Rodeo clown’s act brings out the worst in the Web

08/13/2013 6:30 PM

08/13/2013 6:30 PM

If this is how America most often uses the vast resources of the Internet, we’re in trouble.

By 11 a.m. Monday, nearly 6,000 people thought it crucial that they post online comments about the antics of a stupid clown act Saturday night at the Missouri State Fair. The news article on KansasCity.com about the

rodeo clown in a Barack Obama mask

had drawn more than 142,600 views by that hour, an astounding amount of attention. The posts got so full of ugly slurs that The Star had to disable the comments section.

CNN took to running a crawl on the Missouri clown along the bottom of the screen, as if it were LIVE/BREAKING/EXCLUSIVE news.

It’s all embarrassing — the initial event and the reaction. Politicizing a family fair event and winding up the crowd for a buffoonish depiction of the president about to be trampled by a bull are not funny.

Watching the rodeo crowd get riled up was the worst part, mostly because it didn’t seem to take much cajoling on the clown’s part. But it is hardly worthy of mass outrage, coaxed along by the Internet or otherwise.

There hasn’t been a U.S. president in the last 50 years who hasn’t had a mocking plastic mask produced of his face. If you doubt, wait a few months for Halloween.

Political cartoonists have long sketched presidents with exaggerated expressions, posing in slapstick charades. Depending on your political leanings, you either think the work is a hoot or it’s offensive. The same thing has occurred around the Missouri clown incident. Much of the commentary separated into either Obama supporters or antagonists. And the name-calling flew from there.

Disliking Obama does not make someone a racist. It’s just as true, however, that far too many people remain clueless that some anti-Obama rhetoric is tinged with racial bias. One would think that in 2013, people might be better versed or at least versed enough to voice an opinion backed by a few facts and using full sentences.

The uproar over the rodeo clown proves otherwise.

Unfortunately, the Internet tends to magnify sophomoric tendencies. Post an event that can prompt weighing in as either staunchly liberal or conservative, a kitten in trouble or even just the implied jiggly body parts of a woman … and the Web views will pour in.

The ratcheted-up anger about a clown’s stunt is just the first example of the week.

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