OAK GROVE, Mo. (AP) — The man who posted a video on his Facebook page of a Missouri State Fair rodeo act that mocked President Barack Obama said he's been stunned by what he considers overreaction to the incident.
Perry Beam, of Higginsville, posted the video after watching a rodeo act Aug. 10 in which one clown asked crowd members if they wanted a bull to run down another clown who was wearing an Obama mask. The act was widely condemned by Missouri politicians, and the two clowns were banned from performing at the State Fair.
Beam, 48, who has a mixed-race family, was bothered by the racial overtones of the act and posted video of it on Facebook, which was shared thousands of times and drew national attention. Beam told The Kansas City Star (http://bit.ly/1a5Dwpg ) that if he had known what the reaction would be, he would have left the video on his cellphone.
He said he has been inundated with hate mail, anonymous phone calls and name calling from bloggers and other people, some calling him un-American, a coward and "a hater of Missouri because you embarrassed the state so badly."
"All of this is a classic case of kill the messenger," he said.
The one clown who has been publicly identified, Tuffy Gessling, has said he also has received hate mail. Gessling has publicly apologized and said he was trying to be funny, not racist.
Beam calls Gessling "a scapegoat" and believes the two clowns should be allowed to perform again at the Missouri State Fair Rodeo, calling their ban "just not right."
"I know that lampooning presidents is an old tradition, in rodeos. Think Nixon's jowls, or Clinton's nose," he said. But when one rodeo clown started bobbling the lips of the Obama mask, he said, "that act seemed to suddenly intersect with another old tradition" of demeaning black people through stereotypes.
He added: "If one of the clowns would have just worn a Joe Biden mask, we probably wouldn't be having this conversation."
Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com