Slate’s Unethical “Redskins” Blackout

You know what Redskins really means, don't you? It means standing up to political correctness bullies.

You know what Redskins really means, don’t you? It means standing up to political correctness bullies.

Via the usually rational reporter David Plotz, we learn that Slate has decided that the Political Correctness Gods will no longer allow the on-line magazine to use the name of Washington’s NFL team when it is reporting on Washington’s NFL team. This is, of course, presumptuous, arrogant, and lousy journalism. It is not the media’s job to re-make the world into what pleases them. Slate doesn’t like the Redskins name so it’s not going to publish it. This seems to be the current mode of operation in the media today–it is no longer dedicated to reporting and commenting on the news, but rather reporting and commenting on the news it doesn’t find “offensive.”

The Redskins, as a team nickname, is certainly the strongest case for those who believe in censorship of team names with ethnic or national origins. The NCAA has already gone way beyond any rational execution of that mission however, and even in the case of Redskins, an unquestionably racist term when applied to Native Americans, the objection to a sports  team name with supposedly negative historical implication has a lot of the “a chink in the armor” nonsense about it. For in Washington, D.C. and in football bars and Sunday afternoon gatherings, Redskins is not a slur, and does not refer to native Americans. It is the name given to a squad of NFL players who play pro football in the name of Washington, D.C., and a franchise that is worshiped in the city. When the name is used, it is not aimed at Native Americans or intended to denigrate them. It does not refer to Native Americans, and not intended to give offense. It is intended to designate the football team, because that is the team’s name. How can someone be offended at the use of a name that is not intended and is not a slur in the context of the use in question? There two answers to this: 1) Most people, including rational Native Americans, aren’t, and 2) Because such people want to be offended.

The name “Redskins” was never intended as a slur, as I have explained here before. Continue reading

Political Correctness, Abuse of Power, the Redskins, and Spite

I’m sure glad I don’t own the Washington Redskins.

Boston RedskinsI say this without even considering the current problem of having a head coach who let the franchise player ruin his knee. I’m glad I’m not Dan Snyder because the annual sniping about his team’s unfortunate name pulls me in opposite directions ethically and emotionally, and I don’t enjoy being Rumpelstiltskin.*

If I owned the Washington Redskins and was being pragmatic as well as ethical, I’d just bite the bullet (oops! Is that phrase banned now?) and change the team’s name. The debate is stupid, but it’s a distraction no sports franchise needs. I would dig in my heels against political correctness zealots who demand that the Atlanta Braves, Kansas City Chiefs, Chicago Blackhawks and other Native American-themed names get tossed in the ash heap of history, but “redskins” is undeniably a term of racist derision, despite the fact that it isn’t that in the context of football. In football, it just means those NFL players in red and gold that a whole city worships year round.

If, however, I wanted to take a much needed stand against the unethical tactics of political correctness bullies everywhere, refuse to yield to an argument that is as dishonest as it is illogical , I might well do what Snyder has done so far out of pure orneriness and spite, which is to say to the team’s critics, “Stick it!” Continue reading