On Tuesday, the Missouri State National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) issued a statement asking for federal involvement in the case of a rodeo clown who wore an Obama mask and then asked the crowd if they’d like to see Obama run down by a bull. “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,” said State President Mary Ratliff. “Incidents involving individuals acting out with extreme violent behavior in movie theaters, schools, churches, political appearances, and outdoor events in general speaks volume to the irresponsible behavior of all the parties involved with the incendiary events at the Missouri State Fair.”
Dear Leader must not be ridiculed…not in public…not ever.
Byron York at The Washington Examiner points out:
It’s not necessary to recite all the insults, threats, and other offenses directed at Bush during his presidency; if you were awake during those years, you know there were a lot of them. But perhaps it would be useful to list a few, and ask whether they resulted in punishment and professional exile for those involved.
As far as disrespect and ridicule are concerned, in 2007, TV newswoman Erin Burnett, who then worked for MSNBC, repeatedly referred to Bush as a “monkey” during a report on an economic summit. Burnett, who later apologized, was not banned from television; she is now a prime-time anchor on CNN.
Burnett was not alone; depictions of Bush as a chimpanzee, in particular, were common on the Internet during those years. And not unheard of on television. In October 2009, after Bush left office HBO’s Bill Maher said on his program “Real Time,” that, “Barack Obama, an actual college professor, replaced George Bush, an actual chimp.” Maher was not banned from HBO; he is still the host of the program.
In August, 2007, North Dakota Democratic Rep. Earl Pomeroy was caught on video calling Bush a “clown.” Pomeroy later apologized, but he was not banned from office. Instead, he was re-elected for a ninth term in the House in 2008. He did lose in the Republican wave of 2010, but is now a lobbyist in Washington.
As far as the use of violent imagery and the president is concerned, the Bush years saw imagery much more serious than a bump from a bull. For example, the 2006 film “Death of a President” was a faux-documentary that told the story of a fictional Bush assassination, including a graphic depiction of the Bush character being shot in the chest. After its premiere at the Toronto film festival, where it won the International Critics Prize, “Death of a President” was handled by a major American distributor, Newmarket Films, and was reviewed, seriously and on its own terms, by the Washington Post, New York Times and other major press outlets. The film’s makers were not banned for life from the movie industry or anything else; the director has since made several films that have shown at festivals around the world and is now working on a documentary on David Bowie.
In the 2004 novella “Checkpoint,” author Nicholson Baker depicted a conversation between two men planning to assassinate Bush. “He’s one dead armadillo,” says one character, speaking of the president. The Washington Post was impressed by the book’s “fanciful flourishes and fierce, furious fits of anger.” Baker was not banned from anything and is still writing and being published today.
In June 2006, Alan Hevesi, then the comptroller of the state of New York, delivered a college commencement address in which he paid tribute to Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer by calling him “the man who, how do I phrase this diplomatically, who will put a bullet between the president’s eyes if he could get away with it.” Hevesi later apologized, explaining that he merely intended to praise Schumer’s courage and toughness. Hevesi was not banned from office; he was, in fact, re-elected as comptroller later in 2006. (He didn’t stay much longer, resigning when he was indicted on corruption charges.)
Going through these various incidents is not intended to suggest that the people involved should have been banned from their professions. It’s perfectly fine that Burnett and Maher and the others still have their jobs. It’s just to ask: Why should the Missouri rodeo clown be banned for life? Couldn’t his employers have demanded an apology instead?
Charlie Spiering of the same publication also indicates that this is not the first time a rodeo clown has dressed as a president:
In the wake of ‘Clown-gate’ at the Missouri State Fair, it appears that professional rodeo clowns will think twice before mocking the president.
But in 1994, Douglas A. Campbell, a writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer chronicled a rodeo clown even featuring George H.W. Bush.
From the report:
The big white gate flew open. The bull came out bucking. The rider flopped from side to side and the bullfighters held back, letting the bull make his moves until the rider dropped off. Licciardello crouched in a heavily padded barrel, a human target should the bull decide to charge. Hawkins waited near the barrel, holding his big inner tube. A dummy with a George Bush mask stood beside the clown, propped up by a broomstick.
T.J. Hawkins rolled out the big inner tube, and the bull lowered his head, shot forward and launched into the tube, sending it bounding down the center of the arena. The crowd cheered. Then the bull saw the George Bush dummy. He tore into it, sending the rubber mask flying halfway across the sand as he turned toward the fence, sending cowboys scrambling up the fence rails, hooking one with his horn and tossing him off the fence.
I highlight this article only to demonstrate the rich tradition of politically incorrect rodeo clowns. . .