A recent win for free speech means that the Washington Redskins are legally allowed to keep their name, but that won't stop offense takers from trying to get them to change it by other means.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Washington Redskins aren’t in the clear with their team name just yet, even after the Supreme Court ruled Monday that the government can’t block trademarks on the basis that they’re offensive.
Supreme Court precedent may help the club in its ongoing legal battle, but the fight over the Redskins moniker will continue in social and business realms. The Redskins, Cleveland Indians with their “Chief Wahoo” logo and other professional and college organizations featuring Native American nicknames and mascots cannot be censored by the U.S. government, but that doesn’t take the pressure off.
“Just because the Redskins may believe they’re in the clear or the Cleveland Indians or even some collegiate teams (think) they’re in the clear, that doesn’t mean that those that do business with the team, including its sponsors, are going to take their foot off the gas if they believe change is really required,” USC professor of sports business David Carter said. “A positive legal ruling may not yield beneficial business impacts in and around the sports business world because we’ve seen a heightened sensitivity over the years with this topic.”
St. John’s University intellectual property law center director Jeremy Sheff said while the Supreme Court has essentially shut the door on legal challenges to the Redskins name, “there can still be social pressure brought to bear.”
The Change the Mascot campaign released a statement saying it never believed this would be settled in a courtroom. But just as the Indians receive blowback for Chief Wahoo and schools like the University of North Dakota, Miami of Ohio and others moved away from Native American mascots, public opinion won’t simply sway one direction because of the Supreme Court’s decision.
“That doesn’t necessarily reflect what people in the marketplace feel, so if students at a university don’t like their slogan, mascot or trademark and/or the marketplace — those who purchase tickets or support the athletic programs or the university in general — I think will still be a driver on what is acceptable and what is not,” said Brian LaCorte, a Phoenix-based lawyer for Ballard Spahr. “It will become I think a point for the consumer marketplace to define parameters.”
That's how the free market, and the marketplace of ideas, are supposed to work. If you find speech or expression/product/idea offensive, you have every right not to consume them. If you and enough other people choose not to consume them then the marketplace proves they have little to no value and they go away. I won't patronize a business if I think their advertising campaigns are cheesy, low quality or portray people behaving in a way that's outside reality. But the government has no place in that.
You don't, however, have the right to try to silence something just because you disagree with them, especially through violence (which I'm glad to see is not the case here). I personally have no interest in sports, so I won't support the Redskins on the principle that everything you can learn through organized athletics can be learned better through other means.
It's taking time, but people are learning a much needed lesson (which our founding fathers knew from the start).
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