What’s In A Name?


What’s the big deal? I mean it’s ok because we use slang all the time, right? Wrong. The name “Redskin” is not just the name of the Washington, D.C. football team. If you Google this term, you will find the following definition: “Redskin” is a term for Native Americans. Its connotations are a subject of debate, although the term is defined in current dictionaries of American English as ‘usually offensive’, ‘disparaging’, ‘insulting’, and ‘taboo.'”

What’s the big deal? Names are emblematic and expressive, symbolic and even sacred. How so? Just read your Bible. Every name in Scripture means something, and no name was given to mean nothing. Moses means drawn out of the water, a name representing how Pharaoh’s daughter found the babe in the ark on the River Nile. Elijah means “the Lord is my God,” a name reprimanding Israel for worshiping the false god Baal. And Jesus means Jehovah is salvation. Another name for our Lord is Immanuel, which means God with us.

So what’s the big deal? The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has canceled the Washington Redskins’ trademark. Federal trademark law does not permit registration of trademarks that “may disparage” individuals or groups. Here’s a look at the Redskins’ logo and team imagery throughout the years.


Robert Raskopf, a lawyer who has been representing the team since the 1992 case was filed, was not concerned about the ruling. He noted that Wednesday’s decision came from a divided panel of judges, with one of the three dissenting, and that the earlier case was won on appeal. In that case, the court did not rule on the merits of the case but ultimately said the plaintiffs did not have standing to file it.
(Tom LeGro and Natalie Jennings / The Washington Post)

So what’s the big deal? In our polemically, politically correct culture, if you offend one, you offend all. It’s a shame that it’s come to this, but the hopefully innocently yet to some harmfully and improperly chosen name means more than just a mascot and is more than just a moniker for a football team. On the other hand, Dan Snyder, the Redskins owner, is adamant that the name is not going to be changed. In fact, this whole U.S. Patent Office thing has happened before, and been overturned.

So, what do you think? Should the Washington Redskins change their name? Or is this whole name thing much ado about nothing? Come on; just think about it; other terms that have offended the least amongst us have been changed recently. The Redskins name may not have been any big deal in the past, but it sure has become a big deal now.