Political Correctness Means No Cougar Mascots?

COMMENTARY | Sometimes political correctness gets taken a little too far. When people take extreme measures in order to be inoffensive, it can become … well, almost offensive.

A recent example is the case of the Utah school board that deemed the word “cougar” unfit for a high school mascot. The board cited the Urban Dictionary’s inclusion of the word as a reason. Another reason for deciding to override the democratic decision-making process was that three other schools in Utah have that mascot, along with Brigham Young University.

There are no known cases of fans mistakenly thinking that those schools’ mascots were actually referencing the slang term that Webster’s defines as “a middle-aged women who dates younger men.” Most people seem to understand that there is also an animal which shares the name cougar. It happens to have been around a lot longer than the pop culture term.

The Merriam-Webster’s primary definition of cougar is as follows: a large powerful tawny-brown cat formerly widespread in the Americas but now reduced in number or extinct in many areas.

If we’re not careful, we might find that free speech becomes something that was also formerly widespread in the Americas but now extinct in many areas.

The Board President, Tracy Cowdell, received a memorandum that expressed concerns that referenced the Urban Dictionary regarding “the connotation to what pop culture sometimes refers to as a Cougar.”

“All the young men and young women care about are what the Urban Dictionary says, not Webster’s,” Cowdell added.

It’s a score for the PC police, but perhaps a blow to democracy itself. When censorship is the standard, freedom disappears. When students are learning from a young age that their vote doesn’t really count, democratic principles erode. Our cultural predisposition toward coddling the easily offended, when taken to extremes, does violate the right to freedom of speech. When students can’t choose a Cougar for a mascot because it might hurt someone’s feelings, censorship is being taken a bit too far.

The American Civil Liberties Union defines censorship as “the suppression of words, images, or ideas that are “offensive,” [which] happens whenever some people succeed in imposing their personal political or moral values on others.”

Admittedly, the ACLU defends some ridiculous things, but it does provide an apt definition of censorship. The organization devotes itself to protecting our first amendment rights.

According to canyondistrict.org, the School Board “voted unanimously to select the Chargers from a roster of several potential mascots. The list included Cougars, Diamondbacks, Falcons and Raptors.” It says the board members noted the alliteration of Canyon County Chargers as a factor in its decision. Technically, the alliteration is present, and actually even stronger in “Canyon County Cougars.”

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