Terry July 9, 2021 (adapted from a 2013 article and a pair of 2020 followups)
I wrote the original piece seven years ago; I’m surprised that it took so long for the ‘Skins to drop the Red from their name. And the ‘Skins part, too, I guess … this is a compilation of three separate pieces about the battle to change the Washington football team’s mascot name.
I’d be offended if I knew what “impugned” means
Terry, November 20, 2013
The PC movement occasionally likes to take a break from its circle-jerk of wallowing self-righteousness and impose itself on the larger world. I usually ignore the pernaceous (pornaceous?) outrage from the PC movement, mostly because it’s a pretty stupid movement to worry about. But recently one of my favorite podcasts (Fantasy Focus 06010) decided to take a stand against using the word “Redskins” to describe a team called the Redskins.
I don’t care that Nate Ravitz took this particular stand; lots of people take stands like that. But in the same podcast, Nate called the Chiefs the Chiefs and the Vikings the Vikings. In the baseball podcast, he calls the Braves the Braves and the Indians the Indians.
I am around 2 percent American Indian (or whatever you call it); that’s not nearly enough to claim a horse in this particular race, but it’s part of my heritage so my ears perk up when I hear white people get all shirty about names they find offensive when other white people use them. So I thought maybe I could help a brother out, so to speak.
I made a list of all the major league baseball teams and their nicknames. I tried to think of anyone who might be offended by these names. These subversive, racist stereotypes.:
- Dodgers – I dunno…. jaywalkers?
- Giants – Princess Bride fans
- Padres – People with bad backs who can’t use the missionary position
- Rockies – Adrian’s husband
- Mariners – seagoing captains. But only because the team sucks
- A’s – Valedictorians
- Angels – Virgins who get tossed into a volcano to grow crops or something, maybe keep the place from spewing lava
- Rangers – Chuck Norris
- Astros – Dogs who shamelessly rip off Scooby Doo’s shtick
- Pirates – One eyed parrot enthusiasts
- Cubs – Baby bears and scouts that can’t tie a knot yet
- Reds – McCarthy fans
- Cardinals – Single Priests (wink wink)
- Brewers – Beer-thirty enthusiasts
- Tigers – frosted flakes enthusiasts
- White Sox – Pee Wee Herman
- Indians – Well …
- Royals – Inbreds in silk tights
- Mets – nobody is offended by Mets. But millions of people are offended by their outfield
- Yankees – Everybody
- Red Sox – Ankle bleeders
- Orioles – Birds?
- Blue Jays – Smurfs, David Carradine
- Rays – Satan says put the devil back or Wander Franco gets it
- Twins – Pamela Anderson’s balloons
- Braves – I guess …
- Nationals – MAGAs
- Phillies – Girl horses. Girls who look like horses
- Marlins – Fish with giant spears. I say we don’t piss ‘em off
- Diamondbacks – Apple purveyers
Not for nothing, but I think it would be hilarious if the Campfire Girls picketed the Cleveland Browns football team.
In the post-Floyd world, the main message is already getting lost in a frenzy of piling on by the social media outrage-porn groups. Every ax-grinding movement, from revisionism to cancel-culture, is flexing its outraged muscles. And, of course, the word police have gotten involved again, and they are (again) targeting team mascots because, well … team mascots can’t fight back.
So let’s revisit.
Here’s a list of mascot names that represent human populations:
Yankees: from a mocking name England used on Continental soldiers during the American Revolution
Indians: from Columbus’ mistaken belief that he was in India
Rangers: The Texas Rangers police force
Braves: Tribal warriors
Pirates: Johnny Depp’s house payment
Padres: God’s minions
Patriots: People who didn’t cheer when a bunch of dipshits attacked the Capitol building.
Texans: from Texas
Titans: Greek gods
Chiefs: Tribal leaders
Raiders: Marauding parties
Chargers: Attacking parties
Cowboys: Fencing parties (the barbed wire stuff, not the guys in tights with skinny blades)
Redskins: Slang for Native Americans
Packers: Meat processors
Vikings: Norse tribes
Saints: Theological apple-polishers
Buccaneers: Pirates for hire
49ers: Gold diggers
Bucks: Young male Natives
Celtics: Language-based culture, mostly known in Britain but came from Greece
Cavaliers: Slang for royalist supporters during the English Civil War
Mavericks: Unbranded horses
Trailblazers: Named for Lewis and Clark
Kings: Royal heads of state, purveyors of hamburgers
Warriors: Tribal soldiers
Senators: Old farts who eat babies and fuck interns
Predators: Those who prey (that’s an e, leave me alone)
Oilers: Dinosaur farmers
Canucks: Slang for Canadian people
Most of those are silly excuses to be offended, so we aren’t. Calling someone a Canuck doesn’t really piss anyone off; it’s like saying “ya old goat farmer” or “ya Mick bastard” or something like that. It’s not meant to hurt, denigrate or demean the target; it’s more of a familiarity, like a brotherhood handshake.
Cavalier, Viking, Pirate, Buccaneer … they were insulting names when they were coined, but they have different connotations in modern times. Calling someone a Cavalier in 1650 would be like calling someone a Trumpist now, but nobody is going to give a shit about Trump or his supporters in 2400. Vikings and Pirates are romantic figures these days, though they might not be if we had smell-o-vision technology.
Some of the tribal names are in the same vein as Pirates and Vikings. Braves, Chiefs and Bucks are romantic figures in modern times, respected and largely admired. It’s not insulting to call someone a Brave or a Buck, and Chief is a term of respect.
Indian is phasing out, I think; it’s still accepted, but considered increasingly outdated. Columbus simplistically (and incorrectly) named a People, and the name stuck. It wasn’t meant to denigrate, so it’s not intrinsically insulting. But it is archaic. It’s probably time to let Indian go from archaic to obsolete, and draw a line behind Redskin to separate our present language from the dead words of a past that no longer exists.
Are there any others that are insulting? Yankee is like Viking, in that it used to be an insult but it became a prideful boast. Maybe too prideful, in my opinion; I hate the Yankees. Knickerbocker is sort of insulting – the implication being that they are still in short pants – but it isn’t nearly as insulting as the team it represents. The Knicks lose so often that should have to change their name to the Generals.
The nickname that gets the most attention (Redskins) is probably the one that deserves the most attention. So let’s take a peek into a meeting of the Washington team’s boardroom and see how they are handling it.
Washington team owner Dan Snyder, addressing the board of directors:
DS (Snider): “Alright, guys, BLM says we have to come up with a new name for the team; Redskins is off the table.”
WG1 (white guy one): “Dan, I don’t think it’s because of Black Lives Matter; I think it’s a longstanding protest from people who support Native American cultural causes.”
DS: “Ok, whatever. I was born in Maryland so I don’t know what that means. Who’s got a name?”
WG2: “How about Braves?”
DS: “Sure, why not? We can – “
WG1: “Dan, that name would have a lot of the same issues as Redskins, plus there is a baseball team already using it. It would limit our merchandising options.”
DS: “Ok, merchandising I understand; Braves is out. I suppose we should eliminate other names like Warriors, Chiefs and Bucks, though I’m pretty sure Bucks are actually deer or something (that was for Dennis).”
WG1: “Plus it’s kind of cheesy to use human mascots, especially after a century of Redskins.”
WG2: “What about Chinks?”
WG3: “Nobody else is using Chinks, I checked.”
WG1: “There’s a reason for that, Howard.”
WG3: “My name is Howard? Hey, I like it. Somebody tell my wife, willya?”
WG2: “What about Gooks?”
WG1: What is wrong with you?”
WG3: “Because she always calls me bullethead.”
DS: “Focus, people; time is money. Does anyone else have an idea?”
WW1 (white woman one): “Lots of teams use animal nicknames … what about something like the Whales, or the Cheetahs?”
WG2: “Who invited the skirt?”
WG1: “Skirt? What are you, a 1940s detective?”
Skirt 1 (sorry): “I have a law doctorate from Yale, you stupid pissant.”
WG3: “My head isn’t shaped like a bullet; it’s shaped more like a chalupa.”
WG2: “Well, do my laundry then, if you are so smart.”
WG1: “I think your logic just leaped the curb and plowed into a tree there.”
Skirt 2 (still sorry): “Would you dumbasses all just shut the fuck up?”
DS: “Who invited you?”
Skirt 2: “I’m your wife, you overstuffed Wombat.”
WG1: “Hey, Wombat is good … isn’t that some sort of Australian teddy bear?”
Skirt 1: “I think it’s a big rodent.”
WG1: “Even better, given the state of our team these days. What do you think, Dan? Does Wombat work for you?”
DS: “I’ve heard worse. I’ll give it some thought.”
WG2: “Hey, I got it – what about Radical Muslim Terrorists?”
WG1: “I hate you.”