Cartoonist Brent Brown responds

The premise of the comic is that two local K-marts really are closing (Asheville and Hendersonville), and I used the idea of a third one closing to produce a situation of comical misunderstanding related to a local issue that could also make a large, non-local point. It is not about how great the Ku Klux Klan is, but rather how a confluence of random events can lead to an unintended and unforeseen situation.

An uncomfortable misunderstanding can still be a comical one. I am sure you have seen that Seinfeld episode where a person unintentionally, and by way of random occurrences, dressed and motioned like Hitler while speaking to a crowd. Does that mean Hitler is amusing or that those (mostly Jewish) writers were not appalled by the tragic history of Nazis because they thought they could be referenced in a comical way?

My original idea followed that Seinfeldian style of a heated turn of events, with a mob of angry black residents confronting the hapless truck driver. Ironically, I thought it would be too stereotypical, and instead thought it would be a fresher take to have the people be instead stoically resigned and calm about the seemingly casual racism of parading a giant KKK sign down their street. The black bystander remarks that this must mean that February, the one month allotted to consider the feelings of blacks, must already be over with, which it was when the comic was published.

The comic is actually sympathetic to the racism faced by the black community; the larger point was supposed to be that black people see such a thing so much, if not on a daily basis.

Yes, the letters “KKK” represent evil things that are not funny. They are also an iconic visual in our culture, just like “666” and, therefore, a comic shorthand for people to joke about when they encounter them in a casual, everyday context. Making jokes about your $6.66 restaurant bill being evil does not mean you side with the devil.

I am sorry if anyone took an unintended offense to the cartoon by misconstruing the meaning. I am also sorry that there seems to be no way to even bring up the issue of race in any context, as if it were not part of society or culture in any way but a solemn PBS documentary, without incurring the wrath of those who seem to look for offense anywhere they can find it.

— Brent Brown
Asheville

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