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Opinion: I've seen the pain of Samoan mothers who have lost babies - the ODT's cartoon betrayed a nation in mourning


I’ve known and seen a lot of grief.

Controversial cartoon published in Otago Daily Times. Source: Twitter

You don’t get to my age and not experience it on both a personal and professional level.

And I can tell you the Samoan measles epidemic which has taken the lives of 50 plus babies is unsurprisingly next level awash with it.

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Several weeks ago I was at the funeral of two baby cousins who had died of measles in Samoa.

The grief there was intense – the mothers inconsolable, howling in pain begging for it not to be. But it was.

And it continues to be for dozens of Samoan families who have lost their babies – as the measles epidemic rages and people there live in a perpetual state of grief and fear.

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I NEWS’ Pacific Correspondent spoke to Breakfast from Apia. Source: Breakfast

The Otago Daily Times cartoon which jokes about Samoa’s measles epidemic is a racist offensive reflection of someone who sits pondering the world from his comfy secure chair.

Garrick Tremain’s response is that his cartoon was a “simple innocuous joke” and that this is a politically correct atmosphere where there’s “a growing number of people who wake up in the morning and their first intention is to find something to be offended about”.

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I mean what’s the big deal, it’s just brown babies dying after all, right Garrick?

Let’s all have a big laugh about that hilarious situation. A cartoon even one designed to be offensive is meant to be a little bit clever, to make you think, perhaps make you chuckle a little, ideally laugh out loud.

It’s a complete and utter embarrassment that this one has failed to fire on all of the above and Tremain’s fading irrelevancy and breath-taking stupidity is on public display.

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1 News Pacific correspondent Barbara Dreaver gave an update on the situation. Source: Breakfast

Yet editor Barry Stewart chose to publish it and in doing so has betrayed his staff, some of whom do a fine job but now have to wear the Otago Daily Times’ mantle of shame.

But more importantly he’s betrayed a nation in mourning as the death toll continues to mount and parents to grieve.

Pacific Correspondent Barbara Dreaver is returning to Samoa today to continue covering the measles epidemic there for 1 NEWS.