The Washington Redskins recently lost their trademark. With it, the franchise stands to lose an incredible amount of money, as any third party provider with the means to copy the trademark logo can legally offer Washington Redskins merchandise.
The controversy has led many to suggest alternate names. Some have used the situation to express outreach with what they feel is government overreach, with one going so far as to suggest the team rename itself the Washington Republicans and adopt a stylized elephant for the helmet logo.
The issue of the Washington Redskins’ logo, which some Native American groups deem offensive, has become a big enough hot button that most of the Democratic Senators in the U.S. Senate felt the need to take time away from dealing with the issues of state to personally request that Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder change the mascot.
As a rule, liberals tend to agree that Washington should change their mascot. Conservatives, by and large, don’t see a problem with the use of Redskins, agreeing with Snyder’s oft-repeated position that the Redskins mascot and logo was chosen to honor rather than to disparage Native Americans. After all, most teams choose a mascot that embodies qualities that are considered admirable.
No one would suggest that the ACLU is a conservative organization. However, consistent with the organization’s stated positions on freedom of speech, the ACLU has expressed support for the Washington Redskins and owner Dan Snyder’s right to continue to use the team name and mascot.
According to a report in the Washington Post, ACLU legislative counsel Gabe Rottman had this to say about the U.S. government’s move to effectively and for all practical purposes deny the Washington Redskins the use of their trademarked logo and name:
“At first blush, it might seem obvious that the USPTO should have the ability to deny registration to racist or vulgar trademarks. But, as with all things free speech, who gets to decide what’s racist or vulgar? That’s right, the government, which is just ill-equipped to make these kinds of determinations.”
Obviously, the ACLU is not giving the Washington Redskins name a glowing review. On several occasions, the organization has made its stance that Dan Snyder should drop the Redskins mascot voluntarily and have even gone so far as to suggest that other NFL teams should attempt to shame them into doing so if they don’t. However, consistent with their stance on free speech, the ACLU has made it clear that they do not believe it is the government’s place or right to intrude on what it considers a first Amendment free speech issue by essentially forcing the Washington Redskins to change their name.
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