Thou Shalt Not Mock Thy Supreme Leader: Obama Mask Wearing Rodeo Clown Banned for Life
August 14th, 2013
Missouri State Fair officials have banned for life the rodeo clown who wore a President Obama mask while facing bulls at the event over the weekend.The clown in question engaged in an “unconscionable stunt” and will never perform at the Show Me state venue again, the Missouri State Fair Commission said Monday, in a statement. Fair officials are also reviewing their contract with the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association, the contractor responsible for hiring and overseeing bull ring clowns.
The performance was “inappropriate and not in keeping with the Fair’s standards," said the statement.
The fair did not reveal the clown’s identity.
During a bull riding contest on Sunday, the clown appeared wearing a rubber mask of the president with an upside down broomstick trailing from his backside, as if it were a tail. The audience was asked, over a public address system, if it wanted to see Mr. Obama “run down by a bull.” Many people present clapped and cheered, according to one witness, Perry Beam.
“It was feeling like some kind of Klan rally,” said Mr. Beam.
Others defended the act as within the mainstream of rodeo ring entertainment. The clown was meant to be imitating a dummy, another witness, Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association member David Berry, told the Associated Press. Bull ring clowns often dress as sitting presidents, Mr. Berry said.
“The joke is not that it was the president. They drag out this person dressed like a dummy and all of a sudden this dummy just takes off running. That’s what’s funny,” Berry told AP.
Whatever the intent, the nationwide reaction was harsh. Photos and video of the event went viral, and social media exploded with condemnation.
The public address announcer at the rodeo, Mark Ficken, is trying to distance himself from the fracas. Mr. Ficken, president of the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association and superintendent of the Boonville School District, said the clown was wearing a wireless mike and made most of the comments heard by the audience. Ficken said through an attorney that he was “as surprised as anyone” at the appearance of an Obama mask.