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Clowning Around

Who would have thought clowning around would make some people go into a hissy fit and knee jerk into a not-so-sensitive frenzy.

In case you haven’t heard, a rodeo clown has created a national controversy by appearing in the arena wearing a rubber Barack Obama mask during bull riding competition. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the crowd kinda liked it.

In response to the mask and related skit activities, Missouri State Fair officials have banned the clown for life at state rodeo events. Those concerned officials have not said if their ban will be honored by organizers of birthday parties, bar mitzvahs, shopping center openings or children’s television shows.

Looks like the “Show Me” state is going to show us we still have a long way to go in connecting parody-type comedy to politics. Speaking of politics: If we’re banning clowns for inappropriate behavior in Missouri, does the state intend to ban its legislature and its Congressional delegation?

Your humble observer accepts the fact that a number of very sensitive individuals roam our streets and sit in the stands of our rodeo arenas. But some of the analogies offered and accepted seem to border on silly. Noting that many people cheered when the crowd was asked if they’d like to see Mr. Obama “run down by a bull,” witness Perry Beam commented, “It was feeling like some kind of Klan rally.”

Wonder how Mr. Beam would have described the event if it had occurred a few years earlier and the clown dude in question had been wearing a George Bush mask.

No one is questioning the Missouri State Fair Commission’s right to be miffed or to do a little hiney kicking when a tiny pinch may have been more in order. But now the MSFC will require all clowns to undergo sensitivity training and some are saying that might have far-reaching and unintended consequences.

Although the MSFC reportedly has tried to soften the blow by contracting with Ronald McDonald to head the sensitivity training sessions, sources say other groups intend to demand concessions. Those include:

** The National Association of Individuals With Bulbous Red Noses wants clowns to be more sympathetic before displaying giant snozzolas as part of their costume;

** The American Alliance of Big Feet doesn’t think it’s a bit funny that clowns use oversized shoes as comic relief;

** “Real Housewives of New Jersey” fans claim the excessive amounts of makeup used by clowns might be targeting some “stars” by insinuating there’s something to hide under all that paint.

Others may petition for inclusion in the training sessions, sources say.

To show just how seriously some are taking this clownery, the Missouri NAACP head has called for federal agencies to get involved.

“The activities at the Missouri State Fair targeting and inciting violence against our President are serious and warrant a full review by both the Secret Service and the Justice Department,” State NAACP President Mary Ratliff said.

Question: How much would you pay to watch a couple of FBI agents slide into their clown suits to go undercover in an attempt to uncover all the secret plots against our government which surely must be festering at state fairs and rodeos across our land? And just how long would it take for the Secret Service to recruit Bozo as an informant?


Pat Culverhouse is a journalist and political columnist who lives in Minden.

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