'Nothing Racist' Implied In 'Obama' Act, Says Rodeo Clown | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

'Nothing Racist' Implied In 'Obama' Act, Says Rodeo Clown

Play associated audio

Tuffy Gessling, the rodeo clown at the center of the controversy over the skit at the Missouri State Fair in which a man wearing a President Obama mask was mocked, says "nothing racist was ever implied."

"Comedians all over the country have used political figures to make fun of current events, it's nothing new," Gessling has told digitalBURG, a student-run news service from the University of Central Missouri. "I never tried to be a racist or anything like that. I love all people no matter their background. I live to make people laugh. When TV comedians are doing it every day, Rush Limbaugh is doing it every day, people on Facebook are doing it every day 10 times more than me. I was just trying to make light of the situation, that's it."

As we've been reporting, many others — including Republican and Democratic politicians — have condemned the act as being both disrespectful and racist.

Gessling and Kansas City Star reporter Dave Helling (during a conversation the journalist had Wednesday with All Things Considered host Audie Cornish) have now added some details to the story.

It had been known that it was Gessling's voice that could be heard telling "Obama" that a bull was "gonna getcha, getcha, getcha, getcha!" and saying that it's the president who acts like a clown. It also had been known that another voice briefly heard during Saturday's performance was that of then-Missouri Rodeo Cowboys Association President Mark Ficken.

Now, thanks to Gessling and Helling, it's become known that it was a third man in the Obama mask. Previously, the speculation had been that it was Gessling in the mask and that he had been wearing a wireless microphone.

Gessling, according to digitalBURG, "refused to disclose the identity of his colleague behind the mask because he said the prank was his idea and because of the negative attention he's received." He's been banned from performing again at the state fair.

Helling, from the Star, says he's been hearing from many in Missouri who have strong feelings about what happened and how Gessling's now being treated. The clown's supporters, Helling says, believe he was just having fun and exercising his right to free speech. Some also claim that clowns performing at the fair have lampooned other politicians, including President George W. Bush, and not faced such a backlash. Helling says he hasn't turned up evidence of that happening before at Missouri's fair.

Critics of the act, Helling says, believe there's no room for what they see as such offensive conduct.

"There are fairly passionate views on both sides," Helling says. "Both sides sort of see it through their own prism of politics and race."

We'll add the as-broadcast version of his conversation with All Things Considered to the top of this post later.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

WAMU 88.5

Art Beat With Lauren Landau, July 22

This weekend you can see two classic operas about sex, jealousy and drama or sit down for a children’s theater performance that takes a lighter look at love.

WAMU 88.5

Two Chicken Megafarms Proposed In Delaware

Delaware is already a big state for the poultry industry, but proposals for two new megafarms could take things to the next level.

WAMU 88.5

Transportation Secretaries Past And Present Sign Open Letter To Congress

Congress keeps kicking the transportation funding plan down the road, which has prompted a group of 11 former federal transportation secretaries along with Secretary Anthony Foxx, to call for long-term investment in infrastructure.

NPR

North Korea Is Not Pleased: Dance Video Features Kim Jong Un

Citing a threat to the leader's dignity, North Korea reportedly asks China to block a video that inserts Kim Jong Un's image into bizarre situations, all set to a bouncy dance track.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.