Thursday, October 23, 2008

Towards the Licensing of Clowns

On that trip to Texas I mentioned in a few earlier posts, I picked up this business card at the counter of the little diner where we had breakfast every morning:

The first thing that bugs me is the name of the national association that Piccolo above belongs to: "Clowns of America International". Huh? Is it an international association of clowns from America? Or an American association of clowns with international aspirations?

Writing and blogging about scary clowns, fear of clowns, etc., has almost become a cliche, so forget about all that - the people who work as clowns have their own professional associations with bylaws, professional ethics, and annual conventions! I'm torn between the surprise of learning this and the realization that I shouldn't be surprised at all by this enlightening fact.

And - LOOK - its the Clowns of America International Code of Ethics! Called "The Eight Clown Commandments", most of them are a middlin' paragraph in length and not of a concise, "Though shalt not use sub-standard cream pies" commandment style like other, more well-known sets of commandments. Part of the second one is a bit puzzling:
I will provide my own costume.
As opposed to, what? Stealing someone else's costume? Performing naked? Along those lines, parts of commandments 1 and 3 are:
1) I will keep my acts, performance and behavior in good taste while I am in costume and makeup. ...
3) I will neither drink alcoholic beverages nor smoke while in makeup or clown costume.
Reminds me of the idea I had to be a rude, slovenly, drinking and smoking clown for Mardi Gras. Of course, the better sense of my better half prevailed, although the idea would be great. My initial inspiration for that idea is the old Evil Clown comics that National Lampoon published back in the late 80s and early 90s (at least that's when I subscribed and read them). The creator, Nick Bakay, has some stories at his web page, but they're scaled-down images and kind of hard to read. I wish he could get an anthology of all the Evil Clown comics published.

So Piccolo is also a member of the Texas Clown Association. I haven't perused this and other clown association web pages, but I would bet that somewhere some of them talk about the importance of only hiring a clown subscribing to the clown Code of Ethics and that some have even proposed, if not the licensing, then at least the certification of clowns. How many annual credits of CCE - Clown Continuing Education - should a professional clown have to keep its certification current? And do they have cautionary tales of parents who hired an uncertified clown and the tragedy that ensued when little Johnny say Bucky the Clown taking a smoke break out behind the garage during his birthday party? The horror!

Well, to wind this back to some semi-professional point; AALL has proposed the licensing of law librarians in the past. (Yes, yes - I'll dig up the references later - not that anyone is reading this....) Living in the one state that licenses florists (to protect consumers against the dangers of sub-par birthday bouquets) Louisiana and florists are a perfect example of how licensing often serve primarily as a barrier to entry into a given market.

Similarly, with law librarians, if we were required to be licensed in all 50 states, then what? Would we be paid more? If licensing attempted to manipulate the market to raise librarian salaries - by making librarians a more scarce commodity by making it harder for people to become librarians by forcing us to become licensed - we all wouldn't get a raise, but when a firm, school, or court needed more labor in the library, we would see more secretaries, paralegals and student workers filing looseleafs, re-shelving books, and conducting research. Would we then try to pass statutes against the un-authorized practice of librarianship so that only we - the actual, certified/licensed librarians could perform these and other tasks intrinsic to the operation of a library? Then, how would you define those tasks? Would you make it so that NOBODY but librarians can re-shelve the books? Even the patron who pulls the book off the shelve for two seconds to glance at the back cover? What if one patron asks another patron where the U.S. Reports are? Unauthorized practice of librarianship! Licensing isn't needed for clowns, florists, or librarians.

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