Wednesday, March 11, 2015

ACLU defends right to offend

To be honest, I'd prefer that the NFL's Washington Redskins would change their racially insensitive nickname. But with anything I consider to be personally offensive, I sure as heck don't want any government agency to act on behalf of my discomfort, especially in situations where no laws are being violated.

Last summer, the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office canceled federal trademarks owned by the Redskins' franchise. What that meant was any merchandise sold with the official Redskins logo would no longer be the intellectual property of the team or the NFL. In essence, the USTPO deemed the Redskins name offensive, thus deciding those offended should not have to endure such feelings. So until the team changes its name, this government agency has decided to engage in actions which are tantamount to extortion.

Thankfully the American Civil Liberties Union, the organization which claims to "defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States," was not willing to stand idly by

The American Civil Liberties Union is siding with the Washington Redskins in a court battle over the team's name.

The ACLU filed papers last week supporting the team's position that canceling the Redskins trademark violates the team's free-speech rights.

A federal panel ruled last year the trademark should be canceled, but the team is challenging that decision in federal court in Alexandria.

In its brief, the ACLU says it has joined others in calling on the Redskins to change their name because it is offensive. But they say the government cannot cancel the trademark simply because it finds the name disparaging.

On Monday, lawyers for the Native Americans who challenged the trademark said the ACLU should not be allowed to intervene in the case.

Again, the issue here is government designating what is and what isn't offensive. There's no safeguards in the U.S. Constitution which protect a specific group or individual from any kind of affront. Now if a private business were to pull its sponsorship and/or advertising dollars in protest of the Redskins moniker, that is perfectly legitimate. As such, if enough other sponsors follow suit, that may ultimately force the team to change its nickname. But when a government agency attempts to dictate how a lawful business enterprise conducts itself, that appears to fly in the face of basic civil rights.

I have a feeling this kerfuffle won't be settled until the case is ultimately heard in the U.S. Supreme Court.


1 comment:

jerrye92002 said...

Seems like more political overreach to me. The government office is in charge of registering and protecting trademarks, period. They don't get to say which shall and shall not be used, nor by whom. That duty falls on the consumers of the product bearing that trademark. If they are offended, they stop buying until the thing is re-branded. It's called freedom. Has anybody in the Obama regime ever heard of it?