Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

Columns

August 22, 2013

Furor over clown, Obama mask

Old joke: two cannibals are eating a clown and one says, “Does this taste funny to you?” In a case of life imitating joke, political partisans squared off in the case of the Obama-mask wearing rodeo clown over whether his act was funny, or in dangerously bad taste. But partisans and most of the media are missing the point of what happened.

The issue was a professional rodeo clown’s act with a political riff at the Missouri State Fair. He earned applause from many in the crowd — and a lifetime ban from working at the fair. During the rodeo’s entertainment portion he appeared in a Barack Obama mask with a broom attached to his butt. Then another clown reportedly got up and played with the Obama mask’s lips and the audience was asked if they wanted to see “Obama run over by a bull” — and many loved it.

But not all. There were complaints, including from one spectator who said the anti-Obama yells made it feel like a “Klan rally.” The bit was condemned by various Missouri Democratic and Republican bigwigs, and the fair issued a statement calling the clown’s act an “unconscionable stunt” that was “inappropriate and not in keeping with the Fair’s standards.”

End of story? Nope. Rush Limbaugh supported the clown, and Republicans declared it a free speech issue. Democrats called it outrageous, disrespectful and encouraging violence. Judy Quest, past president of the Clowns International of America, wrote a CNN piece saying a real clown would not mock Obama that way and that there is a “clown community.” She was then dissed by some GOPers, but there is a clown community: they go to clown conventions, have written professional standards — and most avoid politics while performing.

Republicans demanded Obama show he supports free speech by supporting the rodeo clown. Obama had nothing to say, but White House Josh Earnest said it was “not one of the finest moments” of his home state.

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The Iowegian wants readers to think about the solicitation ordinance that will prevent groups or individuals from entering a roadway to solicit money. The Centerville City Council in June by a 5-0 vote passed the first reading of just such an ordinance. Public pressure and during a subsequent special meeting, the council voted 3-2 to table the ordinance. A second special meeting to discuss the solicitation ordinance is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 7 at City Hall. So, the question of the week is, "Do you or do you not support the ordinance to prevent solicitation of funds in city streets?"

A. I support the ordinance
B. I do not support the ordinance
C. Not sure
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