A Merry Christmas For The Washington Redskins, “The Slants,” And The First Amendment

Yes, The Slants were apparently, disparaging. themselves.

Yes, The Slants were apparently disparaging. themselves.

The political-correctness obsessed Democratic component of our government has decided that forcing Dan Snyder to change the name of his football team due to its alleged offensiveness to people who don’t care about football is a legitimate government function, or so they would have us believe. Actually, they believe it is a legitimate political function to lick the moccasins of progressive activist groups who thrive on opportunities to tell others what they can safely say.

After Senate Democrats signed an unethical  missive threatening the Washington Redskins if the team wasn’t renamed something that an enterprising race-baiter wouldn’t find offensive—not as easy as it may seem— the Patent and Trademark Office canceled the registration of “Redskins” using the excuse that Federal trademark law excludes the registration of “scandalous, immoral, or disparaging marks” as well as trademarks that a “substantial composite of the referenced group” perceives as disparaging to a religion, nation, ethnic group, or  belief system. [ You can read my opinion on this ruling here. I’d quote from it, but it’s Christmas Eve.]

The ruling was upheld in the Fourth Circuit, despite the fact that it seem to be fairly blatant viewpoint-based restriction of speech, or in other words, unconstitutional. To his credit, Snyder is not allowing the Democrats to bully him or illegally try to control his speech either, and has the resources to fight. The betting is that the Supreme Court will tell the Trademark Office to stop playing politics.

The Patent and Trademark Office also barred the registration of “The Slants,” the trademarked name of Simon Tam’s Asian-American band. Now the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit just held, in the case of In re Tam, by a 9-to-3 vote, that this exclusion of “disparaging” trademarks, and, by extension, the Redskins ban as well, violates the First Amendment.  This means that the Redskins case is likely to go to the Supreme Court if the government doesn’t agree to let people trademark whatever the want to, regardless of who or what it might “disparage.”

When I was in college and you had told me that the liberals would be the ones trying to censor speech and control expression in 2015, I would have suggested that you got some baaad weed and were, like, freaking out, man.

Prof. Eugene Volokh, who agrees with the Federal Circuit, has more about the decision here.

I would like to see Snyder fight off the unethical government speech bullies, foil the political correctness hordes, and then, after he hasn’t heard a peep about team for a couple of years quietly change the anachronistic team name on his own volition. It’s time. The message sent by capitulating to the activists trying to force him to change, however, would be the same dangerous message sent by today’s college administrators, which is that a claim of offense doesn’t have to be reasonable to effectively muzzle speech, just persistent.


8 thoughts on “A Merry Christmas For The Washington Redskins, “The Slants,” And The First Amendment

  1. When the American Indians went to war against the early “foreigners” coming into their territories, they painted themselves red! This was a sign of war to the Vikings, English, Spanish, etc! When these foreigners saw the Indians painted in red, they called them Redskins! There was no racial significance to it, it was a call to run and get your weapons and get ready to fight them because they were coming for your scalp! Redskins is a VERY appropriate name for a football team!

  2. Political Correct(ness ?) is simply a slippery slope bound to end up in conflict as the offended (and offender) segments become more segregated and demanding.

    For example, in Canada, Harper was going to ban the Hijab due to a movement by womens rights, however muslims (including women who live by that lifestyle) were enraged.

    Or, forming a ‘protective’ group for the heterosexual anglo-saxon male, is some how racist. Having an all white school is a no-no, but it’s ok to have an all . Sadly, slavery was never subject to any specific race contrary to popular belief, all races were subject to the same conditions and like today, was based on how the power shifted — if you had money, you had status and usually your own servants/slaves which you supplied with food, shelter, etc.

    Regarding naming convention of a sports team — what about the Carolina Panthers [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Panther_Party ] (notice any similarity in the logo ? ), and countless others.

    It is unreasonable to expect everyone to keep everyone else ‘happy’ by doing things that won’t offend someone (or some group) of people somewhere on this vast and populated planet. Some people are offended by certain words — some by pictures — some because of things that happened to them, some because of things that happened to others, and some have zero reasoning on the rational scale whatsoever. Some do it for the power by taking advantage of an increasingly weaker point in society.

    I am unsure at what point it has become everyone’s business to be up in everyone else’s business while everyone (including myself) have our own s**t to cleanup without worrying about others.

    Thats not saying to have respect for others, but it’s mutual. If you deliberately go out of your way to offend someone — or — you lack deliberation and offend someone — are significantly different conditions ethically.

      • Eloquently written and touches the heart of the dilemma portrayed above. PC keeps shifting to be more and more narrowly focused and has already hit the brim where conflict in belief either through ignorance or differences in principles – are inevitable.

        The niggardly principle as you have written, my opinion is that we surpassed that the moment that bans were implemented on certain words creating this prejudice that use of specific words were inherently bad, or that the person using those words was lacking in vocabulary and/or is a ‘bad’ person.

        As absurd as it may be, restricting language is so common place now, yet when queried as to what this said list of bad words may be, varies greatly from person to person — even though those words are introduced and used appropriately by those age 4 ( http://psychcentral.com/news/2010/09/22/children-are-swearing-more-often-at-earlier-age/18596.html )

    • “For example, in Canada, Harper was going to ban the Hijab due to a movement by womens rights, however muslims (including women who live by that lifestyle) were enraged.”

      Naw, there was more to it than that. Harper needed to win seats in Quebec, so he tried to court the Xenophobic vote. And he was moderately successful in getting those votes away from Mulcair to be fair, but only enough to split the vote enough to let the Liberals and the Bloc back in. He coached that Xenophobia in the best possible language he could for optics in the rest of Canada, that the burqa demeaned women, but that fell flat because he doesn’t have the feminist credentials to make that kind of language stick.

  3. While passing through Teec Nos Pas on U.S. Hwy 160 in northeastern Arizona, I noticed a sign on the side of the road reading “Red Mesa High School, Home of the Redskins.” I thought to myself, “Self, its okay for Native Americans to refer to themselves as redskins, but not okay for other races.”

    Sure enough! I found an article on the internet that confirmed my suspicions.

    From Capital News Service:

    Yet not all Native Americans oppose the term Redskins. Capital News Service [has] identified three majority Native American high schools that use it proudly, including Red Mesa High School in Arizona.

    “Being from Native American culture, [the term] is not derogatory,” said Tommie Yazzie, superintendent of the school district that oversees Red Mesa High School. He identified himself as a full-blooded Navajo.

    Red Mesa High School is located on a Navajo reservation, and 99.3 percent of its students are Native American, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

    Yazzie said people on his reservation care about more pressing things than the use of the name Redskins.

    “Education, public health ‒ those are the things we’re more concerned about, rather than whether a team name is appropriate,” he said.

    Though he said it was acceptable for schools with majority Native American populations to use the name Redskins, he believes that non‐Native American schools should avoid using it.

    “If you were to put this in an urban area where the population is basically white, unless there is a cultural connection, it would be inappropriate,” he said.

    Enough said.

  4. I still have difficulty believing that the Democrats actually chose to make this a political issue. Their evident goal was to shore up their wacko left base with a non-issue that attacked the “rednecks'” iconic game. It certainly failed to gain them the American Indian vote, since opinion among them on the redskin name was pretty divided. What I can’t understand is how often the Democrat leadership thinks it can invoke the race card and to what lengths of lunacy they’re apparently prepared to go in the process. Fortunately, the courts ruled in the Redskins’ favor so, God willing, we’ve seen the last of this gibbering idiocy for a while… at least at the federal level.

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