No place for bigoted remarks

Widespread condemnation of rodeo clown’s outrageous jokes sends a strong message

September 19, 2012 

In the end, leaders of the Creston rodeo and bull-riding events got it right when they condemned the bigoted, sexist “humor” unleashed by rodeo clown Mike Hayhurst and offered apologies to those who were offended.

While there is never a time or place for such remarks, it’s especially disturbing that this happened at what was supposed to be acommunity oriented, family friendly, apolitical event.

Keep in mind, too, that the rodeo portion of the event was sponsored by a nonprofit organization, the Creston Classic Rodeo, which is supposed to remain nonpartisan.

While Hayhurst made the outrageous remarks, rodeo leaders took the high road by sharing responsibility for what happened, and by taking steps to prevent a recurrence.

In retrospect, it’s unfortunate that the event wasn’t more closely monitored by organizers so that 1.) Hayhurst could have been pulled from the arena, or counseled to stop his offensive comments, as quickly as possible and 2.) The identity of the person responsible for the remarks would have been clear from the start.

As things played out, Hayhurst was allowed to go on to perform at aseparate bull-riding event that followed the rodeo, even after he had offended many in the rodeo audience with a racist joke about the first lady.

And it didn’t end there; several attendees reported that there were additional offensive jabs targeting President Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and others during the bull riding.

United Bull Riding, a for-profit organization that sponsored that event, apologized Monday for the offensive statements made by Hayhurst and promised much-heightened vigilance in the future.

The board of directors of Creston Classic Rodeo offered a similar apology Tuesday and announced that it would sever all ties with Hayhurst.

Hayhurst himself issued a belated, lukewarm apology on Tuesday to those offended by his “irresponsible” behavior.

The incident, meanwhile, has reached far beyond the Creston community; news organizations and bloggers from across the nation picked it up.

That’s all to the good. By making it clear that such outrageous comments won’t be tolerated, rodeo officials have sent a powerful message.

We can only hope that other “entertainers” who resort to similar offensive remarks masquerading as humor will get the word that there’s nothing funny about such behavior.

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