La Satira News Service
Residents of a small town in Pennsylvania, weary after facing three winter storms in the two weeks since Groundhog Day, took the unusual step of asking a judge to file a cease-and-desist order against Punxsutawney Phil, arguably the most famous groundhog in the business of weather forecasting.
“Well, what else can we do?” asked Alhalibut mayor Jack Flocondeneige. “We were promised an early spring, and once again the glorified rat has failed to deliver.”
Hans Gletscher, a local grocer, agreed. “If he can’t forecast any better than this, he shouldn’t be in the business. How can he still market himself as a weather forecaster with a success rate of only 39%? Even a flipping coin could do a better job than that.”
Criticism of Punxsutawney Phil, though, has not been unanimous. Some, while not especially impressed by his powers of prognostication, have stopped short of calling for Phil to call it quits. “It’s not as though modern meteorology is foolproof,” said Dr. Irene Dropski-Pfallin, professor of meteorology at the nearby University of Punxsutawney, from a specially-constructed igloo on the university grounds. “They can hardly expect too much accuracy from a rodent. Of course, if his predictions have been wrong 61% of the time on a forecast that only has two choices, it’s worth asking: is he that bad at forecasting, or have we got the signals backward?”
At the offices of the Groundhog Meteorological Gazette, editor Arthur Bellwether bristled at this suggestion. “Of course we haven’t gotten the signals backward. That’s the way it’s always been for time out of mind: if the groundhog sees his shadow, we’re in for another six weeks of winter. Otherwise, we get an early spring. And as far as that goes, it’s only February: we could still have an early spring.”
Regardless of Phil’s actual talent, the plaintiffs are unlikely to have smooth sailing. According to Dr. Maureen Murmeltier, the University of Punxsutawney’s Distinguished Professor of Dubious Litigation, the case is problematic for a number of reasons. “This isn’t normally the sort of case in which a cease-and-desist order would apply,” she said. “Also, outside of some sort of Miracle on 34th Street scenario, it’s hard to imagine the court recognizing a groundhog as a legally responsible agent, much less making a serious ruling on what is–let’s face it–a fun but rather frivolous superstition. Anyway, the plaintiffs themselves have a bit of a credibility gap: if the groundhog is so inaccurate as they say, what does it say about them that they still trust it? ”
“That lawyer person has a lot of nerve calling it a frivolous superstition,” responded Gletscher, the grocer. “I’ve never subscribed to a frivolous superstition in my life, and hopefully never will, knock on wood.”
A preliminary hearing in the matter will be scheduled once grounds crews are able to remove the giant snowdrift from the front of the courthouse.