Vale Bill Leak 1956 – 2017
Dear Jim and Aina,
You’ve already done more than I could ever have hoped for and I simply can’t thank you enough.
As you know, in January last year I drew a cartoon that “featured an image of the prophet Mohammed” in response to the Charlie Hebdo atrocity and, a couple of days later, I was advised by the counter terrorism cops to leave my home. I finished up having to sell it and go to almost unbelievable lengths just to ensure my own safety and that of my family. It was a very harrowing time for me but the thing that disappointed me most was the almost total lack of support I received from my fellow cartoonists. If every single cartoonist in the country had drawn a cartoon featuring Mohammed the collective effect would have been a strong and defiant statement of belief in the freedom we’re lucky enough to enjoy in this country. It’s a privilege a lot of men died for and one we should be prepared to fight for — or at least be prepared to draw for — too.
Now, when I find myself on the frontline of the fight for freedom of speech I’ve been incredibly disappointed, once again, that so few cartoonists — not to mention other journalists in all forms of media — have come out in support of me. Political correctness is far more sinister than it seems. I believe it’s a means of imposing totalitarianism by stealth. Its stifling, authoritarian influence is gaining a lot of traction and a lot of those hard fought-for freedoms are being sacrificed in the process. I think the last people on earth who should be succumbing to this insidious, sinister force are Australian cartoonists.
Thanks so much for publishing John’s wonderful piece and getting it out to so many of my colleagues. It heartens me no end to see the support I’ve received from many of them tonight. I was especially moved by Jeff’s cartoon and will make sure I thank him personally as soon as possible.
Thanks again and all the best,