The hoopla is just beginning. Yesterday, the Trade Mark and Appeal Board ruled to strip the Washington Redskins of six patents on their name. According to the two to one ruling, the board ruled that the name “redskins” is disparaging. The team immediately announced that they would appeal the ruling. This will probably take several years to work itself through the process.
Of course those on the right are using this as an example of the President running rough-shod over the team and the NFL. The obvious idiot raging against this ruling is none other than Rush Limbaugh. He is using the argument that the trademark is being stripped because of “political correctness” and nothing else, except the President’s “power grab”. He claims that there is no authority for this to have happened except the President “ordered the board” to strip the trademark. He even says it is a violation of property rights.
What the bloated idiot does not say, is that the ruling is in connection with law. The Trademark Act of 1946 disallows trademarks that may disparage others or bring them into contempt or disrepute. Over the years, the courts have rejected arguments that the First Amendment guarantees the right to register any name as a trademark.
There is the legal authority for the board’s action. The bloated idiot further argues that other team names such as the “Fighting Irish” will also be under attack. He listed others like the “Runnin Rebels”. Of course, that is total nonsense. Those names are not considered racist. The term “redskin” has been considered racist, especially by Native Americans, for at least a couple of hundred of years. Calling a Native American a redskin is akin to calling an African-American the N word.
To show his “property rights” argument is bogus, I have one question for the bloated idiot. Since you are so ardent about “property rights”, what about all those farmers who have or will lose their property rights to eminent domain for the Keystone XL pipeline? But, of course, you favor that one so “property rights” don’t figure into the equation.
For Dan Snyder to say that the name “Redskins” is honoring the Native American population is offensive in itself. How lame can a person get? The ruling was a result of Native Americans filing suite with the board saying the name is offensive. The board apparently agreed. To get back to the bloated idiot, no one is going to argue over the “Fighting Irish”. But they would probably fight over the term “Fighting Micks”, or how about the Chicago Polacks, or the New York Hymies, or the Atlanta Hunkies? These are all racist and offensive names that these groups were called when they first immigrated here. Now, those names are on the back burner where they belong. As should the name redskin.
This brings us to another question. During the NBA playoffs, we saw a real outrage over Donald Sterling’s racist comments. The players on the teams still playing in the playoffs even considered boycotting games if the NBA didn’t crack down hard on Sterling. They were rightfully outraged by the comments. Racism has no place in sports. Sports is supposed to be all-inclusive and build teamwork.
However, these same players have been silent about the Redskins name. Why? Probably because it isn’t directed at them. After all, the name means nothing to them so why bother. Maybe they simply don’t understand the origins of the term and what it really means.
The ruling by the board to strip these six trademarks from the Washington Redskins is not the end of the name. Even if the team loses the appeal, they can still call themselves the redskins. They just can’t go after anyone else who uses it for royalties. That is the real big problem for the right-wing. For them, it is all about economics for “one of their own.” Forbes estimates that the team gains roughly $145 million per year through marketing trademark merchandise.
No, if left to the appeals process, this issue isn’t going to go away anytime soon. But, there is one way that will really force the team to change its name. When players refuse to sign with a team that has a racist name to it. When players say that racism is racism regardless of who it is against, the fight by the team may end. The best way for the name to be changed is from within.
I would have had no problem if the NBA players boycotted the playoffs over the Sterling incident. But I do have a problem when players take millions of dollars from an organization who uses a racist slur for its official name and say nothing. I just goes to prove that dollars in one’s pocket can overcome outrage fairly easily.
After the shameful way Native Americans were treated in the 1800′s and up to this day, we cannot look the other way anymore. It was once said that “What happened to the Native Americans in this country was inevitable. The way it happened was unconscionable.” By allowing sports teams to continue using racial slurs as trademark names continues the unconscionable aspect of how Native Americans are treated.