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First, a bit of meta. Some of our our readers may have been directed here by news stories connected with this post from yesterday:

At the Missouri State Fair last night (August 11, 2013)

Uh, yeah. The story went viral.

Perry Beam, a musician from Higginsville, attended the rodeo at the Missouri State Fair with his spouse and an exchange student. He posted his account on Facebook. Bob Yates saw it and posted Perry’s account and photo on Show Me Progress and the Great Orange Satan (Daily KOS – without a photo at first). At that point I noticed a small traffic spike on our site statistics, driven by Great Orange Satan traffic seeking the photo, noted that it was Bob’s post, then promoted it to the front page.

I know Perry Beam and Bob Yates and know that they don’t make this kind of thing up. Ever. I messaged Perry on Facebook asking him to confirm the story. I then called another friend who I knew had Perry Beam’s phone number. I ended up speaking with Lily Beam (who was there). She confirmed the story. I later spoke with Perry. Other people saw stuff all over social media and then we were off to the races. I was called by the Associated Press, KSHB (the Kansas City NBC affiliate) and contacted by the Kansas City Star.

In yesterday’s twenty-four hour statistics for the blog (after the first ten hours, when the story was first posted) we had 14,229 hits. At times our traffic approached 2000 hits per hour. In fourteen hours we exceeded the highest monthly traffic total in the six years of our blog’s existence. And it continues. As of this post this morning we have over 4000 hits.

We’re getting right wingnut trolls (minimal) on our site. There’s a waiting time to post comments, so that severely hampers their stoopid – they appear to have short attention spans.

Uh, yep, this story went viral. For all the right reasons.

Now, as to the Obama incident at the Missouri State Fair Rodeo. The thing speaks for itself.

The First Amendment is important to all of us. I’ll be the last person to restrict anyone’s ability to express their opinion on any subject. There are limits, albeit a very few – you can’t yell “fire” in a crowded theater when there isn’t a fire, you don’t get to threaten the President of the United States without expecting a visit from the Secret Service (although it’s perfectly okay to call him an “idiot” if you want to), and you can’t exploit minors in any fashion and call it “free speech”, just to name some examples.

Here’s the thing about free speech. Expressing yourself is a protected right. It doesn’t insulate you from someone else also exercising their protected right to express themselves in their criticism of what you said or did.

The antidote to free speech is more free speech. The Internets showed that yesterday in a spectacularly viral fashion.

I will be forever fascinated by people who choose to exist in closed systems who then become surprised or outraged when they learn that people in an even larger world don’t exactly agree with them:

Epistemic closure, still here, alive, kicking, though not quite screaming (August 7, 2013)

As if all people who attend the Missouri State Fair think alike? That’s not the case for the State of Missouri as a whole, how could it be for those attending the Missouri State Fair? My spouse is as “liberal” as they come and has voted for Barack Obama, twice. She’s also an accomplished quilter, a holder of several blue ribbons awarded for her quilts at previous Missouri State Fairs. What’s more Missouri than that?  

On some days I am deeply disappointed in my fellow citizens:

Welcome to post racial America, part 3 (November 5, 2010)

On other days I am enthralled with their kindness, humanity, empathy, intelligence and good humor. It all depends on the day. You’ll just have to ask me.

So, for our rodeo announcer and clown(s). I have hope that maybe they’ve learned some lesson from this, other than “don’t do this skit at a large venue in front of cameras”. I don’t wish them any ill will. I don’t want them to lose their jobs. I only wish, from them, understanding.

And, finally, for us, we find this traffic surge interesting, but that’s not why we exist. We’ve been plugging along for six years, covering government and politics (and rodeos, apparently) in Missouri for our readers numbering in the dozens. We’ll continue to do so.

Anyone interested in some posts on campaign finance?