The kerfuffle over the Redskins’ name is almost amusing. One has to wonder how it is that after eighty years the name Redskins suddenly became a pejorative. The team was organized in 1932 as the Boston Braves. The name later changed to Redskins supposedly in honor of one “Lone Star Dietz” and it has remained the same since. The team moved to Washington DC after the 1936 season.
Sen. Harry Reid, who never misses an opportunity to make as ass of himself, says he won’t attend another Redskins game until the name is changed. Reid’s been in the Senate a long time. Odd how only now he’s became offended by the name.
“I will not stand idly by while a professional sports team promotes a racial slur as a team name and disparages the American people,” Reid said in the letter. “Nor will I consider your invitation to attend a home game until your organization chooses to do the right thing and change its offensive name.”
Yet Harry is somehow not offended by other things of a similar nature- like “Negro dialects” coming from a black man who is “light skinned.”
So if you are offended by the name Redskins, are you similarly offended by these?
Redman chewing tobaaco?
How about the Cleveland Indians?
What about the United Negro College Fund?
Who says “Negro” any longer? Isn’t that offensive? If not, why not?
What about the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People?
Who says “colored people” any more? Sounds pretty offensive to me.
How about the “Indian Chief” motorcycles?
The Patent and Trademark Office stripped the Redskins of its federal protections for six of its trademarks and they could not have been more wrong in doing so. Harry Reid and his idiot colleagues are clearly of the belief that the First Amendment may be abridged when a dog whistle democrat finds something offensive.
This is a First Amendment issue.
I do not care whether you like or dislike the Washington Redskins’ name. I think it’s a pretty dumb thing to call a football team. If Native Americans believe that “redskin” is offensive to them, then it is. Most people agree that it is about as offensive as using any other ethnic slur. I respect their position and their argument.
Nevertheless, here are my criticisms of this decision: Section (2)(a) of the Trademark Act bars the registration of any trademark that is “immoral” “scandalous” or “disparaging.” In other words, a civil servant executing the registration is allowed to be the arbiter of morality. Do we really want that?
Trademarks propose a commercial transaction. When you see or hear a trademark, you immediately receive information in a short-hand way that communicates where the products come from, or what level of service you can expect. Trademarks are First Amendment protected expression. There should be no issue with limiting their use to mislead the public. After all, what point do they serve if they do not propose a truthful association with their owner? And what rational governmental purpose does it serve to deny a benefit to a business because it might be deemed “immoral” by someone?
And why are we even arguing the point? The government should not be in the business of deciding what is moral, immoral, or offensive. This section of the trademark act is a leftover from Victorian times, and is used now primarily to promote social agendas with coercive censorship.
The actions of the government are so egregious that even WaPo is bothered:
There is an obvious problem when the sanctioning of free exercise of religion or speech becomes a matter of discretionary agency action. And it goes beyond trademarks and taxes. Consider the Federal Election Commission’s claim of authority to sit in judgment of whether a film is a prohibited “electioneering communication.” While the anti-George W. Bush film “Fahrenheit 9/11” was not treated as such in 2004, the anti-Clinton “Hillary: The Movie” was barred by the FEC in 2008. The agency appeared Caesar-like in its approval and disapproval — authority that was curtailed in 2010 by the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United.
Even water has become a vehicle for federal agency overreach. Recently, the Obama administration took punitive agency action against Washington state and Colorado for legalizing marijuana possession and sales. While the administration said it would not enforce criminal drug laws against marijuana growers — gaining points among the increasing number of citizens who support legalization and the right of states to pass such laws — it used a little-known agency, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, to cut off water to those farms. The Bureau of Reclamation was created as a neutral supplier of water and a manager of water projects out West, not an agency that would open or close a valve to punish noncompliant states.
When agencies engage in content-based speech regulation, it’s more than the usual issue of “mission creep.” As I’ve written before in these pages, agencies now represent something like a fourth branch in our government — an array of departments and offices that exercise responsibilities once dedicated exclusively to the judicial and legislative branches. Insulated from participatory politics and accountability, these agencies can shape political and social decision-making. To paraphrase Clausewitz, water, taxes and even trademarks appear to have become the continuation of politics by other means.
It didn’t matter to the patent office that polls show substantial majorities of the public and the Native American community do not find the name offensive. A 2004 Annenberg Public Policy Center poll found that 90 percent of Native Americans said the name didn’t bother them. Instead, the board focused on a 1993 resolution adopted by the National Congress of American Indians denouncing the name.
So what is this really about? It is about exactly what you would guess- money.
Team owner Dan Snyder is a GOP donor.
Government is once again being used to trample the rights of (GOP supporting) citizens guaranteed by the United States Constitution. This is one more example of the sheer lawlessness of this despicable administration and its henchmen. They went after Romney and Romney donors this way. They’re trying to destroy Scott Walker this way. It has been said- if you want to see what tyranny looks like- just look around.
It’s not just that any longer. Want to see what fascism looks like? Just look at the White House. Just look at the Senate. Look at democrats.
Look at Barack Obama. Look at Harry Reid.