Even if you haven’t seen the movie Groundhog Day, you know about Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog who creeps out of his den on February 2, now known as Groundhog Day. As legend has it, if Phil sees his shadow it means spring will arrive in six weeks; if he doesn’t, he returns to his den because he knows there will be six more weeks of winter.
Notwithstanding that the two outcomes of Phil’s morning walk are essentially same, Groundhog Day has become a fun thing that most of us take for the silliness it is.
But not Pennsylvania State Representative Peter Daley II, who was outraged – outraged! – when Weather Channel meteorologist Stephanie Abrams pointed out that Punxsutawney Phil is little more than an oversized rat with no particular insight into things meteorological. Deciding that her remarks were “unprofessional and demeaning,” he concluded that the only way he could defend Phil’s honor is with a sternly worded letter to the poor meteorologist. Here’s that letter – every last word (mistakes included).
Dear Ms. Abrams:
I write to you today to express my disappointment in your disparaging comments related to the time-honored tradition of Groundhog Day. As a member of the Pennsylvania General Assembly for 34 years and, more importantly, a citizen of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I was offended by your on-air comments describing the groundhog as a “rodent”. Your negativity was appalling and demonstrated your ignorance toward this popular American tradition, the people of Pennsylvania, and the loyal viewers of the Weather Channel. With that said, I am requesting that you publicly apologize for your remarks.
As you are aware, Groundhog Day is a popular tradition in this country dating back to 1886. In fact, this American tradition now reaches an international audience and draws tens of thousands of visitors to Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania each year. During your broadcast of the Groundhog Day celebration on February 2, 2016, your repeated insults of the groundhog were unprofessional and demeaning to the hard-working people who organize the holiday and the community that hosts the event.
Traditions and community comraderies are what make the United States so special. I hope that your inappropriate comments related to Groundhog Day were isolated, and that the Weather Channel will only report on weather-related news in the future, and not disparage a time-honored American tradition such as Groundhog Day.
Sheesh. Pennsylvania, like most states, has a ton of problems, including a less-than-legitimate state budget that was passed nearly six months after the constitutional deadline, but this guy, 34 years in the state legislature, thinks it’s important to invest his time in sending this kind of letter – on official Pennsylvania House of Representatives stationery, no less – and defending the honor (maybe his response was temperate: he could have challenged Abrams to a duel!) of large rodents and those who celebrate them.
What a world.
Belated happy Groundhog Day!