Employee sparks controversy with Obama costume at Ky. hospital - WKRN News 2

Employee sparks controversy with Obama costume at Ky. hospital

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Jennie Stuart Medical Center. Photo courtesy of The Kentucky New Era. Jennie Stuart Medical Center. Photo courtesy of The Kentucky New Era.
A man wore a costume depicting Obama in a straight jacket, sparking controversy in the community. Photo courtesy of The Kentucky New Era. A man wore a costume depicting Obama in a straight jacket, sparking controversy in the community. Photo courtesy of The Kentucky New Era.
HOPKINSVILLE, Ky. -

An employee at a Kentucky hospital sparked some controversy after he donned a costume depicting President Barack Obama in a straight jacket to an employee party last Friday, leading the hospital to make some changes.

According to The Kentucky New Era, three hospital workers at Jennie Stuart Medical Center in Hopkinsville performed a skit dressed up as two security guards and President Obama in a straight jacket.

Although they won third place in the hospital's costume contest with their skit entitled "VIP Special Delivery," many were offended by the depiction of the President.

Jeff Taylor, a Hopkinsville resident who has worked with many focus groups dealing with race relations for over two decades, said the photo is offensive due to the imagery it invokes.

"I have no problem making fun of a president if you come out in a suit and tie and a mask of a president, but the difference is you have an African-American president in bondage. That's just, to us, it's iconic of slavery. It's demeaning and degrading to us, and it's certainly disrespectful to the president and his family," he explained to the newspaper.

Taylor works with the Tennessee Valley Authority on economic development issues in the area. 

His wife is an employee at Jennie Stuart, and he stated she and several of her friends at the hospital were also offended by the skit.

Austin Moss, Vice President of Human Resources at the hospital, issued a statement to hospital employees after photos of the costume surfaced.

He stated the annual Halloween costume contest is a highly anticipated event, and the intention is to keep it light and fun.

Moss continued in the statement by adding that regardless of who the president is, it is a position that deserves respect and honor.

"He takes full responsibility for the presentation of the skit and apologizes to anyone who was offended," stated Jennie Stuart spokesperson Jim Goss on Moss' behalf.

The hospital will now require employees to refrain to political, religious, cultural or otherwise offensive costumes and representations at future work functions.

Additionally, the hospital will soon require diversity training along with its annual mandatory education requirements for its employees.

*The Kentucky New Era contributed to this report.

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