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Quick Thoughts On Political Satire and Rodeo Clowns

Missouri Fair Obama Mask.JPEG-04873

(Jameson Hsieh/Associated Press)

The current cause célèbre in many Right Wing circles is that of a rodeo clown who has been banned-for-life from performing at the Missouri State Fair after he oversaw the production of a skit in which another clown donned a Obama mask (and broom) and was chased by a bull. Here’s a description of the performance from CNN:

A rodeo stunt at the Missouri State Fair has come under criticism after a clown donned a Barack Obama mask and stuck on a broom that descended from his backside.

The stunt took place during the bull riding competition on Saturday night.

Rodeo announcer Mark Ficken, president of the Missouri Cowboy Rodeo Association and a school superintendent, announced a special guest: “President Obama.”

Another voice is heard over the loudspeaker working up the crowd and saying, “We’re going to stomp Obama now.”

“As soon as this bull comes out, Obama, don’t you move,” the second voice said. “He’s going to getcha, getcha getcha, getcha.”

“Hey, I know I’m a clown,” the second voice said. “He’s just running around acting like one. Doesn’t know he is one.”

According to other accounts reported via the AP, the crowd was asked if they wanted to see “Obama run down by a bull.”

Since video of the event hit the internet, various Missouri politicians from across the political aisle have spoken out against it, the Rodeo announcer has resigned his position, and as mentioned above, the clown who created the skit has been banned from performing at future state fairs.

These actions have led various right wing commentators to cry foul.

Some have pointed out that this type of “dummy” skit is a rodeo “tradition.” Most make this argument by linking to a 1994 profile of a rodeo star which describes the following scene:

The big white gate flew open. The bull came out bucking. The rider flopped from side to side and the bullfighters held back, letting the bull make his moves until the rider dropped off. Licciardello crouched in a heavily padded barrel, a human target should the bull decide to charge. Hawkins waited near the barrel, holding his big inner tube. 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.

Walker waited.

But it had been a hot day, and bulls, like men, have moods. Jalapeno, Grant Harris’ “excited rascal,” called it a night, found the exit gate and, like a locomotive floating on cotton balls, galloped silently over the soft sand and disappeared into the night.

[Emphasis mine. Source]

What these critics fail to note is that this event took place at the Cowtown Rodeo in New Jersey — a private rodeo. I, and others, have been looking for evidence of a similar thing happening at another State sponsored event like the Missouri State Fair. Nothing has surfaced at last check.

The State Fair is a public institution  and that shifts the discussion.

The very fact that the clown was making fun of the President makes it political satire — emphasis on the political part. We can argue whether or not it was good satire (I actually think the broom part was pretty funny), but we cannot argue that it wasn’t political. In a recently published interview, the rodeo clown (who was not the one in the Obama mask) has explicitly said the skit was to make fun of a current political figure.

And so the real question is whether or not a State, through its State Fair, should be sponsoring political commentary. Frankly, I think that’s a really bad idea. And I would feel the same way if this had been the State Fair booking Bill Maher for a performance (a quick Google check suggests that this hasn’t ever happened).

[Update 8.13 3:35PM] – In the comments below, regular commenter Stormy Dragon offers a solid counter argument to this point. He notes that Garrison Keillor’s A Prarie Home Companion, which often features political satire, often broadcasts live from State Fairs. Personally, my general feeling on Garrison Keillor is close to that of the Simpsons, but Stormy raises a reminder that political commentary can be found at the State Fair in many different guises.

Some may respond with the argument that the rodeo was a privately sponsored event. This still doesn’t work, as it’s a privately sponsored event taking place within the larger wrapper of a State sponsored event. It was a rodeo at the Missouri State fair, operated by State Legislature created Missouri State Fair Commission … again, there’s no way to escape that State connection if you are going to be performing at the State fair.

Others have attempted to say that this is a violation of free speech rights. This is a problematic understanding of the First Amendment. The clown was allowed to complete the skit. The “speech” happened. He’s not being thrown in jail or forced to pay a direct fine. What the First Amendment does not protect one from is the ramifications of one’s words — in particular firings or rather not hiring in the future. And why? Because his performance (a) embarrassed his employer and (b) ultimately caused damage to their reputation. It may not be seen as “fair”, but the last time I checked the First Amendment had nothing to do with “fairness.” (As an aside, there’s also a certain irony that the issue of this ban is coming at a time when Missouri Republicans are working hard to get the state to pass right-to-work laws).

Ultimately, the thing that must be remembered is that while individuals have a right to engage in political satire, they don’t have a right to have it published. And once you look at the venue in which the speech was performed, one needs to ask do you want State Fairs to become a location where political commentary is regularly taking place?

[Update 8.15 @ 3:30pm] Since a commenter called me out on this point, I just want to say for the record that recent calls by the Missouri Chapter of the NAACP to investigate the Rodeo are without a doubt over the top and unwarranted. The “tradition” argument, including the 1994 account, actually helps demonstrate the weakness of the Chapter’s Accusations.

Second, this seems like a good place to link to an OTB “classic” article about Right Wing outrage over the “disrespectful” use of G.W.’s head in Game of Thrones.

Related Posts:

About Matt Bernius
Matthew is a PhD student in Cultural Anthropology at Cornell University, researching the intersection of technology and culture. Prior to Cornell, he earned a Masters in the Social Sciences from the University of Chicago and was a visiting professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Matt started his career at Eastman Kodak, spending eight years in a variety of web development, community and content strategy roles. In his spare time (off OTB) Matt slogs (slow-blogs) on the future of reading/media, studies martial arts and self defense, and volunteers, along with his wife, at the Rochester Animal Shelter. Follow him on twitter @mattbernius.

Comments

  1. David M says:

    I thought it was in poor taste, but didn’t really think it was worth getting worked over.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  2. Matt Bernius says:

    Generally speaking @David M, I agree. Though I have to admit, I think the broom aspect of the get-up was a solid visual satirical joke since it played off Obama’s straight laced affect.

    I also think the racist accusations are overblown. That’s why I didn’t bother addressing them.

    That said, the response to the response (i.e. How dare! people get upset) it typical outrage machine. And I can only imagine how most of these pundits would have reacted in 2006 if the Dixie Chicks had played a State Fair. I suspect they’d be the first to proclaim that the State Fair isn’t a place for political commentary.

    Further, if you are going to argue that employers have the right to fire workers for embarrassing them or damaging their brand, you can’t turn around and scream “First Amendment” when someone gets fired for embarrassing their employer and damaging their brand.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  3. jib10 says:

    @David M: It is the silly season.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  4. Gavrilo says:

    What a breathtakingly dishonest narrative. Congrats.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 18

  5. Matt Bernius says:

    @Gavrilo:
    Please point out the issues. I’ll be happy to correct what I got wrong.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  6. Matt Bernius says:

    @jib10:

    It is the silly season.

    Without a doubt, the fact that we are in the slowest time of the year when it comes to News in the US has contributed to this being such an issue. And it’s great talking heads stuff with more than enough outrage to go around.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. Anderson says:

    I ventured to opine over at Talking Points Memo that Obama’s lack of a light touch hurts him on stuff like this, and was roundly shouted down. A remark that it seems excessive for the guy to lose his job, or that “Michelle sure is sorry she missed seeing that routine,” would do him some good.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  8. wr says:

    I don’t get the boffo satirical humor of the broom. Is it funny because black people should content themselves with janitorial jobs instead of pretending they can be president? Or because it’s a tail as if he’s a devil?

    I’ve read enough of Matt’s commentary here to know that he wouldn’t see either of these as insightful satire — so, Matt, what is it that you found to be a solid visual satirical joke?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  9. Gavrilo says:

    A. The left turned this into a cause celebre, not the right. It’s been all over MSNBC and left-wing blogs for days.
    B. The reaction to this rodeo clown by the left has been incredibly overblown to the point where it’s almost scary. The NAACP has actually called on the Justice Department and the Secret Service to investigate a freaking rodeo clown! That’s the real story here, not the pushback from the right.
    C. Your comrades on the left are the first to cry “censorship” whenever Republicans or conservatives criticize offensive art. Hell, you can’t even suggest withholding a taxpayer funded grant from an artist who puts a crucifix in a jar of urine without being accused of censorship from the editorial board of The New York Times.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 11

  10. Matt Bernius says:

    @Anderson:
    I think that would be a politically astute move by the president.

    I also expect that many will take the lack of such a move as further proof of their existing belief that Obama is “thin skinned” or “a thug.”

    But what the president should or shouldn’t do is outside of the point. As is whether or not the Clown should have been punished. I was simply trying to point out the problem with the First Amendment and Rodeo Tradition lines of thought.

    Again, if someone can bring forward examples of this sort of political skit regularly happening at State Fair rodeos (or State Fairs in general), then you’ve got a case. And given the prevalence of recording technologies, you would think someone would have something from the last decade or so.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  11. Matt Bernius says:

    @Gavrilo:
    I’m having a real problem of seeing how anything I wrote was “dishonest.” You might not agree with what I wrote. You don’t seem to like the perspective. You think I should have accounted for additional things.

    But you’ve yet to prove that anything I wrote was “dishonest.”

    In response to your points.

    A. The left turned this into a cause celebre, not the right. It’s been all over MSNBC and left-wing blogs for days.

    So you are denying that the Right Wing has not taken up this cause? Seriously? BTW, in full disclosure, the first time I heard about this incident was yesterday when Rush Limbaugh open his show with a call that everyone needs to rise up in defense of the Clown.

    B. The reaction to this rodeo clown by the left has been incredibly overblown to the point where it’s almost scary. The NAACP has actually called on the Justice Department and the Secret Service to investigate a freaking rodeo clown! That’s the real story here, not the pushback from the right.

    I just learned about the Missouri Chapter of NAACP’s call earlier today (this article was actually written last night). I completely agree that is an overreaction. But that doesn’t disprove anything in the article.

    (BTW, I could arguably accuse you of “dishonesty” for implying through ommission that the Missouri Chapter of the NAACP was representing the national organization when it called for the investigation).

    Further, its pretty clear that some of the “overblown” reaction — at least in Missouri — has come from elected Republican officials.

    C. Your comrades on the left are the first to cry “censorship” whenever Republicans or conservatives criticize offensive art. Hell, you can’t even suggest withholding a taxpayer funded grant from an artist who puts a crucifix in a jar of urine without being accused of censorship from the editorial board of The New York Times.

    Ummm, first, where did I address this in this article?

    Next, if anything, this demonstrates a level of hypocrisy on both sides of the equation. Since you’re pointing out that in the past Conservatives have heaped outrage over what they see as State Sponsored political commentary and obscene art.

    Further, I’ll point out that grant money is contractual and the question should be whether or not the art violated the original contract.

    Further, no one of note, to my knowledge, has called for the rodeo not to get paid oer this. As far as I know the clown was paid (again the speech wasn’t suppressed). He just won’t be allowed in the future.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  12. Matt Bernius says:

    @wr:

    I don’t get the boffo satirical humor of the broom. Is it funny because black people should content themselves with janitorial jobs instead of pretending they can be president? Or because it’s a tail as if he’s a devil?

    Ok, now you’re digging for a racial component.

    Seriously, lets apply Occam’s razor here.

    Obama has long cultivated a hyper-controlled, extra serious affect. Yes he does crack the occasional joke or sing the occasional bit of Al Green, but there’s a reason why even African American comics refer to him as being a “Black Vulcan.”

    “Rod up the butt” is a pretty typical phrase for straight laced folks (either that or the entire coal/diamond up the butt).

    The visual joke wouldn’t have worked with G.W. because that’s not part of the image he cultivated.

    Now, you can argue with me over whether or not it’s a good joke. But it doesn’t make sense as a racist joke (unless there’s some part of the performance that I missed).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 5

  13. Gavrilo says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    Perhaps dishonest wasn’t the best word choice. How about ridiculous? Or, obscene political hackery? If you want to completely ignore the initial overblown reaction from the left to a skit by a rodeo clown and focus exclusively on the less overblown reaction from the right to the overblown reaction from the left, that’s fine, but spare us your posturing as someone only interested in honest discussion. Your article is pure political hackery.

    It’s not my fault that you didn’t do your research to find out what the left has been saying about this rodeo clown story.

    The last 1/3 of your article is an attempt to explain why Mr. Rodeo Clown is not a victim of government censorship. It is the left that claims to be the protectors of free speech. It is the left that defends offensive taxpayer funded art. It is the left that defends academics like Ward Churchill who make incredibly offensive statements about 9/11 victims while receiving a paycheck from a state-funded university. It is the left that cried censorship when private citizens smashed Dixie Chicks cd’s and private radio stations stopped playing their music. Where is the left now?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 12

  14. And so the real question is whether or not a State, through its State Fair, should be sponsoring political speech. Frankly, I think that’s a really bad idea. And I would feel the same way if this had been the State Fair booking Bill Maher for a performance (a quick Google check suggests that this hasn’t ever happened).

    As a regular listen of a Prarie Home Companion, I know they frequently perform at state fairs. Should Garrison Keilor be legally banned from performing any sort of political humor when he’s appearing at such venues?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  15. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 17

  16. David M says:

    @Gavrilo:

    Memeorandum doesn’t really back up your interpretation though…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  17. Matt Bernius says:

    Again, having problems seeing “obscene political hackery.” I simply outlined an argument for why the First Amendment claims don’t work and why the State Fair Organizers (which feature a number of Republicans) were within their power to react in the way they did. I wasn’t arguing that there was some moral high ground here. You’ve injected all of that (and a lot of other baggage into this particular conversation).

    My only point was to point out the flaws in an argument. And so far you’ve yet to actually produce any counter argument to the points I’ve raised here

    Plus, I don’t think it makes particular sense to suggest that the Right has some sort of moral high ground to stand on either. Beyond your already mentioned attempts to cancel grants after they’ve been awarded (in violation of existing agreements), in the past the Right has reacted with similar outrage to supposedly banal things that took place in clearly commercial spaces, like Game of Thrones. And Game of Thrones wasn’t even making a political statement.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  18. Matt Bernius says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    As a regular listen of a Prarie Home Companion, I know they frequently perform at state fairs. Should Garrison Keilor be legally banned from performing any sort of political humor when he’s appearing at such venues?

    Ok… Now this is the first solid hit on this thread — and a great counter argument.

    I don’t listen to enough PHC to be able to comment on the level of political satire on the show. But I do know some is in there.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  19. @Matt Bernius:

    The political humor is relatively minor (if it was a major focus, I probably wouldn’t enjoy the show, which I like for the music and variety acts), but it’s there.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. gVOR08 says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    “Rod up the butt” is a pretty typical phrase for straight laced folks

    I suspect the crowd, or at least the vocal element of the crowd, would have seen part of what you see, the public anal penetration part. You’ve written enough here Matt, that I’m sure you see it as a legitimate joke on being strait laced and without sexual or abusive innuendo. I think you’re giving elements of the crowd too much credit.

    I don’t see this as a situation in which the announcer or the clown should be punished. I think it’s a time for reflection on the sad state of public discourse and the role of the right wing echo chamber in American politics.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  21. wr says:

    @Matt Bernius: I’m really not looking for a racist component, I just honestly didn’t get what this was supposed to be satirizing. It still sounds like a stretch to me, but that’s generally the case when you have to explain any joke…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  22. michael reynolds says:

    I suspect looking for subtleties in the oeuvre of rodeo clowns is a lost cause.

    Tacky, legal, meh.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  23. mantis says:

    If I lived in Missouri, I might care about this, but probably not.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  24. al-Ameda says:

    What these critics fail to note is that this event took place at the Cowtown Rodeo in New Jersey — a private rodeo. I, and others, have been looking for evidence of a similar thing happening at another State sponsored event like the Missouri State Fair. Nothing has surfaced at last check.

    Private organizers can put together lousy racially-suggestive minstrel shows too.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  25. Moderate Mom says:

    @wr: I believe the placement of the broom reflected the belief that the President has a “has a stick up his ass”, i.e. having a somewhat humorless personality.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  26. Wow, you lose your First Amendment rights if you are a clown, at a state sponsored rodeo. I totally get it. Thanks for making a clown of yourself by turning the First Amendment totally on its head. It’s the private folks who can control speech — not the state. Your Phd. must be in Constitutional illiteracy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 9

  27. beth says:

    @Let’s Be Free: No, you lose your job when your actions embarrass your employer by inappropriate behavior on the job. Had he come out and pulled this stunt dressed as Jesus, or screamed out profanities, he’d be just as fired.

    One outcome of this I have enjoyed is watching the right wingers using the Twitter hashtag “I am a rodeo clown”. Admitting you have a problem is a great first step.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  28. Matt Bernius says:

    @Let’s Be Free:

    Your Phd. must be in Constitutional illiteracy.

    That’s irony, considering you just wrote:

    Wow, you lose your First Amendment rights if you are a clown, at a state sponsored rodeo. It’s the private folks who can control speech — not the state.

    Sigh. You really do not know what you are talking about. There was no violation of his First Amendment rights. Period.

    If he had stopped in the rodeo, and instead of performing this skit, read Ayn Rand or the Karl Marx and they threw him out and banned him for life — guess what… that wouldn’t have been a violation of his First Amendment rights either.

    The State does NOT have to provide him with a current or future platform. And the rodeo is not a public space in the same way a village green is. And even then the village green is still a regulatable space.

    How does the quote go? It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt. And it’s even worse to insult someone while simultaneously proving that your don’t know a lick of what you are talking about.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  29. alkali says:

    There are really two issues here, and they are issues of taste, not anything to do with public or private funding.

    First, joking about physically harming a president is tasteless, whoever it happens to be, including for the reason that there have been multiple assassination attempts and one completed assassination in living memory.

    Second, it is “too soon” for a crowd to be cheering, even in jest, for the injury of a black man. (An exception is the very particular context of professional athletics; cheering the defense sacking a quarterback who happens to be black does not carry those associations.)

    Obama was incidentally the subject of the rodeo clown’s satire, but he hasn’t really been harmed. The offense here is the insult to public civility.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  30. bill says:

    it’s ridiculous that obama can’t be ridiculed, every president get’s skewered by the media- obama just not that much. it’s kind of racist that comics and tv shows avoid poking fun at him for whatever reason. this is just the typical bs that shows up from time to time. i don’t think doonesbury has created an obama character yet either, don’t read it all that much but it’s kind of a “right of passage” to see what it will be?!
    and the amount of verbal faux pas he makes (that don’t make it into any msm news) is strangely not news”.
    regardless of it being at a “state fair”, who really cares if someone pokes fun at the prez?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 11

  31. WR says:

    @Moderate Mom: Wow. And they say conservatives aren’t funny…

    (But thanks for the explanation…)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  32. “He’s not being thrown in jail or forced to pay a direct fine. What the First Amendment does not protect one from is the ramifications of one’s words — in particular firings or rather not hiring in the future”

    You make a lot of noise about this being at a government sponsored and paid for state fair. The 1st amendment is meant exactly about retaliation from government for speech that criticizes government. The clown was fired and is being blackballed by government.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 8

  33. JKB says:

    @William Teach:

    The fact the fair is a state activity is what brings the First Amendment into it. The state can’t use threat of violence to take the People’s money then say we’re paying so we get to censure speech. I would expect they are on shaky ground unless they can trot out some ink-dry content-neutral policy against political speech.

    But let’s examine the offense here. The clown showed Obama in an uncharacteristic light that offends Democrats. But everyone knows this was satire. No one in the country would think Obama would ever put himself between a common man whose been thrown down or fallen and the large mass of bull bearing down on the fellow.

    The Missouri Dems aren’t doing Obama any favors by showing they believe he is fragile and unable to withstand being satirized. Here’s a Hollywood depiction of what they fear with Kevin Bacon playing Obama

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  34. Just Me says:

    Matt your are being dishonest in your attack on conservative outrage.

    Had the clown not been attacked by the left and essentially fired for life by the state of Missouri the right never would have been outraged.

    I also think the more interesting discussion is whether Obama should be free from political satire-every president in my life time has been the subject of some often very biting and sometimes cruel satire (not to mention the general crap like calling Bush 2 ChimpyMcHitler) with the exception of Obama.

    Somehow Obama gets to be satire free in any venue because of his skin color. I do think Obama would be far better off if he and the left shook the satire off with a laugh and a shrug and perhaps a joke in return rather than cries of racism.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

  35. C. Clavin says:

    “…who really cares if someone pokes fun at the prez?…”

    Doesn’t really align with:

    “…the crowd was asked if they wanted to see “Obama run down by a bull….”

    But having made that point…I think this is a lot of hot air wasted over nothing.
    We have the leader of the Republican party…Rush Limbaugh…saying stuff like:

    “…See, in my humble opinion, folks, if you believe in God then intellectually you cannot believe in man-made global warming…”

    Who cares about Rodeo Clowns when the entire Republican Party is being run by Real Clowns?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  36. Matt Bernius says:

    @JKB:

    The Missouri Dems aren’t doing Obama any favors by showing they believe he is fragile and unable to withstand being satirized.

    It WASN’T JUST MISSOURI DEMS! God, that’s the problem with the current narrative. For example the REPUBLICAN Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder was one of the first people to speak out on this.

    I would wager a guess that there were more than enough Republicans on the Missouri State Fair commission to block any ban.

    Further, PLEASE PEOPLE go and actually read some First Amendment law before shooting off at the mouth that this ban from a single venue represents a violation of the First Amendment. IT DOESN’T.

    We can argue if it was appropriate or overly heavy handed.

    But this WASN’T A FIRST AMENDMENT VIOLATION. Period. And stop claiming it is until you can bring ACTUAL LEGAL EVIDENCE.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  37. Matt Bernius says:

    @Just Me:

    I also think the more interesting discussion is whether Obama should be free from political satire-every president in my life time has been the subject of some often very biting and sometimes cruel satire (not to mention the general crap like calling Bush 2 ChimpyMcHitler) with the exception of Obama.

    At what point did I make this argument? In fact, as I noted, if this was a private venue, then there is no problem with that satire. Or if this was a public protest in a public space, then there is no problem with that satire.

    The issue here is the fact that because this is a State Fair, there is the possibility that the current government of the state of Missouri could be seen as endorsing that political commentary. They chose not to be associated with it and took action that is well within their legal rights.

    And again, this wasn’t just “Liberals” who had a problem with this. We’re talking about Missouri here! You know state that went solidly for Romney in 2012. The only reason that both its Senate candidates are not Republicans is that they ran Troy Akin. The Republicans control both houses of the General Assembly and the Governorship.

    So if you have an issue with this, then you should be pissed off at a LOT of Missouri Republicans in positions of power. They had every opportunity to stop this decision or express some support for the clown. They didn’t.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  38. al-Ameda says:

    I’m sure that that crowd just loved the rodeo clown minstrel show.
    Met most criteria too – everything but the PA guy shouting “yowsah, yowsah, yowsah!”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  39. slimslowslider says:

    And where/when did Obama cry racism, Just Me?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  40. al-Ameda says:

    @slimslowslider:

    And where/when did Obama cry racism, Just Me?

    Every time one of these incident/events is brought to light, conservatives claim that liberals are racist for suggesting that race is at play. It’s one of their reflex actions.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  41. Matt Bernius says:

    @al-Ameda:
    In this case, conservatives were not the ones how injected race into this. The Missouri Chapter of the NAACP has helped lead the charge by calling for investigations. It’s a dumb move and doesn’t help the dialog.

    Again, there is significant evidence to demonstrate that this unfolded in similar ways to past “run a bull at the political clown” skit. There is no proof that Obama’s race came into play here.

    The issue isn’t about race. It’s about where political commentary should take place.

    And again, folks who want to defend this as “normal”, in this age of constant video, if it was a common practice for Presidents to be run out of town by a bull at the Missouri State, or any other State-sponsored Rodeo, get that footage out in the open.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  42. slimslowslider says:

    @al-Ameda:

    I understand, but Just Me said “I do think Obama would be far better off if he and the left shook the satire off with a laugh and a shrug and perhaps a joke in return rather than cries of racism.”

    So where and when did Obama cry racism, Just Me?

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  43. slimslowslider says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    Again, that is the NAACP, where did Obama himself cry racism on this particular case?

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  44. Matt Bernius says:

    @slimslowslider:
    I didn’t suggest Obama cried racism. But I read @al-Ameda’s comments as suggested that all the cries of “racism” (or reverse racism) were coming from conservatives. I was stating that simply wasn’t the case.

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  45. al-Ameda says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    In all fairness, the Missouri Chapter of the NAACP has helped lead the charge by calling for investigations. It’s a dumb move and doesn’t help the dialog.

    Fair enough Matt.
    Actually, I don’t think there should be an investigation, a waste of time and oxygen – the event speaks for itself.

    I happen to find the depiction more or less typically racist, but then again it’s to be expected. People have already made up their minds on this kind of thing so there’s not much room to move.

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  46. slimslowslider says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    But Just Me did suggest that and that is what I was asking about.

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  47. Matt Bernius says:

    @slimslowslider:
    Understood. The nature of comment threads is that discussions evolve across responses.

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  48. Just Me says:

    Every time somebody criticizes Ibama thei reals start chanting that the objections are because the person is racist. Obama never actually says “knock it of but either remains silent or he and his minions join in the cries of racism depending on the various politics involved.

    There have been interviews with comedians as to why they don’t hammer Obama as they did previous presidents-the answer is usually that they don’t gve him material but Obama has made more than enough gaffes to put the lie to this excuse. The real reason is they know some offended liberal wi scream “racist!” And they don’t want to deal with the fall out from the attacks.

    I generally see the rodeo clown story as one poking fun of the president-not his race. It was a realistic likeness of the president and was intended to create laughs (now one can argue that it failed) but I don’t see his rising to the level of banning somebody for life or requiring the organization he works for to put every clown through racial sensitivity training.

    And I am willing to bet many a comedian who uses political satire/commentary in his a t has appeared at a state fair so I am not particularly convinced that this incident is the only one ever that involved somebody making fun of a politician or sitting president.

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  49. slimslowslider says:

    @Just Me:

    So… Obama didn’t cry racism on the subject of this post?

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  50. al-Ameda says:

    @Just Me:

    Every time somebody criticizes Ibama thei reals start chanting that the objections are because the person is racist. Obama never actually says “knock it of but either remains silent or he and his minions join in the cries of racism depending on the various politics involved.

    You’re a little light on specifics.

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  51. Just Me says:

    @slimslowslider:

    No but his surrogates have-the MO chapter of the NAACP certainly has-and these cries happen regularly.

    Shoot one only needs to read threads here critical of Obama and the comments start on how anyone critical is a closet racist (and I mean the commenters not the original articles).

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  52. Matt Bernius says:

    @Just Me:

    Shoot one only needs to read threads here critical of Obama and the comments start on how anyone critical is a closet racist (and I mean the commenters not the original articles).

    Comments like this tell us far more about your reading and reasoning skills than anything that actually happens in reality.

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  53. slimslowslider says:

    @Just Me:

    LOL, keep them goalposts moving.

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  54. al-Ameda says:

    @Just Me:

    Shoot one only needs to read threads here critical of Obama and the comments start on how anyone critical is a closet racist (and I mean the commenters not the original articles).

    Feel free to name names.

    It is certainly not the fault of liberals that many of those who level criticism of Obama seem to be unable to differentiate between simple statements of policy disagreement and those with racial undertones.

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  55. Just Me says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    Or perhaps your own-it is often easy to miss the generalizations when one isn’t the object of them.

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  56. Matt Bernius says:

    @Just Me:
    You point would be 100% more convincing with less hyperbole and more evidence.

    The fact is that there have been countless policy debates here where conservatives have successfully attacked Obama’s policies without being called racist.

    Yes, there have been some where the accusations of racism have been brought up. And there are some commenters here who throw the term around at the drop of the hat. And I and others have called them out on it at times.

    But on the whole, the entire “anyone who criticizes Obama is called a racist” is the weakest of arguments. If it was true, then you should have no problems proving it (remember rules of debate: the one who posits a position has to prove it). Just head up to the “search” box in the upper left hand corner of the header or use google.

    Bring evidence or give up on that ridiculous right wing victim speech. It’s old, it’s tired. And, no matter how many time you repeat it, it just isn’t true.

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  57. JKB says:

    @Matt Bernius: It WASN’T JUST MISSOURI DEMS!

    True but it was initially mostly Dems (that news report is from the following day) and why would the Republican Lt Gov be concerned about making Obama look week?

    @Matt Bernius: The issue here is the fact that because this is a State Fair, there is the possibility that the current government of the state of Missouri could be seen as endorsing that political commentary. They chose not to be associated with it and took action that is well within their legal rights.

    You seem very confused about how government works in the United States. “the current government of the state of Missouri” has no standing. The elected representatives of the people of Missouri could have commented and distanced the state from the actions of a contractor at an event funded by tax dollars from the people of Missouri purportedly to promote the state’s agricultural sector and not for political purposes or to represent the “the current government of the state of Missouri”. Oh and government doesn’t have rights. People have rights. Government has authority which was suppose to be severely circumscribed but apparently they polluted the electorate with people who believe government has rights and no limits on their authority.

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  58. rudderpedals says:

    There’s something about state fairs. The governing body is typically partisian (Missouri’s is partisian with nominations to the comm’n being by governor’s appointment with approval by the senate, pretty open compared to Florida’s which lets former Congressman Adam Putnam (R) appoint everyone to the authority). With Republican control it’s a stretch to blame the NAACP for its actions.

    Googling ted nugent state fair rewarded the suspicion that there’s something about the “institution” that draws partisian performers. Nugent’s goes back at least to before 2007 and he keeps getting invites to state fairs (*)

    (*) What’s up with that??

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  59. bill says:

    @slimslowslider: well, he’s on vacation so i wouldn’t expect him to weigh in on it. maybe when he get’s back he’ll say something akin to “if i had a rodeo clown son…..”

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  60. JKB says:

    @Matt Bernius: Further, PLEASE PEOPLE go and actually read some First Amendment law before shooting off at the mouth that this ban from a single venue represents a violation of the First Amendment. IT DOESN’T.

    I believe it is you who need to read up on some First Amendment law. Here, I’ll help you find a resource.

    Now, I will grant, the Fair could have issued content-neutral subject restrictions upon its contractors in the interest of keeping the fair politically neutral. However, there has been no evidence that the skit violated the contract terms. Also, there has been no evidence presented that the Fair had been diligent in stopping performers and contractors from using politically-“sensitive” material in the present or past.

    But your assertion that the Fair as a state entity can retaliate against employees and contractors who might embarrass the current political administration is wrong. Public employees (and contractors) still have their First Amendment rights within certain limits. This skit hardly could be said to have threatened the efficiency of the Fair or other state operation.

    It remains to be seen whether the individual banned from the fair considers the loss of employment and income significant enough to seek redress for the State’s retaliation for his disfavored political speech.

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  61. An Interested Party says:

    No but his surrogates have-the MO chapter of the NAACP certainly has-and these cries happen regularly.

    Who knew that members of the Missouri chapter of the NAACP were personally working for the President…and of course since they were doing this it absolutely has to reflect on him…

    Oh and government doesn’t have rights. People have rights.

    Well surely corporations don’t have rights either…after all, they aren’t people…

    maybe when he get’s back he’ll say something akin to “if i had a rodeo clown son…..”

    Maybe that son wouldn’t have to be worried about being shot to death by a cop-wannabe…

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  62. JKB says:

    @An Interested Party: Well surely corporations don’t have rights either…after all, they aren’t people…

    You really don’t understand this “government” vs. the People idea, do you?

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  63. al-Ameda says:

    For the record, the First Amendment:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

    Seems to me that Conservatives are free to depict the president in a racially demeaning rodeo-mistrel show manner.

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  64. An Interested Party says:

    You really don’t understand this “government” vs. the People idea, do you?

    And you don’t understand that any organization is simply made up of people, so the notion that the government is against the people is silly, rather, it is certain groups of people against certain other groups…

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