EDITORIAL: Time to reassess 'mascots'

The Dispatch Editorial Board
Susquehannock logo on a banner at Susquehannock High School Tuesday, July 28, 2020. Bill Kalina photo

Thumbs up to tough conversations under way, such as those at Susquehannock High School.

For years, Susquehannock's athletic squads have been "The Warriors." And, for years, their mascot was a stereotypical caricature of a Native American.  

Now, in the wake of moves made by professional sports teams, a petition is calling for a new mascot, one that doesn't capitalize on a historically oppressed people. 

Like a bad piece of historical fiction, these over-simplified representations have a way of infecting the public consciousness and warping the way society looks on its minority groups. 

There's a counter petition, too, which featured exponentially more signatures, mind you.

And the issue is expected for debate a the district's school board meeting in August. 

These are tough, but necessary conversations — ones that grapple with centuries of mistreatment and decades of a community's self-identity.

They're often ugly, but change always is. 

Thumbs down to the seemingly rampant prejudicial attacks on state Health Secretary Rachel Levine.

Levine is a transgender woman, one of handful in the country holding statewide office. 

Over and over, Pennsylvanians apparently unhappy with the state's business restrictions blast and mock her gender identity. Day after day, social media is ablaze with hateful comments about her reproductive organs — as if they have any effect on Levine's ability to do her job.

This past week, the hateful ad-hominem was featured in The Washington Post, a story which, among other things, lamented Hellam Recreation Board's recent social media assault on Levine

Embarrassing and shameful. 

Thumbs up to Gov. Tom Wolf for backing down from his threat to veto an important expansion of the state's key transparency law.

But did he have to be so surly about it?

On Sunday night, Wolf permitted legislation authored by state Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township, to become law without his signature. The new law requires state agencies to comply with the Right To Know Act, even under an emergency declaration. 

In Pennsylvania, the governor has 10 days to sign, veto or ignore legislation that passed both chambers of the Legislature. After that, it becomes law with or without gubernatorial input.

And that's the route Wolf took. He didn't sign it. But, surrounded by widespread pushback, he didn't fight it either. 

Wolf's decision was no doubt welcome news politically for Democrats in the Legislature. Grove's bill swept through both chambers with unanimous support. Wolf's veto would have left them with only bad options as far as optics are concerned.

In his veto message, however, Wolf was less than gracious, using his statement to attack Republican lawmakers, with whom Wolf's done battle since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Because the legislation is not only thoughtless and foolish, but also poorly drafted, at the time I let this bill become law, I also am stating my understanding that the legislation simply clarifies that various data and models related to a disaster declaration are public records...," his statement reads.

It was a bit much, frankly.

Gov. Tom Wolf speaks during his press conference at PA CareerLink in York Tuesday, July 28, 2020. Wolf was highlighting the importance of job-finding resources in light of the unemployment cause by the COVID-19 outbreak in the state. Bill Kalina photo