Censorship vs. The Washington Redskins

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he won’t attend a Washington Redskins home game until the football team changes its controversial name.

In a letter late last week to the team’s president, Reid called the Redskins name a racial slur that disparages the American people. The Nevada Democrat, who said he represents 27 tribes in his state, rejected Bruce Allen’s invitation to a Redskins home game until the team does “the right thing” and changes its 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.”

Reid said the matter is “personal” for him.

I know that career politicians are generally idiots. But this man is truly an idiot.

First of all, Harry Reid is not young. He has been in office for a long time. If he felt that strongly about the name “Washington Redskins” for a football team, why did he not register his protest sooner?

For example, if a prominent sports team had the racial slur “N” word in its name, he probably wouldn’t have waited until 2014 to register a protest. If this offense is as bad as that, as his letter implies, then why do we only hear from him now?

Clearly, this hypocrisy and inconsistency is a psychological “red flag” for an issue involving a lack of substance — a lack of substance of which the complainant is on some level aware, in my view.

Reid states that the term “Redskins” is disparaging to the American people. I’m an American person, and I don’t feel disparaged by it. I’m sure plenty of others don’t. If he only means a disparagement to certain American people, then he should say so.

Most likely, he means it’s disparaging to people of American Indian descent. I don’t doubt this is the official position of various American Indian pressure groups, perhaps some of the very people who send him money in his bid to hold onto power in Nevada.

But the type of people who join and run such pressure groups are not, for the most part, typical or even reasonable people. They are people with chronic emotional “chips” on their shoulders. They are people seeking special favors, backed by government coercion, favors (most often money) generated by the presence of unearned guilt in their victims (i.e., those forced to pay for those favors).

That’s what our entire transfer-of-wealth state is all about, after all: Assigning moral guilt and blame where it’s not deserved, and then cashing in on that guilt with the power or money one is really seeking. It’s like a gigantic toxic, dysfunctional family … only with guns, armies, navies, legislators, courts and prisons.

I’m not in any way singling out American Indians or any other group who engages in pressure group politics — since, after all, that includes just about every demographic group imaginable. I am singling out those who join or participate in such groups, if not in every case, at least for the most part. (And I’m not including those who form groups solely to defend the Constitution and protect individual, including private property, rights.)

I am, personally, not of American Indian descent, so my views on the subject — based on contemporary intellectual standards — do not qualify. However, Harry Reid is also not of American Indian descent, at least not to my knowledge. He’s as white as can be. For reasons never named, someone with his anti-Redskins position is considered automatically qualified to hold the position he does. Furthermore, if an American Indian did come out in favor of the name Washington Redskins, or at least their right to call their team whatever they want, such a person would probably be exposed to a more vitriolic rebuke than any white person taking the same position.

In what some see as the first step to forcing the Washington Redskins football team to change their name, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Wednesday cancelled six federal trademarks of the team name because it’s “disparaging” to Native Americans.

Gee, now there’s a surprise. Is it possible that the statements of the U.S. Senate Majority leader and the actions of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office — headed by his own party and ally, the U.S. President — have anything to do with one another?

If they do, then we should at least require that Harry Reid, and those who agree with him and who hold legislative or executive office, make their position clear: “Yes, I agree that the government should step in and intervene if somebody says something offensive.” Because once you act on this principle one time, it will be perfectly reasonable to do it next time.

We either have freedom of speech, property and association, or we do not; and if we do not this time, then we do not any time.

Increasingly, I hear otherwise reasonable people say things like, “Well, if something is offensive and hateful, maybe it should be censored.” What disturbs me most is when otherwise reasonable people think these things. Dictatorial mentalities have always been with us, and always will be. Even in the United States, dictatorial types have always existed both inside and outside of government. But what made America different was that such positions and viewpoints about censorship — backed up by no less a federal agency than the U.S. Patent and Trademark office — rarely, if ever, prevailed.

Now they’re starting to prevail.

And what do most of us have to say about it? Nothing, I have a feeling. And that’s another threat to freedom: When most people, open to reason on a particular subject, shrug and look the other way. “Oh, heck, what can I do about it?” This sends a green light to the would-be dictators that the coast is clear for ever-more infringements on basic liberties.

This shouldn’t be a Democrat-Republican issue, or anything like that. I’m old enough to remember when liberal Democrats were the ones more likely to say, “You can’t assault free speech.” But those days are gone, when the leader of their party in Congress implicitly endorses censorship, particularly given the timing of his words with the directives of the U.S. Patent Office. Like all “soft” dictators, Harry Reid and Barack Obama are morally puny. They don’t have the nerve to come out and advocate censorship. They do it through the back door, and hope nobody is paying attention. Sadly, many of us are not.

The issue here isn’t whether you like the name Redskins. Private property, freedom of association and basic Constitutional rights are not supposed to be subject to majority opinion or vote.

You can make a case that you don’t like the name “Redskins” for a football team, explain your reasons why, and generate a national movement, if you can and if you like, to persuade others to boycott them. We don’t need to take the lazy or the wrong way around things. Censorship is not only wrong; it’s lazy.

There are worse things than having a national football team with an allegedly or actually racist name. And one of those things is a federal government — run by either party — getting to decide which football team names are, or aren’t, legally suitable.

It won’t end with the Redskins.

[Source for quotes: Politico.com, foxnews.com, WashingtonExaminer.com 6/18 and 6/19/14]


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