Extraordinary Front Page After 'Racist' Cartoon Fury

News Corp is rallying against 'PC culture'.

In response to international outrage over  what many people across the globe labelled as a 'racist' Serena Williams cartoon, the Herald Sun has issued an entire front-page of cartoons and simultaneously declared the start of "PC World".

The front page is a tribute to cartoonist Mark Knight's other creations, pointing out the 'offensive' parts of them: Tony Abbott's big ears and comparison to Hannibal Lecter; Scott Morrison the Muppet; and Kim Jong-Un sporting a little belly fat.

"Welcome To PC World -- Satire Free Zone" screams the front-page.

"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."

Naturally, the cartoon of Serena Williams -- widely condemned as racist for its unnecessarily sambo-like features -- is there, too. That's what started  it all.

READ MORE: Why Does Australia Have A Racist Cartoon Problem?

Inside the pages it continues. Associate Editor Andrew Rule wrote a passionate defense of the "outrageously talented" Knight, whose family "faced the worst thing that has happened to them since the Black Saturday fires threatened their home".

A piece attributed to a staff writer repeated the claims that the cartoon "was never about race or gender", and reported that Knight thought the international backlash was unfair.

Controversial columnist Rita Panahi claimed that it was only "race-obsessed agitators" who saw the cartoon as racist, and suggested that perhaps Knight should stick to drawing white men only, as that is "the only race gender combination that can be mocked without triggering the outrage enthusiasts."

The cartoon that started it all. Photo: Herald Sun.

The extraordinary front page has made international headlines, as the paper doubles down in the face of accusations of racism.

Online, the response has been met with derision.

"I'm sure Mark Knight didn't mean his cartoon to be offensive to African Americans, but it clearly is," said ABC's Ben Knight. "Why not just acknowledge that? I don't get it. This is not a classy response."

Others were less kind.

"The blunt message for News employees: Racism not only gains you the support and admiration of your colleagues, it also scores you the front page," said The Monthly's Nick Feik.

"The world has gone crazy," Knight said yesterday. "It has nothing to do with race."

Veteran football journalist Rohan Connolly weighed in on the debate. Connolly acknowledged that he'd been called racist in the past when making missteps, but that he'd made the crucial step of learning from it.

"I think it's possible to be racially offensive through nativity," he said on Twitter.

"The point is once you do see the other view, from those who have actually been subjected to that sort of offence or oppression, that should be enough for it to cease."

"When I was a kid, no one batted an eyelid when we used 'that' term for Indigenous people. Now, I'd hope it makes anyone who hears it cringe. I'd hope that incident with Harry Connick on Hey, Hey It's Saturday concerning 'blackface' ten years ago wouldn't happen now.

"It is possible to offend unintentionally. But it's also possible to continue to learn from these episodes."

As of Wednesday morning, the cartoonist's Twitter account had disappeared.

Contact the author: abrucesmith@networkten.com.au

Lead photo: Herald Sun