Put this in the category of Idaho can do better.
So why does one Idaho lawmaker want to make fun of the mentally ill?
Rep. Paul Shepherd of Riggins is the sponsor of House Bill 413 that would create a specialty license plate depicting the Orofino Maniac, the mascot for that Clearwater Valley town’s junior high and high school.
Here’s the problem. The state mental health hospital is located in Orofino.
It doesn’t take a psychiatrist to figure out where the “maniac” name came from. In fact, the maniac is regularly listed as one of the most offensive mascots in the nation, right along with “midgets,” “chinks,” and “cottonpickers.”
What’s more, Idaho’s mental health system is abysmal. While about 120 psychiatrists service all of Idaho, more mentally ill people are being “treated” by our criminal justice system every year. Meanwhile, the state’s contracted Medicaid mental health provider Optum has been under fire for refusing treatment to patients and delaying payments to health providers — did we mention that Optum is being investigated by federal officials for violating patient-privacy laws?
We understand that revenues from the plate will go to fund Orofino High School’s extracurricular activities, but we suggest finding a more respectful way of doing it.
It’s bad enough having the maniac in the Clearwater Valley. But by putting it on a license plate, Shepherd will stamp it with the state’s seal of approval while exporting Idaho’s most shameful, archaic and distasteful mascot to the rest of the nation, one car at at time.
Why anybody would want to do that, we have no idea.