1. Several commenters predicted that the ruling of the U.S. Patent Office cancelling the registered trademark of the Washington Redskins would warrant a “Kaboom!” here, the Ethics Alarms designation reserved for occurrences or statements so outrageous that they make my head explode. Please. Even pre-weakened by previous cranial fireworks, my head isn’t that unstable. The decision was neither a major surprise, nor was it as momentous as the ignoramuses in the media, social media, and Harry Reid pronounced it to be. (More on the decision here.) The Redskins retain their federal trademark registrations until all appeals have been exhausted, and that process could take years. The registrations will be canceled only if the team loses all appeals, and if I were owner Dan Snyder, I would appeal up to the Supreme Court if I had to. This should be done not to preserve the Redskins name, which is archaic and at this point more trouble than its worth, but to beat back the forces of government censorship of thought and words, of which the anti-Redskins campaign is a significant, if relatively trivial, part.
2. Washington Post sports columnist Sally Jenkins, not a fan of the name, beat me to a column about what is really troubling about the decision, as she wrote…
Now that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has struck a governmental blow against commodified ethnic insults, I’m nervous, because I may have “disparaged” somebody this morning when I buttered my toast. After I put away the Land O Lakes butter with that Indian maiden logo on the box, I bit off a chew of Red Man tobacco and climbed into a Jeep Cherokee.
The Washington football club ought to ditch its slur of a trademark, voluntarily. It ought to do so on the grounds of basic decency and good taste, and, you’d hope, with an intelligent sense of history, context and place. If they won’t do it willingly, then the rest of us and their colleagues in the NFL ought to embarrass, jeer and cajole them into it. But the method currently being employed, the mobilization of the U.S. government in favor of a correct sensibility, is wrong…
Nobody would like to see a name change more than me, and no one has made more fun of owner Daniel Snyder on this subject. But the USPTO decision came in a political climate that is queasy-making. It came after months of various Feds leaning on the team in ways that make it hard to feel a sense of victory. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) has threatened to examine the NFL’s tax-exempt status. The Federal Communications Commission has threatened to bring a criminal charge against the club for “indecency.”
The trademark case is indirectly about policing speech. Denial of a trademark registration is not the same as banning the use of a word, no. But it came in concert with several other forms of government pressure…
3. Kudos also to Jenkins for reminding readers of the fact that the ACLU opposes, as it should and by charter is obligated to do, government action that infringes on Dan Snyder’s right to call his team what he wants, and accept the consequences. Yes, I know that the Obama Administration and Harry Reid’s Senate regard the U.S. Constitution as an arcane annoyance and an impediment to their Leftist, nanny sate, politically correct-or-else Nirvana. Still, when progressives find themselves on the wrong side of the ACLU, they might want to consider whether they made a wrong turn somewhere.
4. I.R.S. This is how this administration operates: it makes it very clear, though public statements, how it wants its supposedly non-political, objective agencies to rule, always based on pleasing a pro-Democrat demographic. It is a blatant strategy to rig the system and distort fairness, due process and justice for political gain. As we can see in the examples of the I.R.S. scandal and here, and, less successfully, in Obama’s inept efforts to convict the military’s sexual harassers before they stood trial, it is SOP, happily ignored by most journalists (except for rare truth-tellers like Jenkins) because they are too corrupt, biased or dim to realize that just because they dislike the targets of this governmental abuse now, the damage it does to our national ideals and values is devastating.
5. I repeat, because I have had to endure the insults of the political correctness bullies implying otherwise, I don’t like the Redskins name, I actively dislike Dan Snyder, and if the D.C. football team disbanded tomorrow, I wouldn’t shed a tear. But as in the case of Donald Sterling, this campaign is, as Jenkins says, about policing speech. If the fact that the government is trying to use its power to do that doesn’t alarm, anger and frighten you—if you don’t find that a great deal more offensive than the name of a city’s pro football team—your priorities are warped, I question your commitment to American values, and I regard you as a menace to my liberty and my rights as a citizen.