• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

Here's Johnny - Clown lives matter

I hadn’t planned on wasting this precious space with a treatise on the “Creepy Clowns” phenomenon sweeping the Internet and local television news industry. Then I read an article in the most recent edition of Rolling Stone with the oxymoronic headline, “‘Killer Clowns’: Inside the Terrifying Hoax Sweeping America.” Ehm, if it’s a hoax, and no one’s been killed by creepy clowns or gun-toting creepy clown-haters, why does the headline call them “killer clowns” – and why are they terrifying? The article itself is more journalistically sound, supplying a round-up of recent creepy (not killer!) clown sightings, the aftermath, and what may happen if a shotgun-toting Billy Joe Jim Bob sees a creepy clown after a few pops of moonshine. It notes that police have begun arresting people dressed as clowns on various charges, among them, a 20-year-old in Middlesboro accused of wearing a clown custom while hiding in a ditch. On Sept. 23, Jonathan Martin was charged with disorderly conduct and cited for wearing a mask in a public place, according to WKYT-TV. He also had outstanding warrants for non-payment of fines and failing to appear for arraignment, though those charges were apparently not clown-related. Of course, if the suit was a rental, he may also face a ditch dirt-removal fee by the costume shop. At the risk of getting a bit preachy, I will suggest that any self-respecting clown would be worried that his oversized red shoes will get stuck in the mud. Andy Warhol once prophesied that one day in America, everyone would get their 15 minutes of fame, but I wonder if the pop artist imagined they’d do so by dressing as clowns or claiming they’d seen them. The website Fark.com, operated by Versailles resident and 2015 gubernatorial candidate Drew Curtis, recently issued this plea for kindness towards clowns: “Please, be careful out there, but also remember that real clowns – those who wrote their clown dissertation, received their degree from Clown College, and are licensed and bonded for clowning, are not the threat. They are simply professionals who, while as terrifying as spiders, snakes, Zika, and commitment, are just trying to earn an honest living filling children’s lives with laughter and dread.” Bravo. I’d wager that 99 percent of these creepy clown sightings are the product of overactive imaginations, a need for attention, or a modern, Internet-driven way of turning a mouse loose in a room full of girls. Still, one wonders what the likes of Bozo, Krusty and R. McDonald must think of the anti-clown hysteria. In fairness to coulrophobics, there have been some bad actors in the clown profession, though my research suggests that the Joker and Pennywise, to name just two, are fictional. Truth be told, I’ve even used the fear of clowns as a source of amusement. When I did radio and newspaper work in Owensboro, I interviewed a clown the morning before he performed in a small circus that had come to town. Knowing I’d be taking a woman who loathed clowns to the show that evening, I suggested he give her a big hug as we walked in. He did, and as Hemingway might have written, “It was good.” Well, I thought it was good, anyway. In an effort to shed a bit of sanity on the matter and poke fun at television news crews chasing creepy clowns across the nation, I wrote the following words, which constitute the first poem I’ve published in The Sun: “Once upon a time, Creepy clowns, some mimes, Bounced across each TV set. It didn’t really matter, If they were thin, or fatter, Or if the anchors were all wet. Fictional, who knew? Consultants would get blue, If their stations didn’t chase the clowns. What mattered were the viewers, The olders and the newers: Creepy clowns abound this year.”

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