Critique of pure clowning

There is a local Minnesota angle to the story of the rodeo clown who has been found guilty of the offense that the French call lèse-majesté. A faithful reader writes:

Credentials: I briefly served as Chief Corporate Counsel for the world’s largest association of professional clowns, Clowns of America, Inc. or COAI for short. Turns out, it’s a Minnesota non-profit and I got the gig to rewrite their bylaws because I knew one of the members of the Board.

I met quite a few people who make their living as clowns including one woman who worked the big top for Ringling Brothers/Barnum and Bailey Circus. I met clowns who make balloon animals, clowns who drive tiny cars in parades, clowns who dress in rags and clowns who dress as nobility, even clowns who go to old folks’ homes and hospitals to spread a little cheer to those who need it most.

I never met a rodeo clown.

A rodeo clown is not an entertainer, he’s a safety officer. His job is to not to distract the crowd, it’s to distract the bull.

Imagine how much guts it takes to climb on a bull and try to ride it one-handed for eight seconds, knowing the odds are you’ll be thrown off to land in your face on the dirt. Most don’t last the full eight seconds.

Now imagine how much MORE guts it takes to jump in front of the angry 2,000 pound bull who just threw the rider, waving your arms and yelling, hoping to entice him to chase you across uneven ground to the other side of the ring where you plan to time your steps so you can leap the fence as the bull slams into it . . . and making the chase last long enough that the thrown cowboy has time to limp out of the ring.

But do it sensitively. With respect for the President.

Or be banned from your job for life, investigated by the Secret Service and prosecuted by the Justice Department.

The guy who asked “Do you want to see Obama get chased by a bull” was doing his job. He was saving lives, one at a time. If I were the President, I’d be embarrassed not by the guy in the ring, but by the idiots outside it.

We are not done with this subject, but this is a good start.

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