Is a cartoon showing the resurrection by using Humpty Dumpty all together again on the third day, humor or blasphemy? The Sydney Morning Herald reports on the storm of opinion about the cartoon:
The Australian Oxford Dictionary defines blasphemy as ''irreverent talk or treatment of a religious or sacred thing'', in which case cartoons by Michael Leunig (the Herald on Good Friday) and Cathy Wilcox (The Sun-Herald on Easter Sunday) at first glance could fit the bill.
Leunig depicted the suffering of a man condemned to travel with his family in Easter weekend traffic to a camping ground. Wilcox had Humpty Dumpty miraculously back together again after three days, being gazed upon in wonder by disciples and a Roman guard.
Many readers were aghast; a couple demanded an apology. On Leunig: ''Why would the paper see fit to place a cartoon which profanes the sacred, treats a religious view with utter contempt and mocks the ultimate sacrifice? Humour and social comment is valid but not to the detriment of religious sensibilities at such a most holy time,'' said one. And on Wilcox: ''How dare you publish such a thing. It's disgraceful. And in your editorial on the same page you mention 'The Banton legacy must be honoured'. What about the Jesus Christ legacy??????''
Wilcox also got this broadside: ''If you published something similar about Islam, the Muslims would be offended; if it was something about the Passover, the Jews would be offended. Well, as a Catholic, I am offended.''
When I called Leunig to ask his reaction to the response he mentioned that he was sitting under an olive tree that he and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, had planted on Leunig's property (''I regard Rowan Williams as a friend and I have no problems with his faith or he with mine''). He was not surprised, but nor was he apologetic.
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