Tag Archives: cognitive dissonance

The Difference Between Being Offended and Being Offensive and Why the Redskins Should Change Their Name, but Hooters Shouldn’t

Any given thing under the sun can offend someone.  Some people go out of their way to be offended by everything so they can show how sensitive they are.  This is so frequent that even Lego (ed note, yes, the company that makes the toy blocks) is constantly in the crosshairs for “being offensive”  There was even a case back in the 80’s when a man decided to hold a Dominoes pizza parlor hostage because he was so offended that he and the Noid shared a surname.  That isn’t to say that legos or the Noid are objectively offensive.

Having covered that, let’s define the word “Offensive”.  A reasonable definition of the relevant use of offensive is, “Something specifically designed as an attack or that which, in it’s nature would cause displeasure or resentment in any reasonable objective person”.

Where the Redskins come into this is the history of the word Redskin.  The word wasn’t used in pre columbian times.  It was first used by the native people who were speaking, presumably Algonquin, to differentiate themselves from the European settlers in making a collective bargaining agreement between tribes.  (See Peaux Rouges)

So it’s not offensive innately as some would claim with stories about “red skin” being a euphemism for scalps, but at the same time negro is the French word for black, and was used by the Belgians for African people.  It certainly wouldn’t be appropriate to have a team called the Washington Negros, despite how popular it would likely be among African Americans in D.C. which brings up the next point.

Just because people are not offended, doesn’t mean it’s not offensive.  It follows that if some people have a lower tolerance for being offended, that some may have higher tolerance.  This also comes with training.  Growing up a Redskins fan with the iconography and lore, it’s easy to develop a kind of cognitive dissonance.  It’s easy to think of this as simply more ridiculous political correctness gone rogue that quietly breeds resentment of the group that is ostensibly being protected.  This is a team that was renamed from the Braves by an openly racist owner, George Preston Marshall, who as legend has it changed the name to alienate native protesters who didn’t like the previous name, the Boston Braves.  Even if that isn’t true, it is still a reminder of George Preston Marshall and the last NFL team to racially integrate, not doing so until it was mandated by law.

Incidentally the baseball team the Braves originally played in Boston, where the Football team took on the baseball team’s name.  The team moved when the Red Socks supplanted them in popularity.

A lot of work was done on the Redskin’s image after the death of Marshall to try to repair the damage.  The brave was removed from the Redskins logo for 5 years, replaced by a spear.  The brave was later reinstated at the request of a native group who liked the logo.  It’s easy to like the logo too.  The brave looks calm, dignified, almost sad.


Nothing like the logo for say, the Braves

Or you know, the indians

The point here is that the icon is fine and we need to separate the icon from the name.  The people who are offended because the team is native American themed need to get over it, as they don’t speak for everyone.  Unlike the Atlanta Braves, there is no rubber suit brave that runs out of a teepee and acts drunk on the field.  There is no tomahawk chop while the crowd imitates old western movie war cries.  There is a right way and a wrong way and if someone were to mix and match the parts they would have a completely offensive team and a completely inoffensive team.

Some would argue that making any team mascot representative of a group of people is offensive, but that doesn’t deserve to be dignified.


OK, maybe just a little

It’s easy to understand owner Dan Snyder’s position on the name, as there are very few 70 year old team names in the NFL, however it may be time to at least discuss a change instead of saying, “NEVER – you can use caps on that”.

It’s offensive not only because it is a reminder of a time we may not want to think about, but also because the intent was to offend, or at least disparage.

The narrative needs to open up, it won’t be done by government bullies,  Grosso is an idiot and “Redtails” is easily the worst sports team name in the NFL on at least 3 levels (not to mention they would eventually play the Packers and Twitter would implode).

The Redtails are stupid.  The Algonquins are too something.  The right name is out there, but it’s never going to come from the critics.  Without the fans admitting that the name is a problem and talking it out, there is never going to be a good name.  At least not one that will fit into the fight song:

Hail to the Redskins!
Hail Victory!
Braves on the Warpath!
Fight for old D.C.!
Run or pass and score — we want a lot more!
Beat ’em, Swamp ’em,
Touchdown! — Let the points soar!
Fight on, fight on ‘Til you have won
Sons of Wash-ing-ton. Rah!, Rah!, Rah!

Hail to the Redskins!
Hail Victory!
Braves on the Warpath!
Fight for old D.C.!