This letter was sent to Opinion editor Rhyan Henson via email.
I am a sophomore and a reader of The Collegian.
I read your article this week about the Washington Redskins, and I disagree with your position of favoring the movement to change the name of this NFL team.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell claimed, “If one person is offended, we have to listen.”
This statement by Goodell is both oblivious and emotional.
If we conducted ourselves in an environment where we agreed not to offend a single person, the world would be nearly silent.
In the words of Dr. Benjamin Carson, “I have discovered, however, in recent years that it’s very difficult to speak to a large group of people these days and not offend someone.”
We should not change a team’s name because some people take offense to it—unless we have reasons to believe that a sufficient number of people are meaningfully hurt by the name.
President Obama stepped back slightly from Goodell’s hypersensitive position by saying that a name that offends a significant number of people should be evaluated.
I agree – if a significant number of people take offense to the name, this debate should take place.
However, the justification for this debate is not sound.
Regarding the 2004 poll that you cited, a very strong majority of Native Americans do not take offense to the term Redskin. There are reasons to be skeptical of this poll, and more research should be conducted. Assuming for now the correctness of the poll, 10 percent of Native Americans does not meet President Obama’s test for “significant.”
Very strong majorities of Americans, NFL fans and Redskins fans support the Redskins’ name.
Changing the name of the team would alter the culture of the NFL and may offend majorities of people who have watched football and rooted for the Redskins for decades.
These debates about political correctness were primarily created to craft division among our people. When our society alters its culture in order to be more politically correct, free speech is harmed in some way.
In short, our country should not weaken our rights to free speech and expression in order to satisfy the viewpoints of a few. Free speech allows for the open debate of ideas, and the Washington Redskins should not change their name unless a much more sufficient proportion of Native Americans are truly damaged by the name.
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