Cartoons Unlikely to Be Found Offensive Under Racial & Religious Tolerance Act

February 7, 2006

Source: The Advertiser,5936,18068524%255E1702,00.html

On February 7, 2006 The Advertiser reported, "The controversial cartoons of the prophet Mohammed, which have caused outrage around the Islamic world, are unlikely to be found offensive under Victoria's anti-vilification laws. The Racial and Religious Tolerance Act deals with behaviour that incites hatred, serious contempt, revulsion and severe ridicule of others because of their race and religion. But the Equal Opportunity Commission Victoria (EOC) chief executive, Dr. Helen Szoke, said today there was a difference between causing offence and vilification. 'The behaviour has to be much more serious than causing offence, affronting someone's sense of decency or hurting their feelings in order for it to be considered vilifying,' Dr. Szoke said. 'Incitement is more than just merely holding a view or expressing an opinion; it is the encouragement or promotion of hatred towards others'... Dr. Szoke said a cartoon would need to be extremely serious in order to meet the benchmark for vilifying behaviour. 'In general, racially stereotyping comments, blasphemy, off-hand remarks or racist or religious jokes, while offensive to some people, are unlikely to be considered vilifying.'"