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THE UPRISING OF THE AMERICAN PARTY "Clearly the voters are engaged right now, at least for sure on the republican side, and what they have concluded is that the republican party has not done their job. Thus, Donald Trump gets their vote."

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Ridiculousness of Offense

When you think of a Mexican, what readily comes to mind is a little brown faced man with a colorful textile over his shoulder, wearing a sombrero and riding a burro. For the record, not all Mexicans have brown skin. Not all Mexicans wear a sombrero. And few Mexicans actually ride a burro. Yet amazingly, you don't hear stories of Mexicans calling for the abolishment of all such depictions.

Because it happens to be ridiculous, and most Mexicans who I have known actually find this to be a bit of a funny look back at their roots.

Just like our roots in the Old West. How many Americans would find it to be offensive to have us depicted as ten gallon hat wearing, gun toting, horse riding outlaws? I could cite many instances of certain stereotypes associated with myriad ethnicities. Slanty-eyed Asians drawn with simple slits for example.

And of course there are the Indians, and the latest target for the perpetually offended, the Washington Redskins.

Roger Goodell recently said in a radio interview that the league needs to be listening to their fans and if even one person is offended, they need to ensure that they are doing the right things to try and address that.

In some ways I can catch Goodell's drift. It's about the league, and the league is about the fans. But the league is also essentially a capitalist enterprise, and capitalism is about what works. Dan Snyder, the owner of the Redskins football team, has said he will never cave to pressure to change the name. And I think what he is really saying is that so long as the majority of Redskins fans continue to go to games, and so longs as the Redskins franchise continues to be an enterprise that makes money and has support of the majority of the team and fans to be called the Redskins, then the name will remain. I am certain that if the books began to show signs of stress, and that stress could be directly tied to the team's name, then he would likely do as any businessman would do and take into account that perhaps the name hurts rather than helps the franchise, and he would take any steps necessary to remedy that.

This does not appear to be the case right now, and all indicators seem to suggest that the majority of fans are not in any way affected by the Redskins name, and nor is the bottom line affected. So why change the name? Why cave to a few people who want it to be changed?

Where Goodell gets it wrong in my opinion is when he suggests that the minority should have the power to impose undue pressure against the majority. This is not to say that he should not be listening, nor that Dan Snyder should cave. But we happen to live in a world where nearly everyone is offended by something, and if you start to listen too much to any one of these individual and minority offenses, you really begin to become muddled in a constant, and ever more confusing process as to how to proceed.

The Redskins should listen. And the league should listen as well. But they should be listening to the loudest voice in the room more closely.

Personally I think the idea that the Redskins name is somehow pejorative toward Indians is way overblown, and out of whack with logical thinking. But that's just my opinion. Nor do I think that selling a taco using a stereotypical depiction of a Mexican is pejorative.

I think the Redskins is a respected brand, certainly to the fans of the team, and so long as that remains true, so should remain the name.

Take products like Aunt Gemima pancake syrup, or Uncle Ben's rice. These could be considered offensive according to some. But again, so long as the consumers of these brands continue to buy and respect the quality of these products, the companies who produce them will continue to keep them on the shelves. If consumers suddenly stop buying the products, of course the companies would have to make an evaluation as to why. If it turned out that it was the name, or the face on the box, certainly they would have to decide to rebrand the product to remain in line with the demand and preferences of the consumer. You don't come to that decision when the vast majority of your customers like your product exactly the way it is. You only do it when the minority becomes the majority and it begins to hurt the brand, and not a minute sooner.

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