Carolyn Bick, special to wtop.com
WASHINGTON – The Washington Redskins team name has been a source of controversy for years. Former Redskins senior vice president Karl Swanson called the team’s name a symbol of courage and dignity, even as Native American activist groups, like the American Indian Movement, said it was racist and offensive.
The Kansas City Star has historically refused to print the team’s name for that very reason. The paper’s public editor, Derek Donovan, said in a statement that he supports the decision because he is “unconvinced by every argument (he’s) ever heard that the name is not a racial epithet.”
Washingtonians had mixed opinions on The Kansas City Star’s decision.
Morgan Baskin said the paper’s choice is “ridiculous” and that people should be able to print whatever they want.
“I think that words are also given their meaning based on people, not necessarily the words themselves,” said Baskin. “If we recognize that it’s not a racial slur, then it can be used as a name printed in a publication.”
Bruce Brown said he thought it was odd that a newspaper would censor a word.
“I don’t think it’s right,” said Brown. “I thought it was supposed to be freedom of the press, but then, is that free?”
David said he thought the paper had the right to keep the word out of its material.
“Let ‘em do it. I don’t see any problem,” said David. “Let them do what they want.”
Francesca Cavalli said she thought it was a “great gesture” on the paper’s part, but didn’t think the paper’s decision would have any long-term effect. Cavalli said she thought many people associated the word with the sports team, not the racial slur.
“I’m not sure if Native Americans have that kind of pull,” said Cavalli. “I wish they did and I really wish they would organize against that.”
Stephanie said she appreciated the paper’s decision, but wondered how it treats other teams with Native American connotations.
“I would be interested to see if they follow through with that consistency on everything else,” said Stephanie. “If they do, I think that that’s great.”
The Kansas City Star does print team names like the Florida State Seminoles and the Kansas City Chiefs.
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