Bunnies on the Barricades


September 13, 1993|By RICK HOROWITZ

Sometimes when the news comes in, you don't have a clue about what happens next. Other times, you can pretty much write the script yourself.

This is one of the other times.

The dateline is Perryopolis, Pennsylvania, just up the road from downtown Smock, Pennsylvania. (But you knew that.) And the headline? ''Man Wearing Rabbit Disguise Holds Up Convenience Store.'' Four short paragraphs about the stickup at CoGo's, the crucial sentence being this one right here:

''The man wore a white bunny head with the face cut out and carried an ax.''

There was a second man, too, wearing his own head, and a small revolver. The two miscreants made the CoGo's clerk, one Jeff Dudeck, hand over the loot, and then, said the state trooper, ''They fled out of the store on foot and disappeared into the night.''

Seems poor Jeff wasn't used to being held up by men in bunny heads, and he had some trouble describing the particular head in question to the trooper. ''The ears, though, were clearly pink and white,'' the story reported, ''and Mr. Dudeck smelled alcohol on the robbers' breath.''

That's all there was, which instantly raised all kinds of questions in my mind, the biggest of which was: ''How come state troopers always use words like ''fled''? A little dramatic, don't you think, for your basic hippety-hop?

Anyway, that's all there was. But it doesn't matter. We all know what happens next.

An anonymous press release will object to the story. ''This is just one more attempt,'' it will say, ''to destroy the image of law-abiding rabbits everywhere.''

Followed by the not-so-anonymous news conference. ''There wasn't a single authentic rabbit in this entire episode,'' says the president of Bunnies United for Greater Sensitivity, the country's biggest pro-rabbit organization. ''Yet the mainstream media has emphasized that one aspect of the story, which only reinforces old stereotypes'' of rabbit lawlessness and drunkenness.

The offending newspaper issues a statement of its own. ''We didn't put the man in the bunny head,'' the statement will say. ''We just reported it. We have the greatest respect for this country's thriving rabbit community.'' The Bunnies United spokesrabbit will call the statement ''wholly inadequate.''

''The fact that one of these men chose to pass himself off as a rabbit,'' he continues, ''just shows how much the media has already damaged us. This guy just assumed that people would believe a rabbit had done it.'' The spokesrabbit calls for an immediate boycott of the newspaper. ''We've been an underground movement for too long,'' he says. ''It's time for some real grass-roots activity.''

The picket signs go up. ''There Are No Robber Rabbits,'' says one. ''What's Up? Schlock!'' says another. The chants begin: ''You Won't Make Your Money/Pounding on a Bunny!'' Soon the TV cameras arrive. ''Aren't you a little long in the tooth to be hopping down the bunny trail?'' one of the network anchormen will ask one of the organizers.

''You think we're all wise-cracking practical jokers,'' she'll reply. ''Why doesn't anyone write about the good things? We were into health food before anyone!''

Picket signs go up around the network headquarters, too. Then suddenly, breakaway rabbits burrow into the lobby for a sit-in: ''This hare/Goes nowhere! This hare/Goes nowhere!''

A confrontation. A standoff. The network issues a statement.

''We are pleased that Bunnies United for Greater Sensitivity has agreed to serve as consultants on our upcoming made-for-TV movie, ''The Man in the White Flannel Head.'' Bunnies United will also be conducting seminars for all our rabbit-programming personnel. We will be donating 10,000 carrots each month to a deserving warren. In taking these steps, the network once again demonstrates its commitment to . . . ''

You can write it yourself.

Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist.

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