Republican lawmaker Steve Stockman is inviting a banned Missouri rodeo clown who donned a mask of President Obama at the state fair to perform in his Texas district.
It's a matter of free speech, the congressman told The Hill
"They want to crush dissent by isolating and polarizing anyone who questions Obama, even if it’s a rodeo clown with a harmless gag," said Rep. Stockman, whose district is east of Houston. "The idea to create a state of fear and make people afraid to trivialize Obama. No one tried to personally destroy the rodeo clown who wore a George H.W. Bush mask."
In a statement Wednesday, Stockman blasted the "liberal reaction" to the Obama-masked clown as "straight out of Alinsky," a reference to community organizer Saul Alinsky's book "Rules for Radicals."
"Liberals want to bronco bust dissent," the statement said. "But Texans value speech, even if its speech they don’t agree with. From Molly Ivins to Louie Gohmert and every opinion between Texans value free and open political speech. I'm sure any rodeo in Texas would be proude to have [the] performers."
The Missouri fair has not identified the clown,but The Associated Press reported a friend and relative identified the man as Tuffy Gesling.
The clown reportedly donned the Obama mask before being chased by bulls around a pen during a performance at the state fair in Sedalia, Mo., that triggered a torrent of condemnation from lawmakers including Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill and Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder.
The clown was introduced by an announcer who asked the audience if they wanted to see "Obama run down by a bull."
"We’re going to smoke Obama, man!" the announcer blasted. "You ready? Obama, they’re coming for you this time! As soon as this bull comes out, Obama don’t you move! He’s gonna get you, get you, get you, get you!"
The clown's been permanently banned from performing at the Missouri State Fair and officials mandated sensitivity training for future performers. The announcer, Boonville School Superintendent and Missouri Cowboy Rodeo Association President Mark Ficken, has also resigned.
"Disagreeing with speech is one thing. Banning it and ordering citizens into reeducation classes for mocking a liberal leader is another," Stockman said. "Liberals have targeted this man for personal destruction to create a climate of fear."
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said earlier Wednesday the flap was "not one of the finer moments" for his home state of Missouri, although said he had not spoken about the incident with the president, the Hill reported.
Stockman has courted controversy before.
He invited Ted Nugent as his guest to the State of the Union after the rocker was blasted for his claim that he would "be dead or in jail
" if the president was re-elected.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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