The Cowboy has no Clothes

I hate to go against the prevailing winds of media adulation – but I don’t give a damn about the Naked Cowboy.

There.  I said it. 

The Daytona Beach News-Journal has turned the arrest of Robert “Naked Cowboy” Burck, 50, a well-known street performer and fixture in New York’s Times Square, who ran afoul of the City of Daytona Beach’s panhandling ordinance on Main Street last weekend, into a cause célèbre. 

The first Saturday of Bike Week 2021, reports indicate that Burck was asked by police to stop accepting money from visitors and bystanders who were posing with him in his Fruit-of-the-Looms and distinctive white cowboy boots near the entrance to a Main Street business in violation of a provision in the panhandling ordinance.

When he failed to comply with the officer’s request, he was subsequently arrested and citied for the city ordinance violation.   

It is what happened during Burck’s arrest – and his subsequent beatification by the News-Journal – that I have a problem with. 

Maintaining order and controlling crowds during largescale events is both an art and a science. 

It is this constant monitoring and attention to detail that allows a relative handful of officers and special events personnel to manage beer-soaked Bike Week crowds, keep traffic flowing citywide, and provide a safe and fun environment for visitors and residents.

With Main Street serving as the traditional epicenter of Daytona Beach Bike Week activities, it is imperative that law enforcement maintain an extraordinary level of situational awareness – keeping their heads on a swivel – coordinating security and enforcement activities to anticipate and effectively mitigate problems before they start – because merriment can quickly turn to chaos when a partying crowd transforms into an angry mob.   

As in the case involving Mr. Burck, officers often use their increasingly limited discretion in providing warnings and suggestions to control behavior, ensure compliance, and keep the peace – but a police officer’s quiver has a limited number of arrows – and when someone refuses to heed fair notice or ignores lawful directives – their arrest and removal from the situation is often necessary.

The fact that the violator enjoys celebrity status – however shallow that term may be in this foul year 2021 – should not factor into the decision. 

That is called favoritism.

Selective enforcement can undermine the rule of law and subject law enforcement officers, and our criminal justice system, to accusations of bias and preferential treatment whenever us ‘commoners’ feel we are being treated differently than someone with prominence, political power, or fame.       

In a statement to the News-Journal, Daytona Beach Police Chief Jakari Young rightfully defended his officers – and placed blame for this highly publicized incident squarely where it belongs:

“Just to be clear, a person’s celebrity status does not exempt them from following the law and we will not pick and choose who the law applies to,” Young wrote. “Mr. Burck was arrested as a result of his own actions. Had he complied when the officers initially made contact with him, he would have been free to go and enjoy the rest of his evening.”

Anyone who took the time to watch the unedited full-length video captured by the arresting officer’s body worn camera, clearly saw Mr. Burck using profanities, shouting at onlookers, making a racially charged reference to “the blacks” being allowed to “walk around” and accept tips but not him – and, finally, directing a disgusting homophobic slur at the young female officer – twice calling her a “fucking dyke.” 

(Don’t take my word for it, watch the full video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5ezpoaFuVQ – be your own judge of the horrific racial slur Burck spit at the officer between 2:55 and 3:00 minutes into the video. . .)

Shocking.

Not one word of that in the virulent media coverage of the Naked Cowboy’s arrest. 

To add insult, when contacted by a News-Journal reporter, Burck’s California-based manager claimed, “What frustrates us so much is the bad mark it (the arrest) puts on our corporate associations.”  

No word yet from Naked Cowboy Enterprises on how publicly hurling misogynistic brickbats will ultimately affect the company’s “corporate associations” . . .

Look, I abhor the current “cancel culture” that is turning us into a nation of 330 million perpetually offended crybabies – but how can anyone ignore the fact that using a highly demeaning epithet to denigrate a law enforcement officer in the lawful performance of her duty is acceptable conduct?   

Where is the moral outrage

Where are the fervent calls for “social justice”

Where is the public denouncement and widespread condemnation of this cruel and searing brand used to dehumanize the LGBTQ+ community – a desensitization that fosters violence and discrimination?

Oh, I forgot – the hurtful words were used to humiliate a cop – which makes the revolting practice not only acceptable, but automatically elevates the person wielding the slur to immediate hero status in a society where police officers are the last politically acceptable piñatas.   

Bullshit. 

Not surprisingly, the News-Journal and other national and international media outlets, covered this non-story with front page/above the fold prominence – including sympathetic interviews, editorials under the sensational banner, “Free the Naked Cowboy! Panhandling law doesn’t ban street performers,” publishing letters to the editor headlined, “Daytona Beach owes ‘Naked Cowboy’ an apology for arrest, and an explanation,” heralding Burck’s triumphant return with “The Naked Cowboy rides again on Main Street after arrest at Daytona Beach’s Bike Week.”

In response to the horribly slanted coverage, some community members rallied to the Naked Cowboy’s defense – with one local merchant gifting him an expensive guitar to replace the one that that was inadvertently broken while in police custody “…as a goodwill gesture from the people of Daytona Beach.”

Enough already.

If News-Journal editor Pat Rice can openly ignore the debasement of a young police officer in a desperate effort to sell papers – all while masterfully avoiding any reference to Burck’s abhorrent behavior – then perhaps he has simply given up on introspectively exploring the myriad reasons his readership is turning elsewhere for “news.” 

In my view, if anyone is owed an apology, it is the police officer – one who willingly puts her life on the line to ensure the safety of our community – who was so disgustingly abused by a famous person who is apparently a whole different guy than the scantily clad wandering troubadour he portrays on the street. 

13 thoughts on “The Cowboy has no Clothes

  1. Sorry….. do not see where the City of Daytona or DBPD owes this person any apology. I commend the officer for her patience and professionalism in merely doing her job. If he just cooperated he would have gotten a summons and been on his way. I’m sorry but I’ve seen arrests where the person being arrested was treated much worse and actually cooperated. Couldn’t be more proud of the way these officers handled this situation.

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  2. Thank you, Mark, for the video and setting the record straight. This guy is a nobody with a ridiculous shtick and no better than any of the rest of us. When I read in the NJ this morning that a transplant from Philadelphia said he was more popular in New York than the Statue of Liberty I nearly fell over! The NJ would be better off actually reporting real news and not beating an already way dead horse to death. And May I just add, reporting the news when it happens rather than 2-3 days later. Kudos to the DBPD for doing their jobs and maintaining their professionalism. Personally, I’d have been tempted to beat his sorry rear end into Main St.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Naked cowboy used to make a living in Times Square in front of little kids with grandma but this mutt is lucky NY has too much shit going on then to worry about a guy in his hanes showing off to little kids not beer soaked bikers.I highly respect cops as my uncle was a NY cop who got shot on duty near Times Square and then his injury put this seargent on desk duty until his aorta popped at 42 years old.Pat Rice was begging two days ago for people to read his shit rag that has 3 day old news and puts most news online after 3PM .Weekends are a waste to read his reused Gannett garbage and Gannetts USA Today trash that is no longer in print.Glad to say the rag must be ready to shut down as you cant get 2020 circulation for Gannett papers.Sorry Pat Rice but this mutt is not a headline but Derrick Henry is a headline.Clayton Park is a true journalist with knowledge and class.I read the New York Post for free online everyday if you want new and Fox 35 gives me my local news.I will not miss the Daytona News Journal.Barker I highly respect you

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  4. First of all, nobody on the social justice side gives a shit about the naked Cowboy as he’s a Trump supporter and unlike you, nobody gives a fuck about what DBNJ writes or has the time to read that shit anymore. Second, to tie in your bullshit about cancel culture and shitting on the social justice community for not jumping in about the racial slurs, how the fuck can we be upset about it if we don’t even know about it? Nice try trying to tie in your conversation bullshit into liberal bullshit, when the fact of the matter is this is about some Asshole caricature gross ass man going around the country in a what’s basically diaper, being an asshole.

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    1. Hey bored maybe you should move to Portland or Seattle where you can burn streets down and hit cops over the head and no one gives a shit or gets arrested.You sound like a pure schmuck

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  5. Spider-Man was there doing the same thing . I didn’t see anyone having a problem. It’s bike week everybody’s making a buck. The bar tender are working only on tops,

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  6. Here’s a RADICAL new idea. It may EVEN keep some stupid SOB’s from getting shot or killed in an altercation. When a LEO stops you and asks you (or in a more dangerous situation, orders you) for ID or to do something, you might just actually DO it and save your bullshit moral outrage for a later time. One thing is for sure, and that is WHATEVER happens from the moment you decide not to comply, your ass is screwed! So stand down, STFU, live to fight another day. The life you save may be your own! It is a well know fact that your mouth can get you in a lot more trouble than it can EVER get you out of!

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  7. Another good one Mark. The officers showed great patience and restraint. In the good ole days we would have turned him into a basketball then dribbled him up and down Ridgewood Ave. This asshole is not a poor homeless panhandler, this asshole has turned panhandling into a corporate business

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  8. Just watched the video. Didn’t see any footage of what lead up to the arrest before Cowboy cuffed and he started verbal abuse of officers. Whether initial probable cause arrest standard was met, making it a legal arrest, will be settled at his trial.

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  9. His conduct after police conduct is inexcusable. However, if I read the panhandling ordinance correctly, you have to actually ask for something to be panhandling. People know from his 21 years at bike week and many years in times square, that he is an attraction and some put money in his guitar like dollars in a g string at a strip club. He should have never been hassled for panhandling. Because what he does is not panhandling.

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  10. Precisely. In the video he makes an exculpatory statement that he never asked for any money from anyone. If it was a legal arrest, it’s curious that the first part of the video wasn’t put on You-Tube. Maybe the city is trying to “shape” or spin public opinion on the arrest? The public won’t know until the trial. It’s all speculation at this point.

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  11. Maybe some of you should read more before commenting. The “panhandling” charge was dropped & for the resisting charge he was giving credit for “time served”. If he would have just cooperated there would have been no arrest , no broken guitar, and no national news. It does not matter if you think the officers are wrong, JUST COOPERATE and get it sorted out later.

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