And their willingness to go after a cartoonist whose cartoon might as well be undercover documentary footage from the Royal North Shore Hospital only underscores their determination to shut down the discussion.
I enjoyed my time with my Norwegian chum, because she was not dishonest about the underlying reality of the situation. The shut-up brigade are, and they should be called on it.
~In the senior Dominion, meanwhile, Justin Trudeau's right hand has gone the way of his eyebrow, and dropped into the pit of oblivion. Late on Monday (a holiday in most parts of Canada), Justin's principal secretary, Gerald Butts, quit, insisting he'd nothing wrong but was nevertheless resigning because, er, well, um... In particular, he denies having pressured the Attorney General (herself likewise vaporized) into offering a sweetheart deal to SNC-Lavalin, a big player on Quebec's crony corporatist scene and accused of having bribed the Libyan government. Mr Butts' name is offering some low-hanging fruit to bored headline writers. From Maclean's:
The Hole That Gerry Butts Leaves Behind
Gerry and Justin have been pals since their days at McGill in Montreal. Butts is said to have made his mark with the speech he wrote for Justin to deliver at his father's funeral service eighteen years ago. Quite why a high-school drama teacher needs a speechwriter for his dad's funeral is a question I shall leave for Trudeaupia's historians. I have never met Gerald Butts but he disliked me on social media in a tedious and witless way. My old friend Paul Wells, far better connected than I, insists that, au contraire, in person he's a sweetheart:
Many people would be surprised what a soft-spoken, amiable figure he strikes.
Whatever. For all the grand visionary ideals of young Justin, in the end the second most powerful man in Canada self-detonated in the usual grubby Liberal corruption scandal. If Brian Lilley is right, Mr Butts may be in some legal jeopardy. Perhaps as a farewell gift he'll get his own sweetheart deal from whoever this week's Attorney General is.
~Haley Vaughan of The Daily Orange interviewed me the other day about my upcoming show with Dennis Miller this Saturday at the Oncenter in Syracuse, New York. I was asked a lot of things I don't usually get asked, which was jolly, and you can read the results here:
"A joke is a miniature. In Dennis's world, it has beautiful exquisite precision. With me it's a bit more haphazard," Steyn said.
Indeed. On the other hand:
"I do one of my satirical musical numbers which usually evolves into taking a leap off the stage," he said. "If nothing else works, the possibility of me falling into the orchestra pit and breaking my leg is generally worth the price of admission."
So there's that.
You can find out more about the first ever Miller/Steyn tour here. It kicks off this Friday at the Santander Performing Arts Center in Reading, Pennsylvania, and there are still just a few tickets left. After Syracuse the following night we head for the Kodak Center in Rochester and then the Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre. And, if you need to make up for a floppo Valentine's Day, don't forget that with VIP seats you and your loved one get to have your picture snapped with me and Dennis, and to take home a special autographed gift. But please note: VIP tickets are almost gone, so, if you've been looking forward to bending our ears as we come off stage and telling me I need to break two legs to be worth the price of admission, don't leave it too late.
~Programming note: Tomorrow, Wednesday, the aforementioned Mr Miller and I will be on NewsRadio WILK 103.1 in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area with Jason Barsky, just after 9am Eastern. You can listen live here. Later, I'll be keeping my midweek date with John Oakley at Global News Radio 640 across Toronto at 5pm Eastern.