The Obama rodeo clown story garnered national headlines and prompted the NAACP to call for a Department of Justice investigation.
The unidentified Missouri clown planned a joke at the Missouri State Fair which was undeniably in poor taste, but the comment about watching the man be run down by a rodeo bull can hardly be construed as a credible threat to the president. The Missouri chapter of the NAACP claims the rodeo clown is guilty of inciting violence against the president.
While I loathe President Barack Obama’s policies and big government mindset, I respect the office and would not have laughed at the Missouri rodeo clown’s antics. That being said, comedians and pundits have made fun of presidents since the birth of the nation. As hard as it is to recognize sometimes, this is still America and citizens have the right to free speech, as repugnant as statements about both Democratic and Republican presidents sometimes have been.
“The activities at the Missouri State Fair targeting and inciting violence against our president are serious and warrant a full review by both the Secret Service and the Justice Department,” said NAACP state President Mary Ratliff. “Incidents involving individuals acting out with extreme violent behavior in movie theaters, schools, churches, political appearances, and outdoor events in general speaks volume to the irresponsible behavior of all the parties involved with the incendiary events at the Missouri State Fair.”
When a dummy wore a President George H. W. Bush mask, there was no significant backlash, no national headlines, and most undoubtedly no clamoring for a Department of Justice or Secret Service investigation. In 1994 a bull attacked the Bush mask dummy and no one was fired or forced to resign from a rodeo association position. Perhaps the political correctness police slept through the summer of 1994.
An excerpt from a Philadelphia Inquirer article about the George H.W. Bush mask rodeo dummy incident reads:
“A dummy with a George Bush mask stood beside the clown, propped up by a broomstick. T.J. Hawkins rolled out the big inner tube, and the bull lowered his head, shot forward and launched into the tube, sending it bounding down the center of the arena. The crowd cheered. Then the bull saw the George Bush dummy. He tore into it, sending the rubber mask flying halfway across the sand as he turned toward the fence, sending cowboys scrambling up the fence rails, hooking one with his horn and tossing him off the fence.”
Ratliff went on to blame the state of Missouri for the rodeo clown incident because the entity provides funding for the fair. The federal government routinely utilizes taxpayer funds for art shows and other public displays which contain anti-Christian works. Despite backlash over such displays, the taxpayer money continues to flow and First Amendment rights are cited as the reason. The NAACP leader also stated that the Missouri governor’s visit to the fair’s annual pancake breakfast should be his last due to the “racially intolerant attacks on his commander in chief.”
I do not disagree with those who find the entire 15 minute rodeo segment undesirable, but the NAACP and other liberal lawmakers who are making the news show rounds aghast at the anti-Obama comedy routine are nothing more than hypocrites. The comments stating “we are better than this” and calling for increased respect for the presidency regardless of whether you voted for the current office holder or not would be credible – if similar sentiments had been shared for GOP presidents.
No one wrote scathing headlines when parade workers wore Ronald Reagan masks when dressed as clowns while sweeping up horse manure. Just because we may personally feel an act, costume or comedy routine is disrespectful does not mean such actions qualify as criminal behavior. We must stand up for an individual’s First Amendment rights even when they are in poor taste. Any other course of action would diminish the free speech protections of us all.
The Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association announcer resigned over the Obama mask incident and state lawmakers have denounced the prank publicly. An attorney for now ex-cowboy association president Mark Ficken stated during a press conference that his client’s resignation should not be viewed as an admission of wrongdoing on his part but instead as a protest because the rodeo clown had not yet been banned from association membership. The attorney said most of the comments were made by a clown wearing a microphone. The Missouri State Fair ultimately banned the unnamed Obama rodeo clown from ever performing again.
Ficken is also the Boonville School District superintendent. The Missouri school district announced prior to the resignation that it was hiring an investigator to determine if Ficken had engaged in “inappropriate conduct.” It is both baffling and infuriating that a man could lose his job because another man wearing both a microphone and an Obama mask chose to make a bad joke.
Elected officials surely have the right to chastise the derogatory rodeo clown incident, but similar political outrage was not voiced when Republican presidents were used as punchlines at public events or the focal point of equally harsh political satire.
Do you feel there has been a double standard applied to the mocking of President Obama in comparison to the rude and crude comedy routines directed at other former presidents?