Wednesday, May 03, 2000

Motto makers

All things possible to mix up

        What the federal courts taketh away, the people deliver.

        Last week, Ohio's motto was declared unconstitutional. The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals threw out “With God, all things are possible” because it is a direct quote from the Bible.

        The state of Ohio plans to appeal that decision. “With God, all things are possible” has served the state well. It's been Ohio's motto since 1959.

        Since appeals can fail, Ohio could be in the market for a new motto. But, where to shop for one? There's no Mottos R Us. So, I asked readers for suggestions.

        They delivered 122 mottos.

        Some were serious.

        (“Ohio, the beacon of freedom” — Robert Yoder, downtown.)

        Some sarcastic.

        (“Ohio — Road construction ahead” — Andrew Cosgrove, via the Internet.)

        One was geographic.

        (“Ohio — A river runs through it and friendliness flows” — Bev Levine, Wyoming.)

        Another carried multiple meanings.

        (“What a state we're in” — Trevor Pauley, Milford.)

        A few were unprintable.

        (This is a family newspaper.)

        All were welcome.

        Polling the people made sense to me. Ohio's old motto came from the people, specifically two people, Jim Mastronardo and his mom.

        When Jim was 10 years old and living with his parents in Hartwell, he discovered Ohio had no motto. His candidate was: “With God, all things are possible.”

        Jim did not know the quote came from the Bible. He thought it was just his mother's favorite saying.

        Twenty-seven readers wanted either to keep Jim's motto — “leave us and the Bible alone” said Carol Kahn from Amberley Village — or create a slight variation.

        “With faith and integrity, all things are possible” — Carol Mutchler, Blue Ash.

        “With casinos in every public school basement in Ohio, all things are possible” — Art Hites, via the Internet.

        “With judges, all rulings are stupid” — Jerry E. Sullivan, Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

        “Without God, nothing is possible” — Rev. Ralph C. Hartman, Covington.

        Tim Mara, downtown attorney and tax foe, offered a one-size-fits-all motto. He claims it works for “hard-core believers” as well as Republicans and Democrats. The Mara motto:

        “With "you know who,' all things are possible.”

        Sports ruled the mottos of many Internet users. Some made references to the Bengals and Reds.

        “The state that wastes too much money on a football team that stinks” — Jennifer Bromagen.

        “With Griffey, scalpers not giving away tickets” — Cash Hayden.

        Jim Cummins, poet and curator of the University of Cincinnati's Elliston Poetry Collection, based his motto on the lyrics from “Ohio,” a hit for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

        “I didn't choose the refrain, "Four dead in Ohio,' ” he told me. “From the same song, I went with: "We're finally on our own.'

        “That has a ring to it. God has to go off our public stage. So, we're finally on own own.”

        But with these motto makers we're in good hands. They remind me of an Internet-borne suggestion from Janis Cravens. Her words captured my thoughts about the people of Ohio and the choices for the state's motto:

        Ohio Rich in endless possibilities.

Columnist Cliff Radel can be reached at 768-8379; fax 768-8340.