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On Dan Snyder, The Redskins, Free Speech and Flag Desecration

Wow!  That’s a lot for one little article, eh?  A few weeks ago, I posted on my support of the effort to encourage Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins NFL football team, to change it’s name. A similar post planted elsewhere on the web stirred up a dialogue with a fellow I know from our high school days back around 1798.  I like this guy a lot, have a ton of respect for him and his perspective, agree about half of what he believes while the other half, well, I don’t agree with it.  In any case, I wanted to follow up on that original article with his response to me, and then–since it’s my Blog and I’m Emperor here, my response to him.  It’s good to be an Emperor–I always get the last word.

First, in case you missed it, the link to my original post–the responses follow.

https://oldroadapples.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/an-open-letter-to-dan-snyder-time-to-rebrand/

Randy said:  Chuck–I myself do not have an issue with this, with me being part Cherokee…it’s a name and they the Redskins do not use it in a derogatory manner. Why does PC have to come into play with everything? It’s call the 1st amendment…freedom of speech…freedom of expression…why do we not see more advertisements about desecrating the US flag…why is that freedom of speech & freedom of expression. IUP and a lot of universities caved…they should have just left the NCAA and joined the NAIA. The Native Americans have no problem living in tax free reservations gambling casinos and all that….this issue to a lot of them it is about heritage and to a lot of them it’s about money…if you can step on, piss on and burn my flag well then you can say redskin because the constitution that I took a life long oath to protect and defend says you can. Just because people are offended doesn’t mean it should be stopped…if it were that way we would have to just sit in our houses and do nothing not even read a book…that’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it…Semper Fi!!!

— Randy

Then I said:

Until recently, I agreed with you on this specific issue, and I’m still pretty much with you on the PC thing, but I’ve given it a lot of thought–not just because of this video, but because so many people seem to feel so passionately about it that I decided it was worth further consideration, and what I came down to was this: it’s not about being “politically correct”–a term I don’t like because it’s emotionally charged, vague and subjective.

I don’t go to church nor subscribe to a specific political philosophy–in general my conservative friends disregard me as a raving socialist and my liberal friends tend to snicker at my rough edges and bluster while, I suspect, being privately horrified by my foul language, gross insensitivity, potential fascistic bend, and questionable intellect –not necessarily a bad thing on any of those counts. I try to live my life by a simple code that I’ve yet to refine, in terms of a definition, but the gist is to conduct myself in a way that lands me somewhere in the center of the being fair, being respectful, and being good.

I think this is an issue of respect.

As for the first amendment, I agree in principle–I would not support a call to force the Dan Snyder & company to change the team name by force or law, but I do support people using their freedom of speech to call on him to do so. And yes, I think he has the right to tell ’em all to go to hell, too.

On the totally different issue of flag desecration, I’m (again) with you on principle: I love this country (though not blindly, I love it for the worst of it as well as the best) and think it’s a foolish, useless, and disrespectful act (see, there’s my “respect” thing again). I understand it’s a protected right, but I still don’t like it. Nevertheless, I enjoy the irony that when some angry yahoo burns a flag he is undermining his own anti-American statement, because in that act of destruction he is proving the greatness of the nation he’s acting against, as well as the freedom and protections that nation provides him. Still makes me sick to see, of course. Does that make sense? I wrote a better explanation elsewhere–I’ll try to find it and tack it on later.

Finally, a flag-burning missive from “the old blog.”

I’ve noted, quite after the fact, that another crop of earnest, unwashed underclass rebels took time out from their busy days to torch tiny paper copies of Old Glory in the sun-dappled comfort of my alma mater’s iconic Oak Grove. Groovy, right?

I mean, I guess you’ve got to go with whatever gets you off, but I find flag burning to be just about the least productive, most self-indulgent and ridiculous form of self-pleasuring protest possible. It accomplishes nothing beyond annoying people who neither care nor understand what you think and wouldn’t change their minds even if they did. But it feels so good! Look how angry I am! See how revolutionary I feel! It’s a ME ME ME sort of thing. Might as well jump up and down and wave a pair of pink pompoms. ME ME Gooooooooooooo ME!

Burning tiny little paper flag replicas, fresh out of the old HP printer, advances the comedy from the ridiculous to the absurd. We’re talking protest and Monty Python skit. Reminds me of the 18″ stonehenge in This Is Spinal Tap.

My comment in the university paper sums up the remainder of my sentiment (conveniently cut and pasted just ahead, mostly because it’s a pretty paragraph that I like a lot). But I’m not merely trying to add some bulk to my blog, I’m gearing up (hear the grinding?) to include some thoughts on patriotism , protest, and participation in the democratic system and this seems as good a place to begin as any.

pposted 10/16/07 @ 12:37 PM EST

My view from the hard left: flag burning is a self-aggrandizing, unproductive burlesque that ultimately undermines whatever issue the action is intended to protest. It’s the polemic equivalent of a toddler’s tantrum. The irony of flag-burning is that the act itself reinforces the very ideals our flag is intended to represent. In burning our flag, one may be voicing his or her dissatisfaction or opposition, but he or she is likewise making a very profound demonstration of the the freedoms we are supposed to enjoy. Better to target our anger at those whose actions fail to live up to those ideals, who misuse the trust and power commended to them, than the symbol these despoilers stain.

Another new feature: an accounting of sounds. It’s like having a soundtrack. An imaginary soundtrack for the Most Widely Unread Blog on the Web.

By JunkChuck

Native, Militant Westsylvanian (the first last best place), laborer, gardener, and literary hobbyist (if by literary you mean "hack"). I've had a bunch of different blogs, probably four, due to a recurring compulsion to start over. This incarnation owes to a desire to dredge up the best entries of the worst little book of hand-scrawled poems I could ever dream of writing, salvageable excerpts from fiction both in progress and long-abandoned. and a smattering of whatever the hell seems to fit at any particular moment. At first blush, I was here just to focus on old, terrible verse, but I reserve the right to include...anything. Maybe everything, certainly my love of pulp novels, growing garlic, the Pittsburgh Steelers and howling at the moon--both figuratively and, on rare occasions, literally.

4 replies on “On Dan Snyder, The Redskins, Free Speech and Flag Desecration”

Interesting posts — I enjoy your blog. Here’s my take on the issue. You can say redskin — that’s your right as an American — and I can consider you offensive and racist. You have the right to use the N-word — and again I can consider you offensive and racist. We can use any ethnic slurs we want, with our constitutionally guaranteed right of free speech, to marginalize whatever group of people we want. And we can dismiss any and all objections to our narrow, racist, bigoted perspective by calling those objections “political correctness.”

Here’s an interesting link about the subject of Native American names: http://www.thenation.com/blog/177800/florida-state-seminoles-champions-racist-mascots#

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