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"Looking for Billy" looking for trouble

By Patrick Leach
Arizona Daily Wildcat
September 1, 1998
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To the editor,

I am writing to express great umbrage at an image which appeared in the "Looking for Billy" comic strip, illustrated by Jeremy Olson, in the Monday, Aug. 31 issue of the Arizona Daily Wildcat. The comic strip depicted a drive-by shooting of two gay friends. The friends were embracing when another character drove by, shooting them to death, while yelling, "Homos!"

The casual depiction of a drive-by shooting OF ANYONE in this day and age when it is a serious crime in many communities is in and of itself a disgusting and hard-hearted action.

Whether or not one is an ally of the gay population is not the principal issue. I wish to point out to those of us who don't approve of gays and lesbians that this comic could easily have been aimed at any minority OR majority group. Any racial, religious or ethnic slur could have replaced "homos," although it is the opinion of some, including myself, that had those kinds of slurs been used, the comic would not have been printed.

When a few abuse the First Amendment right to free speech, it becomes less and less accessible and meaningful to the many who respect the responsibility that such a tremendous freedom entails.

Mr. Olson has the right to speak (or draw) freely. But along with that inalienable right comes the responsibility not to use it in a way that, for example, advocates the wanton death of an entire segment of our community.

This image expresses what may be free speech, but what is also a direct contradiction of the university's Diversity Statement as well as current social and political codes of behavior.

I am surprised and disappointed that this image was printed in our student newspaper. I certainly hope that this is not what the students of this campus want held up on and off campus as an example of our creative thought.

I urge all who have read this letter to obtain a copy of the Monday, August 31, 1998 Daily Wildcat and view the "Looking for Billy" comic strip. If the word "homos" in the last frame does not apply to you, replace it with a defamatory term about your own race, religion or customs.

If the manifestation of this mentality disturbs you, I urge you to contact the illustrations editor at the Arizona Daily Wildcat and express your own viewpoint. I hope that any discussion of this image centers on the damage it does to all groups in our community as well as the group at which it was so brazenly targeted.

Patrick Leach

Graduate student

College of Agriculture

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