Feds shouldn't be deciding what's offensive


The nickname “Redskins” is indeed offensive to many. A good argument can be made that it’s time to move beyond it. That certainly will happen when fans quit buying tickets and merchandise.

But the conclusion by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that the Washington Redskins’ name is “disparaging of Native Americans” and it is therefore stripping the NFL team of six trademark registrations is at least as offensive — and frightening.

Besides, if Patent and Trademark is going to start deciding what’s offensive, it has more than a little cleaning up to do.

There are currently three active trademarks containing the word “nazi” that have nothing to do with victim reparations. There are 12 with “fag,” 28 with “queer,” 122 with “whore” and 133 with “slut.”

In fact, there are 66 active trademarks that contain one of comedian George Carlin’s infamous “Seven Dirty Words,” which will not appear in the newspaper but are available for viewing online at uspto.gov.

In other words, if we’re going to follow an interpretation of federal law that does not allow registration of trademarks that “may disparage” individuals or groups or “bring them into contempt or disrepute,” then let’s have a little equity for Jews and homosexuals and women and people offended by crass terms for body parts and bodily functions.

Yet in a country where the First Amendment to the Constitution is first, i.e. protection from the government regarding freedom of speech, does the American public really believe the federal government should determine what speech is offensive and what speech is not and that it should be allowed to use its immense power to arbitrarily mete out punishment to those it disagrees with?

Or is Patent and Trademark just following the lead of the Internal Revenue Service?

— Albuquerque Journal


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