Skin Game

Posted in Weekly Newsletter on by .

americanfootballBy now everybody knows about the Washington Redskins being stripped of trademark protection by the U.S. Patent Office, just as everybody is accustomed to the Obama administration’s calculated resuscitation of racial animosities that had been trying to die out in 21st Century America.

But we feel the urge to comment on the flap over the Redskins’ trademark because, quite apart from sheer amazement that the Patent Office has now been converted into a blunt instrument of political warfare, we have a somewhat different view of what it all means.

The conventional theory is that the team’s revenues will suffer because (pending years of appeals,) anyone will be free to offer what would otherwise have been bootleg Redskins merchandise.  But wait: That’s merchandise regarded, according to our moral guardians at the Patent Office and elsewhere, as “disparaging,” “racist,” “derogatory” and a manifestation of “bigotry.”

We’ve puzzled before over the reasoning skills of those who imagine fans of athletic teams—often made up of the fans’ own children—naming the teams after things they despise.

Here, we have a federal bureaucracy maneuvering to damage a private enterprise in the apparent belief that these United States are swarming with people who see entrepreneurial advantage in selling apparel that expresses racism, bigotry, and derogation of Native Americans.

If bigotry is a sound marketing technique in today’s America, it’s news to us.  Either there’s no market for Redskins merchandise, or those who make up the market don’t regard the stuff as racist.

Chalk it up as another empty gesture by an administration that never, ever, takes an action not calculated to garner some political advantage, however trivial, and is indifferent to collateral damage.

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