Opinion: 'Redskins' not offensive, get over it
"A small group of formerly-known-as-Indians decided to tackle the Redskins head on. Unfortunately, they couldn’t sue the team directly, since the team wasn’t directly referring to the plaintiffs as Redskins, but in fact were calling themselves Redskins.

You have to wonder if the word “sue” is really a derivation of “Sioux” as the former-Indians figured out they could contest the team’s trademark.

Fifteen years, and three court cases later, the Washington Redskins have come out on top. The courts never reached the argument stage as two of the three cases were dismissed on technicalities.

But what if they had?

The first issue would be the same issue that prevented the plaintiffs from filing in civil court; the team in Washington was referring to themselves as Redskins.

It would take a stretch to imagine that the team was intentionally attempting to insult someone else by calling themselves something offensive. There is also room for dispute as to the origin of the term “redskin.” Most believe it is a simple reference to the skin pigmentation of the indigenous people of North America.

Referring to persons in a descriptive term such as “red-skinned” is no more or less racist than saying “Native-American.” Women are often referred to by the description of their hair color (commonly blond, brunette, or redhead), but for some reason, mentioning a naturally occurring skin color is somehow pejorative.

That doesn’t make sense."

Get the Story:
Robert Johnson: Redskins: Racism or Easy Target? (The Bleacher Report 7/15)

Latest Decision:
Pro-Football, Inc. v. Harjo (July 10, 2008)

Appeals Court Decision:
Pro-Football, Inc. v. Harjo (July 15, 2005)

Patent and Trademark Office Ruling:
Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (1999)

Related Stories:
Lawyer defends use of 'Redskins' name (7/15)
Judge rules in 'Redskins' trademark lawsuit (7/14)
'Redskins' battle continues with new petition (8/15)
'Redskins' lawsuit revived by appeals court (7/18)
Appeals court enters battle over 'Redskins' names (4/11)
Judge allows team to keep Redskins names (10/2)
Court considers cancellation of Redskins team marks (07/24)
Judge to hold hearing on Redskins mark case (7/21)