“I Killed Martin Luther King”…


I can still remember exactly where I was, and what I was doing, when they told me that I killed Martin Luther King. I was in my house, watching our old black and white TV, and I was nine years old. A talking head looked me right in the eye and said that, while I may not have pulled the trigger, “we ALL killed Dr. King”. I didn’t know then that it was the first of thousands of times I’d hear that over the next forty-seven years.

“We ALL” didn’t. Not just we nine-year-olds didn’t, but all of the people, black and white, who supported his ideal of equality, didn’t. But not just them. People who didn’t support Dr. King’s ideas, disagreed with them, even people who were indifferent to them…they didn’t kill him , either.

James Earl Ray (and any accomplices he might have had) killed Martin Luther King, and to say otherwise trivializes his evil act.

But, to a lot of folks, especially in the media and the academy, it sounded wise, circumspect, gratifyingly contrite and, most importantly, in step with the Zeitgeist (cool), to indict an entire people, and “culture” for the evil of one man.

It was, as I saw it, the beginning of a polemical pattern that metastasized into a philosophy. As I went from the late ’Sixties into the ‘Seventies, everything began to be “society’s fault”, America’s fault, “Western Civilization’s fault,” and basically, anybody’s fault but the person or group who actually DID whatever it was that was done. Kids did drugs because of “societal pressure”, violent criminals, who’ve been committing violent crimes for thousands of years, suddenly killed old ladies and children through no fault of their own, but “because of our society”. Fathers who abandoned their children were simply obeying some sort of cultural imperative that society had thrust upon them.

When evil actions are everybody’s fault, they’re nobody’s fault. And, when we erase individual responsibility, as we’ve been desperately doing for all of these years, we make doing evil and doing good equally meaningless. Just random acts blowing in the wind of circumstance.

Dr. King would be the first to denounce such a “legacy”.


32 thoughts on ““I Killed Martin Luther King”…

  1. Many conspiracies exist about James Earl Ray and whether he killed MLK on his own or was paid to do so. One theory is that King himself paid him in order to become a martyr. Another is that the Klan did it and another is that it was the
    government. I wish they would solve this one.

  2. So this is your big explanation (a day late, I might add) as to why you hate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day? You think the holiday just contributes to a culture of victimhood and an abrogation of personal responsibility?

    The truth, Bruce Tinsley, is that the holiday stands for Dr. King’s vision of racial equality in America and honors his core belief of societal change through non-violent protest.

    To claim the holiday in any way encourages black fathers to abandon their families or promotes the message that everything wrong in a black person’s life (or anyone’s life) is society’s fault is just a poor excuse for your racism.

    You made it clear in your Jan. 22, 2013 comic strip, when you used Squirrel Appreciation Day as a thinly veiled proxy for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, that you considered the holiday “too commercial,” that it promoted a “toxic atmosphere” and that the black community was the “rodent community.” To me, that doesn’t sound like someone who is racially unbiased, and the above diatribe does nothing to absolve you of your past comments.

    You are not a poor, misunderstood victim of the PC police, as you constantly claim. You’re simply an angry old man who can’t understand why America just didn’t freeze itself in time 60 years (or 160 years) ago.

    I’m sorry to tell you this, but black people have a right to be treated with dignity and respect. Members of the LGBT community have a right to be treated with dignity and respect. Non-Christians have a right to be treated with dignity and respect. Women have a right to be treated with dignity and respect.

    The reason you refuse to observe and even actively decry the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is because it reminds you that society has left you behind. I hope one day you will join the rest of us in the present, but I’m not holding my breath.

  3. Joe, you make a LOT of assumptions and I wonder if you actually read the article/letter. I also wonder, if, say, I don’t celebrate or even observe Presidents Day, do I hate America? Using your own logic as presented above, I must.

  4. Al, Bruce Tinsley has made in clear in several strips related to the holiday over the past several years that he considers the holiday a farce that functions to create a “toxic atmosphere” (see his strip dated 1/22/2013) and does little more than allow federal employees to sleep in (see his strips dated 1/20/2013 & 1/21/2013).

    I am not criticizing Mr. Tinsley for deciding not to celebrate the holiday. I am criticizing his previous remarks in regard to the holiday and his blog post trying to tie the celebration of that holiday together with what he sees as the start of America’s decline.

    He is not indifferent to the holiday and what he represents, he finds the holiday and what it represents repugnant and has stated so. That’s somewhat different than just overlooking a holiday or deciding not to celebrate it.

  5. Joe,
    I’m not so sure he’s wrong. I believe that a lot of what happens in Dr Kings name would most likely be condemned by the man himself. The Black “leaders” that stand up and use his name most likely don’t want to be judged by the content of their character alone, or at all for that matter. Does that mean we shouldn’t have a holiday, not at all. Does that mean if I or Bruce (supposedly) should be branded a racist or something for having an opinion on a holiday, not at all. Accusations are where conversations break down.

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  7. Oh MAN… lamont insane obama can PUSH a RED BUTTON!!! WHAT a STUD!!! (i. e., he’s a block of wood 92 5/8″ long with the commensurate intelligence and personality, and probably warped and twisted to make him worthless ANYWAY!)

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  9. Hey there, Mallard & Mr. Tinsley,

    Hope you are doing well. Loyal reader here. I have not had much chance to post any comments in the past several months. Too busy doing projects and taking care of my family.

    Golly, in only 4 days, I start my seasonal job with an agency of the Federal Government. Wow! My 49th season with this agency. It’ll start with 3.5 weeks of intense half-day school programs. The other half of those days, I’ll be preparing for the next days’ school groups. Then, we have three weeks of intense training for new employees, during which I am heavily involved. Then, we go to our full summer schedule, during which time I am involved with the visiting public. I will auditing the programs and mentoring the trainees whom I have just helped to train. In between times, I help at a busy information desk, do my own programs, respond to medical emergencies, facilitate rescues of hurt, lost, or ill visitors, inform visitors of safety issues, and golly, so many other tasks, I cannot list them all.

    It will be like this until October 1. I keep looking up and down at my busy schedule, and I simply cannot find any time to be bored at my Federal Government job, nor will I have time to watch internet porn while I am duty. I hate to be such a disappointment to you both. I know you have this idealized vision of the typical Federal Government employee, and I cannot measure up to your standard. Sorry.

    Until next time,

    Yours, in abject sarcasm,


  10. So while it’s not ok for Hillary to claim to be Native American (which is not ok, by the way), it IS ok for Jeb Bush to register as a Hispanic???? Really?

    How ’bout skewering them both?

  11. Hey Bruce!

    Do you ever speak to TEA Party groups?
    We’d love to have you visit us in Goochland.
    We (the 7th congressional district in Virginia) were were very instrumental in having Eric Cantor change jobs in 2014.

    Please contact us if you would!

  12. Dear Mallard,
    Every time I try to read you on my ipad the picture is messed up. Do you know about this? Hope you can fix it 🙂

    • Rhonda Haas- It’s not just iPads. i think it is a fault of King Features, because several of their comics are hard to load, especially on a slow connection.

  13. Bruce, If Hilary wins the Presidency (scary thought) I think that you should be the one to paint her official portrait. You have captured her image perfectly. Maybe the portrait can be used on the twenty dollar bill as some individuals are trying to change it.

  14. But the Hildabeast IS unattractive — uglier than a hatful of dead flies. It’s not just her age; it’s her personality, which shows no matter how she tries to hide it.

  15. Any plans for another post, Bruce? Why didn’t you just tell King Features you didn’t want to do a blog?
    I predict that the picture Obama with his anti-Mallard sign will still be there midway through 2017.

  16. 7/29/15 This is about a duck with a couple extra pennies in his pocket who wants to use his fast food transaction to upgrade his pocket change to a nickel, right?

  17. Dear Mr. Tinsley,

    I live in Sarasota, Florida – having recently moved here from outside Boston, MA – and read your comic strip daily, usually enjoying the political wit you give us.

    But today’s strip, I feel, went way over the line and made me gasp — yes, gasp! From your depiction of the Planned Parenthood physician clearly drawn to what she purportedly would say…..

    We’ve all seen how this conversation was obtained — the physician speaking completely unaware whom she was speaking to…..

    I’d thought that hoopla was over, yet you dug it out and stirred the slime pot again.

    I don’t know which political party or religion you belong to —— but this column was full of bitterness and hate.

    HOW DARE YOU mix comics and political hate!

    I deplore what you did.

    Yours sincerely,

    Janet Zinner

    Sarasota, FL

  18. I was disgusted by your 8/20/2015 comic. If it had made Any effort to be factual I could have accepted it as humor. But, you have reduced my opinion of your comic to political Hack status. You must hate women as much as all the other Right WingNut conservatives who have been waging a War on Womens Rights to choose since religious fanatics took over my Republican party. Sad, Sad Sad.

  19. Although nowhere close to your political spectrum, occasionally I find your strip amusing. Just a note to let you know (you probably already know), that the SUV was named after the mountain, not vice versa! Denali has been its name to tourists, rangers, explorers, and most Alaskans for a long, long time….If you ever go to Alaska (I have been twice) ask around…

  20. Mallard, In keeping with B.O.’s changing of long standing names back to native American names, I think that Los Angeles should revert back to Yang-Na. Yang -Na is a much more enlightened name .

  21. OLD MAN ?? Somebody must be writing from the cradle (his/her comments sound like it). I’m ten years older than Bruce and I don’t consider myself an old man, just very well aged and mellow.
    By the way, Duck, lay off James Taylor…some of us still play his music and that includes conservatives, moderates, liberals, etc. and yes, I agree with you more often than not.

  22. Congratulations Bruce. You have repeated the same cartoon for over a month now. If you don’t acknowledge soon that Trump does stupid satirizable stuff every day, you are going to be out of business soon. You can’t just make the same joke about PC College campuses over and over again and expect even conservatives to continue to read your comic. Most professional conservatives (and to some degree liberals) live in a bubble where they ignore the news that doesn’t fit their world view. But you are going to end up with no readers if your Bubble continues to ignore essentially everything that happens in the contemporary news.

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