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Monumental

redskinstrademark

Tomorrow evening, October 27, the Dallas Cowboys will play the Washington Redskins at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Currently, the Cowboys are on a winning streak, and hopes for a successful season look brighter than a cure for Ebola. But, amidst the usual revelry of a brutal contact sport, the issue of naming has arisen once again – the Redskins’ name.

Yolanda Blue Horse, a Dallas resident and member of the Lakota Nation, has scheduled a formal protest outside the stadium for 3 p.m. on Monday.

“When we all stand together as one, we also honor those before us and those to come after us,” Blue Horse declared. “The continued use of this negative word is not only derogatory, but it is offensive and we demand that the owner, Dan Snyder, stop using this racist word to promote his football organization.”

For years Native Americans have been demanding that Washington change its team name; a racial slur as bad as nigger, spick, chink, or elected official. And, for years, Washington has balked at the suggestion. But, in recent years, I’ve noticed something different: people are starting to pay more attention to the issue. Moreover, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has taken greater interest in the subject. For the first time in memory, they’ve actually contemplated banning radio and TV stations from using the term ‘redskin’ while broadcasting.

“We will be dealing with that issue on the merits, and we’ll be responding accordingly,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. Wheeler admits he’s a critic of Washington’s name, calling it “offensive and derogatory” in a recent interview. He refers to the club as “the Washington football team” instead.

Banning the term ‘redskin’ would effectively prevent radio or TV outlets from utilizing it while on the air. If they do, in other words, they could lose their license. That would mean any TV network or radio station broadcasting a game featuring Washington couldn’t openly refer to them as the Washington Redskins. The announcers couldn’t utter it, and the name couldn’t be displayed even in written form. Therefore, it’s possible a network wouldn’t take the chance and decide not to televise the game. That could result in millions of dollars in lost revenue for the network and its sponsors. If Washington should make it to the annual Super Bowl, that could create a financial calamity. Earlier this year the U.S. Patent and Trade Office went so far as to cancel the team’s trademark; denouncing it as disparaging to Native Americans. That’s the closest anyone has come to banning ‘redskin’ from public usage at the national level.

This past spring 50 members of the U.S. Senate sent letters to National Football Commissioner Roger Goodell prodding him and the league to endorse a name change for Washington.

“The NFL can no longer ignore this and perpetuate the use of this name as anything but what it is: a racial slur,” said one letter, signed by 49 senators. “We urge the NFL to formally support and push for a name change for the Washington football team.”

Not surprisingly, owner Dan Snyder has refused calls to change the team’s name, proclaiming it a noble moniker, not a slur. In a recent interview with ESPN, he once again insisted he won’t bow to public pressure. “It’s just historical truths,” he said, “and I’d like them to understand, as I think most do, that the name really means honor, respect.”

Snyder highlighted both William Henry “Lone Star” Dietz, Washington’s first coach and for whom the team was named to honor his “Native American heritage,” and Walter “Blackie” Wetzel, the late former president of the National Congress of American Indians and chairman of the Blackfeet Nation, who helped design and approve the team’s logo, as true-life examples of the positive history of the nickname.

I wrote up an essay on this issue a couple of years ago; wondering aloud if anyone would tolerate sports team names such as the Washington Niggers or the Houston Hebes. The word ‘redskin’ has a muddled history. Many claim it was a reference created by early European explorers and / or colonists who took note of the often-ruddy complexion some Indigenous Americans have. Others declare it was a reference to the reddish body paint some native peoples adorned themselves with, as they prepared for battle, or engaged in some kind of religious ceremonies. Whatever its origins, redskin is still a vulgar and racist term.

Quite frankly, though, some people of Indian extraction aren’t offended by it; seeing it strictly as a name only, with no racist overtones. In the ever-mutating world of American English, however, plenty of folks view attempts to ban ‘redskin’ and force Washington to change its name as another chapter in the ‘Book of Political Correctness.’

In an editorial last year, “Washington Post” columnist Charles Krauthammer lamented, “I don’t like being lectured by sportscasters about ethnic sensitivity. Or advised by the president of the United States about changing team names. Or blackmailed by tribal leaders playing the race card.”

The “Conservative Tribune,” deemed calls for Washington to change its name “absurd,” adding, “If anything, the team is showing respect to native Americans by actually naming themselves after them.” The same site also just published this brilliant photo of a “conservative’s reaction” to the ‘Hands Up, Don’t Shoot’ mantra over the Michael Brown shooting.

Erick Erickson, editor of RedState, blamed President Obama for the USPTO’s decision. “The lesson here is that guilty feeling white liberals are a threat to freedom and, in Barack Obama’s America, the key to survive is to not appear on the radar of in Washington, D.C.,” Erickson wrote. He further implicated “a bunch of overeducated white guys who cry during ‘Love Actually’” and “a class of men who pee sitting down.”

Rush Limbaugh noted the Patent and Trademark Office is part of the Obama Administration, which, in turn, is the source of all this “tyranny.”

Right-wing blogger Matt Barber sees an unsettling trend looming on the horizon with the USPTO’s decision. “Whether or not you believe the Redskins should change its team name, you should be concerned by this troubling development,” he wrote. “It’s a harbinger of things to come. The American free market and private enterprise are no longer free nor private. Liberty is under threat as never before. Here’s to the good ol’ U.S.A.! We’ve officially become an Obamanation.”

Comments to a “Dallas Morning News” piece about the matter last week displayed an exorbitant amount of vitriol. One man complained that he felt like suing the Cracker Barrel restaurant chain for its obviously racist name. Yes, I’m sure millions of Caucasian-Americans get sick to their stomach when they see the Cracker Barrel sign; that’s why so many of them keep patronizing those stores!

Okay, I get it! A bunch of middle-aged White conservatives are pissed off that someone dares to challenge their view of American society. It’s the same reaction many had to school desegregation and the 1964 Civil Rights Act. They’re the ones who believe the United Nations still has covert operatives hovering along the U.S.-Canadian border, just waiting for the right moment to launch an assault and force gay marriage and mandatory abortions on God-fearing Americans.

No, you idiots, this isn’t political correctness. Political correctness is saying that all Indian people are great and wonderful, even if they’re drunk-ass bastards who engage in criminal behavior. Political correctness is telling men they must always respect women, no matter what stupid or awful things she does or says to him. Political correctness is U.S. foreign policy towards Israel.

Since Snyder is Jewish, he could easily change it to Washington Kikers, but then, political correctness would really get turned upside down. But, I believe the Washington Monuments would be appropriate. Washington, D.C., is home to some of the nation’s premier monuments to its heritage. Besides, a monument – as in the Washington Monument – is a long, thick column of granite, sticking straight up to the sky. I think it’s appropriate, considering football is the last bastion of male athleticism in the U.S.; a tribute to excess testosterone and men’s aggression.

Despite the right-wing rancor, this issue isn’t going away. And it’s never been a matter of political correctness; it’s simply a matter of respect.

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Fags in the Shower! Fags in the Shower!

Michael Sam hopes to turn his collegiate football career into a professional one.

Michael Sam hopes to turn his collegiate football career into a professional one.

The American sports world is all riled up again – and as usual, over nothing important.  Michael Sam, a 24-year-old senior defensive lineman football player at the University of Missouri, recently announced that he’s a practicing homosexual.  Sam has garnered a number of accolades for his athletic ability, including All-American Player and Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year awards.  But, his unapologetic admission to being gay has steered the conversation to a prospect more horrifying to many heterosexual men than erectile dysfunction and forgetting to order flowers on Valentine’s Day: there’ll be a damn queer in the locker room!

Professional sports in the U.S. is rife with unsavory characters and devious antics.  Like their counterparts in the entertainment world, career athletes seem to have a penchant for nefarious behavior in the public arena.  Former baseball player Darryl Strawberry had a long history of drug use, which – coupled with documented assaults on his first wife – eventually derailed his career.  Key word: eventually.  Despite his troubles, team owners and coaches kept giving him second chances.  His high batting averages appeared to gloss over the awful reality of his self-destruction.

The late Wilt Chamberlain, a legendary figure in basketball, once claimed to have slept with over 20,000 women.  His lawyer, Seymour Goldberg, declared that Chamberlain “collected women” the way some people collect stamps.  His nickname, “The Big Dipper,” came about because he often had to duck his 7’1” frame downward when he entered doorways.  But, the moniker obviously sported a more salacious definition when rumors of his romantic escapades began circulating in the media.

One of the most brutal stories of a professional athlete’s incorrigible behavior involves Rae Carruth, formerly of the Carolina Panthers.  In November of 1999, Carruth ordered a friend to murder his then-girlfriend, Cherica Adams, who was eight months pregnant.  Two years earlier Carruth had lost a paternity suit and, apparently reluctant to support yet another unwanted child, he tried convincing Adams to have an abortion.  When she refused, he allegedly planned to have her beaten up so she’d miscarry.  After that failed, he went further and set up the hit.  The two met for a date at a movie theatre.  They left in separate cars, with Adams following Carruth.  Another vehicle drove up beside Adams, and a man later identified as a friend of Carruth fired four shots.  Adams crashed and, despite her injuries, managed to dial 911 from her cell phone.  Doctors were able to save the 8-month-old male fetus.  Adams later scribbled notes for police officials describing the sequence of events and clearly implicated Carruth in the crime.  Carruth had told investigators he’d turn himself into police if Adams died.  When she finally succumbed to her injuries a month later, Carruth fled.  Fortunately, he was caught and convicted of murder in 2000, along with his three accomplices.  But, from the start, sports writers and Carruth fan were willing to give Carruth the benefit of the doubt.

In December 2012, Josh Brent, a Dallas Cowboys player, was involved in a drunk driving wreck that killed his fellow teammate and best friend, Jerry Brown.  The two had patronized a strip club and consumed large amounts of alcohol, when Brent lost control of his Mercedes.  Police officers arriving at the scene found Brent trying to pull Brown from the fiery crash.  A blood-alcohol test on Brent measured 0.18, more than twice the legal limit in Texas.  Brent’s defense attorneys tried to claim that his 320-pound frame could handle that much booze, which was roughly equal to 17 mixed drinks.  Amidst such trauma, however, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones refused to terminate Brent’s contract until after the trial.  But, the ultimate shame in this tragedy came when Judge Robert Burns announced Brent’s sentence – 180 days in jail and 10 years’ probation.

There are countless other stories of professional athletes abusing their wives or girlfriends; committing sexual assault; driving drunk; beating up friends and neighbors; and / or using illegal narcotics.  But, if you listen to the rhetoric over Michael Sam, you’d think his sexuality was as criminal as those of the aforementioned athletes.  In professional sports, it’s apparently okay for a man to beat the crap out of his wife.  In fact, many people just seem to want to shove that under the rug of illicit behavior.

But, said athlete admits that he’s gay?  Well, suddenly he’s crossed the line.  We can’t have that.  We can’t have any fags in the shower.  The same argument has been used before in the U.S. military.  It was a basis for the compromise over the pathetic “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy enacted in 1994.  Until it was repealed in 2011, more people were booted out of the military for being gay or lesbian than for being fat.

In the narrow minds of bigotry, some transgressions are inexcusable.  Homosexuality is among them.  Unless Michael Sam has forced someone into a sexually compromising position (and that’s almost always an accusation, especially towards gay men), people should focus more on his athletic abilities and his difficult upbringing than his sexual predilections.  He lost one brother to gun violence; another brother has been missing since 1998; and two more of his brothers are imprisoned.  At one point, he and his mother lived in her car.  Sam is the first member of his family to attend college.  It’s unlikely he decided to pursue a football career so he can scope out guys in the locker room.  Anyone who visits a locker room (or public restroom, for that matter) to pick up dates needs to get their ass kicked anyway.

Here’s another thing: men look at one another’s genitalia in the locker room.  Every man does; if he denies it, he’s either lying, or he’s dead.  It’s not a stare, or a gape; it’s just a casual glance to see if they measure up.  Every man is concerned about his penis size at some point in his life.  And, every woman is just as concerned about her butt and hip size during some internal squabble with her internal self.  We humans all just want to be – and look – normal.  Being gay or lesbian doesn’t cross the invisible line – but, staring does.  And, that’s just not going to happen very often.

Personally, I’m not a football fan, so I’d never heard of Michael Sam until this faux issue arose.  And, I certainly don’t plan to follow his career should be become the first openly-gay professional player in American football history.  I have more important concerns.  So should everyone else.

Local Dallas / Fort Worth sports anchor Dale Hansen tells it like it is.

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