Conservative entertainers have a habit of threatening, satirically or in seriousness, the lives of those they disagree with
A rodeo clown who goes by the name Tuffy Gessling performed at the Missouri State Fair earlier this month. For his “show,” Mr. Gessling put on an Obama mask, glued a broomstick to the outside of his overalls (making it appear the broomstick was somehow inserted into his own rectum), and stood facing a bull.
Another clown provided commentary, yelling things like “Obama, they’re coming for you this time” and “Yahoo! We’re gonna smoke Obama!” Conservatives are defending Mr. Gessling as loudly as they defended Ted Nugent when he told then-Senator Obama to “suck on a machine gun.” Those same conservatives did not defend the Dixie Chicks.
Rep. Steve King has suggested that President Obama invite Tuffy the rodeo clown to the White House while Texas congressman Steve Stockman has gone so far as to suggest Tuffy come to Texas to perform, because of freedom. There is a Facebook page supporting Tuffy Gessling that, last I checked, had almost 75,000 likes. That’s a lot of people, and I’ll bet you one banned rodeo clown that many of those same people burned a Dixie Chicks’ CD or two. Because its okay to encourage violence against President Obama.
It’s perfectly alright to shout “Yahoo! We’re gonna smoke Obama!” in front of kids at a state fair. It’s just a rodeo clown exercising his First Amendment right to wear a mask of the President of the United States while pretending to sodomize himself with a broomstick. Just like it was perfectly fine for Ted Nugent to threaten the life of President Obama, not only when he was candidate Obama, but at an NRA convention.
You know what the Dixie Chicks did that garnered them death threats and personal attacks and CD burnings and boycotts? One member, Natalie Maines, said in 2003 during a concert in London she was “ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas.” That’s it.
Neither Natalie Maines or the other two members of the band, sisters Martie Erwin Maguire or Emily Erwin Robison threatened President Bush’s life, donned a mask and suggested he get run over by a bull, shouted “Yahoo! We’re gonna smoke Bush!” or told George W. Bush to “suck on a machine gun.” Ms. Maines simply expressed her disappointment that the man who lied to America about Iraq and 9/11 was from Texas.
What’s the difference? Why were the Dixie Chicks pounced on by conservatives? Where was the defense of Natalie Maines’ First Amendment rights? Where were the congressmen lining up to welcome the Dixie Chicks to Texas or Iowa with open arms and big, made-for-TV smiles? Why didn’t Steve Stockman take the Dixie Chicks to a State of the Union address?
The Washington Post interviewed a man named Virgil Henke who attended the rodeo where Tuffy Gessling “performed.” Mr. Henke was at first wary of speaking to the press, believing publicly disagreeing with the president would result in the Internal Revenue Service going up his “backside” and showing up at his door. But he eventually did share his opinion of the rodeo clown with the Obama mask and broomstick attached to the back of his overalls, saying:
“I’ve got no respect for him. Why, he’s destroyed this country. How much freedom have we lost? I don’t care whether it’s a black man in office, but we have to have a true-blooded American. I think he’s Muslim and trying to destroy this country, catering to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.”
Now I’m just guessing here, but if President Obama was President Smith, and President Smith was not a black man, Virgil probably wouldn’t be so convinced of this whole “he’s a Muslim” thing. And if a rodeo clown shoved a President Smith mask over his face and glued a broomstick to his rear end, I bet Virgil would be outraged. I bet Virgil was outraged at the Dixie Chicks.
What Tuffy Gessling and his cohorts did at the Missouri State Fair was not a joke, no matter how much conservatives try to spin it. Their language encouraged violence against President Obama and disrespected both the man and the office. Missouri Republicans and Democrats condemned the event even as people like Virgil Henke applauded it.
Virgil also told The Washington Post that he surfs the Internet, looking for websites that make fun of President Obama and his family. One of his favorite sites compares First Lady Michelle Obama to a monkey. He defends this by stating he doesn’t “hate a black person – it’s just funny.”
It’s not funny, Virgil, just like it’s not funny to create a meme with the President of the United States dressed up like an African chief with a bone through his nose. It’s not funny to take a photo of a box poised over a watermelon and label it an “Obama trap.” And it’s not funny to wear a mask with exaggerated lips, glue a broomstick to your ass and encourage a crowd to cheer a bull running over President Obama.
The Dixie Chicks did not encourage violence, they did not say they hated George W. Bush, they simply vocalized what many in America felt after we discovered we were lied to about Iraq. Watching conservatives come to the defense of people like Ted Nugent and Tuffy Gessling, but boycott, attack and threaten the Dixie Chicks is hypocritical to say the least. But the one good thing this double standard does, at least for me, is remind me that I’m not ready to make nice either.