There was a national controversy created recently when a rodeo clown, Tuffy Gessling, put together an act involving a President Barack Obama mask at the Missouri State Fair. The announcer reportedly called out “This bull’s going to get’cha, Obama! He’s gonna get’cha!” The reaction was fierce. Gessling was given a lifetime ban and the announcer, Mark Ficken, resigned. All clowns will now have to go through a “sensitivity training” course after the incident. However, The President of the Missouri Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Mary Radliff is calling for the prosecution of the key players for a hate crime. Radliff’s statements shows how broad this controversial crime has become and how it can now threaten free speech principles.
The criticism of this act is certainly understandable. It was stupid and disrespectful. However, some have questioned the need for the lifetime ban as opposed to an apology or being dismissed from this rodeo. I have seen presidents mocked and portrayed at many fairs and rodeos. I saw one fair where clowns chased around a guy in a Reagan mask during his presidency. I recall various events with people in Clinton masks. Presidents are public figures and people love to make fun of those in high places. I am not dismissing the fact that some have a deep hatred or racist view of the President. Clearly, many in the audience were hostile to Obama and loved the notion of his being chased by a bull. I am not sure what the sensitivity training will convey. Is it a lesson not to use presidents or politicians as clown-like characters. That has been done in circuses since ancient Rome. Is it not to use African-American celebrities?
We can disagree on what is the appropriate level of punishment. (I do feel that the display had an overtly political and disrespectful character that should be the subject of discipline). However, calling this a hate crime reaffirms the long-criticism of this criminal provision as a threat to free speech. As noted in a prior columns, free speech appears to be dying in the West with the increasing criminalization of speech under discrimination, hate, and blasphemy laws. To understand this threat to free speech, you need only read the interview with Ms. Radliff: “I think that a hate crime occurred,” Ratliff told KXNT Radio in Las Vegas Thursday. ”I think a hate crime occurs when you use a person’s race to depict who they are and to make degrading comments, gestures, et cetera, against them.”
So that is the crime now? Making degrading comments or gestures about a person’s race? That would criminalize a huge array of speech in the United States. In this case, Radliff objects to an act of being “disrespectful to our president, whether he be black, white, Hispanic, Latina.” She has called for the Justice Department and Secret Service to go after the rodeo clowns for their “discriminatory practices against our sitting African-American president.”
I fail to see the need to round up our rodeo clowns or criminalize parody. I do not like the use of actual people — whether presidents or not — in such acts because I feel it is mean-spirited and disrespectful. However it is not a crime. Moronic, yes but criminal, no. They are rodeo clowns which are by definition rather moronic.
What do you think? Should this be a crime? Do you believe a lifetime ban is appropriate for this type of display?
152 thoughts on “Round Up The Rodeo Clowns: NAACP Official Calls For Rodeo Employees To Be Prosecuted For Hate Crime”
the Swiss incident is funny. Sales people need to learn to treat everyone the same. You should be kind to everyone if you are in sales. In the end you win.
It wouldnt have hurt that purse to show it to Oprah even if she couldnt afford it.
Okay. I shouldn’t expect you to take on the entire population. How about you take on just one. How about Oky? He admires you and he says he’s an Einstein. See if you can make him suitable for company.
Like they used to say back on the farm, “Pi are square if they’re a cobbler.”
Thanks Gene. Except for that little problem with Geometry, of course! 🙂
Well of course I wasn’t talking about you, raff. Everyone takes your perfection as a given.
What seamus said!
I have already reached the perfection stage… just ask me! 🙂
Much that in pursued in the law, but especially in the law as formulated by the Founders, is aspirational. Law will never be perfect. Justice will never be perfect. Politics will never be perfect. That should not stop the pursuit of the aspiration to perfection.
Some say cranky, some say cynically charming. However . . .
You’d propose what, Ozzie? That I be somehow responsible for their entire education? I do believe in helping my fellow beings, but I also believe in them helping themselves. I can neither learn a lesson for nor apply that lesson for them. I do, however, seem to have a higher degree of optimism than you that my fellow beings can be taught to tell shit from shinola. Empiricism and the weighting of evidence are skill that can be taught. Like logic, they enhance the mind’s natural ability to interrogate the nature of reality. Do I expect that all can learn them and to equal degrees of mastery? No. While I operate under the principle that all men are created equal, I do not endorse the delusion that all men are equally created.
To paraphrase Lao-tzu, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” and I am but a doorman.
It’s better than doing nothing, or worse, accelerating the change from reasoning beings into unquestioning sheep.
I did enjoy the piece. Thanks.
You’ve GOT to read this. You’re often cranky, but I promise, you will absolutely LOVE this piece. In fact, I’d almost suspect that you wrote it yourself.
Assange: Rand Paul Libertarians “Only Hope” For Future of America
Wikileaks founder also praises Matt Drudge for ‘breaking media censorship’
**Squeeky Fromm, Girl Reporter 1, August 16, 2013 at 3:29 pm **
It was cute enough Squeeky. 🙂
If the birthers had a case they should have made it about 6 years ago as I think it’s a dead issue at this point.
Now since most all of the Demo/Repub parties have both destroyed their brand who do we have left to choose from? Gene H & Swm haven’t given me a viable alternative.
On most issues no one has defeated Alex Jones/Infowars on the merits of their positions.
The John Birchers have mostly been proven correct on the issues I know of. IE: Obamacare/ anti 2nd is Commie/Nazi crap, etc…
Many citizens are unable to name the three branches of government (let alone to have ANY idea of what we may be talking about in referring to a credible fourth estate). But you’re going to give them the Propaganda series as a framework. Well, yeah. That ought to work.
As much as I wish I could, there is nothing I can do to speed up our evolution.
What did I change my mind about?
Bron, The fact that there is MUCH racism, and MANY who hate Obama because he is black, is what makes me frustrated w/ stuff that IMO is not racist. Let’s look @ the Oprah, purse horseshit. I was not there. However, based merely on what Oprah said about the incident my take was Oprah was pissed the woman didn’t recognize her, and know she could “buy the store” if she wanted. In Chicago, more than anywhere else, you got folks who blatantly say, “Don’t you know who I am.” In one week we have the clown, banana, and Oprah incidents. August is the slowest news month!
“Regardless, political free speech – even when you don’t like it, especially when you don’t like it – is meant to be protected.”~ Gene H.
yup, meant to be, but that is the ideal, not the reality.
I don’t think the hostility towards Obama as a politician, in this instance, can be separated from the racist elements for the simple reason that we are subject to a media informed collective and I believe there ARE racial overtones in the anti-Obama crowd ….just like there are elements of anti-priveledge and nepotism in the anti-Bush crowd, etc. It would be nice if we could separate the wheat from the chaff but we can’t. The clown at a rodeo used to express these elements is a no-win situation, it whips a crowd into a frenzy, exposes wee ones to crap before they understand what they are being inculcated with, because it is an event of entertainment and having lost too many poli-neutral events to a rabid market driven politicizing media monster….it is getting harder and harder to remember my even bigger distaste and discomfort for oppression.
Where are the lines now that people have proven not to have any internalized boundries?
I meant no one cared enough to get rightous about it.
@Gene H: You said: “To paraphrase Freud, “Sometimes a banana is just a banana.” To which I am ROTFLMAO!!! There is hope for you yet!
@oky1: If the highway protesters are the same as the Birther overpass demonstrators, I wrote a poem about that a few weeks ago. Which some people might find funny:
The Overpass Of Broken Dreams
by Squeeky Fromm, Girl Reporter
The Overpass of Broken Dreams-
The haunted landscape fairly teems
With ghostly remnants, silent now
Among the kudzu, and the bough.
The Day of Sadness started fine,
With Birthers waiting, full of sign.
Yellow flags with snakes a’coiling
Waved in summer sun a’boiling!
“It’s A Forgery!” on cardboard,
Carried by the starred and barred horde.
Large white banners with an “Impeach!”
Raised aloft, in plaintive outreach.
Down below the streaming traffic
Strained to read the message graphic.
Strained, and thusly fell distracted,
Then, the concrete piers impacted.
So, a chain of fatal shaking,
Set the parapets to quaking,
Snapp’ed the threaded iron bars,
And launched the Birthers into cars.
Whilst others fell ‘neath semi-rigs
And livestock trailers full of pigs.
Others struck, as seems most fitting,
While in lawn chairs still were sitting.
By evidential weight compelled,
The Bridge Inspectors’ findings held,
The fault was Birthers’ all alone.
The least of them weighed 20 stone!
The Overpass of Broken Dreams
Lies silent now of Birther screams.
The heavy weight of Birther foot
Made engineering standards moot.
Comments are closed.