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Redskins Name Controversy

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/13/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,417 times Debate No: 61645
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (5)
Votes (1)




First round is for acceptance.


I accept this debate.

I will attempt to show how the name "Redskins" is a racial sur and therefore should not be the tolerated as a NFL team name.
Debate Round No. 1


If the redskins name is such a "racial slur" then why is it that next to no native Americans have heard this term used negatively ever. This video pretty much says it all. Plus, very few Native Americans are actually offended by the name. Studies have shown that only one in ten Native Americans are actually offended by the name. Only one out of every ten Republicans voted for Ron Paul last election, but is he president? (watch this video for proof)


Round 2: Argument

If we are to analyze whether or not a certain word is a slur and therefore unfit to be the name of a professional sports team, we must know more about the history of the word. It is somewhat disputed amongst historians as of where the term "Redskin" began. The earliest use of the slur was found in a letter written by an English colonialist in 1699, where he writes about how the colonists had to "...withstande ye wicked onsaults of ye Red Skins" [1]. This, while somewhat interesting, is irrelevant given the fact that the term was only used most often in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Originally the name "Redskin" was a sign of respect, as described by Smithsonian Institution senior linguistic Ives Goddard when he wrote that "[w]hen it first appeared as an English expression in the early 1800s, it came in the most respectful context and at the highest level . . . These are white people and Indians talking together, with the white people trying to ingratiate themselves" [2]. However the word went through a process called pejoration (evolving from a good to bad word), as proved by a linguistics study. this study analyzed forty-two books published between 1875 and 1930 and showed that the term "Redskin" was much more frequently used in a negative context than a positive one [3].

Native American activist Amanda Blackhorse described that "The name itself actually dates back, you know, at the time when the Native American population was being exterminated, and bounty hunters were hired to kill Native American people. And so, you know, one could make a great living off of just killing Native American people. And there was a tier effect that was paid out. You know, the highest paid was for a Native American man and then a woman and then a child. And so, based off of that, there were news clippings and flyers and stuff that were posted up, asking people to go out to kill Indians and bring back the red skin. So, in order to show that they made their kill, they had to bring back a scalp or their skin. And so, that’s where the 'Redskin' word has been kind of passed down. So, in our community, we do not use that word" [4]. This quote clearly shows that the term "Redskin" clearly has a negative context and therefore should be considered a racial slur.

If the term "Redskin" is to be considered a racial slur, and I have shown that it clearly deserves to be considered one, why should it be allowed to be the name of a profesional sports team? Based on the history of the word, naming a sports team the "Redskins" is equally as offensive as calling a sports team the "N-----s".


Debate Round No. 2


First of all, you are saying that before, the term "redskin" was at a point a non-offensive. The term "negro" has never been a positive word, so this would be a very different story today if it was the Washington Negros because "redskin" is an ancient slur with no meaning in today's world, while "The N-Word" is a very offensive thing to say.

Second, It can"t be that people have been more sensitive about offending blacks than Indians. Back when many sports teams were given their nicknames, nobody would have guessed that a racial slur would one day be censored as "the N-word." The football team previously known as the Boston Redskins was christened in 1933, back when cartoons, radio shows and other pop media were totally unrestrained in their willingness to denigrate black people. There was obviously no stigma against racism toward blacks in those days, so why wouldn"t somebody have named his sports team "the N-word"?

Because it"s an insult, that"s why. A sports team does not select a nickname for the purpose of adopting its negative connotations. Yet the politically correct wonks at the U.S. patent office, when they called the Redskins name "disparaging," must have believed that the football team meant to disparage itself.

The debate ought to end right there. If anyone questions whether the Redskins name is "hostile and abusive" , the immediate answer should be that it must not be, otherwise the team would never have adopted the nickname. No team owner is going to name his team something he views disrespectfully.


Round 3: Rebuttals

Even if not everybody feels that a term is not offensive does not mean that that term is not offensive. The reason why such a large portion of Native Americans do not feel that the term "Redskin" is offensive is because they have assimilated into the American culture. This, however, does not take away from the fact that the term Redskin is extremely offensive, as I have shown in my previous argument.

While I do not know if this is against the rules of the debate, and as they have not been stated I will assume that I am not, I will proceed to rebut my opponents round 3 rebuttals. I understand my opponents point that people view the terms "Redskin" and "Negro" as two very different words, with the former being less offensive and the ladder being extremely offensive in society's eyes. However, it is important not to believe that everything society believes is right. Given the history of the word "Redskin" it is very fair to assume that it is equally offensive as the N-word. For example, both terms were used in the terms of murder (Redskin used when a bounty hunter killed/scalp a Native American and the N-word used when a black man/woman was being lynched). Obviously these are not the only scenarios where the word is used however these are the two worst examples, and each are equally horrific.

Knowing that not everything society knows (or doesn't know) is necessarily correct, we move onto the next argument that the owner of the team would not chose the name "Redskins" if he had intended for it to be offensive. The reason for why the owner made this decision is not because he thought that the name was not offensive, but because he did not, and still does not understand the history behind the term that makes it so offensive.

On a side note, thanks for the quick and fun debate!
Debate Round No. 3
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by Atheist-Independent 2 years ago
I don't think he understands what he just did either...
Posted by areneotero 2 years ago
Wait. Did he vote for me then call me an idiot? I don't get this.
Posted by Atheist-Independent 2 years ago
@Alduin could you possibly clarify your RFD? All you said was that "Con was an idiot" and then gave Con seven points.
Posted by areneotero 2 years ago
Keep it
Posted by Atheist-Independent 2 years ago
Wait, are you arguing that the Redskins should keep their name or change it?
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by dynamicduodebaters 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: He provided a more persuasive argument.