Last week, the United States Patent Office voted to cancel the Washington (D.C.) Redskins’ trademarks, saying that the name was “disparaging to Native Americans.”
It may not seem that offensive to everyone, but it actually is considered a slur by many a Native American. (Yes, I know it isn’t a uniform opinion among Native Americans, but it’s still a majority.) It stands to reason that if a newly-formed team was named after a slur for a minority group, that name would be laughed at, at best.
Some might argue that tradition means the name is okay, but tradition isn’t actually that great of an argumment.
I’m going to make the radical claim that at its core, political correctness is simply an extension of the Golden Rule. That is, being considerate of others’ feelings is pretty much the definition of treating them the way you want to be treated.
“Pish tosh!,” you might say. “People should have thicker skins and not be so easily offended!”
But I doubt anyone reading this would call a Native American a redskin to their face, or all.
And the fact is, conservatives have their own versions of political correctness.
For example: how many of you who think people shouldn’t be so easily offended are perfectly okay with people saying “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Xmas” around the winter solstice?
Uttering different holiday words no more constitutes a “War on Christmas” than changing the name of a sports team constitutes an attack on free speech.
While it isn’t the majority opinion in any group in this country, there are those, such as the American Family Association and the Family Research Council, who seem to be in favor of laws against anti-Chrisitan blasphemy laws, like the kind passed recently in Russia.
And what is a law against blasphemy, if not a codified right not to be offended?
An even more ridiculous example are the billionaires who think that making fun of the super-rich, or even just advocating for higher tax rates on the top earners, is the new Kristallnacht. Clearly, being easy to offend isn’t something the left has a monopoly on.
On the other hand, I’d rather the people putting pressure on the Redskins and the Patent Office put their tremendouse energies towards improving the often deplorable conditions on the reservations, some of which resemble a third-world country, or at least bringing more attention to the problem. Just look up Pine Ridge, for example, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
But words matter as well, even if there are those who would choose to believe otherwise. The fact that words, or at least the thoughts that are conveyed via words, can influence some people’s decisions to commit suicide should be evidence enough of that.
The world is cruel and harsh, and in general we should call people what they wish to be called, and should treat them the way we want to be treated. We should all try to walk at least a mile in other people’s shoes. This is such a simple, handy and universal concept that every religion has a version of it, and many who are not religious still use it.
Franklin Clark is a reporter for the Cadiz Record and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.