Sometimes the only way to get an idea to penetrate the thick skulls of some humans is to enlist the help of a fictitious furry animal.
A great example is Smokey Bear. You could have the head of the U.S. Forrest Service stand up there and say all the stuff Smokey says about fire prevention all day long and nobody would hear a word. But when a cartoon bear wearing a ranger hat says the same damn thing, it gets people’s attention.
Smokey even gets people to accept a little personal responsibility for contributing to the common good, which is really hard to do. Smokey says that only they can prevent fires and they realize that it’s a collective effort. It takes all of us pitching in to make it happen. If the head of the U.S. Forrest Service said that, a lot of people would bristle because they’d say it’s big brother government trying to tell them what to do. But when Smokey says to do it, it sounds downright patriotic.
So maybe it’s time to have some sort of furry mascot promoting cripple access and rights. Yeah, there are fancy laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act, but big deal. It may take a furry mascot to completely drive home what it’s all about.
Like for instance, there’s this pizza place down the block from me that has steps on front. I could sue them, I suppose. But I think it would be much more effective if a talking bear pointed at them like Uncle Sam and admonished them to do their part and build a ramp. How can anybody say no to a talking bear? You’d have to be some kind of communist or something.
So if the federal government was really serious about making the ADA work, somebody in some agency somewhere would conjure up something like the ADA Bear. It could be a bear in a wheelchair or a blind bear with a white cane and sunglasses or a one-legged bear or a Down Syndrome bear or whatever. And somebody in a bear suit could make public appearances, like at strip mall grand openings and school assemblies, and rev people up about the ADA.
Maybe it shouldn't be a bear, since that might be criticized as derivative. How about a talking iguana? An armadillo? The ADA Armadillo has a certain ring to it, doesn’t it? Whatever it is, the animal must be strategically chosen. It has to have a certain cuddliness, but it also must command some authority without being authoritarian about it. People don’t do what Smokey says because they fear he’ll attack them if they don’t. They do it because he’s so damn irresistible. And when the ADA Armadillo tells people to do their part, it can’t come off as a guilt trip or people will balk. It has to be more like a rah-rah rallying cry.So come on, federal government! It’s time to put up or shut up! No more talk! It’s time for real action! We demand a furry mascot! Oh wait! Armadillos aren’t furry, are they? Oh well, whatever.
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