September 23, 2018

Super Kicker Rodeo fills downtown West Branch with laughter, excitement

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Downtown West Branch was packed with hundreds of spectators Aug. 24 as the center of town was transformed to a rodeo ring. The crowd enjoyed the excitement of bull riding and the laughter from rodeo clown antics.

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Dr. Thomas Husband

My wife and I attended the Super Kicker Rodeo in West Branch last week. We have been property and home owners in Ogemaw County since 1970, and often enjoy the entertainment offered in West Branch. We have been regulars at the Thursday evening music at Irons Park and have always been pleased with the quality of the groups that are presented there.

We were incredibly disappointed by the Super Kicker Rodeo; not the rodeo per se, but the comments made by Mr. Joe Johnston, the owner and main speaker at the event. His comments included: allusions to how girls would someday be making sandwiches for their husbands; comments about "fat mother-in-laws;" singling out one of the boys at the event because of his hair style and his weight; a variety of old school, sexist comments about girls and women; and finally, he went on a rant about what he "believes." The humor was advertised at "family-friendly," however we strongly believe that young women will only escape the sexism and stereotypes of the past if we, as adults, stop reinforcing those stereotypes.

And, we would like to remind Mr. Johnston that we live in the United States. Yes, we are a predominantly Christian country, but we also live in a country that many of our friends and relatives have sacrificed their lives to protect the religious freedom to believe in whatever god we choose, or not. Did it ever occur to Mr. Johnston that there might have been Jews, Buddhists, Taoists, Hindus, etc. in the audience? We are a diverse nation, and one of greatest strengths is tolerance. I respect that he believes strongly in his religion, but it is out of place in a public event to preach to people; perhaps a church revival would be a better venue for him.

He also made comments that were inappropriate for the children in the audience. For example, he asked how many men loved their wives and how many wives loved their husbands. He reported that only 3 men signified that they loved their wives and only 4 women indicated that they loved their husbands. He then commented that he was amazed that there were so many children in West Branch, and said that it must be due to the cold winters. This is just one example of the low grade, crass humor that ran throughout the night. Most of the humor was more appropriate for a sleazy comedy club, but not at a family night in West Branch.

The people of West Branch are better than this. Our children deserve more. The community is growing and prospering, and we possess more class and sophistication than was shown by Mr. Johnston and his clowns. This is 2018. Our young women and young men shouldn't be saddled with the sexist, misogynistic stereotypes of the past. We want our young women to believe that they can do anything, and we want our young men to grow up to respect women. The rhetoric that Mr. Johnston promotes does neither. As parents and grandparents, we are so aware of how impressionable young children are, and how these not-so-subtle, inappropriate statements of "beliefs" can stay with them for a lifetime. In the words of Crosby, Stills, and Nash, "Teach Your Children Well."

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