FARMINGTON — And the award for Most Embarrassing Misuse of Public Office goes to …
It would appear that Farmington Mayor Jim Talbot has decided to weigh in on the new Farmington High School mascot, the Phoenix. What’s more, he’s using his position as an elected official in an attempt to circumvent the free and fair voting that resulted in students choosing that mascot.
In his most recent mayor’s message, splashed across the front page of the Farmington city newsletter, Talbot uses the weight of his office to bring pressure to bear on the Davis School District over an issue he calls “embarrassing.” He’s calling on the superintendent and principal to ignore the will of the students and pick a different mascot for the new school. “Eagles” seems to be the name he and the other sore losers are leaning toward.
And why is Talbot doing this? Because he thinks someone might use an obscure pluralization of Phoenix (“Phoenices”) to tag FHS students with the nickname “penises.”
I can’t believe I’m allowing myself to be dragged back into this debate. After all, I said my piece two months ago, when Farmington resident Kyle Fraughton first manufactured this idiotic controversy. But then again, at the time it was just some disgruntled residents. Now, a public official has gotten involved, using public resources, and that ratchets up this story from the simply silly to the astoundingly absurd.
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It’s kind of impressive that in a nanny state like ours, which tries to micromanage every aspect of our lives, the Davis School District’s Board of Education came up with a fairly novel concept — allowing students the agency to choose their own mascot.
And make no mistake: The students have spoken. In a news release last fall, the Davis School District wrote, “Phoenix was by far the favorite mascot suggested by students from the neighboring Davis and Viewmont high schools, as well as by junior high students who will eventually attend the school.”
In other words, a clear majority of students bound for the new school decided they’d like to be known as the Phoenix. But now, a bunch of dirty-minded adults are trying to unrock that vote.
If students had actually chosen “Penis” to be their mascot, I could understand adults having to step in and say, “Sorry, kids, but that’s not really an appropriate name for the mascot of a public school. Try again.”
But “Phoenix” is a perfectly normal, acceptable name. Heck, it’s the capital of Arizona. Do you suppose people in the country’s 13th largest metropolitan area ever worry about being compared to the male anatomy?
Besides, Phoenix is no more likely to be ridiculed than any other high school mascot — including Talbot’s beloved (and, frankly, overused) Eagles. The truth is, any mascot name can be savaged by the right motivated group of immature students.
Take the mascot “Eagles.” There’s a 2004 Nelly song, “Flap Your Wings,” in which the rapper repeatedly commands women dripping with sweat to “Drop down and get your eagle on, girl.”
And just in case that meaning isn’t quite clear enough, the lyrics go on to suggest: “Take your pants off/ You can leave your panties on/ But first, drop down and get your eagle on.”
Now, I’m quite certain I don’t have to tell Talbot or Fraughton what it means when a young woman is told to take her pants off and assume a spread-eagle position. But for everyone else, I can assure you that chanting those Nelly lyrics at a group of Farmington Eagles coeds would be way worse than any Farmington Phoenix chant that might arise.
And before you go insisting that my scenario is the more unreasonable one, which source material do you suppose teenagers are more likely to borrow from — a rap song, or some obscure grammatical rule Googled by a few residents?
In his mascot manifesto, Talbot says he’s “had several meetings with (Davis School District) Superintendent (Reid) Newey and (Farmington High) Principal (Richard) Swanson, and they have been open and supportive of our input.”
Several meetings? Open and supportive? Please tell me that a city’s mayor has far better things to do with his time than waste it with “several meetings” on a subject that, frankly, isn’t any of his business. And furthermore, please tell me that a superintendent and principal were only being “open and supportive” in much the same way I am whenever, say, a homeless person approaches me with input about the voices in his head.
The students chose the Phoenix mascot. The district approved it. It’s unconscionable that the mayor is using his office in an attempt to void that vote.
Of course, if Talbot is successful in this fool’s errand to influence the students’ democratic decision, there is a silver lining. Namely, we don’t have to accept an embarrassing decision just because the majority voted for it.
Which means even though most of my misguided neighbors cast ballots for Talbot in the last election, I think I’ve got a good shot at insisting someone else should take his place as mayor.
You know, considering the potential for embarrassment and all.