Cattaraugus County seal

The Cattaraugus County seal in the County Legislature chamber and entrances to county buildings in Little Valley and Olean has come under criticism for the appearance of the women’s breasts.

Several legislators have voiced concerns over the county seal’s depiction of bare breasts.

And while bare breasts are not illegal — the state Court of Appeals ruled that it’s unconstitutional to ban a woman’s bare breasts when men have that right — I do understand their concerns.

But here’s another way to look at the seal — it’s insultingly generic.

Two topless women next to a dumbed-down version of the state seal? That doesn’t exactly scream “Cattaraugus County” to me, and I bet you’ll agree.

The city of Olean has a more descriptive seal, and it’s literally a state map (With NYC and Long Island absent — I wonder if that was an accident?) with a glowing blob over Olean.

You want a good example of a descriptive seal? Look east.

Allegany County’s seal has a map of the state, but it’s surrounded by lots of good stuff. For industry, there’s a welder, a machinist, an oil derrick and a steam train on a railroad trestle. For the outdoors, there’s a sailboat, a fisherman reeling in a big trout, a running deer and a hunter aiming at his quarry (placement-wise, though, he’s shooting at the sailboat). There’s also a tractor plowing a field and even a wheel of cheese. In addition, there’s a potter and a mortarboard.

On the one hand, it’s visually “busy.” But just by looking at it you get a quick visual history of the county. It’s rural, but has industry. It’s a sportsman’s paradise. They take their colleges and arts seriously. Oh, and there’s cheese.

Now, I only wish we had someone with the legal authority to select a design.

Hmm. Who could it be, who could it be?

Oh, wait. You’re the legislators.

You don’t need to kick it around from committee to committee until it gets forgotten until the next election cycle, when it will magically crop up again as a concern and then forgotten again.

Put your money where your mouth is — get a new one, or leave it alone, instead of a drawn out debate with nothing resolved.

Your drawing is about as good as my stick figures, though? Thank god we have artists around here.

Call the graphic art instructors at St. Bonaventure or your local high school and get the name of a top student. Have them put whatever symbolism on it you feel represents the county. Pay them $100 out of your pocket or whatever the artist will accept in trade (the old iPhone in the kitchen drawer and a bag of Cheetos? It doesn’t really matter). Take it to Ways and Means and put it on the table. If you’re really worried, get two done so you have choices.

Heck, you could even put up a county-wide contest with a prize like a free ferret rabies shot or a gift certificate for Meals on Wheels delivered to their dorm room. I would have killed for free lunch in college!

If enough people like it, vote it in and put it on the stationary as you use up the old stuff — no point in throwing the old stuff away, you (the taxpayers, actually) already paid for it.

But whatever you do, don’t just slap the seal on a flag and call it the county flag. The folks at the North American Vexillological Association will eat you alive — those guys don’t screw around.

(Bob Clark is city editor of the Olean Times Herald. His email is bclark@oleantimesherald.com.)

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