Chris Rose: Defending the Pelicans

It's been a tough week for lowly pelican, that stoic but unlovely waterbird that serves as the symbol for the State of Louisiana.

In all my years, I have never heard anyone suggest that Louisiana's reputation was ill served by the brown pelican, whose fierce devotion to their young first caught the attention of European settlers to the region.

The brown is the only one of the seven pelican species that plunges from the air headfirst into water to feed; it's a fisher as savvy and accomplished as any angler in this sportsman's paradise.

And the brown pelican's remarkable re-population of south Louisiana after near total extinction from our coasts in the 1970s is one of our region's greatest - and rare - environmental triumphs.

Yet, suddenly everybody's down on this heretofore inoffensive creature.

All because last week, sources somewhere told somebody that the New Orleans Hornets were changing their name to the Pelicans.

Though unconfirmed, reaction from the local fan base and national media was fast and furious, specious and spurious.

And in this age of limitless diversity of opinion delivered via internet, the response was uncharacteristically uniform in the intensity and scope of its ridicule, insult and mockery.

Let us be glad that sports blog literacy is not among the brown pelican's many admirable attributes.

Ooh, scary! Is what the kerfuffle has essentially boiled down to.

No one fears the pelican.

No one respects the pelican.

No one loves the pelican.

Of no matter; I am not here to debate the merits of the team's future name.

I am here to call for an end to the widespread, gleeful and wanton character assassination of the pelican.

This skilled, nurturing, tenacious - but admittedly funny-faced - species should provoke in all Louisianans great measures of pride, admiration and loyalty.

My fellow statesmen: Leave the disparagement of this humble, pious creature to others across our borders.

When they mock the pelican, they mock our flag.

And them there's fightin' words.

And the fact that it so disturbingly riles up everyone elsewhere just might be the best recommendation for adopting the name after all.