Replacing Chief Illiniwek with an otter would be highly offensive

Did anyone ask otters if they were okay with being named the new University of Illinois at Champaign mascot? Would they have been offended if their proud heritage  had been appropriated by a cartoonish caricature? 

Thankfully, a majority of students, displaying their heightened sensitivity, voted against creating a mascot named Alma Otter, a take-off on the campus statue, Alma Mater, crafted by sculptor Lorado Taft.

Taft's Alma Mater

Taft’s Alma Mater

(Someone also should have thought about Taft would have been offended by his famous statue being mocked by an otter.)

It’s only appropriate that even otters should be ruled out of bounds at the University of Illinois. That’s because the University of Illinois set “offense” as a criterion when it booted Chief Illiniwek out as the school’s symbol because it was “hostile and abusive.”

No, it was not. It was respected and a powerful symbol of the team’s fighting spirit. But obsequious school administration caved, thereby establishing the principle that something that causes offense should be verboten. 

So, there’s this about the otters and Alma Otter: Otters are loaded with symbolism. The otter is a Native American totem–a revered symbol.  such as:

In the Native American Zodiac, Otter represents the inner child in all of us. This animal birth totem celebrates personal freedom, embraces life with passion and often becomes the instrument of change at work or in other people’s lives.

A otter totem

An otter totem

So, did someone in the politically correct administration  bother to check with the same Native American folks for whether they were offended by the otter representing the school? Did anyone give a flying fig?

Obviously not.

The otter also is powerful feminist symbol:

Otter’s medicine includes woman’s healing wisdom, sensibility without suspicion, guidance in revealing ones talents, psychic awareness, faithfulness, recovery issues, understanding the value of playtime, primal feminine energy, joy, playfulness, prognostication.

Did anyone check with feminists? Obviously not.

I, of course, am writing this with tongue in cheek. I am ridiculing the dominance of the “offensive” standard on this or any campus. I am not offended by an otter mascot. But I am offended by the sin of “offensive” being applied to Chief Illiniwek as a reason to load him on a train to Siberia. 

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  • I get your point. But if using an Indian chief for a mascot isn't offensive, then why not use George Washington as one?

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Why not? He's symbolic of a lot of good stuff. I probably wouldn't go for Jesus mascot, though.

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