The Instigator
abard124
Pro (for)
Losing
10 Points
The Contender
SuperPerfundo
Con (against)
Winning
39 Points

The NFL should not allow a team to be called the Redskins

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/29/2009 Category: Sports
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,571 times Debate No: 7606
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (13)
Votes (11)

 

abard124

Pro

I won't pretend to be a sports guy. I enjoy watching and playing sports, but I'd sooner turn on CNN.
However, there is one issue that I feel can't be ignored. That is the issue of team names.
And, a little disclaimer, I am a fan of the Dallas Cowboys, but that will not change my argument for the worse.
I'm going to start out with some background in my area of more expertise, then I will come back to how that is relevant today. Andrew Johnson succeeded President Lincoln after he was tragically murdered. Johnson objected to Lincoln's freeing of the slaves. However, it was too far done for Johnson to do it (thank goodness). So instead, he took the nation backwards and instated the Jim Crow laws, what we now know as segregation, that we had to wait for another Johnson to undo. We now look back at A. Johnson as the second worst president in American history, according to a recent C-Span poll (Buchanan being worst). If you go back a few years, you get to Andrew Jackson. I can't deny, I wouldn't be an American if it weren't for his idea of Manifest Destiny, but he basically led the great purge of America, where he let go of the natives (who were here before us). Despite that, he was ranked by the same survey as the 13th best president. Not only that, he got his picture on the $20! Now, I recognize he did do some good stuff, so did Hitler, you didn't see his face on the Mark (until they replaced it with the Euro, anyway).
My point is, people often write off Natives as "fair game," so to speak.
Now I will get on to how this applies to the argument.
Most people would not say that they went to the casino at a redskin reservation (then again, I live in one of the more polite areas of the world), but anyhow, most people agree that it is more polite to say Native American, or even Indian. However, I even object to the Cleveland Indians (for whom I watched lose in spring training last week). Here's why. Most people would object to a team called the Harlem Negroes. People would object to the Oregon Honkies. It would cause a stir to create the Albuquerque Spicks. Few people would agree with the name of the Honolulu Japs.
Ideally, teams such as the Cleveland Indians should also change their name. People wouldn't even like the D.C. African Americans. I would prefer not to have the Vermont Caucasians. What do you think about the Laredo Hispanics? Hey, what about those San Jose Asians?
If you haven't figured out my point already, you aren't qualified for this debate. But, most people on here are very intelligent, so that shouldn't be a problem.
I'm looking forward to a rebuttal, and I am thrilled about having this debate!
SuperPerfundo

Con

Hey, good topic. Looking forward to a good debate.

Organizations don't choose mascots because the wish to insult themselves. For instance, if I were starting a pro sports team, I would pick a mascot that I can be proud of. The name Redskins is not used in a derogatory sense, it is simply an attempt, albeit a crass one, to pay homage to the local areas history or rally behind something cool that people admire. At Florida State University the seminole on horseback is one of the student body's favorite traditions. The mascots in question are simply cool representatives of the team for supporters to identify with.

The term Redskin is a now politically incorrect reference to a historical group evidenced by the logo with a traditional native american. While it may not be acceptable to call a team the San Jose Chinks, San Jose Samarai would be acceptable.

Second, political correctness should not impede the right to free speech. A sports team should be able to call themselves whatever they want no matter who doesn't like it.

The mascot in question is an homage to something positive that people obviously admire, rather than a racial slur. While the literal term 'redskin' may seem offensive out of context, it simply refers to a group of people whom people think were cool. Also, political correctness and social acceptability is not grounds to limit freedom of speech.
Debate Round No. 1
abard124

Pro

Thank you for responding! You did make some great arguments that are a challenge to rebut. But, I'm pretty sure I can do it.
There were really two points in particular that aren't quite valid, and also you didn't really address my main point, of which I'd like to restate.
The first point that you made that stood out was that it was not meant to be offensive, and I think you did kind of accidentally hurt yourself there. You said, "While it may not be acceptable to call a team the San Jose Chinks, San Jose Samarai would be acceptable." You are completely correct there. Let's change the sentence a little. Try this. While it may not be acceptable to call a team the Washington Redskins, the Kansas City Chiefs are acceptable.
Your other argument that I took issue with was the whole thing about freedom of speech. Here's something about me. I am about as socially liberal as you can get, and the first amendment is by far my favorite. I firmly believe that absolutely nothing should impede on the first amendment. Here's how this does not impede upon the freedom of speech. I'm not asking for it to be illegal to call the team the Redskins. I'm just saying the NFL should have never allowed it. The NFL is nothing but a business, and what you can name your teams is part of an implied code of ethics. Just like if you went to work and called your African American coworker a "Negro," you'd probably be reprimanded, even if it was a joke, or even in a slightly favorable manner.
Now, one thing that you didn't quite cover was my argument that this is because we often write off Native Americans as "fair game," and the NFL would certainly not accept a team known as the "N!ggas," even if it was conceived and favored by African Americans. In fact, they most likely wouldn't even accept the name "African-Americans."
I can't wait to hear your rebuttal!
SuperPerfundo

Con

Thanks for the rebuttal, looking forward to another good one.

1. Freedom of Speech

You agree with me that "absolutely nothing should impede on the first amendment". This means legality has nothing to due with the infringement of civil liberties. The fact that the term 'Redskins' would remain legal, but should not be used for social reasons does not absolve your resolution of its trespass on free speech. "absolutely nothing" means whether it be social norms or cultural standards, nothing should stand in the way of an NFL team calling themselves whatever they please. It does not matter that you are not using the law in particular, the resolution is deleterious to free speech.

2. Nature of the word

While 'redskin' may seem derogatory, the naming of the team was to HONOR the coach at the time, whose mother was Sioux. The origin of the name verifies that the supposedly offensive mascots are an homage to the heritage of the team and region. Furthermore, the fact that the word 'redskin' is a racial slur is only perspective. The problem with racial slurs is their derogatory nature. This does not apply when the word is used in a positive way. The fans of the team obviously carry a positive connotation with the word redskin and are proud to have it as their mascot. This is not an instance of a group of people calling someone a redskin as an insult, this is a private organization identifying themselves as such.

Your example of being reprimanded at work is not objective nor applicable. The NFL is a privately owned business, as are the Washington Redskins, and the decision to keep the name and not reprimand anyone is entirely their own, given their right to free speech established by our mutual agreement above. The fact that someone would be reprimanded at work is simply a reflection of that particular company following and enforcing social norms. These norms are not objective or universal and your example is simply another instance of broad brushed societal morality being pushed upon organizations and people that believe in other practices.

3. Prejudice

Your claim that this prejudice is solely applied to Native Americans enforces my point. Rather than name their teams after a group thought to be less valued and accepted at the time (negroes), the organization decided to pay tribute to the history of the region it represents. The specific name 'redskin' is just a reflection of the time the team was named, where there was less political correctness. The team has an almost 100 yr tradition as the Redskins and are far within their rights to maintain it, even through more socially delicate times.

Furthermore, our judicial system agrees. In 2005, a court ruled to sustain the registered trademark of the Washington Redskins, allowing them to continue to use their mascot.

Looking forward to your response. Thanks.

http://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 2
abard124

Pro

Thank you for responding. You made some good arguments, but I feel that I can take them.

1. Freedom of Speech (sorry if I stole your format, but hey, it works)

Freedom of speech means you can walk up to anyone in the country and legally say whatever you want. Freedom of press means that you can write a book, pamphlet, movie, etc., and distribute it to anyone. By that, it means you can name that pickup team of yours whatever you want. If you want to name your pickup team some really offensive slur, nothing wrong with that (well, there is something wrong with that, but nobody's stopping you, anyway). Would you cry free press if your local newspaper wouldn't publish an editorial which is extremely racist and peppered with curse words? Would you cry free religion if you applied for a job at a Mosque and they turned you down because you aren't Muslim? My point is, this is a debate on the ethics, not legality, of the NFL to allow such a team name. And, going back to a previous argument, I'm certain the NFL would allow a team to be named the "N!ggers," even if it is honoring an African American coach.

2. Nature of the word

"The problem with racial slurs is their derogatory nature. This does not apply when the word is used in a positive way." very often, African Americans refer to themselves in a good way as "N!ggas." The NFL wouldn't allow a team to be called that, even if it is supposedly a good thing.

3. Prejudice

100 years ago, it was socially acceptable to call African Americans "Negroes." In fact, that was all they called them. Could you imagine a team called the Negroes? There would be much more objection to that, going back to my previous argument of Native Americans being scapegoats.
"Furthermore, our judicial system agrees. In 2005, a court ruled to sustain the registered trademark of the Washington Redskins, allowing them to continue to use their mascot."
I agree with the court's decision. It's not a legal issue. Same things with many issues. I'm not gay, but I think their right to marry is not the government's decision. Abortion is a horrible thing, but once again, it's not the government's issue.

Best of luck in the final round!
SuperPerfundo

Con

Nice debate. I'm glad you stole the format. I think it makes it way easier to debate and read.

1. Free Speech

This is the most critical issue in the debate. Since we are trying to determine whether or not the name should be used, free speech is the go to argument. You dodge my argument here.

As I stated in the second round, legality is not the issue. The fact that you center the debate on ethical ground doesn't exonerate you from violating civil liberties. We agree that "absolutely nothing should impede on the first amendment" and as I said last round, that includes ethical prescriptions. You are using societal norms instead of laws to limit free speech. Since we both agreed that free speech is the ultimate ethical position it is more ethical for the Redskins organization to call the team whatever they want then to abide by the lesser ethics of political correctness.

There is no distinction between me calling my pickup team something offensive and the Redskins maintaining their name. Both of us are private organizations exercising, as you agreed, our ultimate right to free speech. While the Redskins may command a larger platform, the offensive nature of their mascot is irrelevant because they are entirely within their right, ethically and legally.

Your other examples do not apply as they are not matters of free speech, but of public acceptance. The newspaper may not accept my article, but if I had my own newspaper I would be entirely within my right to include the most racist articles I pleased. If someone tried to restrict that right, I would hope you and I would both cry free speech. The Redskins are their own organization and can do as they please.

Again, the Redskins are on ethically superior ground. Both of us agree on this. "absolutely nothing" means just that, whether it be laws or societal opinion, nothing should bar the Redskins from keeping their name.

2. Nature of the word

"N!gga" is a perfect example of what I am arguing. A normally insulting word loses its derogatory value when used in a positive manner. If I went up to a Native American and called him a redskin, its an entirely different matter than a team naming itself the Redskins. Fans of the Redskins use the word with pride and rally behind it rather than use it for insult. The positive way the word is used strips your case of its principle harm.

3. Prejudice

Again, you are proving my point. Rather than pick the most insulting mascot, such as Negroes, the team picked something they could take pride in and simply used a now politically incorrect term. The effort was not to be derogatory. Why would someone pick a derogatory mascot to represent themselves? My point here is that the team was named with the best intentions without the knowledge that Native Americans would be offended 80 yrs down the line. The team now has a tradition as the Redskins and are within their right, ethically and legally, to maintain it.

So, even if Pro wins every other argument, we agree that free speech is the most valued standard in the debate. Whether it be with laws, or in this case societal norms, free speech should not be impeded for any reason. Again, we agree on this. The organization can call itself whatever it pleases and obviously still wishes to be called the Redskins. It doesn't matter what reason we provide, for the purposes of this debate, "absolutely nothing" can change that.

Thank you. I enjoyed the debate. Best of luck in future ones.
Debate Round No. 3
13 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 11 through 13 records.
Posted by wpfairbanks 5 years ago
wpfairbanks
Good debate guys. I don't think it should be a team, just because it's a crappy name. Unless it's an Oklahoma team
Posted by grayron 5 years ago
grayron
Yes it was I would have never written so much about this topic.
Posted by abard124 5 years ago
abard124
Quite an excellent debate!
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