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July 6, 2008 - Per Peterson
First I find out that Jesse Helms dies, then I read the same about Bozo the Clown. Then I thought: How ironic? Two clowns passing away within days of each other. Clearly, I’ll miss Bozo — that would be the actual clown — more than the other clown, Helms, a champion of the conservative movement, who won election to the Senate in 1972 and rose to become a powerful committee chairman before deciding not to seek a sixth term in 2002. Helms was known for speaking his mind, and for that, he should be admired. But I’m not big on bigotry. The man spent his life fighting homosexuality and called the 1964 Civil Rights Act ‘‘the single most dangerous piece of legislation ever introduced in the Congress.’’ I don’t mind so much that he was against so many things in his earlier years — those were his beliefs and everyone’s entitled to their own beliefs. What bothers me about him is what he became legend for: his unwillingness to compromise, and, I believe, compromise is important, nay, necessary to be a good politician. He became known as “Senator No,” and was pretty damn proud of it. No to civil rights. No to abortion. No to communism. No to the United Nations. No to gay rights. No to arts funding with nakedness. No to school busing. No to the U.S. giving up the Panama Canal. As far as the real Bozo goes, his death July 3 is truly sad. ‘‘Bozo is a combination of the wonderful wisdom of the adult and the childlike ways in all of us,’’ Larry Harmon, a.ka. Bozo, told The Associated Press in a 1996 interview. I know, it’s just a man in a clown suit. But this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill clown. He actually trained more than 200 Bozos to represent him in local markets, saying he was always “looking for that sparkle in the eyes, that emotion, feeling, directness, warmth.” He was so much of an influence in pop culture that his name became synonymous for anyone who acted too much like a clown — how long has it been since you’ve been called a Bozo.
• The city of Marshall has pulled off another great Fourth of July celebration. Independence Park was once again host of Marshall’s Festival of Kites, which year in and year out is a hit for kids and adults alike, whether they go there for the kites or the fishing. And Friday night’s fireworks show was lights-out; there were even a few bats flying around to help control the mosquitoes. Kudos to the city of Marshall and Independence Park — arguably one of the finest parks in southwest Minnesota.
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