Leunig Is Sooking About Being Censored After Finally Being Dumped From ‘The Age’

"Apparently, I'm out of touch with the readership," the anti-vax cartoonist said.

Leunig The Age

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Michael Leunig has officially been axed from The Age after his controversial anti-vax cartoon last month. His self-published comparison of Melbourne’s vaccination efforts to the Tiananmen Square massacre proved to be the final straw for the Fairfax newspaper, where the cartoonist had been contributing weekly to since the 1980s.

Leunig told The Australian his contract ending was a ‘purge’ and sarcastically acknowledged that “apparently, I’m out of touch with the readership”.

The competitor outlet reported that the piece in question was an “anti-Dan Andrews” cartoon, in which Leunig drew a tank with a needle as the gun barrel, pointed at a solo man in reference to the famous Beijing figure ‘Tank Man’ who stood up to the Chinese military in the name of free speech over 30 years ago. However, a better, more direct justification for his departure is his consistent anti-vax messaging, given the cartoonist has taken swing at different jabs since at least 2015.

After The Age chose not to publish the cartoon, Leunig posted it on his own social media accounts, and received immediate backlash for being insensitive, privileged, and disrespectful. “People were murdered en masse in June 1989,” Melbourne writer Elizabeth Flux responded at the time. “For daring to speak up for a democratic future. For hoping for more freedom.”

“To even try and compare that to being asked to get vaccinated for the good of your community, for the good of your own health…it is not even in the same [realm],” she said.

The Age‘s editor Gay Alcorn reportedly told Leunig that his political thoughts weren’t “in line with public sentiment”, with him retorting that he was trying to “challenge the status quo” against “censorious” readers.

“I come from an earthy working class perspective and values system, but that perspective increasingly seems out-of-touch with The Age‘s cosy, inner-city mindset these days,” he said.

“I have pulled multiple cartoons by Leunig, almost entirely on the grounds that they expressed anti-vaccination sentiment,” said Alcorn on the matter. “We don’t mind cartoonists challenging the readers. We encourage diversity of thought, but I had a concern with cartoons perceived as anti-vaccination.”

Perhaps Leunig should’ve stuck to drawing ducks instead.