London, Ontario has a new indy league baseball team and they’re called “The London Rippers.” The logo is of a menacing-looking man in a Victorian-era top hat and is clearly and undeniably aimed at evoking Jack The Ripper. The mayor and a lot of other people have a bit of a problem with that. Here’s the mayor:
“On behalf of London City Council, we want to express serious concerns about the name of London’s newest baseball team. While the team owner’s intention may not have been to draw a connection to Jack the Ripper, we believe this name is unfortunate particularly in light of our focus on ending woman abuse. We will be speaking to the owner today and give him an opportunity to reconsider the name.”
The owner is denying the association — he has some whole backstory that is more Phantom of the Opera than Jack the Ripper — but, man, c’mon. Own it. It was a creative idea, even if it’s sort of in bad taste.
I say “sort of” because Jack the Ripper did his work, like, 130 years ago. Murder is murder and it’s always awful, but at what point has enough time passed to where this kind of thing isn’t a problem? And yes, I note the mayor’s nod to ending violence against women, but does a reference to a 19th century British serial killer who is more often fictionalized today than dealt with in his brutal reality really undermine those laudable aims?
I’m not saying it’s 100% fabulous. But really, kids were singing about Lizzie Bordon taking an axe and giving her mother 40 whacks within a few years of that going down. Is it really too soon to be able to use a long-dead historical figure as a mascot? There are a bunch teams called “crusaders” and the crusades were brutal. We still have Chief Wahoo around, and you can make an argument that the thinking behind that mascot (i.e. Indians are somehow less-than-human) represented way more death and destruction than anything Jack the Ripper did.
I’m not going to the mat for the Rippers. But really, isn’t this more “roll your eyes and groan” territory than it is “issue a terse political speech” territory?