While searching the March 5 Xpress for an ad announcing the grand opening of my business, Devotion Organics, I was shocked to see a large “KKK” in the cartoon on same the page [“Brent Brown”]. I was saddened and offended by this damaging image, and believed it would overshadow my ad with its negative impact. My own agenda notwithstanding, the very presence of this image begs consideration of larger and less personal issues.
First, there were only three other depictions of African-Americans in the paper, suggesting an isolated demographic and a tendency toward insensitivity. Second, the cartoon’s message was borderline racist and ambiguous at best. When confronted, the cartoonist appeared unapologetic, smug, and his apathetic appeal for impunity was nothing short of an overprivileged afterthought.
The real issue at hand, however, is the psychology and power of symbols. This is what causes businesses to spend a fortune on branding their logo, as I did in Xpress. The intended beauty of the imagery I chose to print was usurped and circumvented by the letters “KKK.” This terrible image — along with the swastika — is deeply embedded in the collective unconscious and incites fear, hatred, violence, anger and sadness. There is no excuse for its invocation.
Printing this was socially irresponsible, and the only recourse Xpress might fall back on is a belated attempt at First Amendment rhetoric.
Brown's self-comparison to Seinfeld is a symptom of a bloated ego, and he should be reminded of his position as a cartoonist for a small-town alt-weekly [“Brent Brown Responds,” March 12]. Can we safely assume that he has never been faced with racism, religious intolerance, classism, sexism, or any other form of hate-based transgression? From the content of this cartoon it would appear not, and Xpress would be well served to find a satirist with more relevant musings.
— Joshua Lawton