Paul Johanson writes: Re. “Richard Farmer’s chunky bits” (Wednesday, item 12). That early Tintin is by any measure incredibly racist and patronising. I remember one other (early version) scene involves Tintin lecturing tribes on how they are all lucky to be citizens of Belgium.

But it is also completely of its time. I’m sure none of Tintin’s young readers when it was syndicated in the early 1930s would have thought it unusual. Its creator, Herge, later in life, was none too proud of it and revised it several times. And I’m sure you could have found editorial cartoons from Australia at the same time that were much worse.

Notably, Tintin in the Congo wasn’t available in English for years and years. When I was a young collector, I always wondered at this mystery Tintin book that was listed as having been published in French but never in English. What, I wondered, where they trying to hide? Out-dated stereotypes and attitudes it turns out.

Not long after Tintin the Congo, Herge was praised for his unbiased portrayal of a Chinese boy, Chang Chong-Chen, in his book The Blue Lotus.

This was pretty impressive for 1934, ahead of its time even, and only a few years after the Congo book.

Looking forward to the Tintin movies. The previews I’ve seen give me some hope that they’ll be faithful and well executed.

Abbott v Putin:

Terry J Mills  writes: Re “Abbott v Putin: it’s a man-off” (Wednesday, item 11). Tony Abbott’s action man posturing is being carefully nurtured by his minders partially to create a media image of a “hands-on-action-man” but more importantly, in the prevailing political climate, to create a diversion from the harder policy issues on which Abbott is very weak.

Why for instance, having made a bizarre “blood oath” to repeal the carbon pricing scheme if in office, would he head off to Cape York to go fishing with Noel Pearson and  have a photo opportunity fixing up a fence without allowing or offering any in-depth media questioning of his policies or rationale for some of his off-the-cuff pledges (e.g. destroying the NBN after destroying an fledgling carbon trading scheme).

It’s a dangerous game for his minders to manage as, inevitably Abbott, if he is to remain leader, will have to front up to his doorstep sloganeering and this could be his undoing; perhaps it would be better to allow him off the leash to face some real scrutiny now rather than later.

Alan Jones:

Val Blair writes: Re. “#Occupy Jonestown: Alan turns up the heat on fracking” (yesterday, item 1). I have to say that for the first time in my long  (80-plus years) life I agree 100% with Jones’ Press Club address.

Mining companies in Australia have been a law unto themselves for far too long.

It’s a pity that Jones’ reputation has muddied the water. Coal seam gas will be a disaster for Australian food production and underground water resources. It is another non-renewable resource that is being exploited for massive dollars! This is serious!

Barry O’Farrell:

Nicole Burchill writes: Re. “The Power Index: why O’Farrell ISN’T Sydney’s most powerful” (yesterday, item 4). What a small minded, sneery, dismissive comment about Barry O’Farrell’s father yesterday (“His father spent 27 years in the army, finishing up as a warrant officer — hardly a stellar career”).

O’Farrell’s father doesn’t deserve to have his career and life choices commented on in this pejorative way publicly — he didn’t sign up for politics and in my view 27 years serving his country is worthy of more public respect.

The military depends on its career NCOs to function effectively. It’s pretty sad journalism when you have to resort to these methods to justify the point you were making about O’Farrell’s style.

I have no connection with O’Farrell’s family or party and don’t even live in NSW by the way, but I don’t see why this kind of sly contempt for O’Farrell senior and by extension all those others quietly serving, should go unremarked.

Peter Fray

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