Rodeo Clowns to Get Sensitivity Training After Obama Mask Flap

Wednesday, 14 Aug 2013 12:14 PM

By Melanie Batley

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Missouri rodeo clowns must attend sensitivity training before they appear at the state fair after one of them wore a Barack Obama mask during a bull-riding event.

The State Fair Commission voted that before the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association can take part in any future state fair it must provide proof that all officials and subcontractors " have successfully participated in sensitivity training," The Washington Times reports.

The event Saturday in Sedalia sparked outrage among politicians on both sides of the aisle after a clown appeared wearing the mask. The rodeo announcer and a second clown asked whether the crowd wanted to see him get run down by a bull.

Story continues below video.

Democratic Rep. Lacy Clay said he was "amazed that in 2013 such hatred, intolerance, and disrespect towards the president of the United States could take place at the Missouri State Fair," St. Louis radio station KMOX reported.

"Our fair is supposed to showcase the best of Missouri. Instead, it showed an ugly face of intolerance and ignorance to the world," he said.

Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon called on the Office of Administration to review the contracts of those who hosted Saturday’s rodeo, though he rejected calls to cancel a breakfast at the fair, which runs through Sunday.

"That's a lot better and more reasonable approach to this than canceling events that Missouri families and others look forward to each year," said Nixon. "The Missouri State Fair is an important part of the traditions of our state and when people mess with that tradition, certainly it upsets us."

Earlier in the week, several statewide politicians and members of Congress also condemned the event, which has attracted national headlines.

The commission also ratified its decision to ban for life the clown who wore the mask at the event. His identity has not been disclosed.

The announcer at the event also resigned as did the head of the state rodeo-clown organization, Mark Ficken, who protested that the group did not expel another clown who made most of the Obama comments.

"When [Ficken] found out that the association had no plans to remove the rogue clown from its membership ranks, [he] felt that the better part of valor — given what was said — was to resign from the association," said his attorney, Albert Watkins.

Ficken's full-time job as a superintendent at the Boonville School District also may be jeopardy after the district announced Monday that it will ask an outside investigator to determine whether he was involved in any "inappropriate conduct" during the event, the Times reported.

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