Subscribe via RSS Feed

“Freedom of Speech” Is Not “Freedom From Criticism”

[ 152 ] October 21, 2013 |

When an article starts out like this, we can safely say that its chances of making a decent argument are non-existent:

If you want to know how unhinged PC has become, look no further than the controversy over sports teams with offensive names.

Not only is “PC” being invoked at this late date, it’s being invoked in a context that makes clear it will be used in its only remaining form — i.e. to preemptively defend terrible arguments against people pointing out that they’re terrible. And, as a bonus, it uses another cliche that Michelle Malkin permanently turned into a signifier of instant self-refutation nearly a decade ago.

And, yet, despite the warning the argument might actually be dumber than the opening leads you to expect:

Some will argue that it is one thing for an informal community of sports fans to ironically use a pejorative term about themselves, but it’s another thing for a team to use a term that has traditionally been a slur against people that fall outside of its support base.

Perhaps. But the sport-based uses of the Y-word and the R-word also share something very important in common, which is that neither team, neither Spurs fans in Britain nor Redskins fans in the U.S., uses these terms abusively. There’s absolutely no offensive intent. Indeed, these once-shocking words are denuded of their wickedness, emptied of their historic horribleness, when they’re innocently uttered by proud modern-day sports fans either to refer to their cultural roots, in the case of the Yids, or just as a straightforward team name that has been in existence since 1933, as with the Redskins.

The Yid and Redskins controversies tell us a lot about the craziness of PC. Both are underpinned by the central conceit of PC: that the “right” of certain groups or individuals not to be offended trumps the freedom of speech of other communities.

But the right not to be offended is not a serious right. The desire to never feel offence is just sensitivity disguised as a right, emotional weakness dolled up as a “freedom from offence,” and it is used as a battering ram against real liberties that actually matter—particularly the liberties of speech and association. The war of words against any team or informal community that speaks in a way decreed “inappropriate” by the self-elected guardians of correctness shows how imperious PC can be.

O’Neill doesn’t deny that “Redskins” is a racial slur. He doesn’t deny that it was given to the team, the vast majority of whose fans are not Native Americans, by an owner who wasn’t Native American and maintained by owners who also aren’t Native American, making all of the predictable “but black people can use the n-word to describe themselves!” non-sequiturs moot by his own admission. He does conveniently leave out the fact the name was given to the team by a virulent racist, which seems relevant to intent. But even if we assume arguendo that the the modern ownership and most fans of the Racist Slurs don’t have racist intentions, indifference to the use of racial slurs is also objectionable and also properly subject to criticism.

The biggest problem with the argument, however, is positing this disagreement as a “right of certain groups or individuals not to be offended” versus “the liberties of speech and association.” A “right” not to be offended isn’t the issue. And, more importantly, O’Brien isn’t defending any right of freedom of speech or association. Nobody is suggesting that Congress pass legislation banning the name — this framework of competing strawmen is just a diversion. Rather, O’Brien is positing a right for offensive speakers to be wholly exempt from criticism, which is not only not implied by freedom of speech, it’s directly antithetical to free speech. Alas, Sarah Palin’s anti-free speech conception of free speech continues to be influential on the right.

Comments (152)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. sharculese says:

    Using the term PC is by itself enough to get you filed away in my brain under “dumber than a dog’s asshole.”

    I… can’t say I know that many Spurs fans, but I’ve never met one who’s argument didn’t basically boil down to ‘shut up, I shouldn’t have to think about this.’ Do they have anything better going for them?

    • bspencer says:

      Dumb and also…wasn’t being anti-PC hip, like, 20 years ago?

      OMG, you like South Park? That’s so fucking cool! Cartman, amirite?

      • Sly says:

        Dumb and also…wasn’t being anti-PC hip, like, 20 years ago?

        It was never hip. Being anti-PC has always been a thinly disguised complaint about losing a cultural battle to generational attrition.

        • Snarki, child of Loki says:

          Go back further, 30 years ago “politically correct” was a term used by lefties to jokingly prod those further to the left that a took themselves a bit too seriously.

          You can always count on american right-wingers to not get the joke

          • Barry Freed says:

            I had a very cool* avowedly socialist social studies teacher in high school(maybe even outright Marxist, I don’t remember exactly) who used to wear a button that said “Politically Correct.” I got the joke

            *Dude looked like Jerry Garcia but would play Clash videos and the Uncle Floyd show in class.

            And yeah, few things make me tune out faster than the ritual invocation of “PC.”

      • Uncle Ebeneezer says:

        Are you saying what’s hip today might become passé?

    • Ronan says:

      I would personally think there are moments when PC can, in fact, go mad
      But overall its a force for good, if a bit of a scatterbomb

      • Matt T. in New Orleans says:

        What’s an example? One that actually exists outside of some honky dingbat’s fever dream, of course.

      • STH says:

        All we’re talking about here is respect for people and not using slurs that are part of a long-standing pattern of oppression. Please explain how this can “in fact, go mad”.

        • Ronan says:

          When they dont fit into this

          ‘respect for people and not using slurs that are part of a long-standing pattern of oppression’

          context

          • Matt T. in New Orleans says:

            Which is when?

            • Disinterested says:

              There’s one example I can think off of the top of my head, though I’m sure on further inspection it will be shown to be somewhat apocryphal (snopes does have an entry deeming it “true”, however). In CA, there was a law passed banning the usage of the terms “master”/”slave” in electronics. I can’t imagine finding a virulent racist on the other end of that naming convention, nor do I think it’s a slur in the same sense that redskin is.

              • Disinterested says:

                slight edit: not a law passed, just a memo to suppliers from LA county gov’t suggesting they change their convention. Should have read further.

              • Anna in PDX says:

                Yes, I heard the same about the “male/female” thing which I assume was apocryphal

                • Lee Rudolph says:

                  I was just thinking the other day (while struggling with an assortment of old, variously-fitted garden hoses; why do you ask?) that perhaps the proper distinction should be “top/bottom”.

                • Warren Terra says:

                  Oh, I dunno. I’ve seen a truly hilarious book published by the MIT Press on problems with the handling of gender in science. Now, obviously, this is an important field deserving of serious study – but, instead, the author had for example a whole chapter complaining that F+ E. coli (the donors of genetic material in a bacterial conjugation, via a Pilus, which not coincidentally sounds a lot like something else that mediates the donateion of genetic material) were referred to as being “male”, which the author found just insuperably offensive. I wish I’d kept a copy. Truly ludicrous book.

                • Top/Bottom sounds like a good idea, except it would be very confusing with the other meaning of those words (“put the Top connector on the bottom and the Bottom connection on top”).

              • snarkout says:

                Also the (totally true) case of the mayoral aide in DC who lost his job after someone complained about his use of the word “niggardly”, although a) he got his job back, b) he was actually totally chill about it in a really admirable way, and c) that was one case in *1999*.

        • MAJeff says:

          My favorite use of this approach comes from Paul Monette: “Being politically correct is little more than not being an asshole.”

    • Manju says:

      Using the term PC is by itself enough to get you filed away in my brain under “dumber than a dog’s asshole.”

      That’s because you’ve run amok.

    • InnerPartisan says:

      Using the term PC is by itself enough to get you filed away in my brain under “dumber than a dog’s asshole.”

      I’m not sure – personally, I think the term has a certain usefulness. But then of course, I’m somebody who thinks that Political Correctness, in general, is a good thing.

      (Also, to pick that low-hanging fruit inexplicably left alone in this comment thread until now: Fuck Apple and all their cultists. I am so sorry :D )

  2. Eli Rabett says:

    George Marshall and racist are synonyms.

  3. actor212 says:

    Excuse me, but how does Tottenham, a team named after Sir Henry “Hotspur” Percy, end up on a list of offensive named teams?

    Hotspur refers to Percy’s temper and willingness to go to battle, and while he was ultimately termed a traitor, it’s a bit of a stretch to call that name an epithet.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      He’s talking about the “Yids” nickname, I guess.

    • actor212 says:

      Oh wait. You mean how the fans call themselves “Yids” in response to the anti-Semitism they’ve had hurled at them for decades?

      Kinda like black folk here call themselves “nigger”…

    • Ronan says:

      Well there is the further problem with the ‘Yid Army’ chant that its not an official club name but just something the fans have adopted so it is (in part) being enfored with arrests and banning orders
      Whether thats right or wrong is up to the individual to decide, but it wont be enacted solely by pressuring the club, shaming them into it (The PC gone mad lobby ant be shamed into these things)

      • Lee Brimmicombe-Wood says:

        I am a long-time Spurs fan and it’s interesting how the fans have handled racism. I know guys who were veterans of the Spurs ‘firm’. Back int he ’70s and early ’80s it was the only integrated skinhead firm in London, with black and white skins. And it often battled the Inter-City Firm–the West Ham firm that was so closely associated with neo-Nazism.

        That tension between the neo-Nazis of the East End and Essex and the North London side (North London being a destination for Jewish refugees as well as migrants from the east of town) is a long-running one. There has probably never been a high percentage of Jewish supporters at White Hart Lane (though I’ve certainly seen fans turn up in yarmulkes) but the fans adopted the association.

        I’ve been openly proud of being a yiddo over the years. I’ve chanted and sung ‘Yids’ at many games. I recall when Jurgen Klinsmann scored his first goal at WHL we all sang:

        “Chim-chimery chim-chimery, chim-chim-cheroo/ Jurgen was German but now he’s a Jew…”

        But I think there’s a strong case to quietly let the name lie and move on.

        • Ronan says:

          Gen Q, was a lot of the reason they got rid of racism on the terraces from the 70/80s (not with Spurs, in general)by banning/arressting racists and the NF specifically?

          • Lee Brimmicombe-Wood says:

            No. There was certainly a lot of police action that undermined the NF, C18 and other neo-Nazi groups, but it’s not the only contributor.

            Received wisdom is that the biggest contributor to reducing racism in grounds was the move to all-seater stadia in the top divisions. This enhances police countermeasures by linking tickets to seats and to names of individuals. But largely it takes away a lot of the anonymity of the mob that the old terraces allowed.

          • Lee Brimmicombe-Wood says:

            I still recall the Inter-City Firm turning up to White Hart Lane and singing, to the tune of Bless ‘em All:

            ‘Gas ‘em all, gas ‘em all, gas ‘em all,
            The Paxton, the Park Lane and all,
            God bless old Hitler, ’cause he did his best,
            He gassed six million, now we’ll gas the rest.’

            • Anna in PDX says:

              Wow. I just had to comment on this because it is difficult to believe, except that I do know that mobs can do really horrible things. Who was it that talked about the thin veneer of civilization?

            • tomsk says:

              Yeah, the Chelsea fans making hissing gas chamber noises at Spurs fans is another delightful one. The fuckers still do it!

        • CaitieCat says:

          Also a longtime Spurs fan, and I’m with you: while I really do believe we’ve been doing it in pride, and that our record on racist and anti-Semitic bullshit has been good, it’s probably better if we let this one go.

          Besides, this year we’ve got actual chances of success to look forward to.

          • Ronan says:

            “Besides, this year we’ve got actual chances of success to look forward to.”

            LOL

            • Lee Brimmicombe-Wood says:

              CaitieCat, if Ronan turns out to be a Gooner, you take his legs out while I duff him up.

              • Ronan says:

                I like Arsenal, I’ll admit, but cant really call myself a Gooner beause of being Irish and all that ! Im a blow in, so to speak
                But Ive been following them since George Graham or so..
                but Ill agree theyre hopeless ; )

                • Lee Brimmicombe-Wood says:

                  We don’t mention GG’s name in my circles without spitting twice and crossing ourselves. He represents the Dark Powers that would destroy Spurs. Fair gives me the shivers to think what ‘The Man in the Mac’ did to us while he was in charge.

              • CaitieCat says:

                LOL, we just need to wait until the Arse start playing the tough teams in the league, after their creampuff-and-lemonade start to the season. It is weirdly exciting to be part of the Y-word-Army and not feel we’re pretty much out of the running already in October. :D

                The guy I feel bad for is Moyes. Toughest job to step into, and their opening schedule was like being asked to be a wild lion pride’s dental hygienist. I don’t feel too bad for him, of course, because it’s still FMU, and I’ll always be a member of the ABFMU club. ;)

                • Lee Brimmicombe-Wood says:

                  I’m not sure I feel bad for Moyes. For starters there’s that Thousand Yard Stare he has. He’s one of those psycho little buggers you don’t want to pick a fight with because it would require a company of Marines to hold him down while you sedated him.

                  That said, I have a tiny bit of empathy for the man who has to manage while The Gaffer sits upstairs and drives from the back seat.

                  Only a tiny bit, though. They are Manure, after all.

                • actor212 says:

                  Yes, it’s true: That Tottenham side were a bunch of pantywaists…we really should punch above our weight, and leave them to teams like Sunderland

                  ;-)

          • wengler says:

            And Soldado finally got his scoring pants on yesterday.

    • Nick says:

      Because the team has a historical reputation of being the club-of-choice for London’s Jewish community. Thus, they’re called “the Yids”. It’s sort of like Ajax in Amsterdam.

      And, of course, that means that opposing supporters have often done crap like this. And this.

      O’Neill’s assertion that the nickname “defuses” antisemitism is utterly, dangerously moronic.

    • rea says:

      Their unofficial nickname is the “Yids.”

    • Lee Brimmicombe-Wood says:

      Speaking as a Spurs fan who has chanted ‘Yid’ and ‘Yiddo’ at many games at White Hart Lane, and someone who has self-identified as a Yiddo, I’m starting to have second thoughts.

      Here’s David Baddiel and David Aaranovich talking about it. I find myself increasingly on Baddiel’s side.

      https://audioboo.fm/boos/1606789-how-offensive-is-the-word-yid#t=0m0s

      And here’s Arranovitch and comic David Schneider talking about it. Again, I find myself leaning towards Schneider’s view:

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-24162135

      • Izzy says:

        I understand why people take this view. And while I’m a Spurs fan of Jewish ancestry and take pride in Spurs’ reclamation of the term “Yid,” (indeed, it’s part of the reason I chose to support Spurs) I can see why reasonable people would disagree.

        I just want to emphasize what others have already suggested: naming one’s team after a racial slur is in no way comparable to fans adopting an offensive word to reclaim it and rebuke racists.

        Whatever one thinks of fans chanting “Yid Army,” it is no way comparable to the Washington Raging Racists.

  4. djw says:

    How stupid does it make me that some part of me still expects better than this from Reason?

    London’s Metropolitan Police have told Spurs fans the Y-word is “unacceptable.” A fan was arrested at a Spurs game earlier this month and charged with a public order offense for the “crime” of calling himself a Yid. Imagine the police going around to Jay-Z’s house and arresting him for calling himself and his friends niggas – that’s how crazy this is.

    To sum up: a libertarian is finds it outrageous that a private property owner gets to set enforceable rules for behavior on their own property.

    • Dave says:

      “Public order offense”, “private property”? One way or the other, something makes no sense.

      I suspect it’s the UK state’s long-held penchant for multiplying the number of things that are criminal offences…

      • djw says:

        I was assuming the arrest related to refusing to comply with rules for behavior on private property, which lead to a threat to public order. But I don’t know precisely what the charge entails. That said, he’s very slippery throughout on whether this is the clubs cracking down on behavior and calling on the police to enforce their rules on their property, or whether this is a government initiative forced on the clubs.

        I assumed the former was more likely, in part because if it were the latter, he’d have no reason to be coy about it.

        • Tristan says:

          It’s this stuff.

          Probably under section 5, which apparently is a bit of a controversy. The comparison in the article between a stadium and someone’s (Jay-Z no less! This writer is clearly ‘hip’ to the ‘kids’!) house is every bit as daft as the one he draws between a self-applied fan nickname and a trademarked team name regardless.

    • Nick says:

      That’s sounds like an argument against the UK’s hate-speech laws. Which is a separate argument from one about sports teams’ nicknames. Also, it’s fairly likely that the Spurs supporter was not, in fact, Jewish. So the Jay-Z analogy falls there (in addition to the fact that he’s comparing behavior in public vs behavior in private.

    • Scott S. says:

      I always have to remind myself that Libertarian = Republican. And actually, since Republican = Teabagger, there’s really not any difference between the Reasonoids and the Sarah Palin fanatics. I’m willing to bet Fonzie has signed 8×10 glossies of Palin, Bachmann, and Cruz.

    • actor212 says:

      How stupid does it make me that some part of me still expects better than this from Reason?

      They mean it ironically. You know, like Spurs partisans call themselves “Yids”.

  5. MacK says:

    The use of the self-nickname Yids by all accounts started as a taunt to racist skinheads, etc. as in “up-yours, we are a big bunch of jewish guys, too big to taunt or attack – yep, we are Yids, want to make something of it?” In short the name was an offensive insult thrown back in the faces of anti-Semitic thugs when they could not safely exercise their anti-Semitism. Its use by Spurs fans does not make it anything other than a racist insult – in fact the whole point was that it was the racist insult.

    In the context of the Washington Redskins – it is not like the teams supporters are American Indians or any insult turning is taking place. So the entire argument is based on a shit-for-brains lack of understanding of what was going on.

  6. Warren Terra says:

    I’m still pushing my suggestion that until the team is renamed something respectable we should call them Dan Snyder’s Washington Redyns.

  7. Uncle Ebeneezer says:

    But the sport-based uses of the Y-word and the R-word also share something very important in common, which is that neither team, neither Spurs fans in Britain nor Redskins fans in the U.S., uses these terms abusively. There’s absolutely no offensive intent.

    Shorter Malkin: When I call a black person “my nigga” it’s meant in as a term of endearment. Why do some people have to be so uppity about it?

  8. David M. Nieporent says:

    And, more importantly, O’Brien isn’t defending any right of freedom of speech or association. Nobody is suggesting that Congress pass legislation banning the name

    Except that he pointed out that, in fact, there is such legislation in Scotland. And that in fact Harjo has been waging a two-decade-long battle to legally strip the Redskins of their trademark registration. Nobody is saying that the Redskins should be “free from criticism” about their name; nobody cares about Suzan Harjo “criticizing” the Redskins, because nobody cares about Suzan Harjo at all, including the Indians that she doesn’t actually represent in her quest. It’s her litigation against the club that’s at issue.

    • Hogan says:

      Harjo’s trademark case was thrown out by a US district court in 2009, and the Supreme Court refused to review it. I’d say that battle is over. And that still doesn’t make it a First Amendment case.

      • Dilan Esper says:

        There is definitely a decent First Amendment argument that the statue allowing the government to refuse registration of offensive trasemarks violates the First Amendment.

        • Hogan says:

          Let’s hear it.

          • dave says:

            I second that request.

          • Murc says:

            It’s self-evident, no? The government can’t privilege some forms of speech over other forms; the rules governing things like copyright and trademark have to be both facially and substantively neutral in order to be first amendment compliant, do they not?

            I’m not real comfortable, either ideologically or practically, with the government getting to pick and choose what kind of speech and content it will extend privilege to and what it will not. (I actually think that the FCC is an outdated anachronism with little modern justification and should cease and desist all operation aside from completely neutral regulation of spectrum, so I freely admit I’m well outside of mainstream thought on this.)

            • Dilan Esper says:

              Murc made the policy version of the argument.

              The legal version of the argument is that the First Amendment prohibits the government attaching financial penalties to speech based on its content. Thus “Son of Sam” laws and discriminatory newspaper taxes have been struck down.

              Further, there’s a second ground of attack that the trademark statute is unconstitutionally vague. It puts total discretion in the hands of the trademark registrar to determine if a particular trademark is too offensive to register.

              • Hogan says:

                Registering a trademark is asking the government to give your speech special status and protection, entirely for commercial purposes. I don’t see a good constitutional or policy argument why the government can’t put reasonable conditions on that status and protection.

                Further, there’s a second ground of attack that the trademark statute is unconstitutionally vague.

                Is it that much more vague than similar statutes that have been upheld on 1A grounds?
                Enough to justify a facial rather than an as applied challenge?

                It puts total discretion in the hands of the trademark registrar to determine if a particular trademark is too offensive to register.

                Decisions of the trademark registrar are regularly appealed to the Patent Court, and in the Redskins case the Patent Court’s decision was appealed to federal district court (and then the Supreme Court). So, no.

                • Dilan Esper says:

                  Registering a trademark is asking the government to give your speech special status and protection, entirely for commercial purposes. I don’t see a good constitutional or policy argument why the government can’t put reasonable conditions on that status and protection.

                  Well, in theory, yes. But content-based restrictions are per se unreasonable, and vague restrictions that allow the government to discriminate based on message if it wishes to are also unreasonable. Which is why there is caselaw that prohibits, for instance, singling out newspapers for taxation or granting discretion to municipal officials to grant parade permits.

                  Is it that much more vague than similar statutes that have been upheld on 1A grounds?

                  Generally, statutes that do not spell out exactly what sorts of speech are covered in favor of descriptions such as “offensive” fail vagueness challenges. For instance, take a look at the statute struck down in ACLU v. Reno.

                  Decisions of the trademark registrar are regularly appealed to the Patent Court, and in the Redskins case the Patent Court’s decision was appealed to federal district court (and then the Supreme Court). So, no.

                  You really don’t know what you are talking about. Just because a decision is theoretically reviewable doesn’t mean that there is not too broad a grant of discretion.

                  The point is there are no objective standards in the statute for a court to overturn a decision of the trademark registrar. Just broad, vague words like “offensive”. That’s not good enough under First Amendment law.

                  Basically, the First Amendment, as interpreted by the courts, is a LOT more restrictive of these sorts of statutes than you imagine it to be. The only thing that keeps this statute from being struck down is that is basically never invoked– even porn producers are granted their trademarks. If it were, though, it would probably be struck down as unconstitutionally vague and probably also as a content based financial penalty.

                • Murc says:

                  Registering a trademark is asking the government to give your speech special status and protection, entirely for commercial purposes. I don’t see a good constitutional or policy argument why the government can’t put reasonable conditions on that status and protection.

                  This is entirely true. But! Those restrictions must be absolutely content-neutral. The government can’t grant extra privileges to some speech and withhold it from others based solely on content.

                • Hogan says:

                  You’re not listening. It’s not a restriction on speech. It’s a restriction on official privileging of speech.

                • Murc says:

                  It’s a restriction on official privileging of speech.

                  Granting special rights and privileges to some speech and not others based on content is unconstitutional, dude, because it amounts to a government endorsement of said content. You either can’t privilege any speech at all OR establish content-neutral guidelines determining when the government may do so.

                  This isn’t that hard. If some speech can be privileged based on content and some cannot, the speech that can’t be has been abridged, because you’ve relegated it to second-class status behind officially approved speech.

                  It would be like if the government determined some religions were eligible for tax-exempt status and some weren’t based on their doctrine, rather than a set of neutral rules. That would likewise be a first amendment violation.

                • (the other) Davis says:

                  Registering a trademark is asking the government to give your speech special status and protection…

                  I wouldn’t frame it this way at all–obtaining trademark protection doesn’t give the trademark owner’s speech special status. Rather, it gives the trademark owner the right to prevent other parties from engaging in commercial speech that is considered “infringing.”

                  Which is to say, granting a trademark limits free speech. Revoking one removes that limitation on free speech.

                  Properly understood, there is no First Amendment issue here.

                • (the other) Davis says:

                  Properly understood, there is no First Amendment issue here.

                  I blew the conclusion–I meant to say, there is no First Amendment issue involved in revoking a trademark.

            • (the other) Davis says:

              the rules governing things like copyright and trademark have to be both facially and substantively neutral in order to be first amendment compliant, do they not?

              That depends on how you describe “neutral.” Creative works are entitled to stronger copyright protection than factual works. Purely factual works–like recipes–are entitled to no copyright protection at all. Is that content-discriminatory?

    • sharculese says:

      Except that he pointed out that, in fact, there is such legislation in Scotland.

      Scotland has representation in Congress now?

      nobody cares about Suzan Harjo at all

      And yet here you are, with impressive amounts of detail on something you claim not to care about. Almost as if you were a liar or something.

      • sharculese says:

        And then of course there’s the fascinating case of the dude who’s standard rhetorical shtick is an aggrieved huff’n'puff about non-lawyers not using terminology with fastidious precision trying to disappear legislative bans and trademark dissolution into one another, but again, you’re a liar, everyone knows it, why do you even bother, etc., etc.

        • David M. Nieporent says:

          You understand that both are government action, right? Your comment is about as clever as the guy who claimed the other day that school boards can censor students with impunity because the First Amendment says “Congress shall make no law” and a school board isn’t Congress and a school board policy isn’t a law.

          Hint: the topic of Scott’s post was not about “legislative bans.” It was about government action vs. mere criticism.

          • sharculese says:

            I understand that I can’t roll things up under the most suitably vague catch-all term I can imagine of just because it makes my argument easier to peddle.

          • Hogan says:

            A civil suit is a government action? Seriously?

              • Hogan says:

                I take that to mean that a decision in a civil suit is a government action, not the suit itself.

                • Dilan Esper says:

                  True. But it means that the First Amendment at least potentially applies to any relief granted by a court in canceling a trademark due to offensiveness. Which means that David is correct that at least some people have asked that the government attempt to stop the Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Persons from using the racist name “Redskins” and that this could pose First Amendment problems.

                • sharculese says:

                  Which would matter if that where anywhere close to what Scott said. Just because Davey can’t make an argument without throwing in a bizarre non sequitur doesn’t mean we have to indulge him.

                • Dilan Esper says:

                  Nobody is suggesting that Congress pass legislation banning the name

                  I’d say that suggesting that Congress already has banned the name (in the form of the offensive trademark statute) is fairly close.

                • Hogan says:

                  I’d say that suggesting that Congress already has banned the name (in the form of the offensive trademark statute) is fairly close.

                  The suggestion was made in 1992 and has since been thrown out of federal court. Do you have any more recent citations?

                • Dilan Esper says:

                  Why? Scott’s statement was “nobody”.

                  I actually think it is pretty obvious that some people wouldn’t mind if Congress violated the First Amendment and forced a name change (or if a court interpreted the offensive trademark statute as forcing one). That’s part of the debate. It’s not a particularly large part of it, but it is part of it.

                • Hogan says:

                  I actually think it is pretty obvious that some people wouldn’t mind if Congress violated the First Amendment and forced a name change

                  No, some people think that stripping the team of its trademark under an existing statute would not violate the First Amendment. And O’Neill mentions none of those people in the piece Scott is responding to.

                  More here.

                • (the other) Davis says:

                  Which means that David is correct that at least some people have asked that the government attempt to stop the Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Persons from using the racist name “Redskins” and that this could pose First Amendment problems.

                  Losing trademark protection doesn’t stop them from using the name. It just means that they’ll no longer be able to stop other people from using that name in commerce.

      • David M. Nieporent says:

        You don’t have to prove how dumb you are with each comment; every other comment would be sufficient. The article Scott is commenting on cites two examples: one in the UK, and one here. Scott then claims that it isn’t about freedom of speech because it’s only about criticism. Obviously the UK example is going to be governed by the UK government rather than Congress. But that’s still about free speech rather than freedom from criticism.

        Impressive amounts of detail? I’ve posted no “details” about Harjo, other than mentioning that she’s the nut pushing this cause, which isn’t really a “detail” so much as general background knowledge. I’ve posted links to polls about the issue, but not about her.

        • sharculese says:

          You don’t have to prove how dumb you are with each comment; every other comment would be sufficient.

          Yes, that is exactly the sort of huffy pretentiousness I was talking about!

          The article Scott is commenting on cites two examples: one in the UK, and one here.

          You tried to respond to a factual claim about what Congress is or is not doing by citing what another nation was doing and with no better excuse than the two were mentioned in the same article. Davey, this sort of lazy false equivalency may fly in a court of law, but here in the real world we demand some modicum of critical thinking, and this sad little tail-tuck does not begin to cut it!

    • Except that he pointed out that, in fact, there is such legislation in Scotland.

      Which is why I was talking about his idiotic arguments about the Redskins.

      And that in fact Harjo has been waging a two-decade-long battle to legally strip the Redskins of their trademark registration.

      Hogan dealt with this one.

      Nobody is saying that the Redskins should be “free from criticism” about their name

      Except, er, O’Neill, who argues that criticizing the Redskins
      constitutes a threat to free speech and free association.

  9. NewishLawyer says:

    If I ever get really wealthy, I would like to fund a psychological/neurological study about why many libertarians and conservatives seem more interested in a jeering “annoy the liberals” kind of policy than anything real or substantial.

    Libertarians and conservatives always remind me of the perpetual class clown in middle school.

  10. DrS says:

    I’m partial to calling them the “Washington Reagans”

  11. Lee Brimmicombe-Wood says:

    By the way, another racism story associated with Spurs is the saga of Walter Tull, one of the earliest black footballers, who suffered considerable abuse from opposing fans when he played for us. He was also the first black man to be commissioned as a subaltern in the British Army. He was killed in action near the Somme in 1918.

  12. Bijan Parsia says:

    If this were merely a “free from offensive speech” vs. “free speech” thing, that’d be one thing. But there is evidence of harm, i.e., “Redskins” not merely an expression of your contempt and disregard for an oppressed group, it has measurably negative effects on a group who’s social position is still highly marginalised with severe negative consequences for in group members.

    In other words, if you aren’t a shit, you will support changing the name upon learning the facts.

  13. StagParty Palin says:

    Latest news: the Washington Redskins are changing their name because of all the hatred, violence, and hostility associated with their name.

    From now on they will be known simply as the Redskins.

  14. cpinva says:

    “No, they use the Y-word in the same way some American blacks use the n-word – in order to defuse what was for many years a slur and transform it instead into a badge of identity pride.”

    mmmmmmmmmmm, not really, or maybe high schoolers haven’t yet reached that level of sophistication. it’s used, though kind of “jokingly” (and sometimes not so), as an inside slight, and it’s still offensive, regardless of who’s using it. any derogatory term, aimed specifically at a group, due to race, physical attribute, country of origin or religion, is still derogatory, regardless of who is using it, and what context they’re using it in. the black people I work and associate with are well educated, I’ve never, ever heard one of them use the term towards one another, ever, for that very reason.

  15. Dima says:

    This is the essence of classic Glibertarian, obnoxious White guy. Why, this can’t be hateful or hurtful if *I* didn’t (or claim I didn’t) intend it that way. It’s just you being all PC and sensitive! Help, help I’m being persecuted by people who tell me that they disapprove of something I said and criticize me! I’m sure it would greatly surprise you to see that Brendan O’Neil also is hostile to feminism, and defends internet trolls

    Last year he wrote a piece entitled, “It is wrong to say ‘Sex without consent is rape’ and it was kind of what you would expect. Whenever something has become indefensible he seems to write a column defending it.

  16. CJColucci says:

    I’d like to see some major sports news outlets start saying things like: “Washington beat the Bears 45-41″ or “When the Cowboys play Washington next week…”

    • Jordan says:

      Several do this. Bill Simmons and Peter King are two of the biggest NFL columnists out there, and both do this. A few papers and other individual writers do as well, along with some non-sports-focused publications.

  17. MacK says:

    Here is how Tottenham Hotspur responded to the question of whether the use of Yid Army and Yids should be banned under the UK’s incitement to hatred legislation and the Football Association’s objections to the use of the term:

    We are acutely aware of the sensitivity of this issue. Our fans historically adopted the chant as a defence mechanism in order to own the term and thereby deflect anti-semitic abuse. They do not use the term with any deliberate intent to cause offence.

    Last season saw a number of incidents where fans were targeted by allegedly far-right activists on the Continent and subjected to anti-semitic abuse by opposition fans. Subsequently, the debate on this issue has two key considerations:

    Firstly, whether or not its use now plays a role in deflecting or attracting unjustified abuse, abuse that is inexcusable on any grounds; and

    secondly, whether it is liable to cause offence to others even if unintentionally.

    We recognise that this is a complex debate and that, in the interests of encouraging a positive and safe environment for all supporters, consideration should be given to the appropriateness and suitability of its continued use. We are already in the process of engaging with our fans and shall be consulting more widely in due course.”

    So that is the view of the club.

    • actor212 says:

      The subtext being “We’d like it to change, and will try to work with the fans to change it, but ultimately, it’s out of our hands.”

      I do love the British ways with words.

      • MacK says:

        Maybe, but the idea that the term was “are denuded of their wickedness, emptied of their historic horribleness, when they’re innocently uttered by proud modern-day sports fans either to refer to their cultural roots, in the case of the Yids” was to use more English language, complete BOLLOCKS.

        THe whole point was that Yid is offensive – chanting it at racists was an elaborate “fuck you – and what are you going to do about it, we’re Yids and we are here in a crowd big enough to kick nine kinds of shite out of you – bet you feel tough and bravely anti-Semitic now, you wanker! now off and pick on someone your own size”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

  • Switch to our mobile site