The Devil’s in the Cottontails

Enough diddling around! We have important civic issues to discuss, such as Satanism and rabbits. We will address the more vital issue first, so Satanists, wait your turn.

The rabbits became news a couple weeks ago, when The Daily Herald reported on a Provo family whose neighbors turned them in for having a pet rabbit. It turns out — and who knew? — that you can’t keep a rabbit as a pet in Provo. This is in keeping with Provo’s ongoing effort to be the dumbest city in the world.

No, actually, it’s due to a city ordinance. Well, allegedly, anyway. Rabbits are not mentioned anywhere in the Provo City Code, which is called a “code” for a very good reason. Title 8 discusses animals, and chapter 8.02.010 defines what a “pet” is: “A domesticated animal kept for pleasure rather than utility, including, but not limited to, birds, cats, dogs, fish, hamsters, mice, and other animals associated with man’s environment.” (I disagree with the notion that cats are kept for “pleasure,” but that is not the issue here.)

Note that rabbits are not mentioned — but the phrase “including but not limited to” is. So there might be other perfectly reasonable pets that simply didn’t get mentioned. Pet rabbits seem pretty domesticated to me, and they are associated with man’s environment. Why not consider them pets?

Well, someone doesn’t, and whether the code says so or not, rabbits have become de facto non-allowable animals. The anti-rabbit faction points out that rabbits, if let loose, may destroy neighbors’ gardens. They point to the horrifying cautionary tale “Peter Rabbit” as an example. But children will destroy property, too, if you let them loose, and children carry a lot more diseases and are noisier and smellier than rabbits. Yet, the city lets people keep children as pets.

Well, not as pets, I guess, but as children. Still.

Anyway, if rabbits are outlawed, only outlaws will have rabbits. Thank you. The other hot issue is Springville High School’s mascot, the Red Devil. Though the school has had this mascot for decades, it recently came to the attention of one of Utah County’s busybodies, of which we have several million, that the devil — and who knew? — is a figure normally associated with evil. If the students use the devil as their mascot, the logic goes, then surely one day they will begin worshipping said mascot.

Already you, as a clear-thinking individual with all your own teeth, have recognized the absurdity of this notion. Schools have mascots like tigers, bears and raccoons, and no one worships them. Some schools are Vikings, and the real Vikings raped and pillaged a lot. At my high school, we were the Hitlers, and nothing bad ever came of that. Your high school mascot has little bearing on how you behave in real life. In fact, high school in general has little bearing on real life.

Some people have pointed out that Springville High School got the name not from the Satan of the Bible, but from the a cement company called Red Devil. I think this is actually more offensive than if they’d named themselves after Lucifer. Since when do we name our high school mascots after businesses? What’s next, the Orem Burger Kings? The Timpview Reeboks? The Payson Percocets? I would say Springville should change its mascot to the rabbit, but that would only be a transparent attempt to tie together two unrelated topics.

These were the two major controversies in Utah County in March and April 2002. Sometimes it's a Victoria's Secret poster; sometimes it only school mascots and rabbits.

It was difficult to write about the mascot thing because so many jokes had already been made by the general public. People had already done the thing where you go through other schools' mascots and sarcastically talk about how dangerous they are. (Provo High School is the bulldogs, and bulldogs are known for being ugly and slobbery, so we're going to give the kids low self-esteem, etc., etc.) I had to find a different angle.

The Payson Percocets is a reference to yet another local news story, wherein several Payson High School students were caught misusing prescription drugs, including Percocet. I'm amused at the idea of students using a particular drug SO MUCH that the drug company actually becomes a school sponsor. (Well, amused and saddened, I guess.)

Yes, I really looked all over the Provo City Code to read about pets. It was backbreaking work, I'll tell you.

The woman who first complained about the Red Devils mascot was the same woman who was upset about the movie "Brigham City" because it used a Mapleton park and gazebo as the scene of a murder, and now her kids can never look at that park or gazebo without being afraid of being killed. No doubt her children avoid New York, too, for fear of King Kong stepping on them.

A few readers pointed out that the Red Devil cement company donated all the cement to the school when it was built, and that's why the school named its mascot in the company's honor. I already knew this, and I don't think it's a very good reason.