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Cult of Outrage: Trigger Warnings for Saying “Redskins” and a Stupid Defense of the Name

The Washington Redskins controversy continues, and even though there seems to be a wave of rising intensity for the organization to drop the name there are still those who speak out against it.

Former Redskins tight end and current ESPN radio host Chris Cooley spoke out against the uproar surrounding the team name. He then mocked the outrage by saying he’s protesting the name of the San Diego Chargers.

According to Mediaite.com, Cooley said, “I don’t like the Chargers because I want to protect the ozone, all right guys? I feel like there’s a global warming issue, and I don’t like the name Chargers because they’re promoting electricity. Eff electricity, and eff the Chargers’ name.”

This is perfectly emblematic of the kind of foolishness surrounding those who still support the name. Yes, there is climate change, but it has nothing to do with electricity. Other, better thought-out analogies would also fail to compare to the Redskins’ name because no other ethnic group is used as a mascot and certainly not with a word that used to refer to the severed scalps or genitals of Native Americans used to collect bounties.

This was a point made by comedian Jim Norton in his role on the Opie and Anthony radio show. Yet, Norton has also recently spoke up – using many expletives – about how MSNBC host Joy Reid “warned” her viewers before airing the Redskins name in a story about the topic.

“Who wants to live in that…world where every single step you take is on an eggshell and one misstep gets you fired and what was OK today is not OK tomorrow?” Norton asked. Despite Norton’s penchant for defending unpopular speech (specifically, people’s right to express it), he has also called for the Redskins’ to change their name.

Of course, Reid – while maybe well-intentioned – represents why those who don’t already agree that the Redskins should change their name will never take the other side seriously. Reid’s trigger warning shows how many on the left ascribe a kind of power to words that exceeds reality.

One can’t have a serious discussion about any offensive subject and treat the “bad words” with fear, as if by their very utterance that person is no better than those who’ve yelled a particular slur with hate. It is similar – although, not a direct comparison – to having a frank discussion about sexuality and using terms like “wee-wee” and “hoo-hoo.”

These words should definitely be used when discussing their negative power. Replacing slurs with a thinly-veiled reference (i.e. the “X-word”) is simply juvenile. If the word is ugly, good. Say it often because you can’t hide the ugliness if you want people to change. In trying to sanitize the world you ultimately end up strengthening the other position.


Photo by Chris Dunn via Wikicommons

About the author

Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. Along with news and current events, he writes about parenting, art, and personal stories. His serial fiction story "The Prophet Hustle" is available at JukePop.com and a forthcoming independent ebook about the cam-modeling industry "Dirty Little Windows" will be available later this summer.