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NFL Commissioner Endorsing Heckler’s Veto Over Redskins Name?

Washington-Redskins

The seemingly endless controversy over the fact that the Washington Redskins call themselves, well, the Redskins seems to be all the rage in sports media these days. Several news outlets such as Slate, along with sports reporters such as Christine Brennan, have announced the rather silly notion that they will no longer use the team name in their reporting, and certain activists have renewed their seemingly quixotic efforts to force team owner Dan Snyder to change the name, something that he’s said more than once that he’d never do. Now, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has chimed in on the controversy in a way that doesn’t exactly sound supportive of one of his leagues most storied franchises:

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has changed his tenor slightly since telling ten members of Congress in June the ‘Redskins’ nickname is a “unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect.”

In an interview with Lavar Arrington and Chad Dukes on 106.7 The Fan Wednesday, Goodell emphasized the importance of both honoring tradition, as well as listening to fans of differing points of view, with regards to the largely debated team name.

“Well as you guys know, I grew up in Washington, so the Colts were my team early on and then I became a Redskins fan,” Goodell told Lavar and Dukes. “I know the team name is part of their history and tradition, and that’s something that’s important to the Redskins fans.”

“I think what we have to do though is we have to listen,” Goodell said. “If one person is offended, we have to listen.”

Goodell was asked specifically if the decision to either change or keep the ‘Redskins’ nickname will remain in the hands of team owner Daniel Snyder, who told The USA Today in June “We’ll never change the name. It’s simple. NEVER.”

“Ultimately it is Dan’s decision,” Goodell specified. “But it’s something that I want all of us to go out and make sure we’re listening to our fans, listening to people of a different view, and making sure that we continue to do what’s right to make sure that team represents the strong tradition and history that it has for so many years.”

While the activists who are campaigning against the name have been loud for many years now, there’s absolutely no sign that the public as a whole is nearly as bothered by the team name. One recent poll showed nearly 80% of those responding as supporting the idea that the Redskins should be able to keep their team name. So what, exactly, is it that Goodell is advocating here? Is he saying that the will of the 20% should prevail? Is he saying that the opinion of someone who claims to be “offended” is more important than the opinion of a vast majority that essentially says they really don’t care about the issue?

Whichever way you interpret Goodell’s statement, though, it seems apparent that in his effort as the head of a league that tries very hard to be all things to all people, he’s endorsing the idea of the heckler’s veto, that the person with the loudest voice should be able to shout down the speech and expression of others simply because their voice is louder. In the end, that’s a profoundly dangerous position to take because it only ends up creating an incentive for the perpetually outraged to push the envelope is further. One guy is offended by the name “Redskins,” another guy is offended by scantily clad cheerleaders on the sidelines. Where, exactly, does it end. In the end, whether or not the Redskins ever someday change their name is a business decision. If Dan Snyder, or whomever might own the team in the future, decides that its in the business interests of the franchise to change the name, then they’ll eventually do it and that will be their right. Until then, we shouldn’t be letting the heckler’s win the argument.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Tillman says:

    Whichever way you interpret Goodell’s statement, though, it seems apparent that in his effort as the head of a league that tries very hard to be all things to all people, he’s endorsing the idea of the heckler’s veto, that the person with the loudest voice should be able to shout down the speech and expression of others simply because their voice is louder. In the end, that’s a profoundly dangerous position to take because it only ends up creating an incentive for the perpetually outraged to push the envelope is further. One guy is offended by the name “Redskins,” another guy is offended by scantily clad cheerleaders on the sidelines. Where, exactly, does it end.

    Somewhere, in a dark corner, a civil libertarian is softly weeping.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  2. legion says:

    One guy is offended by the name “Redskins,” another guy is offended by scantily clad cheerleaders on the sidelines.

    Doug, there’s a wee bit of difference between using a racial slur as a team name and scantily dressed cheerleaders. One is arguably demeaning and tasteless; the other is objectively (and deliberately) insulting. There are plenty of women still applying to be cheerleaders at the pro level and on down; there are no Native Americans who support Dan Snyder (no matter how much he pays them). It’s an easy thing to describe a logical end to.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 5

  3. Franklin says:

    Personally I don’t think the bolded text amounts to a heckler’s veto.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  4. Fog says:

    I think they should change the name to “Dumbfwck Glibertarian Bloggers.”
    Sure, it’s offensive, but who cares?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 3

  5. PJ says:

    These names aren’t taken yet, I can’t wait for someone to pick them:

    [Name of City] Ragheads.
    [Name of City] Chinks.
    [Name of City] Sheenies.

    I guess the NFL should stand proudly behind any of those names, eh?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 2

  6. Grewgills says:

    @PJ:
    I have learned a new racial slur.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  7. SenyorDave says:

    Where, exactly, does it end

    It ends when we don’t have an NFL team with a racial slur as its team nickname. As a Jew (and as a person) I wouldn’t want accept the “Washington kikes”, so why would I not have a problem with Washington’s football team name. And, yes, as someone who lives withing 40 miles of DC, I do not use the team name since I don’t use racial slurs as part of my everyday language.

    I don’t see this as PC issue, its not a close call.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 0

  8. Folderol & Ephemera says:

    I’m a regular reader of OTB, and I very rarely feel the need to speak out against Mr. Mataconis’ occasional willfully pig-headed opinion pieces (many of the fine commenters here do the job most admirably), but this one really gets my goat.

    Protip: If you find yourself defending the use of straight up racial epithets, you should probably take a time-out and rethink your proposal[1]. Especially when your defense boils down to a tyranny of the minority, of all things!

    Are you at all aware of what you sound like, Doug? I know that it’s unfair to accuse all self-identified “Libertarians” of being blinded by white male privilege, but you’re really not helping your image here. I mean, really!

    [1] Unless you’re speaking as an advocate for someone’s 1st Amendment rights (e.g., if you’re representing a local KKK group’s right to publish a newspaper), or if you’re making an on-topic political point about governmental infringement on free speech. But you are not.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 29 Thumb down 1

  9. wr says:

    This isn’t the government forcing a business to change its name. It’s one arm of a business exerting its weight on another arm. It’s the NFL seeing a team name that is offensive to some people as a liability on the entire organization.

    For someone who champions the rights of businesses to do whatever they want, I find it odd that you think you should have a voice in this internal business decision.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  10. Moosebreath says:

    @Folderol & Ephemera:

    “I know that it’s unfair to accuse all self-identified “Libertarians” of being blinded by white male privilege, but you’re really not helping your image here.”

    You’re right. Self-identified Libertarians are blinded by wealth privileges, not racial and sexual ones.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  11. grumpy realist says:

    Doug, it’s pretty obvious to see that you haven’t studied trademark law…..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  12. gVOR08 says:

    I regard this as utter trivia. Changing the team name or not will make little difference to anyone, and absolutely none to me. But I am puzzled at the reaction to Slate and others deciding to not use the name. As far as I’m aware, they’re not trying to impose this on anyone else. Whether out of concern for those offended or a desire to avoid controversy, they’ve decided to make a small gesture of courtesy. Why is this a problem?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  13. James Pearce says:

    Curious how the Redskins have dug their heels in on this one, especially considering the relative ease with which other teams have changed their identities. Maybe a change in ownership is in order.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  14. JWH says:

    I don’t think Gooddell is endorsing a heckler’s veto. I think he’s simply saying that the league should listen to such a person. “Listen” does not automatically equate to “do exactly what that person says.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  15. al-Ameda says:

    All of this seems so simple to me, and it need not cause Dan Snyder or a few Redskin Fans (okay, maybe a lot) much consternation. Look, didn’t St John’s basketball change their nickname from the “Red Men” to the “Red Storm”? And Stanford changed their nickname from the “Indians” to “The Cardinal.”

    Snyder could easily change it to the “Warriors” and keep the desired inference, and move on. Washington Warriors? Sounds okay to me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  16. cporet says:

    Does it matter in the long run? It is possible that American football as it is played today may not exist in ten years due to the head trauma coverage that may shut down the Pop Warner, high school, and dare I say, the college programs that feed the NFL.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  17. Rafer Janders says:

    My buddies and I amuse ourselves by calling my girlfriend’s sister “The Fat Ugly Slut”, both to her face and behind her back. My girlfriend, oddly, claims to be offended by this, and tells us we should stop.

    But what, exactly, is she advocating here? Is she saying that her will should prevail? Is she saying that the opinion of someone who claims to be “offended” is more important than the majority opinion of me and my buddies who say we really don’t care about the issue?

    Whichever way you interpret my girlfriend’s statement, though, it seems apparent that she’s endorsing the idea of the heckler’s veto, that the person with the loudest voice should be able to shout down the speech and expression of others simply because their voice is louder. In the end, that’s a profoundly dangerous position to take because it only ends up creating an incentive for the perpetually outraged to push the envelope further. One girl is offended by the name “fat ugly slut”, another guy is offended by scantily clad cheerleaders on the sidelines. Where, exactly, does it end? We shouldn’t let the heckler win the argument….

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 30 Thumb down 0

  18. pylon says:

    At the risk of repeating much of what has been said”:

    1. “Listening” to a offended person doesn’t equal endorsing, giving priority to or obeying.
    2. That said, majority versus minority opinion seems to me to be pretty unimportant here. What’s important is whether racist speech should be tolerated or encouraged in public and popular venues.
    3. The poll cited ted seems to me to a bit specious.80% of those who responded? Was it an online voluntary poll or something equally unscientific?
    4. I’m betting that if you did a proper poll, most people would recognize “Redskin” as an offensive term, much more so separated from the football context.
    5. It’s not just a business decision. It’s a moral and ethical one as well. Not that I’m lding my breath for Dan Snyder on either score.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  19. pylon says:

    Oh, and why is refusing to use a racial epithet in reporting “silly”? That seems to me to be as much a business decision as keeping the name.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  20. Rafer Janders says:

    Well, Doug, if this post has demonstrated nothing else, it’s demonstrated that you don’t understand what the term “heckler’s veto” means.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 1

  21. Franklin says:

    @JWH: You spelled it out more, but that’s exactly what I was saying.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. rudderpedals says:

    @Rafer Janders: Fat ugly slut bless her heart. All better now.

    I think the Washington Isolationists has a nice ring to it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  23. Rafer Janders says:

    @rudderpedals:

    Fat ugly slut bless her heart. All better now.

    Oh, you’re from the South?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  24. Rusty Shackleford says:

    I forget where, but a Native American woman invited Dan Snyder to call her a Redskin to her face, and he declined. A good rule of thumb would be to not name sports teams after ethnic groups, but if you are to do so, you have to change the name once the name’s meaning is so offensive that you wouldn’t refer to a member of that ethnic group by that term.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  25. the Q says:

    Doug, try this out and see what your reaction might be since redskin is found to be non offensive to the majority in surveys.

    Go to any Indian reservation, go into a restaurant or bar and say, “hey redskin, can you take my order?

    I guess only a minority there would take offense?

    The fact that some defend the indefensible regarding the notion that redskin is not offensive is mind boggling.

    How can it not be?

    I guess if you’re white or an idiot it don’t matter much.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 0

  26. ptfe says:

    Not to pile on…well, ok, to pile on. Doug’s reference to a survey is incorrect — 80% of self-report “fans” didn’t think they should change the name. In Washington alone, about 30% of the population thinks they should change the name. And a majority of fans and non-fans of the team have said that a name change would not affect their feelings about the team. (Source)

    Here’s a list of team names that offend in the NFL:

    1. Washington — 10 – 30%
    2. Every other team — 0%

    Doug apparently thinks that having a team name that offends just 10-30% of the population is ok and changing it is acquiescing to the “hecklers”. I’d suggest he re-think that position. Then again, I’ve also managed to write dozens of sports articles around the nickname in my lifetime.

    Plus it makes all that old sports memorabilia way more valuable. So economically…win-win!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  27. rudderpedals says:

    @Rafer Janders: I don’t want to leave a trail of tears. I apologize if anyone was offended.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  28. Rafer Janders says:

    One recent poll showed nearly 80% of those responding as supporting the idea that the Redskins should be able to keep their team name.

    Link or you’re lying.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  29. dazedandconfused says:

    If they change it, the name should reflect the character of the city.

    “Lawyers”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  30. Dave D says:

    @al-Ameda: Warriors doesn’t always fly. Marquette changed their name from the Golden Warriors to the Golden Eagles. Even though in my personal opinion I really liked Marquette’s old logo of a non-caricature profile of an American Indian. As stated above it is easier to not name a team after a group of people.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  31. pylon says:

    The article ptfe linked to also said that an overwhelming majority wouldn’t mind the name being changed. So let’s assume that there is a minority who are offended, and a majority who aern’t but also who don’t hold a strong view as to a name change. That changes things a bit, no?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  32. JWH says:

    I’ve avoided weighing in on the substance of the issue in all forums, but ….

    “Washington Redskins” is a racist name. It might be popular to call them the “‘Skins.” The team might not have a racial-caricature mascot like Chief Wahoo. You can even argue that other issues are more important than the Washington Redskins’ name … but you can’s change the fact that the team’s name is a racial epithet.

    I don’t have a strong opinion on whether the team should change its name … but if I’m honest, I have to admit that protesters have a point.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  33. al-Ameda says:

    @dazedandconfused:

    If they change it, the name should reflect the character of the city.
    “Lawyers”

    Would “Sharks” accomplish the same thing?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  34. Grewgills says:

    @Dave D:
    After groups of people I think is fine, just not after slurs. Nobody much cares about cavaliers, or knights, or hoosiers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  35. Tyrell says:
  36. dazedandconfused says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Sharks aren’t as scary though. They lack the image of complete heartlessness and desire for wantonly vindictive and vicious acts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  37. Jeremy says:

    I’ve been saying for years they should rename the team to the “Beltway Bandits.” I still think they should do it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  38. Gustopher says:

    How about the Washington Rednecks — still flows off the tongue, and the logo would need to be changed to a stereotypical white southerner spitting chewing tobacco.

    Or a rule that if a team name references an ethnic group, the team must be composed of at least 50% that ethnic group? That might go badly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  39. Rafer Janders says:

    One recent poll showed nearly 80% of those responding as supporting the idea that the Redskins should be able to keep their team name.

    So a group composed almost entirely of non-Indians doesn’t think that a racist slur against Indians is that offensive.

    In other news, a recent poll showed 80% of men don’t have a problem with calling women bitches….

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  40. dazedandconfused says:

    There would be very creative “You’ve been served” TD celebrations for The Lawyers. Opposing QB’s would be chased down and “convicted”. Interceptions? “Garnishments”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  41. Jeremy says:

    @Moosebreath: Dear Moosebreath,

    I am a self-identified libertarian, and I make less than $20,000 a year.

    Your generalizations speak ill of you, not of others.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

  42. @Gustopher: Personally, I think “Washington Crackers” would be better.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  43. steve s says:

    Does it matter in the long run? It is possible that American football as it is played today may not exist in ten years due to the head trauma coverage that may shut down the Pop Warner, high school, and dare I say, the college programs that feed the NFL.

    I have read a lot about Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, and I think this is very possible. I think it’ll begin with football programs not being able to get insurance.

    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/01/31/110131fa_fact_mcgrath?currentPage=all

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  44. Davebo says:

    @Jeremy:

    Obviously a particularly lazy libertarian.

    Just joking. We all love the concept of libertarianism at some point in life.

    Good luck with keeping the dream alive past the age of 25 at 20k per year. However, if you get that to 200k per year (and I hope you do) it will be no problem. Unless of course you make that in earned income. Only suckers do that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  45. William Wilgus says:

    @legion: ” . . . there are no Native Americans who support Dan Snyder . . . ”

    You asked them? Each and every one? Wow! That must have taken a long time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

  46. William Wilgus says:

    @gVOR08: ‘Freedom Fries’. Same deal. Slate article on football game:

    ‘ . . . lost to that heinous team with the politically incorrect name that in our childishness we refuse to use . . . “

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  47. angelfoot says:

    Doug, I understand that you have one point to make here:

    ” If Dan Snyder, or whomever might own the team in the future, decides that its in the business interests of the franchise to change the name, then they’ll eventually do it and that will be their right.”

    But to belittle and marginalize the people who are legitimately offended by the team name is not an argument. You’re better than this. Don’t let your ideology get in the way of your reasoning.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  48. Rafer Janders says:

    @angelfoot:

    But to belittle and marginalize the people who are legitimately offended by the team name is not an argument. You’re better than this.

    Is he, though?

    If someone does the same thing over and over again, is he really better than the thing he keeps doing? Or is the thing he keeps doing pretty representative of his actual feelings and thoughts?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  49. Jc says:

    As a Washington sports fan, changing the Skins name would not be a big deal. I would still be the same fan. That said, make sure it’s a good name. Washington Nationals=good. DC United=good. Washington Capitals=good. Washington Wizards=lame. Washington Mystics=lame. Tie the name to the city, not something stupid.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  50. RomanCandle says:

    ESPN’s Hampton Stevens sums up my feelings perfectly:

    Let’s not kid ourselves. Demanding that the Redskins change their name won’t help indigenous people a bit. Anyone who cares about the plight of Native Americans can help in infinitely more substantial ways. Advocating mascot name-changes is just cheap moral preening. It requires no effort, and will accomplish nothing beyond offering a totally undeserved sense of moral superiority.

    Change the name for all I care, as a Cowboys fan I’ll despise this team no matter what.

    I just wish all the Internet social justice warriors so offended on behalf of American Indians would put one-fifth of their efforts to solving real problems facing that community as they do with something as arbitrary as a football team’s nickname.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 7

  51. Tyrell says:

    @JWH: How about these team names that I have heard no one complain about:
    Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Browns, San Diego Padres, Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, New England Patriots, Houston Astros : all of these teams could easily be offensive to some small, vocal minority. How about the issue of freedom of speech here? These are not teams owned by taxpayers. They are private properties. I can call my cars, pets, and flowers anything I want. We are in a time when small, vocal minorites are trying to run everything, pitch fits, and head to the courts if they don’t get their way. I also have a feeling that some of these peoples’ motives may be to get back at Snyder for the failure in all these years to bring a Super Bowl to Washington.
    No, Commissioner Goodell has much more important things to work on than placate a few complainers: increasing numbers of of head and knee injuries, moves by some to actually ban football, attendance problems in some cities, ridiculous prices of food at these games ($6 for a hot dog), fan violence in some stadiums, people falling in stadiums, getting a team for New Jersey, and getting an earlier start (like around 2:00 pm) for the Super Bowl. If he pushes this name change thing, he will face more of it, such as from animal rights groups.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 17

  52. Rafer Janders says:

    @Tyrell:

    We are in a time when small, vocal minorites are trying to run everything,

    Yes, when will the powerful majority stop being oppressed by the powerless minorities? When will the white man ever get a break from the American Indian in this country???

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0

  53. Rafer Janders says:

    @Tyrell:

    getting a team for New Jersey,

    New Jersey already has two teams, the New Jersey Giants and the New Jersey Jets. They both play at [forgettable corporate name] Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

    What we really need is a team for New York…..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  54. PJ says:

    @Tyrell:

    They are private properties.

    And? Is the government forcing them to change their names? No.
    Are you arguing that people should be allowed to voice their objections because it’s a private property? Or to contact the NFL about it? Or boycott sponsor etc?

    These are not teams owned by taxpayers.

    Correct, but most teams would not have anywhere to play if it wasn’t for stadiums paid for by taxpayers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  55. Jack says:

    I think the Washington Takers would be an appropriate team name that describes both the political and citizen inhabitants of that city.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  56. James Pearce says:

    @Tyrell:

    They are private properties.

    Well….it’s complicated.

    Yes, Dan Snyder owns the Redskins, but he doesn’t own the league. “It’s my team, I can do what I want” only takes you so far.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  57. 11B40 says:

    Greetings:

    Where to begin on this tangled web ???

    I’m pretty sure Commissioner Goodell’s lips were moving when he testified before someone’s Congress-critters. So there’s that.

    And, I’m pretty sure that after the “Redskins” issue gets resolved he’ll get to work on the “Browns” team name.

    And, I’m almost sure that there won’t be any “walk away money” (aka charitable donations) involved in either resolution.

    A personal note, if I may. A couple of years ago, I wrote a (snail mail) to the Commissioner informing him that some of the players in league were wearing some type pf close-fitter head covering, that they apparently wear under their helmets, during the playing of our National Anthem. Apparently, for the legally acute mind, there is a significant difference between listening and reading as I have yet to receive any response at all.

    America 2.1 Forward !!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 11

  58. @Tyrell:

    Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Browns, San Diego Padres, Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, New England Patriots, Houston Astros

    Which of these is a racial epithet?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  59. @Doug: What level of public opinion is appropriate for a clear racial epithet to become problematic?

    What is your theory here?

    (I would note that if we went with majority opinion in the 1950s, school would have remained segregated–so I am not sure I understand your position. And yes, this is a different issue in scope, but not in kind).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  60. 11B40 says:

    Greetings:

    As President Obama, an experienced resolver of issues, has led the good old USofA into the Age of Arugulla, perhaps the Washington Raddichios would be a good Syria-like compromise.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 11

  61. wr says:

    @11B40: “A personal note, if I may. A couple of years ago, I wrote a (snail mail) to the Commissioner informing him that some of the players in league were wearing some type pf close-fitter head covering, that they apparently wear under their helmets, during the playing of our National Anthem. Apparently, for the legally acute mind, there is a significant difference between listening and reading as I have yet to receive any response at all.”

    Did you add the all-important line “PS — I am not a crank.”? That would have made a big difference.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  62. wr says:

    @Jack: “I think the Washington Takers would be an appropriate team name that describes both the political and citizen inhabitants of that city. ”

    Would those be the same takers who pay the same amount of Federal taxes as you, and yet have essentially no political representation while you have two senators and a congressperson to represent your interests?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  63. wr says:

    @11B40: “And, I’m pretty sure that after the “Redskins” issue gets resolved he’ll get to work on the “Browns” team name.”

    Because legendary coach Paul Brown’s descendants are upset at having a pro team named for him?

    Here’s a hint: Only try snark if you have half a clue of what you’re talking about.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  64. Moosebreath says:

    @Jeremy:

    Reading comprehension is a useful skill. You should try it.

    I did not say all self-described Libertarians are rich. What I said was, “Self-identified Libertarians are blinded by wealth privileges, not racial and sexual ones.”

    In other words, they prioritize property rights over human rights, and believe the wealthy are entitled to privileges compared to the poor.

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  65. @Steven L. Taylor:

    As I said in the post, this is purely a business decision. If and when the time comes that the Redskins feel that it in their interests to explore a name change, they’ll do it. Until then, all of this debate is really quite pointless and I am uncomfortable with the idea of a rather obvious minority hectoring the team (a team I hope loses every game this season, by the way) into doing something that most football fans don’t want them to do.

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  66. @Doug Mataconis:

    this is purely a business decision.

    So where “Whites only” lunch counters and policies that made blacks ride at the back of the bus. Again, not the same magnitude, but in the same family of issues. Just boiling it down to a “business decision” is insufficient defense for the practice.

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  67. wr says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “As I said in the post, this is purely a business decision. If and when the time comes that the Redskins feel that it in their interests to explore a name change, they’ll do it.”

    Yes, it’s a business decision. But are you such a pure libertarian that you now believe that an individual owner has no obligation to the league of which his team is a member? This is the NFL coming down on the team, not the government, not some do gooder group.

    When you have a fight between two entities that each have some amount of control over the same business, does libertarian philosophy demand that the one who agrees with Doug makes the final decision? Because that’s all I see here.

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  68. @Steven L. Taylor:

    The Redskins aren’t practicing segregation so that’s a bit of a non sequiter IMO

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  69. @wr:

    Go back and read what Goodell said. He’s not “coming down” on the team at all and I doubt you’re ever going to see the NFL pressure the Redskins to change their name. Additionally, I’m not sure the league even has the power to do so, or that the owners (who control the NFL after all) would agree to give the Commissioner that kind of power.

    This is just Goodell running his mouth off and saying something dumb.

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  70. @Doug Mataconis: It is all based on race and the ability of the dominant racial group to use that power position in a way that denigrates the minority. You are deflecting my point rather than addressing it (which is, by the way, the way you tend to argue in comment threads. I wouldn’t mind an actual interchange on the topic instead).

    The term is prima facie (pun partially intended) racist term. This is rather hard to deny.

    The term is clearly one that if it was suggested today as a new team name would be summarily dismissed as racist. This is, likewise, rather difficult (if not impossible) to deny.

    Part of why a lot of people don’t see the big deal is because it a) only effects a minority, and b) it is so accepted because of its longevity that it is easy to ignore its denigrating nature. This is how racist works: it is born of power and it is normalized by the power-wielding majority. That is why arguments based solely on numbers are highly problematic: it is the majority’s power position that allowed the racism to exist in the first place.

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  71. @Doug Mataconis:

    I doubt you’re ever going to see the NFL pressure the Redskins to change their name.

    On this point, we agree.

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  72. 11B40 says:

    @wr:

    Greetings, wr:

    I think you grossly underestimate the amount of psychic damage the hearing “The Browns this” and “The Browns that” inflicts on the many migrants, both legal and less legal, from our geographic south. There should at least be some redistributed wealth reparations for those who have suffered, don’t you think ???

    And why are “The Browns” not allowed to win more often. Think about the psychic damage that results from that, amigo.

    P.S. Paul who ???

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  73. PJ says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    The Redskins aren’t practicing segregation so that’s a bit of a non sequiter IMO

    So, renaming a team the [City Name] Kikes is ok as long as the team doesn’t discriminate against Jews? Or [City Name] Ragheads as long as the team doesn’t discriminate against Muslims or Sikhs?

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  74. wr says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “He’s not “coming down” on the team at all and I doubt you’re ever going to see the NFL pressure the Redskins to change their name. Additionally, I’m not sure the league even has the power to do so, or that the owners (who control the NFL after all) would agree to give the Commissioner that kind of power. ”

    Then what in God’s name are you complaining about?

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  75. wr says:

    @11B40: Yes indeed, it’s good to be a member of the dominant power group so you can make fun of the idea that minorities ever suffer from discrimination.

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  76. wr says:

    @11B40: “P.S. Paul who ???”

    From our good friends at Wikipedia: “The Cleveland Browns were founded in 1945 by businessman Arthur B. “Mickey” McBride as a charter member of the All-America Football Conference (AAFC), which began play the following year. Originally intended to be called the Panthers, they were instead named for their first head coach, Ohio coaching legend Paul Brown”

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  77. JWH says:

    @Tyrell:

    How about the issue of freedom of speech here?

    Bogus argument, Tyrell. freedom of speech does not entitle the speaker to freedom from criticism.

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  78. Rafer Janders says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Until then, all of this debate is really quite pointless and I am uncomfortable with the idea of a rather obvious minority hectoring the team (a team I hope loses every game this season, by the way) into doing something that most football fans don’t want them to do.

    So, to sum up, you’re uncomfortable with the idea of criticism, of dissenting voices. You’re uncomfortable with a racial minority asking the majority to refrain from using a racist term that the minority finds actively offensive. It makes you feel uneasy when the targets of racism point out the racism.

    Nope, no sense of unearned entitlement and privilege here.

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  79. Tyrell says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Good point on that. While not explicitly racist, they could be offensive (and probably are to someone).
    Reds, Browns : color. I know, the Browns were named after the great Coach Paul Brown, but most people do not know that. I don’t know about those Reds. (Big Red Machine – greatest team ever).
    Padres, Saints: some people of the Catholic faith may not like those names.
    Chiefs: Well, once again the Native American thing.
    Yankees: offensive to a lot of Northerners. Patriots: too nationalistic for some people. Astros: A stretch, but there are still some astronauts out there. Dodgers: offensive to some people of the ’60′s and 70′s, you know, the draft. I would have included the Buccaneers and Pirates – there still might be some pirate descendants out there.
    I admit these are stretches, but I have heard talk over the years about the ND Fighting Irish. They have that little guy with the funny hat as a mascot. There has been talk about that over the years. And the Animal Rightests – get offended over anything: leashes, circuses, dog shows, cat shows, pet shops, and rodeos. I still think Snyder’s biggest problem by far is – bringing the Super Bowl back to Washington. I have been a Redskin fan since Jurgenson, KIlmer, Riggins, Theisman and on. I would say there are more Redskins in the Hall of Fame than any other team.
    I do appreciate your replies and comments.

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  80. @Tyrell: If the Browns had a picture of a Hispanic person or an African-American on their helmet, you would have a point.

    The issue is not can one find a reason why someone, somewhere might find a word to be offensive, it is whether a name is rather explicitly racist.

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  81. milprof says:

    What I have never, ever seen Doug address on the couple of threads he’s posted on this, is to tackle any many comments pointing out that there is something morally problematic with pure majoritarianism in deciding whether a name is ok when that term targets a particular social group and that target group overwhelmingly dislikes the term. Especially when there is a history of that group being disadvantaged, discriminated against, and taunted precisely with that term.

    So long as the name polls well with the overall US public, there is really nothing distasteful about naming a team the “Washington Retards” with a bumbling Downs Syndrome-looking mascot? That’d be no different than calling them the “Washington Geniuses” with Steve Jobs as a mascot? Agreed they have the right do to so, don’t try to weasel out that way, you really don’t think those names/mascots have carry any different moral meaning, or that we should care that the Downs Syndome community finds it very hurtful so long as the overall majority is ok?

    I have no idea if you are really this obtuse, Doug, or if you really do get the distinction but don’t ever respond to this repeated question because you really don’t give a damn about affect on persecuted groups and know that’s an unpopular position. But I’d sure like to see you address it sometime.

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  82. Moosebreath says:

    @milprof:

    Actually, I think Doug is providing an excellent example of how Libertarians prioritize property rights over human rights. I suspect (both from other threads Doug has been part of and from conversations with other Libertarians) that in Doug’s mind it is far more important that the owner of the team have the right to name it anything he wants no matter how offensive simply because it is his property than for a large number of other people who do not own the property to not be offended by the choices the property owner makes because they do not own the property and allowing them any say whatsoever is morally abhorrent to Doug.

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  83. aFloridian says:

    Doug has completely failed on this one. I am never going to stand out on the street corner and campaign for the Redskins to change their name. I think it is pretty harmless as such things go, and I don’t think a lot of people really think of the Redskins in an ethnic context.

    At the same time, I don’t see how anyone can sit here and say the name is NOT an offensive term. Is that really what your saying Doug? It’s ok because it’s a business decision? It’s ok because you’re not a Native American and it doesn’t bother YOU? I’m not a Native American, and it doesn’t really bother me, as you can probably see from my first paragraph where I minimize the situation a bit, but good God! Are you really that tone-deaf?

    You have been trounced in this thread, and with good reason. And you have completely evaded any semblance of an intellectually honest argument. I, for one, would be HIGHLY offended, as a Southerner, by the “Richmond Rednecks” or the “Pittsburgh Paleskins.” with a logo of a caricatured Southerner with crazy eyes, two teeth, and a big chaw full of tobacco. In your case, wouldn’t you be insulted by the “New Jersey Guidos” or the “Washington Wops?” Do you not see how offensive this is? I bet you would be the first person in line to be the heckler’s veto were those names to be announced.

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  84. Buffalo Rude says:

    @Jeremy:

    I am a self-identified libertarian, and I make less than $20,000 a year.

    Wait, you make shit-wages and still buy into the libertarian BS? That’s pretty daft, son. It must be weird to align yourself with an ideology that actively agitates against your own economic interests. As a self-identified liberal who makes your annual wage by early March on any given year, I’m not sure if I should laugh at or despair over your frank admission.

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  85. Grewgills says:

    Slate has made a business decision to not offend it’s readership. Why is this ‘silly’, while Snyder’s decision is reasonable?
    Why defend the man that chooses to keep the racist team name (with the support of self selected fans), and denigrate those that choose to not support his decision?
    As others have pointed out repeatedly, I doubt you would be so glib if it were another racial epithet.

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  86. BenR. says:

    I am a Libertarian but, that is neither here no there on this topic. When the Redskins were named, the name was not offensive. They have done nothing to make the name offensive.
    While I am not a fan of the team, they ARE the Redskins.
    If one is offended, then you are offended. There is no constitutional right to freedom from offense.

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  87. Grewgills says:

    @BenR.:

    When the Redskins were named, the name was not offensive.

    The team was named in 1932. There are a fair few things that American culture did not consider offensive then, that almost everyone today would find offensive.
    Some examples for you:
    Most people today would find the idea that a man could beat his wife without legal consequence offensive.
    Most people today would find the idea that a man could have sex with his wife against her will with no legal consequence offensive.
    Most people would find the idea that a black man could be beaten or killed for looking at a white woman ‘wrong’ offensive.
    A wide variety of racial slurs and stereotypes were not considered offensive to white American culture (the only one that much mattered then) would be considered by most to be offensive today.
    Most people today would find the idea that non-whites had to use different hotels, lunch counters, restrooms, stores, and drinking fountains offensive.
    Most people today would find the allotment of Native American lands that was happening at the time of the teams naming offensive.

    In short, 1930s America isn’t the best place to look when considering what is reasonably considered offensive today.

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  88. socraticsilence says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Doug,

    If I named a German Soccer team the Berlin Jews, I have a feeling there might be some people offended, but this is essentially the same thing (well, worse given its a epithet)– it both cases you essentially have the city that was the seat of a genocidal occupying power “honoring” a people.

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  89. JohnMcC says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Well, it would be more precise to say that the “Redskins aren’t practicing segregation” ANY LONGER. As they did until the very late date of 1962 when the Interior Dep’t (which actually owned RFK stadium) made some demands to the the management of the Franchise. There is a history of segregation in which the “Redskins” NFL Team plays a big part — if one actually remembers or bothers to look it up. It was pretty remarkable; the American Nazi’s were demonstrating outside the (at the time) District of Columbia Stadium carrying signs saying ‘Keep our Redskins White.’

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  90. Rafer Janders says:

    @socraticsilence:

    If I named a German Soccer team the Berlin Jews,

    It would be rather more as if you named the team the Berlin Kikes. It’s the Washington Redskins, after all, not the Washington Indians.

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  91. 11B40 says:

    @wr:

    Greetings, wr:

    Quoting: “@11B40: Yes indeed, it’s good to be a member of the dominant power group so you can make fun of the idea that minorities ever suffer from discrimination.”

    Taking this one of your many teachings to heart, I guess we should be preparing to kiss the “Chiefs” of Kansas City goodbye name-wise too. Who else but a member of a “dominant power group” could refer to Amerindians as “Chiefs”?

    These days, when our Amerindian brothers have been all but exterminated, much like the Neanderthals, even many racist people don’t recognize the subtle racist racism, that is so clear to progressively progressing progressives, in calling Amerindian males “Chief”. It’s kind of like calling our American Negroes “Superfly”, a diminishment disguised as a compliment. A veritable soul destroyer, if you know what I mean.

    P.S. Paul who ???

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  92. Grewgills says:

    @11B40:
    Do you really not see the difference between chief and redskin? It’s sort of like the difference between maccabees and kikes, padres and mackerel snappers, or say rebels and crackers. I hope that helps.

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  93. Grewgills says:

    @11B40:
    Do you really think chief in native american culture is analogous to pimp in african american culture?

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  94. 11B40 says:

    @Grewgills:

    Greetings, Grewgills:

    Actually, Grewgills, the usage also counts. In poetry, there’s a difference between connotation and denotation. While denotatively “Chief” may seem preferential, when it is used gratuitously to refer to any Amerindian male, as in “Hey, chief.”, it depersonalizes the addressed individual by addressing him by a what is probably an incorrect title because that is all the effort the racist bent of the dominant power is required to do in related to the subjugated oppressed group’s members. I found this to be rather common back during my military daze and it is a significant contributor to my ongoing PTSD.

    P.S. I was under the impression that “Superfly” was a dope peddler.

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  95. wr says:

    @11B40: “These days, when our Amerindian brothers have been all but exterminated, much like the Neanderthals,”

    A few years back I wrote a pilot about a Navaho woman in the FBI, and while researching it was my great fortune to spend some time with members of the tribal police, as well as others who lived on the reservation. Wonderful, strong people living lives harder than you can imagine, and doing it without complaining and without self-pity.

    So you will forgive me if I want to throw up when I read you gleefully writing about these people as being “exterminated” like subhumans. I think you truly believe you are not a racist, and are offended when people say you are.

    But this is as loathesome a post as I have ever seen here. I don’t get offended easily — generally the right wing trolls are midly amusing. This transcends trollery. Even SuperD doesn’t get this low.

    For shame.

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  96. Grewgills says:

    @11B40:
    Usage certainly counts and you wouldn’t call every Catholic a Padre, every Jewish person a Maccabee, or every Southerner a Rebel, and calling random Native Americans Chief would be less than sensitive, but certainly you can see the difference between Chief and Redskin, as you can plainly see the difference in the other pairings. Are you simply trying to play the devil’s advocate, or do you really see all these things as the same?
    @wr:
    Neanderthals weren’t subhuman. We all (at least all of us not of purely African descent) carry their DNA.

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  97. Grewgills says:

    @11B40:
    Yes he was a coke dealer (even if he looked like a pimp). I need to bone up on my blaxploitation. I love Curtis Mayfield and the soundtrack, but the film didn’t do much for me. That said, him being a coke dealer rather than a pimp doesn’t really make your analogy any better.

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