Sorry for the length, but I didn't have time to write a short blog.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Meme of Two Masks

So here's the deal.  Last week, a rodeo clown wearing a Barrack Obama mask at the Missouri State Fair did what might be considered slightly more than a disrespectful act using the POTUS as his punchline.  Well, actually it was the announcer who asked if the crowd wanted to see "this guy" trampled and a few other clowns were also involved.  The result was an apology from the Missouri, a banning of the clown from the Missouri State Fair for life, a resignation from the announcer, sensitivity training for the other rodeo clowns who participated and a demand from the Missouri chapter of the NAACP for an investigation.

It was a largely a rural, mostly white crowd who was basically egged on to find humor in threatening a man wearing a black man's face.  Immediately a number of conservatives pointed to an incident when a clown donned a mask of George W. Bush in 1994.  There was no outrage over that demeaning of the President. There is a difference, of course.  The clown in the picture in the meme is not a clown.  It's a dummy used solely as bait for the bull fighter's protection.  There wasn't any act or routine to go with the mask.  The story of the 1994 incident is a matter of record. So the meme is completely misleading.

Was the Obama mask incident disrespectful, possibly racist and politically incorrect? Yes.  It had nothing to do with the mask used in 1994 that is currently being pointed to by conservative groups.  The routine was in poor taste.  When I first began researching this blog, I thought this is ridiculous.  Have we sunk so low that we have no sense of humor and not even clowns can be irreverent about the president because he is an African American.  I had no idea that the meme though was so misleading.

And yet, all that said, I have one thing no matter how distasteful I find the act.  We have not forgot our humor, but we have forgot something in this too.  The meme is wrong.  It is misleading and a lie.  The act is tasteless, and it is also protected by the First Amendment.  Despite how bad the act was and the outrage it caused, it is protected speech.  Humor has nothing to do with it.  We must protect this right.  We all must take responsibility for our actions and there is little to investigate and certainly the folks involved have been made responsible, there is really not much to investigate.  This is not a hate crime from what I've read, it was simple stupidity something I think we can all lay claim to on occasion.  If tasteless is a crime, a number of folks on facebook are in deep, deep trouble.