Australian newspaper defies criticism, reprints Serena Williams cartoon

A newspaper stand displays the Herald Sun newspaper, featuring a controversial cartoon of Serena Williams, in Melbourne on September 12, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 12 September 2018
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Australian newspaper defies criticism, reprints Serena Williams cartoon

  • The cartoon fueled a global debate over Williams’ controversial defeat by Japan’s Naomi Osaka in the US Open women’s singles final in New York on Saturday
  • The image triggered widespread allegations of racism against illustrator Mark Knight

SYDNEY: An Australian newspaper defied international criticism and allegations of racism on Wednesday when it reprinted a controversial cartoon on its front page depicting US tennis star Serena Williams having a temper tantrum at the US Open.
The Herald Sun, owned by News Corp, first published the caricature of Williams with exaggerated lips and tongue and curly hair rising from the top of her head as she stomped on her tennis racket on Monday.
The image triggered widespread allegations of racism against illustrator Mark Knight. The Herald Sun and Knight deny the cartoon is racist.
Despite the outrage, the paper reprinted the cartoon alongside unflattering caricatures of US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, attempting to portray the controversy as an effort to curtail free speech.
“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 paper wrote in an editorial on its front page.
Herald Sun editor Damon Johnston extended the defense on Twitter as he denied any racism or sexism.
“It rightly mocks poor behavior by a tennis legend,” Johnson tweeted.
However, the cartoon still drew widespread criticism, most notably online. Knight said he had received death threats against his family since the cartoon was published, forcing him to suspend his Twitter account.
The cartoon fueled a global debate over Williams’ controversial defeat by Japan’s Naomi Osaka in the US Open women’s singles final in New York on Saturday.
Williams, who was vying to equal Australian player Margaret Court’s record of 24 grand slam singles titles, lost in straight sets after a heated clash with chair umpire Carlos Ramos over code violations that resulted in her being penalized a game.
The incident has split the tennis community. Novak Djokovic, the US Open men’s champion, criticized Ramos, while Court backed the use of the code violation penalty.
Williams, who was fined $17,000 for the three code violations, said after the match male players were held to a lower standard for court conduct.
“I’m here fighting for women’s rights and women’s equality,” Williams told a post-match news conference.


Facebook takes down more Myanmar accounts over military links

Updated 19 December 2018
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Facebook takes down more Myanmar accounts over military links

  • The social media giant had previously removed accounts, including that of Myanmar’s army chief
  • The shuttered pages included “seemingly independent news, entertainment, beauty and lifestyle Pages were linked to the Myanmar military”

Facebook Inc. has removed hundreds of additional accounts, pages and groups in Myanmar from its social networks after discovering what it called “coordinated inauthentic behavior” and links to the country’s military.
The social media giant had previously removed accounts, including that of Myanmar’s army chief, after criticism it had failed to act on hate speech amid violence against Rohingya Muslims in the country.
Facebook said in a blog post late on Tuesday that it had removed 425 pages, 17 groups and 135 accounts from its social network and 15 accounts from its Instagram photo-sharing service.
It was continuing to investigate other pages that “mislead others about who they are, or what they’re doing” and could breach the company’s policy on misrepresentation, Facebook said.
The shuttered pages included “seemingly independent news, entertainment, beauty and lifestyle Pages were linked to the Myanmar military” and other pages removed in August, Facebook said.
Myanmar government spokesman Zaw Htay did not answer a phone call seeking comment on Wednesday.
The removal of Myanmar-linked pages in August followed a UN fact-finding mission that called for top Myanmar generals to be prosecuted for what it said was a campaign of mass killings and gang rape against the Rohingya carried out with “genocidal intent.”
In 2017 the military led a crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine State in response to attacks by Rohingya insurgents, pushing more than 730,000 Muslims to neighboring Bangladesh, according to UN agencies.
A Reuters special report in August found that Facebook failed to promptly heed numerous warnings from organizations in Myanmar about social media posts fueling attacks on minority groups such as the Rohingya.
The UN fact-finding mission singled out Facebook for criticism over its failure to address hate speech in Myanmar.
Facebook said in November a human rights report it commissioned showed it had not done enough to prevent its social network from being used to incite violence in Myanmar.