by Jef Allen
WASHINGTON, D.C. — According to a Fox News story released on Tuesday, March 13, 2001 "The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights will vote next month on a statement that would condemn sports teams or mascots named after American Indians as violations of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
If adopted and widely accepted, the statement could eventually lead to a cutoff in federal funding for schools that cling to traditions like the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux or the University of Illinois’ mascot Chief Illiniwek."
Today, in a related story, Willow Gaia-Oatbran, spokesperson for PETA, or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, announced that their organization would immediately begin a preliminary investigation into whether the use of animal names as mascots in any way violates federal statues against animal abuse, perhaps even the Endangered Species Act of 1973.
"Aren't animals subjected to enough," asked Ms. Gaia-Oatbran, "without their having to deal with the violent stereotypes usually associated with school, university and professional sports mascots?
Take for example, the "Stormy Petrels" of Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, Georgia. The term "stormy" seems to imply a tempestuous demeanor, perhaps verging on manic depression. PETA feels this a cruel aspersion to cast on an innocent creature of nature. Due to the suggested reference to mental illness, this mascot may also be in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
What about the "Power Gulls" of Endicott College in Beverly, Massachusetts? Does this mascot name not imply domination, most likely associated with the male subjugation of the female? Is it responsible for us to perpetuate this clearly unenlightened stereotype?
One of the most offensive mascots, to many of us who hold animal rights as dearly as our own, is the "Battlin' Beavers" of Blackburn College in Carlinville, Illinois. This is a clear attempt to represent the beaver as an aggressive animal, which further perpetuates the myth that the beaver is a risk to humans. It is a well-documented fact that the last known beaver attack on a human was well over thirty years ago, and it was clearly provoked. Any effort to continue the misrepresentation of this animal's true nature gives shelter to trappers, hunters and others who would use animals for man's nefarious purposes.
PETA could go on documenting the devastation to animals caused by the inconsiderate use of animal names as mascots," continued Gaia-Oatbran, "but we believe sufficient evidence of abuse has been presented. PETA will pursue all avenues available to bring federal law to bear in ceasing this practice."
Jef Allen is a technology professional in Georgia. As a reformed Yankee, who has lived in the South for roughly twenty years, he has very little tolerance for Northern sanctimony, or the erosion of individual liberty.