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To the readers

By Jeremy Olson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
September 2, 1998
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After the extremely adverse reaction to Monday's "Looking for Billy" comic strip, I feel obligated to clarify my intentions. How anyone could view the strip as advocating violence toward gay people is a complete mystery to me.

After reading the letters in yesterday's paper, I wonder if their respective writers actually read the strip or simply looked at the last panel.

The issue of homosexuality was never addressed in the strip. The sexual preference of the protagonists (or even their gender) was never stated nor implied. If any issue was addressed by the strip, it was that of homophobia - the sick joke being that something so innocuous as a hug between friends could incite violent rage in an obviously depraved individual. I used the word "homos" to further indicate the pre-pubescent mentality of a bigot.

Of course, "Looking for Billy" is not a political cartoon. Any social commentary is subservient to the attempted humor. The humor (or lack thereof) is based on the absurd. The most frequent formula is when a plausible situation arrives at the most ludicrous outcome.

That anyone would assume that the views and actions of fictional characters (antagonists at that) are automatically shared by the author is disheartening. Fictional characters are only a vehicle to tell a story, convey an idea, or perhaps make someone laugh. I would hope that at the university level, people can differentiate between character and author.

Lastly, the strip was in no way intended to degrade the very real issue of hate crimes. It was intended as a mockery of those who would commit or condone them. Homophobes, like all bigots, lack the ability to recognize people as individuals. They see in stereotypes and project their own inadequacies and fears onto people they don't understand.

It's unfortunate that so many were offended by what I see as a misreading of the strip. I hope that people will view all forms of media with a more discerning eye before jumping to conclusions.

Jeremy Olson

Wildcat cartoonist

Senior, College of Fine Arts

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