Assuming that you’ve already heard about the Missouri Rodeo Clown Incident, I’ll just add my take without going into the details.
1. I’m annoyed by the injection of politics into nearly every aspect of daily life. It seems like there’s hardly a day when some dipshit at ESPN or the local sports section decides either that Sport Is a Metaphor or Sport Is an Example of What’s Wrong in Society or Sport Is a Suitable Mechanism for Social Change, and pumps out a thousand words of repackaged Sociology 101 to educate those of us who just want to read about the day in baseball. So even though I do occasionally think of Obama as a clown, if I were looking for some fun and relaxation at a state fair I’d resent the injection of politics of any sort into my day. We can’t all “just get along” if we keep shoving our political views into each others’ faces at every opportunity. So my message to rodeo clowns is the same as it is to sportswriters: Please just do your job and STFU about politics, thankyouverymuch.
2. I’m disgusted at the way Missouri officialdom has reacted to whatever complaints it got about Tuffy Gessling, the clown in question. First, Tuffy’s been hit with a lifetime ban from the Missouri State Fair (MSF), which is also contemplating some sort of action against the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association. (I wonder where the NLRB would come down on this.) Second, the MSF is going to force all rodeo clowns in its purview to undergo sensitivity training.
I invite you to contemplate the fact that I just wrote a sentence containing the words “rodeo clowns” and “sensitivity” without referring at all to the parts of their anatomy most commonly at risk of being roughed up by angry bulls. If this weren’t a documented story, I’d be almost certain that it was a spoof of political correctness.
3. The lynch mob that’s been whipped up can’t distinguish between the official announcer for the event, who said nothing much about Obama at all, and the rodeo clown in the arena, who wore a wireless mic and called Obama a clown lacking self-awareness. (video here) The announcer at the event, Mark Ficken, is a local school superintendent worried about losing his job. He’s lawyered up, and has resigned from his position as head of the MO Rodeo Cowboy Association. I’d be a lot more sympathetic to Mr. Ficken were it not the case that he’s not resigning in protest of the State Fair’s gutless conduct. Instead, he’s mad that Tuffy Gessling hasn’t yet been kicked out of the MRCA as an official scapegoat.
4. As far as I can tell, this entire pot of steaming bullshit is entirely due to one overwrought spectator’s whining. AFAIK, Perry Beam–self-described musician and self-evident hysteric–remains the only complainant quoted in the media who was actually at the event. Unfortunately, what he thinks he saw and heard bear only the slightest resemblance to what actually happened (which you can verify by watching the video linked above). Here’s Perry’s “eyewitness” description:
“I began to feel a sense of fear. It was that level of enthusiasm,” said Beam:
“It was the usual until the very end at bull riding. As they were bringing the bulls into the chute and prepping them … they bring out what looks like a dummy. The announcer says ‘Here’s our Obama dummy, or our dummy of Obama.’ They mentioned the president’s name, I don’t know, 100 times. It was sickening. It was feeling like some kind of Klan rally you’d see on TV.”
This guy is either delusional or a partisan fabulist. (1) There was no dummy–as everyone has now seen, it was a rodeo clown wearing an Obama mask. (2) The announcer didn’t say any of those things. The clown said, “Obama’s a clown but he doesn’t know it.” Which, as political commentary goes, isn’t exactly wide of the mark IMO, and certainly not racist. (3) The president’s name was mentioned maybe a half-dozen times or so, not “100”. (4) Unlike Perry Beam, I don’t regularly watch Klan rallies on TV or otherwise, so I can’t challenge his accuracy on that score. I didn’t see any burning crosses in the MO state fair video, though, and it’s my understanding that those are de rigeur at any Klan rally.
My take on this is that Perry Beam is either the most hypersensitive 48-year-old man in the US or else he’s a “progressive” doing his bit to add whatever he can to the balance on the Democrats’ maxed-out race card. Evidence in favor of the latter is this: Before this bullshit story went national, it was touted on a blog called Show Me Progress (“Missouri’s Progressive Politics Community”) by somebody named Bob Yates, linking to the Facebook page of “my friend, Perry Beam.” It’s interesting to compare Perry Beam’s initial Facebook description of the rodeo with what he said later to the media. Here’s Perry’s original version of events:
Last night, Lily and I took a student from Taiwan to the rodeo at the Missouri State Fair. Just prior to the start of the bull riding event, one of the clowns came out dressed in this. The announcer wanted to know if anyone would like to see Obama run down by a bull. The crowd went wild. He asked it again and again, louder each time, whipping the audience into a lather. One of the clowns ran up and started bobbling the lips on the mask and the people went crazy. Finally, a bull came close enough to him that he had to move, so he jumped up and ran away to the delight of the onlookers hooting and hollering from the stands. We then left quickly and quietly. Lily’s student is an inquisitive boy and asks a lot of questions about what he sees, and though he had never been to a rodeo he asked nothing about it, nor anything about America this time. We rode the sixty miles home in silence. In a way I’m glad. I had no answers for him.
What Palpitations Perry described on Facebook is nothing other than what I gather is a standard rodeo clown performance, with the added feature of an Obama mask. Perry appears to have been taken to a personal dark place by all that, which is his own business, but the whole Klan rally experience seems to be something that only occurred to him later.
This appears to be nothing more than a standard case of an Obama worshipper being shocked and offended by people who treat Obama the same way they treated previous presidents.
5. The president passed up an opportunity to be magnanimous. He could’ve had his minions issue a statement along the lines of, “Treating presidents as objects of ridicule is one of our oldest traditions in this country. As president it’s my duty to defend the Constitution, not to question a citizen’s exercise of his First Amendment rights.” Everyone would’ve cheered. But Barack Obama is never inclined toward magnanimity. He appears to be a man quick to take offense and eager for revenge, so what the White House actually had to say on this absurd controversy was this:
“I can tell you, as a native Missourian, it’s certainly not one of the finer moments for our state and not the way that I like to see our state mentioned in the news,” Josh Earnest, the deputy White House press secretary, told reporters in Edgartown, Massachussetts.
Earnest said he did not know if Obama, who is on an eight-day vacation on the Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard, had a reaction to the incident.
At this point, I suppose having a mealy-mouthed functionary issue a bit of pap like that is an improvement over “The clown acted clownishly.” There are plenty of other fools in what used to call itself the “Show Me” state ready to punish free speech in Missouri while the prez chills on Martha’s Vineyard.