Extra Points: The clock is ticking on the 'Redskins'
By John McMullen, NFL Editor
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Understand the end justifies the means to the politically correct crowd.
Using questionable methods as long as something "good" is accomplished has long been a staple of that movement.
The latest example came inside the Beltway on Wednesday when the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office genuflected at the PC altar in what can only be described as an overreach, no matter what the finish line is perceived to be.
The USPTO canceled six federal trademark registrations of the Washington Redskins, by a 2-1 majority vote, calling the football team's nickname "disparaging to Native Americans" in what some have described as a lawless end-around, ignoring previous precedent.
"We decide, based on the evidence properly before us, that these registrations must be canceled because they were disparaging to Native Americans at the respective times they were registered," the Trademark Trial and Appeals board wrote in its opinion.
The wording here is key because "disparaging" is a lot easier to prove than "racist," which quite simply would mean the Redskins organization believes a particular race is superior to Native Americans.
Even hard-line opponents of the nickname -- at least the logical ones -- really don't believe that. Hence the low-hanging fruit of "disparaging" which certainly can be argued and perhaps even proven.
Generally when people refer to others in particular ethic groups with disparaging or racial slurs, they are trying to be derogatory and hurtful. In this case, you can make a strong argument that a football team turned what was created by white people as a racially insensitive word toward Native Americans into anything but.
There isn't even a hint of animus behind Daniel Snyder's continued use of the nickname Redskins or his team's fans in embracing it. And however it started, the term is now a revered and celebrated part of the capital's culture.
Today even the worst Archie Bunker-type personality in D.C. isn't sitting around the dinner table and throwing out "Redskins" to belittle Native Americans. They are wondering if the 'Skins beat the Cowboys.
That doesn't change the history of the word itself, however, which was certainly disparaging and the name has been under fire for years with things really heating up over the past 12 months.
Smelling blood in the water or in this case, a red light on a television camera, a host of Democrat senators sent a letter to the NFL imploring the league to put its foot down.
Through it all, Snyder has been steadfast in saying that he will not change the nickname despite any and all opposition.
Bob Raskopf, the trademark attorney for the Redskins, noted the organization has been through this before and will appeal Wednesday's ruling, a development which will keep the trademark registrations valid during the legal process.
"We are confident we will prevail once again, and that the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board's divided ruling will be overturned on appeal," Raskopf said in his statement. "This case is no different than an earlier case (The board also canceled the registrations in 1999, but a federal judge overturned that decision in 2003), where the Board canceled the Redskins' trademark registrations, and where a federal district court disagreed and reversed the Board."
Raskopf expects a similar outcome this time.
"The evidence in the current claim is virtually identical to the evidence a federal judge decided was insufficient more than 10 years ago," Raskopf said.
In the end, this is all about the law of unintended consequences and it's the one day when even people who despise the name should be standing up and defending Snyder's right to use it, at least in this small instance.
The Redskins controversy is and should continue to be a market-correction issue, not a political football.
Remember when your side is in power, a desirous outcome -- no matter the steps it takes to get there -- is very intoxicating. Just understand, politics tend to be cyclical and when the side you don't like is back in charge, it might come looking for revenge with the same kind of totalitarian mind-set.
Do any of us really want Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, who once described now-deceased ex-Klansman Robert Byrd, along with Ted Kennedy, as "the greatest living Americans," and explained President Barack Obama's success was helped by the fact he was a "light-skinned" African American with no "Negro dialect" being our compass for race relations?
Reid raced to the Senate floor after the trademark decision to spike the ball by again calling the Redskins' name not disparaging but "racist," and also to say the team will be forced to change its name.
"Daniel Snyder might be the last person in the world to realize this, but it is just a matter of time until he is forced to do the right thing and change the name," Reid said.
It's probably lost on the aging Reid that any of his colleagues could run to the same floor and make a strong case that he has proven to be far more racist than Snyder, at least when it was politically expedient.
Reid is right, though, on one issue. Snyder may indeed may be the last person to realize he's going to have to change the name.
The tipping point is now here and Snyder's on the wrong end of an argument already adjudicated by the PC police.
Intolerance is taking down what it perceives to be intolerant.
06/19 09:53:28 ET