So you may or may not have heard of the Village of Whitesboro, New York. But there’s been a heated controversy going on up there that rivals the skills of talented sitcom writers everywhere. Okay, maybe not everywhere. But definitely one specific set of sitcom writers. I mean, the Parks and Rec crew couldn’t have come up with a better storyline if they tried.
It all centers around a town seal. No, not the horn blowing, smart as anything, cute as a button, yet can be a ferocious predator so stay away from them seals. But rather, a town seal. The kind towns put on their letterhead, their Town Hall, their police cars, their memorabilia, and everything else they widely share in order to let the world know just what kind of people live in their little town. Yeah. That kind of seal.
What could cause such controversy you ask? How could a (normally) boring town seal be such a problem? Well, this particular seal, because Whitesboro didn’t want some lame old seal no one would notice, depicts a white man strangling a Native American “friendly” wrestling match that the town founder, Hugh White, had with the Chief of the Oneida people way back in the day. This, in and of itself, is not a bad thing, but seriously, who is going to research all of this history when looking at the seal? First impressions, people. First. Impressions.
And, believe it or not, this is not Pawnee, Indiana as one would expect from the sheer outrageousness of it all. With everything going on, it sure seems like an issue Leslie Knope would find herself valiantly battling, albeit most likely failing, in her small, less than enlightened, town. But unfortunately not. This is real, it’s happening, and it’s the truth of today. Unable to decide for themselves, or you know, do their jobs, the authorities of the town decided to put the decision, of either keeping or redesigning the seal, up to a vote among the citizens. Who would have guessed that this is how it would end up?
I found it extremely interesting (cause I’m a nerd and do research and find odd things interesting) that what the town is so proud of that they had to go and put it on a seal to begin with is based on a cheat. From their OWN story, as told on their OWN website, it would appear their founder cheated his way to victory on that fateful wrestling day.
From the town’s website:
“He accepted the challenge, took hold of the Indian and by a fortunate trip, succeeded almost instantly in throwing him. As he saw him falling, in order to prevent another challenge, he fell upon the Indian for an instant and it was some moments before he could rise.”
A fortunate trip indeed. And fearful of a challenge that he knew he would most likely lose, the founder did what any self-respecting politician would do. He took advantage of the situation for his own personal gain. IF this is even close to the truth. Reality may be even less kind to ol’ Hugh White. Nevertheless, good Hugh came out a hero, forever immortalized on a seal for the ages.
And he will be immortalized for the ages, because the town has decided to keep this seal. When this news story first broke, I thought to myself, it’s okay, the town will surely turn out in droves and vote this ridiculous seal into oblivion. I mean, one would hope that the town could get their act together and vote for one of the many lovely, artistic options that were being offered up as an alternative. I mean, c’mon people. No one wants to see a real life Pawnee in the world. Right? Right!?
But alas, I was wrong, as I am so often wrong in these matters. Just 200 steadfast individuals out of the entire 3,000 Whitesboro citizenry bothered to show up on voting day. And their voices were heard loud and clear.
Changing the seal to something that would show their town in a positive light – something their town could be truly proud of – was apparently just not an option for them.