by Rep. Art Peterson
The much anticipated “mascot bill”, S.139, passed the House last week by a 96-47 roll call vote. The debate on this bill, which is clearly a solution looking for a problem, produced the sort of hysterical, theatrical testimony from its supporters that would be laughable if it wasn’t so sad.
Claiming kids were in danger at schools with mascots that were somehow a threat (I’m guessing Raiders, Vikings, Chieftains, Galloping Ghosts, among others?), they tried to tie the mascot names to the attitudes and actions of the students at those schools. Huh? So kids at schools with mascots of ethnic or racial origins, no matter how complementary those names might be to those particular groups, are inherently more aggressive, violent, or racist then those kids at schools with nicknames of animals, say, Tigers or Eagles? That’s what I heard on the floor during debate on the bill.
Here’s the deal, in my opinion; this has NOTHING to do with the kids, many of whom couldn’t care less who the mascot is, and all to do with radical parents. These are people who are smarter, more cultured, and more aware than the rest of us. They care more! Teachers are afraid of them, administrators roll their eyes at them, but school boards listen to them, and that’s where the problem lies. In this bill the state Department of Education will come up with a “mascot policy” which individual school boards will then have to adhere to. Here is what the bill says concerning the policy:
“The policy shall prohibit school branding that directly or indirectly references or stereotypes the likeness, features, symbols, traditions, or other characteristics that are specific to either:
(A) the race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity of any person or group of persons; or
(B) any person, group of persons, or organization associated with the repression of others.”
Enforcement is left to individual school boards.
I can see these same parents, holier than thou, badgering school boards, because at some point Vikings repressed somebody somewhere, Chieftains is an Indian stereotype, and Galloping Ghosts are racist, just to name a few!
Galloping Ghosts, the Randolph High School mascot, is an interesting one. According to a recent article in Seven Days the name originate in the ’40s when Randolph basketball players in their home white uniforms were so fast and so good that they were hard to see or catch, thus galloping ghosts. Nothing racist, no Ku Klux Klan reference. Yet in last week’s debate that issue came up and it was said that the horse with a rider in a white sheet was “threatening”. Why? More threatening than a Tiger, a Bear, a Wildcat, a Cougar, a Wolf, all existing Vermont high school nicknames of dangerous wild animals that constitute a real danger?
I think the real threat the left feels is their inability to control these logos that our communities and our schools rally around; good, strong symbols of courage, strength, power, and determination, all traits that many on the left, frankly, can’t stand. I hope school boards stand strong against the crybaby crowd that looks for problems where there are none.
Importantly, the students won’t care. They have important things, like classes, school activities, and social lives to be concerned with. As usual, the adults are the problem.
The author is a Republican member of the Vermont House of Representatives from Clarendon.