|See KMTV's report.|
Dan Marvin, Executive director of the NDP said, in a statement (which is NOT on the NDP website as of this writing): "We have seen many times when Nebraskans disapprove of the president, but this clearly crosses the line." Marvin went on to call the stunt one of the “worst shows of racism and disrespect for the office of the presidency that Nebraska has ever seen. It's beyond disappointing the city of Norfolk, it's officials and citizens would allow such a thing."
The Omaha World-Herald reported the reaction of one Norfolk City Councilman who couldn't distance the city fast enough from the float controversy:
Norfolk City Councilman Dick Pfeil also voiced his displeasure with the float. “The City of Norfolk doesn’t condone that,” Pfeil said.Parade committee member Rick Konopasek told the Lincoln Journal-Star that the float wasn’t meant to be any more offensive than a political cartoon would be and that the only restriction for entering a float is was that it shouldn't be considered morally objectionable, which Konopasek defined as "nudity to sexually explicit messages."
The councilman noted, however, that it was up to the Odd Fellows to approve the floats.
A representative of the Odd Fellows did not return a phone message from a World-Herald reporter Saturday evening.
“We don’t feel its right to tell someone what they can and can’t express,” he said. “This was political satire. If we start saying no to certain floats, we might as well not have a parade at all.”If Sonnenschein and Konopasek and the Norfolk Oddfellows honestly don't think there was anything wrong with the float, AKSARBENT wonders why neither the pickup truck nor the float identified a sponsor, why the Oddfellows chapter isn't responding to media inquiries, and why Sonnenschein and Konopasek didn't identify the man who built the float to the Lincoln Journal-Star reporter.
Konopasek and parade announcer Wally Sonnenschein said the outhouse float was the most popular one in the parade, and the three judges awarded it an honorable mention.
“It’s obvious the majority of the community liked it,” Konopasek said. “So should we deny the 95 percent of those that liked it their rights, just for the 5 percent of people who are upset?”
This year’s parade also included a float of Pete Ricketts supporters. Had a liberal-oriented float been entered, the parade committee would have welcomed it as well, Konopasek said.
“For the most part, this is a strong conservative community,” Sonnenschein said. “I really don’t see anything wrong with the Obama float and I’m kind of amazed anyone is complaining.”
Sonnenschein and Konopasek said the man who built the float has been a longstanding member of the community, and people shouldn’t be quick to judge him for expressing his opinions.
“This was a day to celebrate independence and part of that is speech and expression,” Konopasek said. “He exercised his rights.”