Up in Brasstown deep in the Smoky Mountains, on every New Years Eve a local merchant holds a ‘Possum Drop’ – a western North Carolina version of the Yankees’ ball drop in Times Square.
What the mountain folks hadn’t counted on was PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) taking umbrage at the whole idea of celebrating New Years at a possum’s expense and suing and stopping the festival dead in its tracks.
So, one year, instead of watching a live possum in a glass box ‘drop’ the festival’s organizer (Mr. Logan) ‘dropped’ a dead possum he’d found on the side of the road to appease PETA.
Then the politicians got into the act and passed a bill reinstating Mr. Logan’s right to drop a live possum but, then, PETA filed a second lawsuit and Mr. Logan found himself back in court.
Possums, PETA explained to the judge, are shy creatures who’re scared of human beings and all the noise and rhubarb and flashing lights at Brasstown’s festival could cause a possum to keel over dead or leave the tiny varmint emotionally scarred for years.
If I thought, Logan explained, there was anything to traumatize that possum, I wouldn’t do it.
PETA said, What about the fireworks? The fireworks are too loud for a little critter like a possum to hear.
Logan explained he’d moved the fireworks so far away from the festival that most of his guests couldn’t even hear them.
What about the muskets? PETA asked, The antique muskets you fire during the celebration.
Well, Logan said, he’d moved the musket firing to the front of the celebration so it was over before the possum arrived on the scene. It’s not, Logan added, that I’m being stubborn – and pointed out to get a permit from the State Wildlife Commission he had to have the possum examined by a veterinarian and its diet had to mimic its natural diet and it had to be kept in a box six feet long by three feet wide by three feet tall.
That’s, Logan added, a motel for a possum.
Undaunted PETA’s lawyer Martina Bernstein told the judge, Think of it from the possum’s point of view: In its perception, it will be surrounded by predators. They will be all around it. It will smell them, it will hear them, it will know they’re there.
Well, the judge thought it over and ruled the possum could drop at midnight and Logan announced he was happy common sense had finally prevailed and added, ‘Common is the most unused sense of all the senses.’
Which all sounds like a silly if unkind (to possums) story except for one fact: The state had to reimburse PETA $74,446 after one of the lawsuits to pay for the cost of its lawyers.