Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The-Teams-That-Must-Not-Be-Named

Keith Woods proposes that media outlets edit out all offensive team names such as "Redskins." Impractical? No, he says:

Take this example: We may report that a man "suffered head injuries" in a traffic accident. That's accurate. Or, we may say that "a huge gash was opened just below the left temporal lobe of the brain and small portions of brain matter were scattered on the asphalt." That, too, is accurate. It's just that the second one's likely to hurt many people, not least among them the family of the person on the pavement.

Yuck! But this argument is preposterous. He is suggesting the media selectively filter out facts, stigmatizing certain words as a means of shaping public perception. Never mind the basic unworkability of this idea (Should TV pixilate team logos, helmets, jerseys, fans who dress up like Indian mascots? Who decides what's offensive? What do we call them, the "Florida Fighting S-------s"? Hasn't the liberal media taken enough hits for exactly this kind of paternalistic idiocy?) - there is a debate about these team names, and its proper place is in the public square. If the public rejects the stereotypical names, they will disappear from sports. If the media want to hasten that process, they can comment on and spotlight the issue. They don't have to protect our virgin ears from all offense.

As Dumbledore tells Harry Potter, always use the proper name of a thing.