An Asian-American band has given the Washington Redskins their biggest victory in decades.
The Supreme Court on Monday declared names that may seem derogatory are still entitled to First Amendment protection when ruling in favor of The Slants’ trademark challenge. The court said free speech protection is paramount.
While the Redskins weren’t party to this case, their appeal of a 2014 ruling stripping the team of its trademark was on hold while The Slants’ case was first resolved. Now, the Redskins enjoy similar protection.
So finally, a dispute dating back to 1992 is over. The Supreme Court is the final word. Nothing more to see here.
Wear your Redskins apparel knowing the highest court in the land has your back. That, while some people may view it as racist, the courts say free speech trumps all.
Guess who should sing the national anthem at a coming Redskins game?
This certainly doesn’t silence those who view the name as wrong. They’ll continue to educate and boycott and pressure sponsors to abandon the Redskins.
But opponents can no longer try to stop local governments from spending public money on attracting the Redskins’ next stadium merely based on the name. Politicians can now safely say the team’s name. After all, the Supreme Court says it’s acceptable. That’s the final word.
The Redskins won’t lose royalties on merchandise, not that the money was a name-breaker in the end. Nor will they be pressured by other NFL team owners to change the name for fear of public backlash.
Washingtonians no longer need to be told by outsiders that they’re ignorant racists. The Supreme Court backs free speech.
All of this said, the name debate can still continue without the hostility of litigation. Just because the court says it’s right doesn’t necessarily make it so.
Washington fans tired of this debate years ago after both sides dug in deeper than the Mariana Trench. Maybe the discussion can be less inflammatory now, if such a thing is possible in a world of social media nowadays. And perhaps we’ll start listening to the opposition rather than waiting for a court ruling.
One day, maybe the public will decide the name should be changed. Then again, maybe not. But, at least that move will be the choice of the team and its fans and not lawmakers.
Until then, the Supreme Court says just because someone is offended doesn’t mean a name must be changed. Free speech triumphs over political correctness.
Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter @Snide_Remarks.