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Is this a media/political correctness over-reaction?


Is this really a racially insensitive statement, or a media overreaction?  Photo via

Is this really a racially insensitive statement, or a media overreaction? Photo via

I know that the whole “Redskins” name debate has dialed up in recent months.  Sometimes tacked on to that debate is the status of the Cleveland “Indians” moniker in general, and the racially insensitive logo (at least in some people’s eyes) in particular.

But is this picture really that bad?  Is this sort of reaction warranted here?

Are these guys really dressed up in “red-face” or are they dressed up more like a “clown-face” that happens to be red?  I mean, the team colors are “red,” as evidenced by the red lettering on their jersey.  I dunno.   I didn’t think twice about this picture until I saw the story repeated several times in my RSS feed today.  And my initial reaction is this: I didn’t think anything of it and certainly didn’t take it as insulting.  But then again I’m a) not an American Indian an b) generally cynical when it comes to the general over-reaction in today’s climate against anything that is funny, sarcastic or anything even remotely resembling a politically incorrect statement.

I mean, it isn’t as if they colored their faces like this:

Not good.  Photo via google images.

Not good. Photo via google images.


The two links that I posted happen to be from two websites that may be just trolling for readers.  One is the click-ad opportunistic BusinessInsider website; they often post incredibly argumentative headlines and lists of pictures that force you to click through 20 items to pad their hit counters.  The other is the USA Today, which has somewhat of a “stuffy” reputation in the sports reporting world for being overly “PC” in its columns and stances (see anything that Nancy Brennan has ever written or consider their relentless/continued coverage of everything Lance Armstrong when the other major sporting news outlets have long since let go of the coverage).  So perhaps I’m just getting caught up in these two website’s trolling activities and over-reacting myself.

What do you think?


Written by Todd Boss

October 3rd, 2013 at 2:29 pm

8 Responses to 'Is this a media/political correctness over-reaction?'

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  1. I have come around to thinking that all these nicknames should be changed. As for this photo, I think it clearly was redskin, not red clown paint so I can see why it offended some people, although I agree with you: the fake moral outrage by so many media types always gets an instinctive cynical reaction in me.

    Louis CK changed my mind on this, believe it or not.


    4 Oct 13 at 7:25 am

  2. How about the “Fighting Irish?” You ok with that one? I’m actually, legitimately part-Irish; if I started a campaign talking about how insulting the Notre Dame nickname is to my heritage, would that be taken seriously?

    What percentage of a culture needs to be “insulted” by a name before its considered racist and “needs” to be changed? 10%? 50%? 1%?

    How about if a group that descended from actual Pirates who sailed the seas hundreds of years ago spoke up and stated that the depiction of their ancestors is racist and demeaning and it needs to be changed. Would that be taken seriously?

    If there was an animal rights group out there who objects to the portrayal of the “tiger” on the Detroit uniforms, would we demand that it be changed?

    How about if a religious rights group came out against the objectification of clergy by the San Diego Padres organization?

    When is enough enough?

    Todd Boss

    4 Oct 13 at 11:01 am

  3. I can tell you’re getting worked up over this. I doubt the “The Fighting Irish” nickname worries many Irishman, although “The Drunken Irish” might. Similarly, the “Murdering Pirates” would certainly be objectionable, as would be the “Molesting Padres.” I can see why the “Redskins” is objectionable however, since it’s a derogatory reference to Indians, where as the “Seminoles” are not. I can see the name being changed sometime in the future. Stanford University, whose teams I follow closely, changed their mascot name from “Indians” to “The Cardinal” several years ago, amid objections from many locals who thought the school was suffering from being too politically correct. As the years have passed, the “Cardinal” seems to have been there forever.

    The Old Boss

    4 Oct 13 at 11:16 am

  4. The San Diego Molesting Padres. Has a nice ring to it.

    I guess i’m just ambivalent to the names. Yes “Redskins” is completely ridiculous and should be changed, what gets me is the institutional digging in of the heels on it. If Snyder changed the name of his football team, he’d experience a massive windfall of merchandising sales and attention for a) doing the right thing and b) being the immediate national sports media topic. None of that sounds bad.

    What i’m irritated about is the consistency. “Fighting Irish” is ok but “Fighting Sioux” is bad. “Indians” is bad but “Seminoles” or “Blackhawks” is ok. Maybe the right answer is to just eliminate any name that refers to a people of any kind.

    How about our local high school? The James Madison Warhawks. What is a warhawk? Wikipedia says its a “person who actively supports a war.” Well that sounds pretty bad; its a synonym perhaps for a “War Mongerer” or a “Militant.” I just think you can really over-think these things.

    Todd Boss

    4 Oct 13 at 11:57 am

  5. Well, I agree that people over think these things, but the Indian thing is a little different. And, in full disclosure, I am a white guy who is half Irish, half Italian by ancestry, so I guess that I am not allowed to complain about anything. My rule of thumb is that it is ok to use a group of people as a nickname if (a) you refer to them the way that they refer to themselves, and (b) you paint them in a positive light, not a negative one.

    Indians – they don’t view themselves as Indians. Isn’t that the point? Early settlers and explorers thought that they got to the East Indies or something, and mislabelled an entire group of people, and we have kept it going for centuries. That is why Seminoles or Illini are better, because at least then you are using their chosen names. By calling them Indians, I think that they view it similar to calling an Italian a wop. Then the second issue with Redskins is it isn’t highlighting a good quality (and like Old Boss I’d suggest that ‘fighting’ is considered a good quality, at least in the US), but it is just picking out a physical characteristic that was used as a slur in the past.

    Pirates – that isn’t a race of people, it is people from all races that voluntarily choose to become criminals. I think they lose the expectation of respect.

    Animals – I am not a PETA guy, I don’t think that they get the same consideration.


    4 Oct 13 at 1:37 pm

  6. I am being an unreasonable devil’s advocate here. I admit. But its this same type of unreasonableness that leads to people making just ridiculous statements in the name of political correctness.

    Todd Boss

    4 Oct 13 at 3:43 pm

  7. However one feels about the nicknames, the Chief Wahoo thing has got to go. It’s disgusting.

    I’m pro name change generally. On “who is offended” – you don’t see those of Irish descent suing over “Fighting Irish.” Many, many tribes have objected to appropriating native american tribes or use of derogatory stereotypes.

    And I do put the Seminoles in a different category. Florida State actually worked with the tribe to make sure that they were OK with how the name was used (interestingly, the person playing “Chief Tecumseh” does not salute when the National Anthem is played). All that is why, although I’m not a fan, I’m OK with the Florida State chop, while thinking that Braves fans appropriating the chop is just ridiculous.

    John C.

    4 Oct 13 at 6:26 pm

  8. Didn’t South Dakota similarly negotiate with Sioux nation to use their moniker in a similar fashion? And didn’t the NCAA basically tell them (but NOT Florida State) they couldn’t use the nickname and stripped all NCAA tournament hosting privileges?

    Is that a consistent policy?

    Can you find any proof that indian tribes are actually complaining about the Cleveland Indians name? Seriously; google it for me and try to find actual lodged complaints. I cannot; all I can find are know-it-all bloggers who claim these things are racist on behalf of these unnamed indian tribes who are apparenly so egregiously harmed by all of this that they have never spoken out.

    So I go back to my argumentative point; if ONE person complains that the “Fighting Irish” is racist, is that enough? Because apparently that’s enough to demand change for all these other names too.

    Todd Boss

    7 Oct 13 at 8:04 am

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