Our Opinion: Misdirected barbs aimed at State Fair dissipate

News Tribune editorial

Despite threats of retaliation for a rodeo clown’s State Fair stunt, elected officials on Thursday participated in the political pageantry that surrounds the Governor’s Ham Breakfast.

The instigating antic occurred when a rodeo clown at a State Fair event donned an Obama mask and baited audience members by asking if they wanted to see “Obama run down by a bull.”

Repercussions included suggestions by some Democratic lawmakers that Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon cancel the annual breakfast at the State Fair; others requested cutting state funding for the fair.

Cynics might suggest political expediency prevailed over principled protest.

Idealists might contend common sense trumped over-reaction.

A number of elected officials — Democrat and Republican — split the difference by supporting the fair while impugning the clown.

The governor characterized the clown’s stunt as “inappropriate and offensive,” but added: “One action like this is not going to in any way slow down the strong progress and the vital importance that this showcase is for agriculture.”

And Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, said the antic was “out of line” and “disrespectful — but it shouldn’t be seen as an indictment of the entire fair.”

Reaction to the clown’s antic has run the gamut. The stunt has been jeered and cheered. It has been perceived as pathetic, political and racist.

Our concern was the flare-up of political retaliation was misdirected at the State Fair. We’re pleased cooler heads have prevailed.

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