Viewpoint

NFL’s offensive name

From an editorial Friday in the Washington Post:

Legal scholars raised intriguing questions Wednesday after a federal judge ruled that Washington’s pro football team could no longer trademark the name “Redskins.” Issues of freedom of speech were debated. Precedents including Confederate flag license plates were cited.

All very interesting, as we say. But the question that first occurred to us, as we listened to team executives once again rise to the defense of the team’s offensive name, was: Do they really not get it? The glory of their history, the passion of their fans, the purity of their hearts – none of that matters any more.

U.S. District Court Judge Gerald Bruce Lee was affirming what everyone knows: “Redskins” is a slur. You would not dream of saying it, face to face, to a Native American, so why do team officials think it is OK for a football team?

Common decency hasn’t swayed Snyder not to use a name that is clearly insulting, but at some point shouldn’t someone in his front office point out the costs of prolonging the controversy: the money spent on lawyers, the demeaning public relations gimmickry, the constant distraction of trying to defend the indefensible? Shouldn’t someone in the National Football League be thinking about the impact to the league’s beleaguered image?

No matter what a court eventually determines, the damage caused by using a hurtful name will continue.

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