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Scripps Howard News Service reports that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will soon reclassify the Eastern Cougar from Endangered Species to Extinct Species. It just so happens that the Cougar is the mascot for my alma matter, Newnan High School. The local Times-Herald newspaper asked current students their opinion about the news, revealing such illuminating comments as, "The cougar is ours. So long as the cougar is ours, we are paying respect to the past, but also to the future." Someone's mother is so proud.

Paying respect to the past? Well, actually, the Newnan High School mascot was the tiger until 1970 when the all-white school was integrated with all-black Central High School and its mascot panther. The cougar, apparently the mulatto of the animal kingdom, was chosen as the new mascot of the merged schools. At the time, the cougar wasn't even recognized as endangered, though that is probably because the Endangered Species Act didn't pass Congress until 1973.

As for the future, I'm not too sure how using an extinct species as a mascot pays respect. "Hey, future, look what we've done to this thing; if you don't get out of our way, we'll kill you, too!" If you really respected the cougar or the future, it should go on the list of potentially offensive mascots, like epithetical Chiefs or Crackers, or the political pariah Confederates and Crusaders. Who wants to identify themselves with something that has become totally extinct, anyway? Doesn't that that subconsciously imply that you expect to be destroyed?

Don't get me wrong: I'm still a fan of the Newnan High School. I just thing that if we're going to have a mascot representing an extinct species it should probably be the Well-Educated Public School Student.

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To be continued...

 

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