Monday, June 19, 2017

Call Yourself Whatever You Want

Finally, some sanity prevails:

On Monday, the Supreme Court agreed that this use of Section 2(a) is unconstitutional. Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote the opinion, could not have made it clearer: 

"We now hold that this provision violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment. It offends a bedrock First Amendment principle: Speech may not be banned on the ground that it expresses ideas that offend." 

This decision could also wipe out the Redskins' decision -- effectively ending that team's need to continue its appeal. The Redskins are involved in a similar case, where they lost a long-registered trademark because the US. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia held that the "Redskins" name disparages Native Americans. 

The Supreme Court has made an inspiring decision in The Slants case in that it protects all of our rights -- not just the rights of an eminently likable rock band and a somewhat less-than beloved football team.

I don't care about the football team the plays in Washington D.C. I care about the fact that a band got to call themselves what they wanted to without interference from the courts. 

In the case of the Washington football team, there is no comparison to the case involving the Slants. Public money is not being used to showcase the band in their own stadium. If they play in a stadium, it will not be because their manager negotiated a tax break from the local municipality. A band is just a band; there is no public money being used to subsidize them unless they accept a grant of some kind. Then there might be an issue with their name, provided it is one designed to incite hate or violence. In the case of the Slants, nope. 

Washington, on the other hand, uses public money to create space in which to play. They negotiate tax breaks, they are part of the local economy, and they play in a multi-billion dollar league where the sale of their image to the public, the presentation of their games, and the name which they call themselves is all used to market the team. There is no way Daniel Snyder is going to use his own money to build a stadium. He is currently demanding that someone pay for that for him, and that someone happens to be a bunch of taxpayers somewhere in suburban Washington D.C. The Slants aren't holding anyone hostage for cash.

So, no. There's no comparison. That's just dead wrong.

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