The Instigator
Kylar
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
CASmnl42
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points

The Redskins Name is Offensive

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/30/2015 Category: Sports
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 664 times Debate No: 74542
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (3)
Votes (0)

 

Kylar

Con

For my first ever sports debate, I am challenging a debate over the Washington Redskins name. Is it offensive or not? I believe it is perfectley fine, but let me hear the other side out :). Who knows, you may win me over. I believe the Redksins name is fine, and is an honor to the native americans.
I'm part Cherokee on my Mom's side as it is.
Good luck, let's have a good debate :).
CASmnl42

Pro

Although not specified by my opponent, I presume that the first round is intended for acceptance only. I gladly accept, and look forward to an interesting debate. I await my opponent's affirmative case.
Debate Round No. 1
Kylar

Con

The Washington Redskins name is not offensive for the following reason to start with
1. It honors the bravery of the Native Americans/Indians. It shows their fighting courage, and is not racist accordingly.
The bravery of the Native Americans is to be commended. The Redskins name shows this.
CASmnl42

Pro

CASmnl42 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
Kylar

Con

The Redskins name honors the courage of the Native Americans. It shows their bravery and tenacity,
thank you.
CASmnl42

Pro

To begin with, I wish to apologize for and explain my forfeit in the previous round. For the past several days, my every attempt to log into my account has been met with internal server errors. I contacted tech support for the site multiple times before the site's error was resolved. I've never before forfeited a round, so the fact that these technical difficulties led one is a great frustration for me. So, I apologize to my opponent, and ask that any judges consider the circumstances of the forfeit in casting their vote.

On to the topic at hand. My opponent argues that the term "redskins" is not offensive because it "shows their fighting courage," and "their bravery and tenacity"

There are two problems with this.

First, we need to consider what it means for a word to be offensive. An offensive word is simply one that causes offense to another person - the dictionary definition is "causing someone to feel hurt, angry, or upset." [1] By this metric, the word under discussion is deeply offensive to many Native Americans. [2 - 4]. Whether the word is intended to offend is entirely beside the point - it has offended, and continues to offend, many people.

Here's an analogy that omits any racial element: Let's say I call you a nerd, and it upsets you. Now, maybe I think being a nerd is a good thing - Math puzzles! RPGs! Science Fiction! - but maybe you have much more negative associations with the word, and so feel insulted. I've managed to offend you, even though I had no intention of doing so. So you ask me to lay off. What should my response be? I could say that you shouldn't be offended because the word isn't really an insult and insist on continuing to call you the name even after you ask me to stop - nerd nerd nerd nerd - and tell you to stop being such a wuss about it. But that would be the childish response. A much more mature, decent way to handle the situation would be to apologize for having caused offense and refraining from calling you by a word that caused you distress.

The point is, I don't get to decide what you find offensive. All I can choose is how I respond to your offense - do I listen to you and treat you with respect, the way I'd like to be treated? Or do I ignore you and do whatever I want, no matter how it makes you feel?

In the same way, you and I don't get to decide what many Native Americans - and others - find offensive. When I hear from so many voices that a term is offensive - when literally thousands of Native Americans from eleven tribes take to the streets in protest in my city when the Washington team comes to play [5] - I sit up and listen. I accept the distress of another human at face value. And so I refrain from using the hurtful word.

Second, the idea that the word at hand shows "fighting courage," "bravery," or "tenacity" is completely false. There are plenty of other words associated with Native Americans that connote those traits - the Braves, the Warriors, the Chiefs. No one is asking those teams to change their names, because those terms do evoke positive, even heroic characteristics. This is another matter entirely.

While the term may have had innocuous origins - as have many racial slurs - the term has taken on irredeemably negative connotations. In a time when the murder of Native Americans was rewarded with a government-supplied bounty, the term was used to refer to the scalps of the murdered men, women, and children used as proof of the kill. [6]

This is not a modern "politically correct" invention, either. The Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary in 1898 defined the term as "A North American Indian; —often contemptuous." In 1961, Webster's Third edition noted that the word was "—usually taken to be offensive." [7]

So let me use another analogy closer to the case at hand: What if I called a female coworker a "bitch," but insisted that I meant it as a complement? "It means you're tough! You don't take crap from anyone! Meredith Brooks called herself that, why are you getting so offended?" Regardless of how I meant it, my coworker could legitimately taken offense - and I could rightly be held to account for insulting and belittling someone based on their gender. The term is just too loaded with insult - an insult specifically directed at women - to use safely in polite society.



I've not talked here about issues of racial appropriation, or erasure, or colonialism that are also important points of discussion in this conversation. But you don't have to study critical race theory to get the point on this one - you just have to have a little bit of empathy, and remember something you've known since you were four: it's not nice to call people names.



[1] http://www.merriam-webster.com...
[2] http://deadspin.com...
[3] http://www.esquire.com...
[4] http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com...
[5] http://www.washingtonpost.com...
[6] http://www.esquire.com...
[7] http://www.motherjones.com...
Debate Round No. 3
Kylar

Con

I once again thank you for this debate and do not worry about the forfeiture :).
First of all-many Native Americans remember it as an echo of their past. This is true 100% and I understand that. However, the term usually is quite detailed. Usually found offensive, that does not always mean every time.
Secondly, Redskins could be considered a racial slur, yes. But they did have Redskins. All respect due to them and my Cherokee ancestors but, this is the truth. The term redskins was used to remark about them. I myself being a distant Cherokee by blood, find it an honor.
Finally, the Washington Redskins franchise has already tried to be mellow about it. They have tried to befriend the tribes there. And they know what some feel about this.
Therefore, the Redskins name is still not racist.
I rest my case so far and thank pro for a good debate
CASmnl42

Pro

Thank you, Con, for your argument, and for your graciousness about my prior forfeiture.

My opponent concedes a lot in his last argument. He agrees that the term under discussion is "usually found offensive." He allows that the word "could be considered a racial slur." And he acknowledges that the Washington team "know[s] what some feel about this," but still refuses to change its name.

With those concessions, I'm not certain there's much left to debate. The resolution is that "The Redskins Name is Offensive" - and my opponent has agreed that, yes, it usually is offensive. Vote Pro!

To engage a little bit further, though, with the spirit of my opponent's argument: Con seems to be making the case that whether the word is offensive or not is contextual. My opponent seems to be saying that although the word can be a slur in some contexts, in other contexts - and particularly, in the context of the football team - the word is harmless.

I cannot imagine why it is a good idea to label a team with a name that "could be considered a racial slur." Racial slurs are an area in which one should avoid ambiguity - if your team name or mascot is maybe, kinda, I-suppose-someone-could-consider-this-racist, stay away from it! It's far better for everyone involved - not to mention much more ethically sound - to just avoid racial slurs. It's just not the kind of thing you ought to push up to the line to see what you can get away with. No other team in the NFL has this problem. Nobody calls someone a Patriot as a playground insult; no one spits the word Viking with venom (except, justifiably, Vikings fans).

Again, this is not a recent problem, nor is the controversy a matter of a handful of activists. The National Congress of American Indians, the oldest and largest group of Native American tribes, has opposed the name for more than 40 years. [1]

Like I acknowledged in my earlier argument, I concede my opponent's point that the term under consideration had benign, descriptive origins. So what? The "n" word had similar descriptive origins - it is, after all, a derivative of the Spanish word for black - but a history of slavery, rape, oppression, brutality, dehumanization and death have given the word its special pungency. In just the same way, the history of dispossession, forced marches, slaughter for pay, mutilation (the "skin" in question was only a scalp in euphemism - one needed to verify the age and sex of the kill, after all) [2], disease, cultural annihilation and deprivation that continues to this day have infused the "r"-word with the same nauseating stench. The word was used to dehumanize, to allow white settlers to think of Native people as something more like an animal - a wild thing that could be killed and defiled without guilt. And now we use the vocabulary of genocide and murder for our Sunday entertainment.

Of the five poorest counties in the United States, four are in South Dakota - and together they comprise major portions of the Crow Creek Reservation, the Rosebud Reservation, and the Pine Ridge Reservation. While Washington football fans "honor" Native Americans with a word that "could be considered a racial slur," thousands of Native Americans in these counties subsist in third-world conditions with no kitchens or indoor plumbing. Any "honor" bestowed on Native Americans (or their distant, distant, distant relatives) via mascot while these conditions persist is a depraved joke.

As with the "n" word, white society has lost any right it ever had to the "r" word as some sort of neutral descriptor. To the extent the word retains any residual value, it resides solely and properly within the Native community. They own the word now. They've paid the blood price for it.

And that's it for "context."

I've spoken directly about my beliefs on the morality of this matter without mincing words. My strong feelings, however, in no way diminish my respect for this forum and its participants, so I want to thank my opponent for engaging in this discussion, and I look forward to the final round.

[1] http://www.washingtonpost.com...
[2] http://www.politico.com...
Debate Round No. 4
Kylar

Con

Your arguments are sound and to be honest con, there is no need to worry about me ever being upset about forfeitures, I am very easy going :).
To continue...
The Redskins franchise certainly does not intend to make their name offensive. They are trying to choose a fierce, strong willed team name. They are simply trying to show their tenacity, and pay tribute to the fierce and strong willed Native Americans of the past.
The Native Americans in my family and most of the midwest that I have talked to find it an honor, because generally their skin is reddish and they are fierce.
We have a good debate and I thank Con for it :)
CASmnl42

Pro

I want to thank Con for this debate. I'll take this round to make just a few conlcuding remarks.

My opponent puts a lot of stock in the fact that the Washington football team does not intend its nickname to be offensive, but instead intends it to honor Native Americans. I'm not certain that's true. Dan Snyder is a special kind of obstinate, as anyone who follows the turnover in his coaching staff knows, and the team adopted its nicname while under the ownership of an unreconstructed racist who was the very last team owner to racially integrate his team, and only then at the direct intervention of JFK. [1] The Washington team has not earned any benefit of the doubt.

But even if what my opponent says is true - even if the name is not intended to be offensive - my opponent has no satisfactory answer for the fact that the name has offended, and continues to offend, many people, particularly within Native American communities.

Intent does not matter in questions of offense. Whether a word is intended as an insult does not matter to the person who feels insulted. At most, one's intent is relevant to the offended party's decision whether or not to forgive the insult. But when one persists in the insult, even after being told it is offensive, it is hard to believe any protestations that the intent was innocent.

In other words, if the Washington team really wanted to honor Native Americans, it would shut up and listen to them.

[1] http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com...
Debate Round No. 5
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by CASmnl42 2 years ago
CASmnl42
So I debated even bringing this up, and decided that it's more appropriate for a comment than the body of the debate. I know - I know! - that I shouldn't take this particular bait. I should leave this alone. A wiser man would. Buuuuut...

Look, Con, I think you might want to push back on your folks a bit about that "Cherokee ancestry" story just to see what happens. I'm not saying you're wrong - I don't know your family background. But claiming Cherokee ancestry is so ridiculously common among white people that it's literally a joke among Natives. [1, 2] And it's always Cherokee, for some reason - never Sioux, never Comanche, never Navajo. (Quick question: did your parents by chance say that your Cherokee great-great-grandmother was a "Cherokee princess"? Because mine did. It's a common riff on the myth.) [3] [4] Remote Cherokee ancestry is the "And then they found the killer's hook hanging from the car door handle!" of ethnic identities. Again - I'm not questioning your truthfulness or the accuracy of your claim. I'm taking it at face value for purposes of this debate. Just - see if your parents can come up with any evidence. Make them give you a name, or a single biographical detail (but not "princess"). That way you can be sure about it before you bring it up in public. For your own sake.

[1] http://www.nerve.com...
[2] http://blog.brokenclaw.net...
[3] http://www.native-languages.org...
[4] http://genealogy.about.com...
Posted by GoOrDin 2 years ago
GoOrDin
it is a compliment
Posted by GoOrDin 2 years ago
GoOrDin
no it isn't
No votes have been placed for this debate.