FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has added his voice to the growing chorus of those who think it is time for the Washington Redskins football team to change its name. That revelation came about during an interview for the magazine.
We would be fine with that change as well if it is team owner Dan Snyder’s voluntary decision—with some prodding by the public—that a dictionarydefined slur, as a group of former FCC officials have said the name constitutes, is no longer appropriate. (We like the Washington Monuments, in case anyone is asking).
As Wheeler—a Lincoln scholar—told B&C, there were terms once in common parlance in Lincoln’s day that are now recognized as the slurs they are.
Momentum is clearly building for a name change, but we don’t see a role for the FCC beyond the bully pulpit.
The NFL has not proven itself to be the most sensitive organization when it comes to social issues, having sprung to greater action on the Ray Rice incident only when pushed to it by the release of an online video. It reminds us of one of our favorite performance review jokes: “Works well when trapped like a rat.”
We don’t think broadcasters should be targeted for government censure for using the Redskins name when reporting on the games, however. If they want to choose not to use it as a violation of their own standards that is fine, and that’s the way it should work.