Judy Quest, author of a CNN.com op-ed titled "A Real Clown Wouldn't Mock Obama"... informs us of the existence of "international clown organizations," a "strict code of ethics" governing "the craft" of clowning, and "clown journals," for which Quest, who's been a clown for 32 years, "writes regularly."But does the Clown Code of Ethics forbid dressing up as a particular President of the United States and appearing to have your life threatened? Taranto says:
[N]one of the Clown Commandments forbid political humor, so that it would appear to be permissible to pantomime truth to power.Yes, but do clown ethics forbid making comedy out of a physical threat to the President? What truth is spoken by saying Wouldn't it be funny if the President's life were in danger?
If you've wondered why I hadn't previously blogged about the rodeo clown, these questions reflect my reasons for avoiding what might seem like such a tempting story. I favor free speech, and I'm sorry this guy lost his job. He shouldn't have received so much attention, which is why I'd refrained from giving him more. But an employer is justified controlling the speech of employees. The speech expressed by the rodeo is the speech of the business that is the rodeo. It's not the individual speech of any particular performer. But I suspect the guy got scapegoated. Did the employer approve of this kind of performance before the nation's spotlight fell on this one clown?