Missouri school officials looking into rodeo clown Obama skit

Aug. 14, 2013 at 7:25 PM
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BOONVILLE, Mo., Aug. 14 (UPI) -- Missouri officials say they will look into whether school district employees engaged in "offensive conduct or remarks" in a controversial state fair rodeo skit.

Missouri State Fair officials have banned a rodeo clown for life from the fair for the skit in which he wore a Barack Obama mask and taunted a bull. The state fair commission apologized Sunday for the clown's performance at the taxpayer-funded state fair in Sedalia.

Mark Ficken resigned Tuesday as president of the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association after fair officials fired the clown for what it called "disrespectful" treatment of the president.

Ficken, who was the public address announcer at Saturday's event, is also superintendent of the Boonville School District. He has disputed media reports he delivered lines that fair officials said were "inappropriate and disrespectful, and [did] not reflect the opinions or standards of the Missouri State Fair."

Ficken contends he only delivered the single statement, "Watch out for that bull Obama!" as a warning to the clown that the bull was approaching.

In a statement, the Boonville School District said it "will not tolerate racially inflammatory statements by its District employees" and it has taken steps to hire an outside investigator, The (St. Louis) Riverfront Times reported Wednesday.

"At the conclusion of the investigation, if it is discovered that District employees participated in the offensive conduct or remarks, then the District will take appropriate action."

Missouri NAACP President Mary Ratliff said "activities at the Missouri State Fair targeting and inciting violence against our president are serious and warrant a full review by both the Secret Service and the Justice Department," OzarksFirst.com reported.

U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, in a news release posted on his official government website, said state fair officials banned the clown because "liberals have targeted this man for personal destruction to create a climate of fear."

"Liberals want to bronco bust dissent," Stockman said. "But Texans value speech, even if its speech they don't agree with."

Stockman invited the clown, who the Riverfront Times identified as Tuffy Gessling, to perform at a rodeo in Stockman's district.

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