In a decision handed down on June 18, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruled that the Washington Redskins nickname was disparaging to Native Americans. Thus, the team’s trademark on its Redskins nickname had to be revoked.
While the ruling was somewhat surprising, the decision was not completely unexpected. Complaints have been lodged against the Redskins’ name for years, and in recent weeks, prominent politicians and civil rights groups demanded a change.
The fact of the matter is that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office should not have caved in to demands. Instead of spearheading a federal intervention and revoking the Redskins’ trademark, the Office should have stood pat and allowed a complex issue to play out in the court of public opinion.
All too often, the Federal Government takes decision-making powers out of the hands of the people. Through back-door channels, the powers that be prevent the exercise of free speech.
When House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says that she finds the Redskins’ name offensive, the proper response is to encourage her to boycott the team’s gear. To support a government intervention into private enterprise however is completely out of line.
At the end of the day, fans should have the opportunity to choose whether or not to wear Redskins gear. If enough fans boycott the gear, the nickname will change. If not, the red, white and black Native American mascot will remain, as well it should.
As the debate regarding the Redskins name continues to rage in coming months, remember this. Regardless of your opinion on the issue, hold on to your decision-making power.
When it comes to private enterprise, federal government intervention should only be allowed when it is completely necessary. As far as the meaning of the Redskins’ nickname is concerned, the people should be allowed to choose.