Clown controversy spirals out of control
This is surreal - a frightening illustration of excessive ideological worship of a politician, as well as an object lesson in how to destroy a political opposition by threats and outright intimidation.
The skit by a rodeo clown at the Missouri State Fair last weekend has exploded into full blown leftist hysteria. Even the announcer at the rodeo is under attack.
An attorney for rodeo announcer Mark Ficken said that his resignation from the group is not an acknowledgment of wrongdoing on his part but rather a protest that the association has not banned the rodeo clown from its membership.
Ficken's resignation from the rodeo group comes as he tries to hold on to his job as superintendent of the Boonville School District. The school system announced Monday that it is hiring an investigator to look into whether Ficken was involved in any "inappropriate conduct" during Saturday's bull riding event at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia.
Reaction to the performance has rocketed around the Internet in videos, tweets, blog posts and news releases.
State fair officials moved quickly to try and stem the criticism, banning the rodeo performer and requiring sensitivity training for the event's sponsor if it wants to be a part of the fair in the future.
But the moves did not slow condemnation of the Saturday evening incident, in which an unidentified performer donned an Obama mask and entered a rodeo ring at the Sedalia-based fair.
Liberal bloggers and websites roundly denounced the incident Monday, some comparing it to a Ku Klux Klan event. Most mainstream conservative bloggers either ignored the incident or criticized it.
In general, Republicans and Democrats denounced the incident throughout the day. State Democratic party chairman Mike Sanders, the Jackson County executive, condemned the display as "inappropriate and shameful."
Some state politicians suggested suspension of taxpayer funding for the fair, which costs the state treasury more than $400,000 annually.
But others said the clown's performance was protected by the First Amendment.
"Free speech is free speech," wrote tea party columnist and talk-show host Dana Loesch, adding: "Democrats would have you believe that any disagreement, any mocking, any ridicule is reflexively racist."
It bears repeating; clowning is performance art. Artistic expression is protected by the US Constitution. It was bad taste to have a bull threatening the president, but how it can be construed as racist is beyond belief.
President Obama is fair game. No one was threatening his life. Depictions of him being chased by a bull is not the same as threatening his personal safety. To conflate a performance of a clown with any kind of assassination threat is too absurd for serious people to speak about. And yet the NAACP wants DoJ and the Secret Service to investigate the matter.
"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 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."
Ratliff went on to condemn the state's funding of the State Fair: "our Legislature has failed to support Medicare Expansion in Missouri, has consistently attempted to dismantle our Human Rights Commission, fail to adequately fund urban schools -- (who) are predominately African American -- yet they are subsidizing the Missouri State Fair to the tune of $400,000; we are calling for the subsidy to stop...[Governor Nixon's] planned Pancake Breakfast for Thursday should be his 'Last Supper' at the Missouri State Fair in response to the racially intolerant attacks on his Commander in Chief."
If the NAACP had been one tenth as outraged by a film depicting the assassination of President Bush, or hanging Bush in effigy at dozens of rallies around the country, or bloggers openly wishing Bush were dead - they might have a leg to stand on when criticizing the clown. But they didn't so they don't.
There isn't even an acknowledgment that this is a free speech issue. Just the painfully twisted logic and deliberate ginning up of outrage to make this incident into a racial attack, thus discrediting any criticism of Obama at all.
It is sickening.