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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.

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An Open Letter To Dan Snyder & The Redskins: Time To Rebrand

Not so many years  ago, the NCAA forced my Alma Mater, Indiana University of Pennsylvania–located in the town of Indiana, PA–to abandon it’s historic nickname, mascot, and iconography as “The IUP Indians.”  A lot of folks were resentful at the external pressure, a lot more were like me and just thought it was a big waste of time for something that was not patently offensive and, in the eyes of many, actually a flattering reference.

The University had dragged it’s feet, and the first change was to keep the 150px-IUP_Bear“Indians” name but switch out the Indian Chief mascot–and most Native American-themed imagery, for a Bear mascot, which made absolutely no sense except that the school was worried about blithely turning it’s back on 120+ years of history.  Next up, the school spent about a quarter of a million dollars for a consultant whose recommendation was to re-name the sports teams “The Flaming Arrows”–all of the expected jokes, and a few that were unexpected, followed, and the idea was quietly vanished one dark Appalachian night.  A few years later, a new administration spent another ton of money on research, marketing, surveys, and polls our teams became The Crimson Hawks, despite the student suggestion: The Fighting Squirrels, a reference to the population of bold, aggressive throngs of grey squirrels that makes residence in the University’s Oak-shaded campus, striking fear in the hearts of all who dare to snack within it’s confines.  The Crimson Hawks, fortunately, was humorous on a few levels, not the least of which is that there’s no such creature.

Hell3
http://danfemwrestlingfan.deviantart.com/art/Crimson-Hawk-vs-Catwoman-350152318

Well, that’s not exactly true–there is a Crimson Hawk, but she is an Internet-based adults-only comics action heroine described as “the world’s sexiest, most powerful, and most frequently defeated, humiliated and ravished superheroine.” with her own, decidedly NSFW subcription-based website.  No matter what the odds, our heroines always find themselves defeated, bound, and abused.  Opps.

I thought it was was a waste of money, a kneejerk reaction, and a shot at tradition.  When the softcore superhero business came to light I enjoyed a good laugh at the hubris behind lack of due diligence, but from the distance of a few years, it hasn’t been a big deal.  We adapted quickly.   Some people think the nickname is really, really awesome— when I think about IUP sports I think “Hawks,” not crimsonhawks“Indians,” and there is a huge upswing, owing to the marketing aspect of the change, in students wearing IUP colors in t-shirts, sweat-shirts, jackets, etc–which translates, in my eyes, as increased pride.  When I was an undergrad–back when kids carried baked potatoes in their pockets on the way to school just to warm their hands, most of the college-themed apparel one saw on campus was either for Pitt or Penn State–big, well-marketed schools to the east and west of us.  That is no longer the case. IUP is more popular than ever, and making more money than ever from it’s brand.

Now, it’s time for more change.

http://www.upworthy.com/the-nfl-would-never-let-this-ad-air-on-the-super-bowl-so-were-gonna-show-you-it-its-important?g=2&c=ufb1

I have to admit I was ambivalent to the Washington football team name and logo until half an hour ago–not indifferent, mind you, but just of the mindset that in a world of injustice this is a pretty minor thing.  This video set my mind.  The name must go, and the ownership needs to look at the process as a marketing opportunity after years of disappointment culminated with a terrible season and the overdue dismissal of an ineffective coach.

With several of the potentially most electrifying young players in the Washington_Redskins_1000_reverseleague, the future looks bright if they hire the right coach.  It seems like the perfect time for them to rebrand, as well.  They certainly can’t make the argument that it’s prohibitively expensive–nobody is buying branded items from this down-but-not-quite-out franchise right now, so there is no place to go but up–and if a rural Pennsylvania University with less than 15,000 students can find a way to rebound from the embarrassment of the S & M Superhero debacle and rebrand in a way that solidifies its image and its revenue stream, surely the big corporate geniuses in DC can do even better.  Heck, I’ll even give you one for a starter–reach out to the N.A. community, work an apology into the deal (you don’t even need to mean it, Dan), and ask ’em–we’ve always said our name is a tribute, not a slur, so we’re not content with just changing the name, tell us what we can do to go to the other extreme–how can we become the team that IS a tribute.  What should we call ourselves?  How can be change how you feel?

It’s not that hard…so let’s get on it.

***I’ve since posted a follow-up to this entry, just click this link.

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Where I Live: Indiana, PA

Image

Coming up on the beginning of the holiday season, our town kicks things off with the annual “It’s a Wonderful Night In Indiana, PA” light up festival–there will be a parade, the mayor will wave from his car, and the marching band playing Christmas songs; next up is a bonfire, hot cocoa and all sorts of fun stuff for the brats–er–kids. Oh, and Santa’s coming, too.  In honor of all that, and because I don’t feel like writing anything more thoughtful, here’s a few more things about the town I call home.

The New York Times likes our museum.

Really Famous People Were Born Here…like Edward Abbey

And This Guy, Too.  He would never have let the government shut down.

Our Football Team Rocks…and Not Just Because They Usually Win

rp_primary_Athletics_Football_92510D568

The Basketball Team is Even BETTER

We OWN tripadvisor.com!

We even pimp our “wonderful life” on the official town website!

We have our own university, but it’s name confuses people.

It’s a pretty university, too.

The IUP Journalism department has a blog.  Unlike this one, it’s good.

It’s a pretty cool place to live–something this prodigal son never thought he’d say.

You’d be hard put to find a better sandwich.

But we still need someone to open a decent micro-brewery.

It’s pretty here–I grew up in this neighborhood.