And Now, Rodeo Clowns Inspire Some Nuanced Parsing

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106 Responses

  1. Careless says:

    There were two things my wife found shocking when she moved here from Indonesia:
    1) things like "That's my Bush" were legal
    2) people pulled over to let public safety vehicles by

  2. ZarroTsu says:

    But what was the bull dressed up as?

  3. Lizard says:

    we should stop supporting entertainment events with public funds.

    This would be bad… why?

  4. tsrblke says:

    Eh,
    I think #6 is accurate to the point that we don't start generalizing to "all people who dislike the current president have at least some cultural or racial reason why."

    But that sorta calls into question #8.

    Living in MO, it's a state that went pretty solidly Red presidentially speaking last cycle. And the state fair is held in Sedalia, some of the reddest, red part of the state.
    Such crowd rabbling could merely be playing upon the political angle and while I suppose you could lump that into "cultural" it seems a bit wrong to do that.
    I'd suspect that if you went into the bluest part of California to a large event, donned a Bush mask and started doing physical comedy you'd get a pretty big reaction out of it as well. What does that mean? It means politics are fertile ground for cheap laughs and that when going for a cheap laugh you need to play to your audience's proclivities.

  5. lelnet says:

    Item #4 contains a great deal of superfluous verbiage. I would delete everything between "at" and "then", replacing it with a single period. Thus:

    4. It is contemptible to suggest that there is something wrong with ridiculing the President. We should stop supporting entertainment events with public funds.

    (I'll admit, the two points would no longer appear to be related to each other. But they both remain 100% true, and are improved by the lack of unnecessary qualifiers. The qualifiers serve only to undermine them, implying that they are true only in limited circumstances, when in fact they are universally true in all circumstances.)

  6. Xenocles says:

    @tsrblke-

    Yes, but that's where the nuance comes in. If the announcer was trying to say "Let's express our frustration with this president's policy and/or attitude" there's certainly little wrong with that aside from the aesthetics of cheering for a bull to run someone over. If, on the other hand, he was going for something more like "Here's hoping that uppity nigger gets what he has coming," we should be able to agree that's something else, something much worse. I don't think we have enough evidence to judge the participants in this incident and as such charity demands we treat it like your garden-variety contempt of a politician, which is laudable in most respects.

  7. Chris says:

    Rodeo clowns don't need to confront shades of gray.

    That depends on the color of the bull, doesn't it?

  8. luagha says:

    Considering Laura Bush's joking about President Bush milking a cow, I think a rodeo clown being run down by a bull is right proper in levels of comedy although Michelle Obama should be doing the joking.

    (The problem with public funds is that too much event space is 'publically owned' and denying groups the use of such publically controlled and relatively inexpensive spaces makes it impossible for them to gather. See all the Boy Scouts litigation.)

  9. Andrew S. says:

    Lese Majeste may not technically be against the law here, but it seems a lot of people think it is.

  10. Ryan says:

    #3 doesn't seem like it belongs in the list. It seems perfectly reasonable for people to complain that mocking the President is disrespectful, just as it is perfectly reasonable for people to support mocking the President. Both positions are consistent with free speech principles (as long as neither position calls for legal sanctions to prevent the other from speaking).

  11. Some people value defense attorneys because they wish to unleash a nightmarish hellscape on earth, where criminals roam the streets freely, raping old ladies and bathing in the blood of innocent puppies. Note, I said "some people."

  12. tsrblke says:

    @Xenocles,

    Given that people are calling this equivalent to a "KKK effigy burning." I don't think there are many people willing to give it a charitable interpretation.

    I wasn't in Sedalia this weekend, I haven't been to the state fair in years, it's a bit of a drive. Having said that, my familiarity with this state suggests to me, that it is pretty angsty over the agenda more so than race, but maybe that's my own bias.

  13. Anonymous Lurker says:

    5 and 6 applied to white presidents, as well. This is only being cast as a racial issue because there are those who think the current president deserves special treatment because of the color of his skin. I do not. I think all presidents routinely should be mocked.

  14. Anonymous Lurker says:

    I also think that this is just another stupid distraction from the real issues, one of which you linked to in your post.

  15. Xenocles says:

    @ Not Claude-

    Are you trying to provoke Ken over his grouping the racist Obama opponents together with the non-racist Obama opponents into a common category called "Obama opponents?" I guess the structure of that sentence gives my thoughts away.

    @tsrblke-

    I agree that there are few charitable people on the internet, certainly among the outspoken members of it. But charity is a good principle for those who want to discuss ideas rather than people, so I try to adhere to it.

  16. tsrblke says:

    @Xenocles

    Sadly the "KKK effigy" comment was not made randomly on the internet.
    It was a state legislator…..

  17. mud man says:

    @Lizard

    Out here in the Sticks, County Fairs are an important community-building event, appealing to rich and poor, well considered as a proper function of Government. I understand that in the Big City community is considered unethical or unlawful, but that's kind of one reason why we're out here.

  18. Xenocles says:

    … which brings us full circle to the "contempt of politicians" idea.

  19. @Xeno,

    Yes, more or less. And race is also a conversation stopper, because no one of good will wants to be, or be painted as, a racist. And so just raising the specter of racism serves to chill debate.

    As a high-minded internet tough guy, sure, I endorse the theory of free speech. But once it looks like I might be grouping myself in with racist clowns*, I can suddenly see how this whole thing is in poor taste, and to be discouraged by all good people.

    (Or killer klowns, or the Insane Clown Posse…)

  20. Renee Marie Jones says:

    I will wholeheartedly agree, provided you are absolutely serious about the italicised text in your first rule.

  21. Matthew Cline says:

    3. It is — to borrow Teddy Roosevelt's phrase — unpatriotic, servile, and morally treasonous to complain that ridiculing and mocking the President at an event like a rodeo is "disrespectful."

    Wait, isn't being disrespectful the part of the point of ridiculing and mocking someone?

  22. Caleb says:

    I think the list could use some objective rules of recognition for #'s 6-9 for determining whether racial animosity was meant or communicated during the event in question. Too often people have ulterior motives for seeing (or not seeing) all relevant factors which may play into the conclusion.

    For example, if you were a person from #3 who dislikes mocking of the president on any grounds, you have a fairly strong incentive to argue that there was racial animosity in the mocking so as to increase the numbers of people who find the entire event distasteful.

  23. Burnside says:

    I agree quite heavily with tsrblke. Living in the 2nd most blue state in the nation, I know that any joke ridiculing Bush, Romney, Palin, Limbaugh, etc will get huge cheers. You play to your audience. I'm quite sure that the rodeo announcer wasn't thinking, "I'll play to the racists in the crowd." He was thinking, "massive red state. Oh yeah."

    Were "some people" laughing because they're racists? Probably. But that'll happen at any public event. Anywhere. Ever. About any topic.

  24. Xenocles says:

    @Matthew Cline-

    Yes, but the problem is not the disrespect but the complaints about it. There are comparatively very few people who owe the president any respect (I'm one of them). The rest of you owe him nothing – any obedience you might owe is to the law, not to the man – and even this is conditional.

  25. JT says:

    I found it curious that so many media sources were reflexively calling this event racist. Unless there's some bull-chasing-a-black-man stereotype I'm not aware of, or some other things going on that didn't make it to the sound bites.

  26. Zack says:

    @Burnside: The corollary to the idea that "some people" were laughing because they're racists is that "some people" were laughing because they find Obama despicable as a person, as much as they would and could hate Hillary, Bill, Carney, Holder, Biden, or Reid; as much as "some people" would laugh if it was a Bush mask because they hate Bush as much as they would and could hate Rice, Powell, Rove, Cheney, and Palin.

  27. orvis barfley says:

    some good popehatting here.

  28. Ken in NH says:

    Point #6 would be have more impact if it were applied equally. I do not remember people hand-wringing and making analogies to past racial wrongs when Bush was in the White House and there was much talk about "old white guys" being in charge or people of color in his cabinet being called race traitors (or worse) in various forms. In other words, on one side a lack of denunciation is sign that they all agree with those racist attitudes while on the other side guilt by association is never appropriate.

  29. Tim McNeil says:

    It's times like this that I see the value of maintaining a largely superfluous monarchy. Brits can demand all kinds of respect for their Queen and yet make fun of Cameron all they want, or so it seems.

  30. Kinsey says:

    Ok, I don't normally get involved in other people's twitter spats but holy shit snacks, as my idol would say. Someone said Chris Loesch used the n-word at CPAC. Dana says she's prepared to sue for defamation/libel if they don't retract it (not opining as to whether that's wise or not.)

    Some dumbass pops in with "Sorry. There's no defamation on Twitter. You're the one who married a racist so live with it."

    I can't stand that kind of stupidity and when confronted with it, I'm immediately back in the backseat of my mom's car with my sister putting her feet on me and my mom telling me to ignore it and I CAN'T IGNORE IT.

    So I didn't. Now I feel all dirty and not in a good way.

  31. perlhaqr says:

    See, and here I figured #7 would be people getting their panties all a-ruffle because you said "some" instead of "all".

    JT: That was sorta my thought. I mean, maybe if we had a Spanish president, it would be… something cultural (although the Spaniards seem pretty ok with the whole Pamplona thing) but for me, that point seems fairly contrived.

  32. En Passant says:

    10. Rodeo clowns don't need to confront shades of gray. Grown-ups do.

    All fifty of them?

  33. S. Weasel says:

    I'm relieved to note that both Hillary and Palin have been publicly savaged in vividly personal ways, and I don't recall anyone crying misogyny. So, that's progress, right?

  34. Being a poloitical parody of a President myself, I am always in favor of mocking ALL Presidents, sitting, former, alive or deceased. The ultimate in free speech.

  35. wgering says:

    @En Passant: That's an entirely different sort of rodeo.

  36. Allen says:

    As an aside you can pretty much get a cheer from the crowd at a rodeo for the bull to run over anyone.

    Case in point: the ring of fire. In this event you have a large hula hoop (10' dia.) that is placed on the ground. Several angry steer are released into the arena. The last person left standing inside their ring wins the purse.

    I would bet half the people who show up in Spain for the running of the bulls are there to see the bulls win.

  37. sorrykb says:

    Not Claude Akins wrote:

    Yes, more or less. And race is also a conversation stopper, because no one of good will wants to be, or be painted as, a racist. And so just raising the specter of racism serves to chill debate.

    So… we should stifle speech about racism… because otherwise it might stifle speech?

    Racism is real, and not just as part of our nation's history but as a continued problem today. And it's definitely been a factor in some of the ridiculous criticisms of President Obama (birthers, anyone?) and sadly in the more justifiable criticisms (both because racism is abhorrent and because it detracts from legitimate arguments).

    Weighing on this discussion is the fact (yes, I think this statement is supported by evidence) that overt racism has generally been more socially-tolerated in certain parts of the country. I say this as someone who was born in the South (hello, Kennesaw) and a cousin (goodbye, Stone Mountain) in the Klan. Or at least he was last time I saw him over a decade ago – I've no interest in following up with him.
    There have been improvements, sure, but some places change more slowly than others.

    So, all that said…
    I agree Presidents and others in power should be subject to ridicule, and attempts to ban such ridicule should themselves be met with ridicule (as well as strong opposition). But I have no problem with social consequences — Criticizing "extremely creepy and not fun-time-rodeo-clownish" behavior, and suggesting that perhaps it may be motivated by prejudice, is not infringing on anyone's freedom.

  38. tim says:

    Looks like the clown in question has been banned from performing in that facility ever again.

  39. Roscoe says:

    Tim, you are right. This from the AP:

    "The Missouri State Fair on Monday imposed a lifetime ban on a rodeo clown whose depiction of President Barack Obama getting charged by a bull was widely criticized by Democratic and Republican officials alike."

    A lifetime ban. Apparently no redemption for this guy short of the grave.

  40. Rob says:

    S. Weasel • Aug 12, 2013 @2:55 pm

    I'm relieved to note that both Hillary and Palin have been publicly savaged in vividly personal ways, and I don't recall anyone crying misogyny. So, that's progress, right?

    That will last right up until Hillary becomes a presidential nominee (if she ever does). If that happens, you can bet that just about any criticism of her will be called misogyny. Team politics pretty much guarantees it.

  41. jdgalt says:

    I would like to see some evidence of #6, because it's certainly the kind of assertion that crazies like the staff of MSNBC would pull out of where the sun don't shine.

  42. BruceJ says:

    Note that suggesting, in a pretty rankly racist fashion, that the president be run down by a bull is provoking some people to complain, as is entirely their first amendment right to do.

    Also people suggesting that they were ashamed of being from the same state as the former president got them death threats.

    Yup, equal, smequal, both sides do it amirite?

  43. Xenocles says:

    @BruceJ-

    You must be new here.

  44. barry says:

    Just when I think I finally got the difference between satire and parody (Ken blogs about people not knowing what satire is, and Charles Carreon blogs about people not knowing what parody is), along come the confusing rodeo clowns.

    This story reminded me of Bassem Youssef, (the Egyptian TV comic, not the FBI agent) who was arrested for making fun of president Morsi and most famous for wearing giant Morsi hats. There is great power in hats, and that aspect of his crime should not be downplayed.

    From the photo on the npr site, the suspect clown was wearing a white cowboy hat which is confusing on several levels. I can't recall a photo of Obama in any kind of hat, and I'm sure I've seen that exact same hat on president Bush (both of them). Maybe he had a saxophone in his prop room too. In any case, the 'being charged by a bull' part which upset politicians from both parties, is essential to any rodeo clown act, otherwise it's just a guy standing in a ring waving his arms. I'm not a big rodeo-goer, but that don't quite sound enough.

    Youssef had his heart surgery day job to go back to while his TV show is in 'hiatus'. I don't think he got a lifetime ban from anything. The rodeo clown was not arrested (point 2), but would that have been worse than a lifetime ban and being deprived of part of a clownish livlihood from that rodeo?

    Once you make free speech subject to good or bad taste, the whole concept is sunk.

  45. Wick Deer says:

    @jdgalt. Really?

    1. Birthers.

    2. Agenda 21 conspiracy nuts

    3. Those who claim Obama is a Muslim.

    4. The hecklers in Arizona who were yelling "Bye bye black sheep"

    I could go on

  46. Roscoe says:

    BruceJ – What is "rankly racist" about joking about someone getting run down by a bull? I mean, I am aware that Spanish people have a long history of getting run down by bulls, so if the president were of Spanish descent I could kinda see it (but only if you were ridiculously sensitive). But I am not aware that blacks are run down by bulls any more than other ethnic groups (and, as noted above, a lot less than some). So I am not seeing any connection between getting run down by a bull and the president's race.

    Unless of course you mean that any mockery of the president at all is racist. Then I guess I get it.

  47. SKT says:

    @ Roscoe

    Maybe the Popehat signal needs to be enabled.

    Won't somebody please think of his children?! Or their ponies?

  48. SKT says:

    @ BruceJ

    First Amendment??

    How many other time-travelers like you are out there? Do you guys look like lizards? Ponies? Ivan Trump?

  49. Roscoe says:

    First they came for the rodeo cowboys. But I was not a rodeo cowboy, so I did nothing.

  50. En Passant says:

    Roscoe wrote Aug 12, 2013 @4:08 pm:

    A lifetime ban. Apparently no redemption for this guy short of the grave.

    It's just lifetime registration for sects offenders, the offended sects in question being Republicans and Democrats.

  51. Tarrou says:

    The shrieks of racism will never die down until we collectively refuse to give them any sort of credence. At this point, I'm not even sure active, demonstrative racism is more destructive than the constant injection of racial victimhood into every single discussion.

    A multi-billionaire feels snubbed in a stupidly expensive Swiss shop? Racism.

    The most powerful man in the world is mocked by a rodeo clown? Racism.

    Give me a fucking break. The very fact that anyone bothered to argue over this, rather than just laughing in the faces of the faux outrage and race baiting (not you Ken), is a sign of how far we have to go. The next time you hear "racism", just laugh, point, and leave. Those who call "racism" aren't worthy of engagement.

  52. twency says:

    Ass Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit) pointed out "it's worth remembering this": The Assassination of George W. Bush: A Love Story".

  53. twency says:

    Err, correct quote above is "it’s worth remembering stuff like this".

  54. Lish says:

    A-freaking-men. The first thing I thought when I heard about the "outcry" was, "So we're not allowed to criticize the president now? This sounds incredibly un-democratic…"

  55. twency says:

    Also I inadvertently called Glenn Reynolds an as, I now see. I utterly suck at proofreading. I hereby declare defeat for the night and am running away in shame.

  56. Dsu says:

    11. It is really stupid to wear a mask that cuts off your peripheral vision if you are a rodeo clown.

    The funny thing about this is that Ken seems to be upset by folks expressing an opinion. Since they have the right it is fairly dumb to upset about it.

  57. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    •That the comparison to a KKK effigy burning was made by a State Legislator says more about the level of intelligence found among State Legislators than anything else.

    • The Democratic Party will continue to holler "racist" as long as it keeps people from actually discussing the history of racism in this country, with special attention to the part played by the Democrats (backbone of the Confederacy, backbone of the Copperheads, backbone of the KKK).

    • A politician who is not prepared to ignore being mocked by his political opponents, their constituents, and random passersby needs to retreat to academic, or some similar artificial environment.

    • I don't care if Obama can walk on water, and heal the lame and the blind, He wanted the job, he got the job, and being criticized (even wildly unfairly), and lampooned comes with the job.

  58. Demosthenes says:

    With respect to this, Ken:

    "It is — to borrow Teddy Roosevelt's phrase — unpatriotic, servile, and morally treasonous to complain that ridiculing and mocking the President at an event like a rodeo is 'disrespectful.'"

    You may want to take your own advice:

    "Rodeo clowns don't need to confront shades of gray. Grown-ups do."

    I mean, I'm not an Obama fan — and in any case, anybody ought to be free to complain about any President they like. But your little black-and-white outburst here is — well, I was going to say unworthy of you, but sadly it's becoming a lot more typical in your recent posts.

  59. Justin says:

    I don't count myself among the outrages hordes, but as far as whether there was any indication of a racial angle here–the attention that one of the other clowns was supposedly giving to the lips on the mask gives me a bit of a pause.

  60. Dsu says:

    Also. the "Obama bull" statement has been pretty well debunk by the announcer. It was a warning to to the clown.

  61. James Pollock says:

    I think I disagree with #3:
    "It is — to borrow Teddy Roosevelt's phrase — unpatriotic, servile, and morally treasonous to complain that ridiculing and mocking the President at an event like a rodeo is "disrespectful.""
    I would say that it is accurate to describe ridiculing and mocking the President as "disrespectful", and speaking the truth is neither unpatriotic nor servile.
    Of course, the correct answer to a complaint that something is disrespectful is "…and?"

  62. James Pollock says:

    "The Democratic Party will continue to holler "racist" as long as it keeps people from actually discussing the history of racism in this country, with special attention to the part played by the Democrats (backbone of the Confederacy, backbone of the Copperheads, backbone of the KKK)."

    The Democrats who were the backbone of the confederacy are long dead, and, while there certainly are some Democrats today who were Democrats then, the majority of the Democrats who were racist at the time of the Civil Rights movement are not Democrats now. That's part of why Democrats don't win elections in the South, except sometimes in Florida, which imports Democrats from New York.

    I think the number of people who see racism where there is none are roughly equal to the number who sees none where there is; part of the problem is that they have different answers to the question "what is racism?" Of course, only the ones who agree with me are correct, and the others are wrong.

  63. dsu says:

    James, I would sincerely doubt if anyone who is normal would see racism here. This is a non-issue which appeals to folks who like to bleed publicly.

  64. Pickwick says:

    I'll occasionally watch Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow, and Steve Kornacki on MSNBC because they're intelligent and I find them interesting; they usually bypass the Stupid Media Topic of The Day, for one thing. Their other commentators, yikes. This rodeo shindig was apparently the most important thing that happened in the world recently.

    The racial angle of this particular event isn't obvious to me. But if you're arguing that racism is dead and gone to the point where charges of racism have a greater net negative than racism itself, as one commenter did and another one or two might believe…. Wow. I have nothing to say to you, other than to diagnose you with terminal racial myopia.

    James Pollock, I like your closing sentence there, and might steal it for personal use.

  65. Anony Mouse says:

    @James

    True. Robert "Exalted Cyclops" Byrd died two years ago.

  66. Tarrou says:

    @ Pickwick,

    Diagnose away. I've seen too much of the world to think that racism is some sort of horrifying buggaboo. It's dangerous when combined with violent ideology, but most of the world is far more racist than the West, and most of the West is far more racist than the US. And they mostly manage to avoid genocide and oppression, no matter their stereotypes. British hate Poles, think of them the way "racist" Americans do Mexicans. Germans hate Turks, Turks hate Armenians, Russians hate Georgians and Chechens…..the list is inexhaustible. And Americans are the only ones who torture themselves publicly about it to this extent. Really, there isn't anything better we could be doing than whinging over the PRESIDENT being mocked by a CLOWN? Charges of racism are racism. No one knows the thoughts or motivations of another person, so when you charge a person based on the color of their skin with having a certain thought, you make a racist assumption. Do note that in America today, only whites (preferably rural, southern, and fat [Paula Deen]) get charged with racism in the national freakout. Actual racist oppression may hurt individuals more, and we should stamp it out when we find it, but this national obsession with race, with 12% of the population having carte blanche on moral blackmail and victimhood, is going to be worse in the long run. You can call it myopia, I call it hyperopia.

  67. Wick Deer says:

    @James Pollock. You do realize that the elected official who was present and felt the reaction racist was a Republican? Kind cuts against the blame the Democrats for crying racism argument you are making.

    Also, anyone with an ounce of historical perspective will remember that the Democratic party in the South was violently racist. Anyone with two ounces of historical perspective knows that the Dixiecrats defected to the Republicans after the civil rights laws passed in the 60s. See, Thurmond, Strom. See also Nixon's Southern strategy.

  68. Wick Deer says:

    @James Pollack missed the quotation marks on your first paragraph. My bad.

  69. SarahW says:

    The announcer said only "Watch out for that bull, Obama" and the crowd ate it up.

    This upset people who worship Obama and feel this worship, unshared, is racist.

    Those people are dopes.

  70. ChicagoTom says:

    A multi-billionaire feels snubbed in a stupidly expensive Swiss shop? Racism

    A black woman (who happens to be Oprah) goes into a high end shop in a, asks to see an expensive bag, and the clerk insists to her, repeatedly, even after Oprah insists that she really does want to see it, that the bag is too expensive and out of her price range and wont let her see it.

    But race has NOTHING to do with it.

    This is the problem with the "anyone who cries racism is a race baiter crowd" — you deny reality. If you can't bring yourself to even admit that race is an issue in instances when it plainly is, then everything you say about race is suspect and should probably be ignored.

  71. tsrblke says:

    @ChicagoTom

    The problem of course is we only have Oprah's side of the story. "I feel snubbed because this happened!" Oprah, whose in the process of promoting a movie that involves discrimination I might add.
    Meanwhile I was just reading an article today where the shop owner claims that it was a language barrier, as the clerk only spoke Swiss and was trying to show her the same bag in another fabric.

    So it's entirely possible Oprah felt snubbed for no other reason than she wanted to feel snubbed (or the story is mostly made up to sell a movie.)

  72. Tarrou says:

    @ ChicagoTom,

    If you take Oprah's account of the incident uncritically, there are still a half-dozen other explanations other than racism. To immediately jump to racism as the only possible explanation for the incident is unwarranted even under the most egregious telling of the story. And even stipulating that it was "racism", a multibillionaire being momentarily embarrassed because a low-level retail peon didn't trot to their command is not exactly lynching, is it?

    As to your swallowing of only one account of the incident, allow me to provide you with what you should have found for yourself, were you anything like an honest consumer of news.

    "I would never say something like that to a customer. Really never," the unidentified Italian woman told a Swiss newspaper.
    "I don't know why she is making these accusations. She is so powerful and I am just a shop girl. I don't know why someone as great as her must cannibalise me on TV."

    Read more: http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/celebrity/shop-girl-oprah-winfrey-is-lying-about-racism/story-e6frfmqi-1226695978294#ixzz2brf9SpSv

  73. Wick Deer says:

    @SarahW. The Republican Lieutenant Governor of Missouri is an Obama worshiper? Somehow I doubt it.

  74. Tarrou says:

    If the worst thing racism can produce today is Oprah not being show a $25k handbag, I am certainly willing to pronounce racism over as a damaging force in modern society. Of course, that is not the case, but it is worth saying. There are cases of racism actually harming people, and we should be vigilant for them. But we should not allow stupid bullshit to pollute those real accusations. It's like false rape claims, it lowers the emotional bar to proper reaction.

  75. Peter says:

    Perfectly written.

  76. a_random_guy says:

    I have no problem with social consequences [for racism]

    Absolutely! The thing is, social consequences should be all there is. There should be no criminal or civil liability for thinking, or even saying unpleasant things. Otherwise, we are handing the government the right to censor not only speech, but thoughts.

  77. Rusty says:

    tsrblke said: "So it's entirely possible Oprah felt snubbed for no other reason than she wanted to feel snubbed (******or the story is mostly made up to sell a movie.******)" (emphasis added)

    Bingo! Oprah's sellin' tickets to a movie about veiled racism, what better way to do it than to create a little overt racism we can all shout and wring our hands over. Anyone taken in by this charade is a fool.

  78. Demosthenes says:

    "Also, anyone with an ounce of historical perspective will remember that the Democratic party in the South was violently racist. Anyone with two ounces of historical perspective knows that the Dixiecrats defected to the Republicans after the civil rights laws passed in the 60s."

    Unfortunately for Wick Deer, Sean Trende has a great deal more than two ounces of historical perspective:

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2013/04/30/southern_whites_shift_to_the_gop_predates_the_60s_118172.html

    But thanks for playing our home game.

  79. Erwin says:

    Meh. Presidents should be mocked frequently. The rodeo clown was creepy – and probably motivated or cheered on by racists. Ugly, but also useful.

    Looks like another decade of voting democratic for my relatives. Too many crazy racists in the other parties.

    –Erwin

  80. Rich Rostrom says:

    4. It is contemptible to suggest that there is something wrong with ridiculing the President at an event paid for with public funds. If public funds render an entertainment event the wrong venue for ridiculing public officials, then we should stop supporting entertainment events with public funds.

    Disagree here. There are things the state can do which can have partisan uses, but don't normally have partisan uses. Historically, in the U.S. at least, and in a lot of other countries, that restraint has been implemented effectively.

    The two alternatives are to allow unlimited use of state functions for partisan purposes (which leads straight to one-party rule) or to eliminate any state function which could be used for partisan purposes.

    An anarchist might support the latter. Most of us are not anarchists.

  81. Wick Deer says:

    @Demosthenes. I missed the part where I claimed, or even implied, that the process of change of party affiliation was instantaneous. The split in the Democrats was visible in the 20's and the battle was joined in earnest by the Dixiecrat revolt of 1948. It is worth noting that, despite running as a third party candidate in 1948, Thurmond did not switch parties until the 60s.

  82. whheydt says:

    Point 6 (and following) reminds me of the reaction some people had to FDR. He would be referred to as "that man in the White House".

    One can see certain segments of the public referring–sneeringly–to "that BLACK man in the White House."

    Of course, many of those same people would flatly deny that race has anything at all to do with their attitudes toward the President. Nosirree, Bob. No racism here.

  83. Tam says:

    tsrblke,

    "…the clerk only spoke Swiss…"

    Wait, what?

  84. tsrblke says:

    @Tam,

    French, I'm fairly certain I meant to say French.
    I was thinking Swiss because of nationality. I meant to say French.

    Or possibly German.
    Point is the story was that there was no mutual language (hence the confusion.)

  85. Tam says:

    tsrblke,

    It was just one of those things that disoriented me for a minute, like passing an alligator sunning itself on the roadside in Indiana… :D

  86. Darryl says:

    And now for a completely different take on things: the fair is supported by tax dollars, so should the decision be subject to more scrutiny than would otherwise be allowed?

    "Most of the Missouri State Fair's roughly $4.5 million budget comes from fees charged to attendees and vendors, but it receives about $558,000 from tax revenues, according to the state budget office."

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57598222/missouri-fair-bans-rodeo-clown-wearing-obama-mask/

  87. perlhaqr says:

    "…the clerk only spoke Swiss…"

    Wait, what?

    "CHEESE! CHEESE WITH HOLES!"

  88. Dion starfire says:

    #3 needs a bit of clarification. "to complain that ridiculing and mocking and president is disrespectful" is accurate, if you mean disrespectful to the president.

    If, on the other hand (I hate looking up txt acronyms), you "complain that ridiculing …" is disrespectful to the country, then you're being unpatriotic and servile.

  89. barry says:

    What happened to the rodeo announcer? Did he get a lifetime ban too?
    It reminded me of the 30 Rock episode where Jack jumped on stage and attacked the ventriloquist dummy for offensive comments, and told the ventriloquist to stay out of it.

  90. StephenH says:

    @Dion starfire: I think #3 is fine by either meaning. Why is it less servile and more patriotic to complain about a rodeo clown mocking the President as being disrespectful to the man himself, as opposed to the country? If I have to respect the man who serves as President at all times, do I also have to respect Charles Carreon, the man, at all times? Or is this strictly a lese majeste kind of thing?

  91. SIV says:

    7. Some people are going to act like a huge pain in the ass because I wrote #6, even though I said "some." These are people who will refer to any discussion of race as "race baiting."

    Nice race-baiting Ken.

  92. dsu says:

    * What happened to the rodeo announcer? Did he get a lifetime ban too?

    Sure. He was also disappeared on the orders of Hilary Clinton. Do any of you folks have other hobbies?

  93. barry says:

    He was also disappeared on the orders of Hilary Clinton. Do any of you folks have other hobbies?

    This is why rodeo clowns should never wear pantsuits.

  94. Castaigne says:

    @C S P Schofield: The Democratic Party will continue to holler "racist" as long as it keeps people from actually discussing the history of racism in this country, with special attention to the part played by the Democrats (backbone of the Confederacy, backbone of the Copperheads, backbone of the KKK).

    Speaking as a born-n'-bred Southerner in the beating heart of Deep South GA, I should point out that little of that crap had to do with the name of the party. If those people who were the backbone of the Confederacy, backbone of the Copperheads, and backbone of the KKK were brought forward through time, they would all immediately join up with the Republican Party. They're a lot more comfortable with Paul Broun than Sam Nunn.

    What wouldn't change is that they'd all still be Southern Baptist as all hell, which is completely unsurprising. It was the Southern Baptists who came up with the doctrinal justifications for slavery. It was the Southern Baptists who pushed for the Confederacy. It was the Southern Baptists who were behind and supported the Copperheads and the KKK.

    And frankly, it probably always will be. Intolerant sumbitches.

    @Barry: What happened to the rodeo announcer? Did he get a lifetime ban too?

    Nah, he was just fucking fired.

  95. James Pollock says:

    "Why is it less servile and more patriotic to complain about a rodeo clown mocking the President as being disrespectful to the man himself, as opposed to the country? If I have to respect the man who serves as President at all times, do I also have to respect Charles Carreon, the man, at all times?"

    Noting that you're being disrespectful when you mock The President/Mr. Carreon in no way implies that you must respect him at all, much less at all times.

  96. Sami says:

    … Curiously enough, here in Australia, it's been the case for at least the last several decades (I'm too young to speak with certainty beyond that) that the most biting political satire on television, and the sharpest criticism of our government, has all been broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, which is government-owned and government-funded.

    Occasionally, this has also included stuff that is terrible and tasteless and has drawn the offended outrage of our nation.

    The answer we, as a country, came to was not to defund the ABC, but rather to avoid watching the stuff that was terrible, while being vocally critical of it. The problem solved itself thereby.

    There's nothing wrong with being critical of politicians, even ridiculing them, with the use of public money. There's also nothing wrong with people who think that a precise instance of doing that is in bad taste saying so.

    On the other hand, a country that gets as many of its leaders shot as the USA does really should try to avoid encouraging violence towards them.

    Whether the event was publically funded is sort of not the issue. (Although there is, for some people, a distinction between mockery of the President, himself, as a man, and disrespect of the Office of the President.) The discussion of whether the event was inappropriate and shouldn't have happened is understandable and legitimate.

    You say: "Rodeo clowns don't need to confront shades of gray. Grown-ups do."

    I'm not sure what your point is here. Surely that rodeo clown was played by an adult. Surely the State Fair was run by adults. Surely most of the attendees were adults. Or do rural people not count as grown-ups for you?

  97. Bun and Cheese says:

    The acceptance of federal dollars to support local events is the same thing as local LEA's taking federal funds. There are strings.

    Destroying our culture- in this case, rodeos- and replacing it with something more multi-cultural is what's going to happen.

    POTUS doing "the right thing" and telling the teeth gnashers, eye gougers and hair snatchers to knock it off would be counter to what they're deliberately trying to do. This is why everybody just immediately fell into line with the recriminations and shaming. It took little coordination after the fact- that's apparent.

    This person that attended the rodeo at the Missouri State Fair went there for the express purpose of filming what goes down during the animal events. When he saw the dummy standing in the dirt getting mocked- well, he made sure that became Gold.

  98. James Pollock says:

    "Destroying our culture- in this case, rodeos- and replacing it with something more multi-cultural is what's going to happen."

    My local county fair has featured "Mexican rodeo" for several years now, and somehow society has managed to cope. It's an interesting county… the largest industry is agriculture, but there's also the 10,000 or so Intel employees who work within walking distance of the fairgrounds.

  99. Manatee says:

    <blockquote cite="Ken in NH"
    Point #6 would be have more impact if it were applied equally. I do not remember people hand-wringing and making analogies to past racial wrongs when Bush was in the White House and there was much talk about "old white guys" being in charge or people of color in his cabinet being called race traitors (or worse) in various forms.

    Please cite one of these "forms" so we can get an idea what you mean. I can't think of anyone important who has called Colin Powell a "race traitor," but maybe you run with a different crowd than I do. I can't speak for what I imagine you consider the "lamestream media," but for me personally, if Joe Biden says something racist, and Obama doesn't address or denounce him, I wonder if Obama tacitly support his views. If TheSouthWillRiseAgainKKK on stormfront.org posts something racist in a message where he also praises President Bush's policies, I wouldn't blame President Bush for failing to denounce (or even notice) that particular supporter.

    Also, please understand there is a difference in tone and acceptability between hanging the empty chair (or a more realistic effigy of Obama) on a noose from a tree in an image deliberately meant to evoke the memory of lynchings, and somebody saying "Gee, have you noticed that this administration is 99% old white guys/young black guys/wise Latina women, to the extent that that other groups seem largely excluded from the political process." One is a deliberate attempt to use the language of fear and bigotry to send a political message, while the other is a legitimate discussion of how race affects politics.

    So to make it clear, if at some point our Senate ends up 98% black (or Asian, or Latino) and only 2% white, it's okay for you to ask, "Are all Americans truly represented in the federal government if there is only one white elected Senator?" I won't condemn you for that, I promise. If on the other hand you decide to ask, "Who let all these niggers/chinks/spics take over our government?" or you start running campaign ads that involve guys in black face or yellow face running around raping 'dem white women, certain people might have a problem with that.

    [quote] In other words, on one side a lack of denunciation is sign that they all agree with those racist attitudes while on the other side guilt by association is never appropriate.

    Now that you so succinctly summarized your prior point, it makes me wonder if it really undercuts #6:

    "6. Some of the hatred of the current President is related to cultural factors including, but not limited to, the color of his skin."

    (except to the extent that, "That might be true, but your side does it too is always a solid debate tactic.)

    Some people hate Obama because he is black. I don't assume this because some people hate Obama, and Obama is black, and some people hate blacks. I know this because I've been around some of these people, and apparently some racist white people actually like Asians. To the extent that I can know Ken through nothing more than his blog posts, I'm guessing he's not going to pull a statement like "some people dislike Obama for racial reasons" out of his ass, either.

    Social conservatives have blamed homosexuals and Muslims for attracting God's wrath in the form of Katrina. I can't think of many people beyond internet forum idiots who have seriously used that (and Nancy Grace pretty much proves that it doesn't take much to get promote beyond "internet forum idiot") to tar a particular politician for no reason other than the fact that he also calls himself "conservative."

    Now, if that politician specifically defends the guy who says the unacceptable/bigoted/crazy thing, or publicly seeks his endorsement, that's a different thing. I'm not going to call John McCain a misogynist because Rush Limbaugh contributes to his party and said that crap about Sandra Fluke. But if another politician steps up and actively defends Rush, or attacks the liberal radical feminists for lynching him, I will have serious doubts about that politician. Much like I'm sure you'll agree, it would be absolutely unfair to blame Obama for what Bill Ayers might have done just because they're both liberal, but it is absolutely legitimate to wonder about their connection if he is a close friend and political fundraiser.

    Speaking "uneven application" of moral judgment, let's not forget: when Senator McCain said "I hate the gooks," the story basically stopped playing on TV news after a day or so (someone told me it lasted closer to 3 or 4 days on MSNBC, but I don't watch it myself.) Needless to say, it was a much bigger deal on the internet. Reverend Wright's wannabe Dave Chappelle act was being played on Fox News (and even some "lamestream liberal media" stations) for the entire election season. President Obama's "racist" "if I had a son, he might look like Trayvon" comments were being played and criticized right up to the Zimmerman verdict. Shirley Sharrod's out of context "racist" speech was being played on Fox News for at least a month after it came out of Breitbart (if the retraction and apology ever made TV, it was on so briefly that I missed it.)

    So I take back my previous statement. You're right–the double standard applied to the right and the left when it comes to racism certainly DOES change the impact of Ken's statement.

  100. Manatee says:

    @Bun and Cheese:

    I'm not entirely sure how you went from a debate about whether a certain act in a particular rodeo was non-racist mockery of the President or an ugly attempt to play to racism to (and I paraphrase) "The Federal government wants to destroy our culture of rodeos and replace it with [spits in disgust] something multi-cultural. "

  101. Manatee says:

    Also, what exactly is it about "multi-cultural" that destroys rodeos? Anyone who truly loves the American cowboy and has taken even a few hours to research the institution would know that it already is "multi-cultural." Something like 20% of cowboys in America were black–no surprise since going west was one of the few ways free blacks could escape (the worst of) racism and find economic opportunity. The iconic American cowboy pretty much rose directly from the vaquero culture of Mexico–and to a lesser extent, it would influence and be influenced by the gaucho culture of Argentina. Are you a fan of steer wrestling at all? If so, you can thank Bill Pickett, the black cowboy who basically started the event.

    In fact, Asians are probably the only major American immigrant group that never really got in on the cowboy thing (outside of Shanghai Noon.) So, as someone who's pretty much always favored cowboys to win over ninjas, I have to ask: How the hell is "multi-culturalism" going to destroy rodeo culture when it basically created it? And quite honestly, what does that say about the person who would make such a claim?

  102. Doctor Railgun says:

    Tarrou said: "Give me a fucking break. The very fact that anyone bothered to argue over this, rather than just laughing in the faces of the faux outrage and race baiting (not you Ken), is a sign of how far we have to go. The next time you hear "racism", just laugh, point, and leave. Those who call "racism" aren't worthy of engagement."

    How do you feel about the "Men's Rights" movement?

  103. AlphaCentauri says:

    I wouldn't assume the clown or the announcer were personally racist. Our country is so polarized, with people getting their news from splintered media sources that are wildly biased toward their own points of view, that they probably just assume everyone hates Obama and everyone present would enjoy the joke.

    On the other hand, even if they are only talking to people of similar political persuasion, they must realize that there are a significant number of racist people who hate Obama, and that those people can be remarkably loud-mouthed. It is predictable that if someone is in blackface or wearing a mask to mock Obama, there will be a groups of loud, drunk, burly guys in the crowd shouting about killing n—–s. It is predictable that any African Americans in the crowd would feel uncomfortable and probably unsafe. And unlike kids talking trash about video games on Facebook, threats to unspecified victims shouted in crowds don't generally result in any type of intervention to ensure they are not meant seriously; my impression is the ushers are too intimidated by obnoxious drunks in large crowds to ask them to quiet down or leave.

    Were the clown and the announcer so clueless that they failed to anticipate what the crowd's reaction to their show might be, or do they feel it is appropriate for an event in a publicly-owned venue that is partially supported by tax revenues to only welcome spectators of certain races?

  1. August 12, 2013

    […] Here is Ken's commentary on the rodeo clown in the Obama mask. […]

  2. August 15, 2013

    […] Unfortunately, the saga of the Obama-mocking rodeo clown has, against my fervent hopes, turned into a full-fledged ethics train wreck. The diagnosis was complete once the NAACP decided to disgrace itself, its mission and its supposed dedication to civil rights by calling for a Secret Service investigation into the incident, which Ken White posted on definitively here. […]

  3. August 18, 2013

    […] White of Popehat says what needs to be said about the MO State Fair rodeo clown kerfuffle.  As usual, he does it more clearly and succinctly […]