GENE ROBERTSON: Fair rodeo incident should be cautionary tale

Thursday, August 22, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 11:32 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, April 16, 2014

COLUMBIA — It appears that many who attended the Missouri State Fair rodeo were subjected to a conflict in values. Should they go along with the crowd composed of friends, neighbors and fellow participants at the occasion, or should they refuse to participate in the repugnant activity that demeaned the Office of the President?

Certainly, choosing to participate in the experience was not unlawful. But it was an opportunity to show, teach and model character for our children attending the rodeo. Character is not conditional or situational. It should be the measure of us all. Respect for others ought to be imbued in our children through our modeling and the behavior we engage in with family, friends and associates.

There ought not be a hierarchy of those who deserve respect and those who are undeserving of respect, no matter what race, creed, gender, age or occupation. Everyone should be entitled. When we are involved in a situation that demeans others, we should show our disapproval of such behavior by speaking out, acting out or stopping the behavior. None of us are immune from the behavior shown at the Missouri State Fair rodeo. We must always be conscious of the difference between good taste and offensive behavior. We could use a simple rule that sometimes serves me well. Would you want your mother subjected to that kind of disrespect? No investigation is needed for this incident. We would be better served if we used it as a cautionary reminder that the content of our character still needs some adjustment.

William E. "Gene" Robertson is a Columbia resident and a professor emeritus at MU.

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Michael Williams August 22, 2013 | 8:59 a.m.

"Would you want your mother subjected to that kind of disrespect?"

A good test.

Now, if you and others like you (e.g., this newspaper) would use that test in political arenas you do not favor, I'd start thinking you really believe this.

But, since you only show up when YOU feel "disrespected", it's hard to take your "can't-we-all-just-get-along" words seriously. Where the hell were you (and others) when Columbia "occupy" members were poking fun with a GWB mask?

Absent, that's where.......

PS: Intellectual "fairness" means showing up even when you don't want to. Take this as a cautionary reminder that the content of our character still needs some adjustment.

PSS: Another problem: A dead Trayvon Martin causes national apoplexy. A dead Aussie runner causes.....silence. Why? (Hint: No political hay can be made with the latter).

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Tony Black August 22, 2013 | 9:45 a.m.

Michael, as I keep asking and no one will answer, would they play with GWB's lips? There is only one reason to play with a black mans lips and it ain't comedy. As I also stated on Karls story, I was ok with all of it till that point. There is a difference between making fun and racism. Would it have been different if they had handed him fried chicken or watermelon? Would you see it then? Can't see the forest for the trees? Can't see the racism for the rhetoric.

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Tony Black August 22, 2013 | 11:10 a.m.

No answer to my question? The answer to your Trayvon question? Nobody walked away uncharged. All three were arrested and charged immediately. I know that doesn't matter to you but it is true. No good ole boy pat on the back and see ya later.

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stephen Kightlinger August 22, 2013 | 11:10 a.m.

Unlike George Zimmerman, the people who killed Christopher Lane were arrested and have been charged, which is what ought to happen when unarmed people are shot. Unlike Treyvon Martin, whose death was not immediately newsworthy, Chris Lane's story is in headlines. Both stories are tragedies. Both stories are part of the same iceberg menacing this ship of fools.

Speaking of fools, what the rodeo clown wearing the mask did (stand mute like a dummy) was more excusable than the behavior he unmasked.

And I've said it before, and I'll say it again: kudos to the bull whose behavior was the only one beyond reproach.

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Jim Michaelson August 22, 2013 | 1:01 p.m.

@ stephen - I always thought that people should be arrested and charged when that had committed a crime - which, by the way, George Zimmerman did not. He was taken into custody, questioned and released when it was determined that he had not committed a crime. He probably would have never been charged had it not been for the US Attorney General and the president getting involved.

Even with 20/20 hindsight you can't see the facts. And you're an attorney???

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Tony Black August 22, 2013 | 2:33 p.m.

Jim, I guess you think Ryan Ferguson is guilty, too? Zimmerman got out of his car when instructed not to, stalked a young man, then shot him when he started getting his ass kicked for stalking. But he was found innocent and that is fine with me. He will be looking over his shoulder for the rest of his life and he deserves at least that.

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Michael Williams August 22, 2013 | 4:12 p.m.

"No answer to my question?"

Sorry, Tony.....I was at the farm working on all those trees I've been planting and tending. I also spent some time in my savannas looking at all that native seed I'm gonna collect this fall. I'm environmentally friendly and that takes away from my posting time. Sorry you had to wait, but remember that patience is a virtue. Well......perhaps not, when the lock-out is pending.

Given that I inherited my grandpa's lips (the menfolk descended from him call them "Williams lips" along with the "Williams pattern baldness" and "Williams giant earlobes"), and given that we've spent a lifetime blubbering our lips and laffing about our inherited looks, I can't get too worked up when someone blubbers someone else's lips, even if it is a dummy.

Hell, I bet you've even done it.......

As for the dead Aussie, was it racism or not? I wasn't arguing there was no arrest. I was arguing the utter lack of hue and cry from the media and talking heads who make a living keeping racism alive. The posts above seem to imply that...all along...the REAL concern was the lack of an arrest in the Martin/Zimmerman case. I say bull hockey to that. It wasn't that, and y'all know it.

As for Robertson's article, he indicates little interest in intellectual fairness. That's why I didn't take his pleas seriously.

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Jim Michaelson August 22, 2013 | 4:12 p.m.

@ tony - your statements regarding the Zimmerman case are false. You state that "Zimmerman got out of his car when instructed not to," This is a false statement.

You then go on to say that he "stalked a young man". There is no evidence to support this statement.

Read the testimony. Learn the facts.

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Michael Williams August 22, 2013 | 4:14 p.m.

"He will be looking over his shoulder for the rest of his life and he deserves at least that."

Yeah, and that Aussie runner was killed in Oklahoma. Those guys will prolly be doing the same thing, if they get out.

Or perhaps even if they don't get out. I hear prison is a rather tough place.

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Michael Williams August 22, 2013 | 4:27 p.m.

"He will be looking over his shoulder for the rest of his life and he deserves at least that."

What's really sad is you are rather proud and happy at this.

What's that say

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Tony Black August 22, 2013 | 4:54 p.m.

Good for you. More people need to be environmentaly friendly, even me. You have big lips? Does that matter? Does that make it ok? Are you black? And if so, would it be ok if a man walked up and played with your lips? And justice is justice, so yeah I am kind of happy. He walks for murder, he should be scared. I heard the dispatcher on the 911 tape tell him not to get out of the car, but he did. He stays in the car, nobody dies. Jim, Fox much?

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Jim Michaelson August 22, 2013 | 5:43 p.m.

@ tony. No I don't Fox at all. And you are a liar. You did not hear the dispatcher tell him not to get out of his car, because it never happened. Post up a link to the audio or a transcript of a 911 operator telling Zimmerman not to get out of the car. You can't. It doesn't exist.

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Steve Simmons August 22, 2013 | 6:39 p.m.

According to the transcript of what was said between the 911 dispatcher and George Zimmerman, the following exchange occurred:

Dispatcher: Are you following him?
Zimmerman: Yeah
Dispatcher: OK, we don't need you to do that

Mr Michaelson, what do you think the police dispatcher meant by "We don't need you to do that"? If indeed George Zimmerman had followed the instructions of the dispatcher, not left his car, and not followed Trayvon Martin, do you think the latter would have been killed by the former?

Imagine that tonight Mr Michaelson, when it's dark I see you outside my house and I don't recognize you. After calling the police I leave my house because I don't like how you look, I accost you, ask you what the hell you are doing on my street, demand you explain yourself? Will you meekly turn away and leave or will you tell me to mind my own business? Suppose you turn on me. Maybe you're tougher than I am and start beating me up because I am an obnoxious jerk. Damn, I think, I've bitten off more than I can chew here!! I pull my gun and shoot you in the chest. You're dead. That's fair, right? I haven't murdered you. After all, I am "George Zimmerman" and you are "Trayvon Martin".

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Michael Williams August 22, 2013 | 7:25 p.m.

"Dispatcher: Are you following him?
Zimmerman: Yeah
Dispatcher: OK, we don't need you to do that"

Ummm, if Zimmerman was "following" him, was he still in his car when this exchange took place?

Seems an important question given Tony's claim that Zimmerman got out of the car AFTER the exchange took place.

In fact, the answer will establish just who is right and who is wrong. Or who is right and who is lying, or who is right and who is naive. I don't know which......

TonyB: No, I'm not black. Only heavily tanned. No one has ever blubbered my lips....just me.....and no one blubbered the clown's lips. He blubbered the mask's lips. Seems to me the only folks upset by this are folks who perceive big lips as some sort of problem. Almost as though folks with big lips should be ashamed or possess some sort of ever-ending and unsolvable inferiority complex problem.

Personally, I embrace ugly....big lips keep me from drooling too much and I can almost fly with these ears. I make ugly pretty. Why, just the other day a pretty young thang said to me, "I really like really like great really like big ears and lips. Really, I do." Gads, she was practically tongue-tied with love.......

Seems to me folks upset about this are the ones with the chip on their shoulder. Hence, since there will never be a solution and I can't do anything about other folks' chips, I choose not to care. I finally became convinced it is not my's yours.

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Steve Simmons August 22, 2013 | 8:00 p.m.

Just to follow up on the murder of Chris Lane. His three murderers are black, half black and white. Their intended next victim is black. Thankfully they were apprehended before they murdered him too. There appears to be no racism here. There IS, quite rightly, a hue and cry.

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Jim Michaelson August 22, 2013 | 8:47 p.m.

Steve-lets go with your scenario. You see me outside of your house acting suspiciously. You go out to investigate. I jump out of the bushes and ask if "you got a problem?" You say no. I say "we'll, you got one now". Then begin to pummel your face. During the altercation, I discover you have a gun. I go for the gun and tell you "you're gunna die tonight". What do you do?

That is what happened.. Oh - and Zimmerman was NOT in his car when told that he didn't need to follow. He was NEVER told to remain in his vehicle.

(Report Comment)
Skip Yates August 22, 2013 | 9:09 p.m.

Kinda tired of your whinning about lips:

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Steve Simmons August 22, 2013 | 9:24 p.m.

Isn't that the story Zimmerman told Sean Hannity? Who apart from George Zimmerman heard Trayvon Martin say "you're gunna die tonight"? So basically, George Zimmerman could say that Trayvon Martin said ANYTHING to him!!

So what if Zimmerman was not in his car when the dispatcher told him "We don't need you to do that" when he asked if Zimmerman was following him? Why didn't Zimmerman comply and NOT follow on foot? Or for that matter if he was on a pogo stick or a jet ski!! JUST NOT FOLLOW!!!

He was told by the dispatcher not to follow. And he did follow. And he was quite likely getting beaten up by a kid who objected to being followed and challenged and stalked. And he therefore killed that kid. And in so doing he became a hero of the right-wing. End of story.

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Jim Michaelson August 22, 2013 | 9:33 p.m.

so you didn't read the timeline. The facts that were presented in court. corroborated by witnesses. I realize that it does not fit your preconceived notion that this was a racial attack, but a jury of his peers, including one jurist who openly admitted that she was going to be the one who would put zimmerman away, saw things differently.

By all accounts, Zimmerman is not a racist. Holder and his minions tried everything in their power to pin something on him - anything - but could not find a shred of evidence that he had a racist bone in his body. The media and the president had drawn their conclusion before any of the facts were known. End of story.

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Steve Simmons August 22, 2013 | 9:59 p.m.

Yes I did read the timeline. I never said it was a racially-motivated attack. I don't give a damn about George Zimmerman and his "motives". I'll leave that to Fox and MSNBC. The point here was that the dispatcher told him "We don't need you to do that" and George Zimmerman did that! Because he didn't leave it to the professionals in the police force to investigate the matter, Trayvon Martin ended up dead.

I don't know whether George Zimmerman should have been found guilty of murder or manslaughter or neither. Clearly the jury thought neither. However, he bears some major moral responsibility for the death of a kid who was not engaged in criminal activities. Simply by ignoring the advice/command (whatever you want to call it) of the dispatcher, he precipitated a course of action that resulted in a dead kid. And to many George Zimmerman is now a hero. That's the real tragedy.

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Michael Williams August 22, 2013 | 10:19 p.m.

It is my understanding that Zimmerman was following Martin on foot while Zimmerman was on the phone with 911. It is also my understanding that once the 911 operator told Zimmerman "We don't need you to do that", Zimmerman turned around and started back.

If this is incorrect, somebody please let me know........

Steve asks, "So what if Zimmerman was not in his car..."

Well, the "so what" is that both you and TonyB insisted he WAS! And, through that insistence, the both of you recast the entire sequence in a manner to suit an agenda! Your "version" casts an entirely different light on motive. The questions are....first, are you right or wrong and, second, if you are wrong, are you wrong maliciously?

(Report Comment)

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