Hey, Kid, Wanna See a Balloon Animal?

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A federal judge has awarded $2,500 to a clown who was refused permission to perform for children at the Rye Playland Amusement Park. Westchester County officials apparently violated the man's civil rights by denying him the opportunity merely because he happens to be a twice-convicted pedophile. (Via Romenesko)

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  1. Before anyone gets started on “those liberal Democratic judges,” note this: Judge Martin was appointed to the bench by George H.W. Bush.

  2. I think Julian is incorrect about what the judge ruled. The county banned him from performing in the park sometime in 2000. The county didn’t learn that he was a pedophile until 2001. After they learned he was pedophile, they enacted a rule banning pedophiles from performing in the park. In essence, the judge ruled that the county’s rule banning pedophiles from performing was proper but that the county’s earlier rule banning clowns from performing in public areas violated the First Amendment. Seems just right to me.

  3. When they initally barred this guy from performing, were they allowing others to perform? Is it reasonable of me to assume that whoever banned him back in 2000 (before they *knew* he was a pedophile) sensed that he was a little bit creepy or something? Does someone have to be convicted of pedophilia before reasonable people can deny him access to children?

    Andy

  4. Well, here’s the thing: awarding the guy backpay assumes that in the absence of the unreasonable competition rationale, he would’ve been permitted to do his schtick. But it seems pretty likely that, had they not had that (illegitimate) objection, they would’ve turned up his criminal conviction in the process of vetting him. So even if one argument they offered for barring him was bad, this seems to award him compensation for money he wouldn’t actually have gotten to make, assuming that the park would’ve been even mildly curious about who it had performing for kids.

  5. The problem with the ‘they would’ve found out about it’ argument is that it assumes something that didn’t actually happen.

    According to the article, the county discovered that the clown was a pedophile in 2001, well after the county had already banned him from performing in the park. Therefore, the fact that he was a pedophile had nothing to do with the county’s decision to ban him from performing in the park.

    I assume that the county argued what Julian suggests — i.e., that the county would have banned him anyway because he was a pedophile. In order to prevail on that argument though, the county would have to have shown they would in fact have discovered that he was a pedophile. Presumably, they failed to demonstrate this.

    Julian’s original introduction to the story makes it sound like the court awarded the clown damages because the court banned a clown from a park for being a pedophile. The article makes clear that this is not what actually happened.

  6. Andy writes:

    Is it reasonable of me to assume that whoever banned him back in 2000 (before they *knew* he was a pedophile) sensed that he was a little bit creepy or something?

    As opposed to the clowns who make balloon animals in parks who *aren’t* creepy?

    (Well, maybe I’m just twitchy around clowns.)

  7. How is this more ridiculous than appointing Poindexter as chief domestic spy?

  8. Nice headline… 🙂

  9. But wasn’t he wearing a trench coat and knee-high socks …

    … and nothing else?

  10. “sensed that he was a little bit creepy or something? Does someone have to be convicted of pedophilia before reasonable people can deny him access to children?”

    Andy,

    I assume by reasonable people you mean the kids’ caretakers? Of course anyone is free to keep their kids away from someone they perceive as creepy. But the government should not do so just on a gut feeling, absent any hard evidence such as a conviction. What about the “gut feeling” that someone is a druggie or just plain strangely different or “sets a bad example”? Bar him from selected public places, put a monitor on him, lock him up just in case? Sounds like extreme measures? Not when children’s welfare is involved. Many people will support such measures and no politician will be caught voting against them on some higher principle. People are not always reasonable. The whole process is called chipping away at civil liberties.

  11. NO ONE can twist a balloon into a shape like that!

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