June 03, 2003

Team Names Redux

In my new-found role as an oppressed minority member (Celt)*, I find this an interesting development: The Minneapolis Star-Tribune may revise its ban on "insensitive" team names.

Notice how the editor posits it as a return to accuracy in reporting (as opposed to "sensitivity" or political correctness, I presume).

Gyllenhaal said the paper intended to replace the ban with a series of guidelines aimed at being sensitive to readers while leaving language decisions in the hands of writers and editors.

Those guidelines include using alternative logos for potentially offensive ones — a script "I'' instead of the Cleveland Indians' Chief Wahoo logo, for example — and avoiding slang terms or abbreviations such as "Skins'' for "Redskins.''

"This isn't nearly as much about Indian names as it is about the paper's responsibility toward accuracy and realism,'' Gyllenhaal wrote. "Over the past decade, sensitivity over language has increased dramatically with the rise in conflicts among global religions, bitter divisions in the Mideast, cultural wars at home. When there's an outright ban of any words on one topic, it becomes difficult to justify why we rely on mere guidance on other topics.''

I'm unclear how "Redskins" is less denigrating than "Skins". Of course, references to "warpath", "scalps" and "scalping" (except about tickets) shouldn't be tolerated.

On the other hand, has anyone thought about how Minnesota's use of "Vikings", "Twins", "Wolves" could be deemed objectionable to Norwegian-Americans (or People of Color: Blond), multiple-birthed Americans, and endangered species?

Me, I still haven't ordered my "Fightin' Whities" T-shirt.

*I don't know how many Americans have encountered Canadian Tire Money, but for a striking example of insensitivity to Celtic sensibilities:

Posted by campbell at June 3, 2003 11:07 PM | TrackBack

The big issue here in North Dakota is the UND Fighting Sioux. Every year there's a big protest by Native Americans. Ralph Engelstad built this huge multi-million dollar world class hockey arena and instead of toeing the line like the rest of the university, he put the Sioux head logo all over it - embedded floors, shrub patterns, etc. The Engelstad arena became a popular place to protest. I do remember one interesting moment. The Grand Forks TV station, WDAZ, was interviewing students during the protest and asking what they thought of it. On student interviewed, a Sioux student from the Spirit Lake tribe near where I live, said he was irritated with the hired gun protestors. (I think they were being led by Russell Means or something like that). He said, basically, that here they were, protesting the name Fighting Sioux, and they weren't even part of the Sioux nation (some were Cherokee, some were Chippewa, and so on). He didn't have a problem with the name.

Posted by: Julie Neidlinger at June 5, 2003 11:57 AM