Redskins and the Rule of law

Redskins primary logo 1972-1981, 1983-present

Redskins primary logo 1972-1981, 1983-present (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let’s talk about this Washington Redskins thing a bit shall we. in many ways, it’s a shiny squirrel but, there is some meaning buried in there as well, that we should think about. The thing is that the Redskins name, and the associated image is a trademark (abbreviated this way ™). in essence that means that if you want to sell a coffee mug with the logo or the name, you have to pay some amount of money to the team, and if they find your use inappropriate they can refuse to let you. In the same way the name nebraskaenergyobserver is mine as is my Gravatar. So is in a way the design and layout of the blog and so forth. The same is true for you, and that is why we all are careful about fair use.

They provide a reasonable assurance when you see them that you are seeing my work, not Harvey Lunchbucket from Podunk’s. Trademarks exist and are enforceable with or without the blessing of the US Patent and Trademark Office. In other words, the Redskins still own their name and their rights are enforceable in court. Volokh put it this way yesterday:

My tentative view is that the general exclusion of marks that disparage persons, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols should be seen as unconstitutional. Trademark registration, I think, is a government benefit program open to a wide array of speakers with little quality judgment. Like other such programs (such as broadly available funding programs, tax exemptions, or access to government property), it should be seen as a form of “limited public forum,” in which the government may impose content-based limits but not viewpoint-based ones. An exclusion of marks that disparage groups while allowing marks that praise those groups strikes me as viewpoint discrimination.

And that is the problem here, really. It’s only slightly more difficult for the Redskins to prove their case. And that’s the nub of the matter. it is their property. to decide the name, to decide, who can use it (or not) and how much they should pay for the privilege. It belongs to them, not to me and not to you, and not to anyone else, it’s theirs to use as they wish.

And so in many ways this is a meaningless act of disrespect, for the Redskins, yes, but also for all property. Our blog designs, our homes, our stock holdings, our retirement, all of it. And that goes to the very basis of our society.

Free society is built on property rights. Infringement of their property rights was one of the cause that led to the signing 799 years ago this week of Magna Charta, as well as the Declaration of Independence that hangs next to it in the National Archives. Without that right to private property there is no private sector, which has always been the driving force of our economy. It makes money (as do the Redskins), unlike the government which redistributes wealth (which is not the same as money) which it has taken from one citizen for the benefit of another. See the difference there? Government creates nothing.

In other words, property rights is one of the basics of The Rule of Law, and that is what has set the (mainly) English speaking world off from everybody else, through revolution and civil war, flood, famine, and plenty, our property has always been our property, subject to certain objective rules. And while this case is trivial, it is also a symbol, as have been other cases of our government’s disrespect for the rule of law. That has made many of us comment that we now have a lawless regime (the common term is a banana republic) because in some measure we have become in John Adams words, reversed:

A government of men, not of law


About NEO
Lineman, Electrician, Industrial Control technician, Staking Engineer, Inspector, Quality Assurance Manager, Chief Operations Officer

10 Responses to Redskins and the Rule of law

  1. I have a solution to the problem. Rename the team either the Washington Weasels or the Washington Highbinders. 🙂


    • NEO says:

      Yep, I kind of like the Weasels myself 🙂


      • Whichever they choose we should have a logo that shows a politician sneaking aways with a bag of money. 🙂


        • NEO says:

          Yep 🙂


  2. boudicabpi says:

    Reblogged this on BPI reblog and commented:
    Redskins and the Rule of law


  3. They will get Miami next. Dolphins and Marlins objectionable to fish people.


    • NEO says:

      And poor Chicago-the bears and the cubs are offended. 🙂


  4. the unit says:

    Then go to names of the 57 states and check out for racism, starting with Oklahoma. “Oklahoma is based on Choctaw Indian words which translate as red people (okla meaning “people” and humma meaning “red”).


    • NEO says:

      Yep, it’s become silly season


  5. Pingback: BPI reblog Daily Archives: June 19, 2014 | Boudica BPI Weblog

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