Free Speech, Cantaloupes and Rodeo Clowns


So have you heard the story about the rodeo clown in Missouri that put on an Obama mask and encouraged a bull to chase him? The crowd went happily bonkers, with some enjoying the merriment and others saying that it sounded like a Klan rally. The story was picked up by the national news, and the Missouri Rodeo Association president was forced to resign. In another development that made me giggle a little, Missouri’s rodeo clowns were ordered to undergo “sensitivity training.”

Having an African-American president has uncovered some incredibly ugly racist streaks in our country. Whether some Americans have contempt for the president because he’s African-American or whether they’ve decided that he’s secretly of Arab descent, a president with brown skin is a person of suspicion. This lovely example comes from the co-founder of the Montana Shrugged Tea Party group.

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I found the rodeo clown offensive, although I recently laughed uproariously at a politician that I think is a racist douchebag, Congressman Steve King (R-Ia.). You know this guy—the one who described Mexican immigrants as having “calves as big as cantaloupes” and compared them to dogs. Or another racist douchebag, Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-Tx.), who claims that pregnant Al Qaeda women disguised as Mexicans are coming across the Rio Grande and having their babies in the U.S. so that they can be raised to be terrorists. ‘Cause brown people look all the same, don’t they?

(Here’s a link to Colbert mocking Steve King. I couldn’t get the video to embed. It’s probably a vast right-wing conspiracy. I’m kidding! Kidding!).

It seems unfair that I’m allowed to laugh at King and Gohmert while Missourians aren’t allowed to laugh at Obama. I think it’s okay to laugh at people’s ideas if you think their ideas are stupid, and had the clown been masked as George W. Bush a few years ago, I might have cheered.

The Montana Tea Party lady’s Facebook post was obviously racist. The rodeo clown, I think, could go either way. My only beef with it (no pun intended…bull, beef, get it? I’m here all night, folks. Tip your waitresses.) is that taxpayers paid for the Missouri State Fair. Maybe a state-sponsored venue wasn’t the place.

On this occasion, I think liberals should lighten up about the clown. There’s a difference between intentional racism and poor judgment. Paging Paula Deen?

So what do you think? Should we be outraged about the clown, or should we lighten up? Where do free speech and hate speech intersect when we talk about topics like religion and politics? Please leave your comment.

5 thoughts on “Free Speech, Cantaloupes and Rodeo Clowns

  1. Hi Eddie, it seems sad to punish the performer if his higher-ups approved the performance. I think the guy has been permanently banned from the Missouri state fair. And in other news, I can’t believe I’m defending a clown…

  2. Bashing the president is fair game in many outlets – where would the opening monologues of late night television be without it? I completely agree with you in that a state-sanctioned, state-funded fair is not an acceptable place .

    The part of this situation that troubles me the most is the interview with a Missourian who said that the level of the crowd’s enthusiasm was actually fearful. The Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association will have to ensure that all officials and clowns complete sensitivity training?? How about those (of Missouri’s 84% white population) who cheered the loudest?

    • President Obama does bring out the crazies, whether they are afraid of his race, his “secret Muslim agenda” or his socialism. BTW, ask many of the people that call the president a socialist what socialism is. I wager that many couldn’t provide a coherent definition.

      I would have to do some research, but I wonder whether a large proportion of America’s uninsured live in the south–which by the way has higher rates of chronic illnesses, like diabetes, aka “preexisting conditions.” If that’s so, then many of the people that hate Obamacare the most are those who need it most.

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